Xiaomi Redmi Y3, Redmi 7 First Look: Bringing The Budget Smartphone Segment Alive

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When was the last time you saw a budget phone look so good, it made you ask – are you sure, this thing costs as much as it does?

Written By Saurabh Singh | Mumbai | Updated On:
Photo by Saurabh Singh

When was the last time you saw a budget phone look so good, it made you ask – are you sure, this thing costs as much as it does? Take a moment, take two. I am sure some Xiaomi Redmi phone will most definitely pop up on that list – I am sure it will even be on top of that list for many. Xiaomi has been churning out well-rounded budget Redmi phones for years now. It’s safe to say Xiaomi has become India’s top smartphone brand on the back of these phones – and yet, their stupendous success hasn’t got the better of Xiaomi. Rather, their success seems to be pushing Xiaomi to do even better – to build even more well-rounded budget phones. Budget Redmi phones that make you ask - are you sure, this thing costs as much as it does? 

The Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7, launching in India today, are two such budget Redmi phones that try to do almost everything better, over their predecessors - the Redmi Y2 and Redmi 6. The Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7, in fact, are such comprehensive updates, they seem like they don’t even belong to the Redmi series – Xiaomi might as well call them something entirely different. Anything but Redmi. But if you’ve been following Xiaomi and its 2019 Redmi series, you’ll probably know, that change is in the air. Redmi is an all-new sub-brand in China, sort of like how Poco is in India.  

Photo by Saurabh Singh

One of the big highlights of Xiaomi’s 2019 Redmi phones is their all-new look, one that brings Xiaomi’s Redmi phones in-sync with 2019 – in 2019, phones are also a style statement, only Xiaomi is making style more accessible to the masses. This started with the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro earlier in the year. Both the phones came with a refreshing gradient design over a premium all-glass and polycarbonate chassis – Xiaomi called it the aura design. You can read more about it here.   

The Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 bring Xiaomi’s aura design to an even more affordable price point – of these the Redmi 7 is an entry-level phone, while the Redmi Y3 is a selfie-centric phone that costs almost as much as the Redmi Note 7. Although the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 are made entirely out of plastic, Xiaomi it seems, has left no stone unturned to make them look and feel as polished as polished gets. As bold and beautiful as bold and beautiful gets. So much so that it won’t be wrong to say that the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 bring the budget smartphone segment alive – quite literally. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Both the phones boast of Xiaomi’s new aura gradient design scheme, but there’s a slight twist in the pattern. While the Redmi 7 has what Xiaomi is calling aura smoke design, the Redmi Y3 comes with an aura prism effect – while in the Redmi 7, the gradient shifts from bottom (light) to top (dark), the Redmi Y3 sees a gradient shift from the sides inwards. Which is why even though both the phones are available in black, red and blue, Xiaomi is using different terms to describe them. The Redmi Y3 will be available in Prime Black, Bold Red and Elegant Blue. The Redmi 7 will be available in Eclipse Black, Lunar Red and Comet Blue. The Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 are the best-looking phones south of Rs 10,000 – I'll go so far as to say that they look even better than the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro. 

They feel ergonomically better too, even though the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro clearly are the benchmark for how a budget smartphone could and should be. This is because, unlike the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro, the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 have a curved outer shell that melts into the frame – the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro are flatter in comparison. This enhances in-hand feel. The Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 are more comfortable to hold, even more so by budget smartphone standards. The power button and volume rocker on the right offer good tactile feedback. The always-on fingerprint scanner on the back is fast and accurate. There’s also 360-degree face unlock, that works well most of the time – but isn’t as secure as the physical reader. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

But the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 are big phones – 6.26-inch (with Xiaomi’s dot notch or waterdrop-style notch) to be precise. And they are also a little substantial to hold – 180 grams and 8.5mm to be precise. Which means one-handed operations are a strict no-no – but, that’s the way the whole industry is going anyways. 

It’s nice to see Xiaomi retaining the Redmi Note 7/Redmi Note 7 Pro’s P2i hydrophobic coating in the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 as well, which makes them resistant to light accidental splashes of water/rain - Xiaomi is calling them splash-proof. Moreover, both the phones pack dual pyrolytic graphite sheets that are said to decrease surface temperature by 2 degrees. Xiaomi has built these things to last long which isn’t the kind of thing you generally expect from a budget phone because not many brands focus on that aspect – clearly, budget phones are getting more and more exciting and Xiaomi has a lot to do with it.  

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The screen resolution is perhaps the only area where Xiaomi seems to have cut corners, which is even more accentuated in the Redmi Y3 that costs as much as the Redmi Note 7. Both the phones have a 720p+ or HD+ resolution, while the Redmi Note 7 gets you full-HD+. Screen quality isn’t bad for the price but yes, a 720p+ resolution will show you its downsides on a larger close to 6-inch screen especially if you’re a pixel-peeper – it's not going to be as sharp as the Redmi Note 7’s screen but brightness and viewing angles are quite good. As a consolation, both the phones come with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection up-top. 

The Redmi Y3, like the Redmi Y2 from last year, is also a selfie-centric phone. But while the Redmi Y2 came with a 16MP front camera, the Redmi Y3 bumps things up by bringing in a segment first 32MP selfie camera – Xiaomi is using a Samsung GD1 sensor here, which is also seen in more expensive phones like the Vivo V15 Pro and Samsung Galaxy A70. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The GD1 sensor is bigger than most mobile sensors in the market right now. Not to mention, it has far more resolution. Technically speaking, the GD1 sensor uses a Quad Bayer arrangement wherein four pixels are grouped under one filter of the same color, to supposedly produce photos akin to a much larger sensor with 1.6-micron pixels. Which means that the effective resolution in the case of the 32MP GD1 is 8MP really – but, it can theoretically capture sharper 8MP photos with less noise or grain even at high ISO (low light). The Redmi Y3, on paper, is a phone that can shoot good-quality selfies even in tricky and low light. The Redmi Y3’s front camera can also record electronically stabilized (EIS) 1080p videos at 30fps. There’s also software-based portrait mode. 

The Redmi 7, on the other hand, comes with an 8MP front camera. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Both the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 have the same dual rear cameras as the Redmi Note 7 – which is a combination of a 12MP primary sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 2MP sensor for depth sensing aka portrait photography. 

Speaking of core hardware, both the phones are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor and run Android 9 Pie-based MIUI 10. Both the phones pack a 4,000mAh battery under the hood with 5V/2A charging through micro-USB. 

I will have more to say about the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7’s all-round performance as well as rear and front camera performance in my full review.  

Photo by Saurabh Singh

While the Redmi Y3 is a selfie-centric phone, the Redmi 7 is a value all-rounder, according to Xiaomi. But for me, their main USP lies in their striking design. Xiaomi Redmi phones generally tend to fair well when it comes to all-round experience and I have no doubt that the Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 will be any different from their predecessors - and yet they are, by miles, when it comes to all-round design. 

The Redmi Y3 has been launched in India at a starting price of Rs 9,999 for the variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, going all the way to Rs 11,999 for the top-end variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The Redmi 7 has meanwhile been launched in India at a starting price of Rs 7,999 for the variant with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, going all the way to Rs 8,999 for the top-end variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. Watch this space for our full review of the Xiaomi Redmi Y3 and Redmi 7 in the days to come.

Also Read:  Xiaomi Redmi 7, Redmi Y3 Launched In India With Aura Gradient Design, Snapdragon 632 Processor: Specs, Features And Everything To Know

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