Xiaomi Redi 4a is the cheapest Xiaomi smartphone of all time. On the website, the price is at crazy 70$ only. As usual with Xiaomi devices, it will take some time until the import price will come close to this price quotation. Xiaomi has redefined the entire low budget sector with its Remi line for years now. When it comes to the price-performance ratio, those smartphones are real role models. Whether the manufacturer once again accomplished to save money at the right points, or not, will be shown in the following review.
The different Redmi 4 versions
Xiaomi and other relevant online shops often cause confusion among the different device versions. Redmi 4 can now be clearly identified by its processor. Redmi 4 Prime/Pro by their Snapdragon 625. Xiaomi Redmi 4 can be tagged with its Snapdragon 430 and Redmi 4a with a Snapdragon 425 processor. In the following table you can find the most important data:
|Redmi 4 Prime||Redmi 4X||Redmi 4||Redmi 4A|
|Processor||Snapdragon 625||Snapdragon 435||Snapdragon 430||Snapdragon 425|
|Memory||3GB RAM, 32GB||2/3GB RAM, 16/32GB||2GB RAM, 16GB||2GB RAM, 16/32GB|
|Camera||13 MP, f/2.2, PDAF, Dual-Tone LED||13 MP, f/2.0 PDAF, Single-LED||13 MP, f/2.2, PDAF, Dual-Tone LED||13 MP, f/2.2, Single-LED|
|Display||5-inch, 1920*1080||5-inch, 1280*720||5-inch, 1280*720||5-inch, 1280*720|
Design and building quality
Xiaomi Redmi 4a is one of the last remaining plastic smartphones. Except for its glass front, the casing completely consists of polycarbonate. With this being stated, the Redmi 4a feels of less quality than its siblings. But plastic, indeed, has its advantages. For example, the China phone is very light with a weight of only 130g. It leaves a nice holding impression with dimensions of 140 x 70.5 x 5.5mm (L x B x W). Frame and rear side consist of one piece and the edges are rounded pleasantly. Xiaomi Redmi 4a is well built and its casing is reasonably grippy.
SIM card slot is located on the left outer side (hybrid slot), meaning that you can either insert 1x nano and 1x micro, or 1x micro-SIM and 1x micro-SD (up to 128GB).
With our Life-Hack it is also possible to use dual-SIM with storage expandable. However, this is accompanied by the risk of damages. The rear cover is only fitted with several clips. As soon as the SIM slot is ejected, you can remove the rear cover with your fingernails from the display and thus get access to the battery.
The three common Android sensor buttons are unlit. You can find a RGB notification LED underneath the home button. The control buttons on the right side are nicely fit in the plastic and are not loose. Xiaomi keeps the building quality and even the design for under 100$ on a top level. The manufacturer saves the fingerprint sensor, the aluminium casing and 1,000mAH battery performance. For metal or glass rejecters, Redmi 4a will be a great choice.
The mobile features a 5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. Single pixels can be spotted on the resulting 296 pixels per inch only with eagle eyes and a real close look. In practice, the difference in sharpness to Redmi 4 Prime is only marginal. Colour representation is natural and can be adjusted in the options menu (warm, cold or standard). The same accounts for the contrast which is not really high. For outside readability, the brightness is perfectly fine. Typically for an IPS display, viewing angle stability is alright.
Xiaomi delivered one of the best touchscreens in this price sector with Redmi 4a and its 5 touching points. Input lag is almost not noticeable and preciseness always great. As usual, the term Gorilla Glass is not mentioned but each Xiaomi phone house scratch-resistant glass. Further, the amount of grease stains and fingerprints on the display were acceptably low. Users who do not want to miss a perfect display in the ultra-low budget range, will find no alternative to Redmi 4a.
