Xiaomi Redmi Y3 Review: Style And Selfies sorted 

Mobile

The Redmi Y3 tries to do almost everything better, over its predecessor - the Redmi Y2. But does it beat the Redmi Note 7?

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

Xiaomi’s Redmi Note-series has been massively popular in India. Year after year, Xiaomi continues to break new grounds setting new benchmarks for competitors who’ve simply failed to crack its code – then and now. But in 2017, Xiaomi did something unusual. It launched a new Redmi Y-series, which was designed for a very specific set of audience. The unusual thing was, all Redmi Y-series phones would cost the same as the Redmi Note-series phones. Because the Redmi Note has always had better specs (and a better all-round experience), the Redmi Y became a conundrum - why would anyone buy it?    

The gamble has paid off though. So, it seems. Xiaomi says it has sold over 70 lakh Redmi Y phones in India since launch – and last year’s Redmi Y2 is currently among the top three phones in India. Clearly, the Redmi Y3 couldn’t have come any sooner. 

The Redmi Y3 tries to do almost everything better, over its predecessor - the Redmi Y2. The Redmi Y3, is in fact, such a comprehensive update, it seems like it doesn’t even belong to the Redmi series – Xiaomi might as well call it something entirely different. Anything but Redmi. But if you’ve been following Xiaomi and its 2019 Redmi phones, 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

While the Redmi Y2 (and the Redmi Y1 before it) was all about clicking high-quality selfies at rock-bottom prices, the Redmi Y3 is more than just another selfie-centric phone on a budget. The Redmi Y3 tries to be a value all-rounder, like the Redmi Note 7. Having used the Redmi Y3 for over two weeks now, I can say this – the Redmi Y3 blurs the gap between the Redmi Y and the Redmi Note to an extent that choosing between the two has become a lot trickier than what their paper specs will have you believe. 

This starts with the design. One of the biggest highlights of the Redmi Y3 is its all-new look, one that brings the Redmi Y-series in-sync with 2019 – in 2019, phones are also a style statement, only Xiaomi is making style more accessible to the masses. Even though the Redmi Y3 is made entirely out of plastic, Xiaomi it seems, has left no stone unturned to make it 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 brings the budget smartphone segment alive.  

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The Redmi Y3 is based on Xiaomi’s new aura gradient design scheme, but there’s a slight twist in the pattern. The Redmi Y3 comes with what Xiaomi is calling an aura prism effect – it’s hard to capture that in words, but basically, the gradient shifts from the sides inwards. Which is why even though the phone is 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 Y3 is the best-looking phone south of Rs 10,000 – I'll go so far as to say that it looks even better than the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro. It feels ergonomically better too, even though the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro with their glass back are clearly 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 has 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 is 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. 

But the Redmi Y3 is a big phone – 6.26-inch (with Xiaomi’s dot notch or waterdrop-style notch) to be precise. And it’s 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. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

It’s nice to see Xiaomi retaining the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro’s P2i hydrophobic coating in the Redmi Y3 as well, which makes it resistant to accidental splashes of water or rain - Xiaomi is calling it splash-proof. Moreover, the phone also packs dual pyrolytic graphite sheets that are said to decrease surface temperature by 2 degrees. 

Xiaomi has built this thing 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. The Redmi Y3 may not be as premium as the Redmi Note 7 when it comes to build materials, but it’s safe to say that Xiaomi has held it to the same quality standards, when it comes to all-round durability. Not to mention, its one-of-a-kind colour scheme will surely turn many heads.  

Now that we’ve established that the Redmi Y3 is a stylish budget phone, let’s quickly jump on to its other key highlight. 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 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 – and 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 colour to produce photos akin to a much larger sensor with 1.6-micron pixels. This means that the effective resolution in the case of the 32MP GD1 is 8MP really. But what sets it apart from other 8MP sensors is that the GD1 can theoretically capture sharper 8MP photos with less noise or grain even at high ISO (low light). 

The GD1 sensor can also allow the phone’s ISP to computationally convert the default 8MP array into a 32MP image through interpolation – which is why it is also possible to shoot native 32MP selfies using the Redmi Y3. But because interpolation is all about digitally increasing the size of the pixels within an image, all you essentially get is a larger file size rather than pixel-peeping detail. Which is why it isn’t advisable to use the 32MP mode in low light.  

In good light, the Redmi Y3’s 32MP camera can capture some good-looking selfies with good amount of detail and colours that are mostly true to source – although the beauty algorithm does tend to soften details a bit. Dynamic range is quite good too, with little or no metering issues. But it is in low light where the Redmi Y3’s 32MP camera really shines, capturing brighter exposures with higher ISO – brighter, cleaner and more detailed selfies with little or no noise. The Redmi Y3 is a phone that can shoot good-quality selfies even in tricky and low light and that is what sets it apart from many other phones that cost even more in comparison. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Elsewhere, the Redmi Y3’s front camera can also record electronically stabilized (EIS) 1080p videos at 30fps. There’s also software-based portrait mode. 

So, how’s the rest of the phone you ask. Well solid mostly, but surely not perfect which is fine considering the price. But this is where comparisons with the Redmi Note 7 become inevitable. 

The Redmi Y3 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor paired with up to 4GB RAM and up to 64GB storage is simply no match for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor powered Redmi Note 7 – especially when it comes to graphical performance. The Redmi Y3 can pull things off well in day-to-day usage (that’s also because the hardware has lesser pixels to drive) but it’s not a gaming phone – for some perspective, the Snapdragon 632 has the same Adreno 506 GPU as the Snapdragon 625. If you’re looking to do a lot of gaming – and by that, I mean, playing graphical games like PUBG, the Redmi Note 7 is the phone to buy. Not the Redmi Y3. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

As for software, the Redmi Y3 runs Android 9 Pie-based MIUI 10 – same as the Redmi Note 7. 

Another area where the Redmi Y3 feels like a lost opportunity is the screen – particularly its resolution. The phone has 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, the phone comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection up-top. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Things become even in the rear camera department. The Redmi Y3 has 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. And the quality is also the same mostly – which is a simple way of saying, there’s nothing special to write about it. The 12MP primary rear camera can capture some good-looking photos with occasional softness in good lighting with good amount of detail and mostly spot-on – if a little oversaturated – colours. While the 2MP secondary depth camera can capture decent portrait shots in good light with good-enough edge separation. Low light photos can be a hit or a miss.  

Lastly, the Redmi Y3’s 4,000mAh battery ensures that it is a full-day phone, at least – but it supports only 5V/2A charging through micro-USB when the Redmi Note 7 gets you Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 through USB Type-C. 

The Redmi Y3 is a competitive phone and even though it does not beat the Redmi Note 7 as the best value for money phone under Rs 10,000, it gets close. The Redmi Y3 is the go-to option for those seeking high-quality selfies without breaking a bank. The Redmi Y3 can also be the go-to option for those seeking lots of style on a tight budget. As for the substance, the Redmi Y3 is without a doubt the best Redmi Y phone that Xiaomi has ever made. It could have done with a better resolution screen, or a more powerful processor, but there’s already a Redmi Note 7 for that now, isn’t it? Whatever be the case, it’s surely advantage Xiaomi.    

Also Read:  REVIEW: Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Is The Best Value For Money Phone Under Rs 10,000

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