Performance and operating system
A Snapdragon 425 is almost half of a Snapdragon 430. Four Cortex-A53 cores with 1.5GHz clocking are featured. The CPU is further supported by an Adreno 308 GPU and 2GB RAM. The speed of which is excellent with 4.5GB/s, as is the reading/writing pace of the 16GB storage with 153/42MB/s. Redmi 4a’s hardware is designed for casual operation and carries out tasks in MIUI system perfectly. Even some games run fluently. Concerning demanding 3D games like Nova 3 or Asphalt 8, graphic settings have to be downgraded significantly in order to play them. Multitasking is off the table really, as there is only 1GB RAM left after the system takes up so much memory. MIUI starts to close processes when opening four to five apps at once. Although apps are shown in the multitasking overview, they have to reload when selecting them. An unpleasant surprise was the fact that only 10GB out of the 16GB in total are usable which is simple not enough. Unfortunately, the storage can only be expanded when not using the dual-SIM function.
Xiaomi Redmi 4a of course has the newest version of the Xiaomi-own operating system. Based on Android 6, MIUI V8 operates great with the built-in hardware. The official GLOBAL ROM is on the market already and has been tested before. This ROM has the major advantage that all Chinese apps were removed and that Playstore is pre-installed. Updates are provided normally once a month by Xiaomi.
For a little more money, you can get rid of flashing and get LTE band 20 with the GLOBAL version. (Click here to get to the Xiaomi Redmi 4a International review).
Those preferring Xiaomi.EU ROM have to unlock Bootloader. All others can simply follow our Fastboot instructions. The manual will guide you to a stable, fast and functional MIUI V8 system. MIUI is a real monster, just like Android. It offer a lot of additional and first of all useful functions and features. As MIUI V8 has been tested extensively before, you can find the review in Redmi Note 4’s report.
When it comes to image quality, Xiaomi really sets new standards. Photos shot with the main camera are detail-rich, sharp and have a great colour representation. Just look at the test pictures and compare them to other 100$ smartphone photos. I cannot think of any mobile taking better images in this price sector than Redmi 4a. Auto focus always works fast and precise. Videos recorded with this device are not quite as convincing as its photos but still alright for this price.
Alas, the front camera is disappointing. It is sufficient for video telephoning, selfie lovers, however, would not be satisfied. Each image appears blurry.
Communication and connectivity
The Redmi 4a features to following network frequencies:
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz, TD-SCDMA 1900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/850/1700/1800/2100/2600MHz ( Band 20/5/4/3/1/7 ), TD-LTE 2300/2600MHz (B40/B38 )
Calling quality of Redmi 4a is brilliant. Equally brilliant is the network reception. The plastic casing provided excellent reception even in the basement where I could still surf on the internet, of course in the 4G frequency. Most of the other phones do not even have one reception bar left.
WLAN (2.4GHz – n-standard), GPS and Bluetooth 4.1 are comparable excellent. Navigation worked flawless. The device even houses a compass. Further sensors include even a gyroscope and the three common standard sensors (acceleration, proximity and brightness).
On the rear phone side you can find a mono loudspeaker. Thus, you lose considerable sound when placing it on its back. A nice acoustic pattern with plastic sound experience and sufficient volume. There is nothing wrong with the sound except for a rather impractical positioning of the mono loudspeaker. When connecting headphones, Redmi 4a is still able to convince with the great sound.
Redmi 4a’s battery is unfortunately significantly smaller with its 3.100mAh than its siblings with respectively 4,000mAh. This is exactly represented in the PC-Mark battery test. Redmi 4a achieves nine hours and Redmi 4 Prime twelve hours battery life. I could tell you stories about the economic processor of Redmi 4a but why should I? Its battery life is simply outstanding. And yes, Redmi 4 Prime’s battery life is then even more outstanding. After two days of extensive use with six to seven hours DOT (time with switched-on display) the battery runs out. Stand-by life is great and standard use can lead to up to 3 days of battery life.
It takes three hours to fully charge the 3,100mAh battery. Quick charge is not featured unfortunately which is, however, understandable for this price range. Xiaomi’s battery achievements are amazing.