With Xiaomi Redmi S2, Xiaomi launches an affordable smartphone with a dual camera and mid-range features. The mobile phone is primarily aimed at buyers who do not want to spend too much money on their new mobile phone and yet do not want to do without good photos. But the approximately 140$ camera smartphone is otherwise a quite interesting total package. With a Snapdragon 625 processor, 3/32 or 4/64GB storage and a large 6-inch display in 18:9 format, the equipment is more than competitive. In the following review, you will find out which advantages and disadvantages Redmi S2 has, and whether the purchase is worthwhile.
Xiaomi Redmi S2 in the Redmi series
The “S” among the Xiaomi Redmis should not only become a single offshoot, but also be the start for a whole series. The focus in the S series is on photography and, accordingly, the letter also stands for “Selfie”. Redmi S2 is Xiaomi’s cheapest dual-camera smartphone yet. This also distinguishes S2 from the other Redmi models:
First, Redmi S2 is a Redmi 5 Plus, with a better (dual) camera, but with a worse display and smaller battery. Also Redmi Note 5 Lite would be a suitable transcription, because the processor is simply weaker. But the performance of Redmi S2 is still on a very different level than Mi 6X or Mi A2. With a Snapdragon 625 processor, Redmi S2 is also faster than Redmi 5 and just as powerful as Redmi 5 Plus. Also the storage versions with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage or 4GB RAM and 64GB storage correspond to the equipment of Redmi 5 Plus. With regard to the display, however, Redmi S2 cannot keep up with 5 Plus. Both models have a 5.99-inch display in 18:9 format, but S2 has only one HD+ panel, while 5 Plus resolves with Full-HD. Overall, it can be said that Redmi S2 is an alternative product to Redmi 5 Plus with a reduced display resolution but a better camera.
Design and build quality
Redmi S2 has a plastic casing, which gives the mobile phone its light weight of 170g. The smartphone feels less noble in the hand than Redmi Note 5 or Redmi 5 Plus with a metal casing. However, the phone is of high quality and there are no disturbing gaps or inaccuracies in the build quality. Thanks to the 18:9 format of the display, the smartphone is longer and narrower than conventional 16:9 mobile phones and can, therefore, be held comfortably in one hand. The dimensions of the smartphone are 160x77x8.1mm. Redmi S2 is a pleasantly slim phone, although the operation of the huge 6-inch display with one hand is quite difficult. Xiaomi Redmi S2 is available in 3 colours: Platinum Silver (black/grey), Champagne Gold (white/gold) and Pink Gold (white/pink). Our test device was in Pink Gold, the colour gives the mobile phone a feminine look.
Although one cannot speak of an Edgeless design, Xiaomi has made an effort to reduce the bezels as far as possible. 3mm at the side and 1cm at the top and bottom make Redmi S2 appear reasonably compact despite its large display. Above the display, you find the earpiece, the proximity sensor, an LED flash, the status LED and the front camera. Volume control and power button are located on the right side. The buttons are also made of plastic, but still have a pleasant feedback. To the left, there is a SIM slot in which two Nano-SIM cards and a Micro-SD are inserted simultaneously for storage expansion. We are very happy to see such a slot in Redmi S2, because the user does not have to decide between Dual-SIM and Micro-SD.
Redmi S2 is a well-made beginner smartphone. Since the casing is made of plastic, however, it cannot compete with the premium feel and the metal case of Redmi Note 5 or Redmi 5 Plus. But it offers a practical 3-in-1 slot, which is not available on the other models.
The 5.99-inch display has an HD+ resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. Thus, it achieves a pixel density of 269ppi. The display can’t keep up with current Full-HD panels, but the resolution is sufficient for a quite a sharp picture. Individual pixels can only be seen if you approach the display very close with your eyes. With normal use, the HD+ resolution does not have a negative impact. The display works with IPS technology and offers natural colours and provides a very good viewing angle stability. Compared to the Full-HD panel of Redmi 5 Plus, it is noticeable that it offers not only more sharpness but also an even stronger colour representation. Unfortunately, there is only the possibility to choose between cold, warm and standard in the display options, which does not bring any improvement. Overall, however, the colours are still sufficiently strong. As far as outdoor readability is concerned, the mobile phone is also convincing. Although the display reflects quite strongly in direct sunlight, it can still be used well in the normal sunshine.
The touchscreen registers up to 10 points of contact and works very reliably. The glass is also very smooth, so that the finger glides comfortably over the display. Xiaomi does not advertise with Gorilla Glass, but the display glass of Redmi S2 is still well protected against scratches. The mobile phone withstands a test with a bunch of keys and screwdriver without damage.
System & performance
Xiaomi Redmi S2 runs with a Snapdragon 625 processor, which can also be found in Redmi 5 Plus. The chip provides an optimal performance package for mid-range smartphones, since it is fast enough for almost all conceivable requirements and also works very economically.
The Octa-Core clocks at 8 x 2.0GHz and is supported by an Adreno 506 GPU and, depending on the version, 3/32 GB or 4/64GB storage. The RAM has an average speed of 6GB/s. Our test device is the small version with 3GB RAM, of which, minus the system, about 1.4GB remains for apps. These are also sufficient to keep a good 16 to 20 applications in temporary storage. Standard apps like WhatsApp, Facebook or YouTube are no problem for Redmi S2 and also have almost no load times. Scrolling in the browser also runs very smoothly. We have already presented this thesis in the Redmi 5 Plus review and continue to do so: “The normal user hardly needs any more speed”.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result
Of course, high-end phones with UFS storage and a Snapdragon 835 or a newer processors show a noticeable increase in speed. But these mobile phones cost a lot more than Redmi S2. Differences can be seen especially when it comes to gaming. That doesn’t mean you can’t play games with Redmi S2 – even demanding games like Asphalt 8 still run on high graphics settings, but there are simply a bit more small lags than with faster models.
Android with MIUI
Xiaomi Redmi S2 is equipped with the latest Android 8.1 system. The MIUI system version 9.5, Xiaomi’s operating system, is installed over the Android base. Since its market release in China, Redmi S2 is also available as a global version. You should take care to buy Redmi S2 in the global version, as it has Google Play Store pre-installed and offers different languages.
Xiaomi’s MIUI system is an optically strongly changed Android system with many function enhancements. In the version 9.5, MIUI offers a revised security centre in which the authorizations of individual apps can be edited down to the last detail. In addition, the system performance has once again been significantly improved compared to MIUI 8. Compared to most devices around 130$, Redmi S2 is very fast and navigates completely fluently through the system.
In MIUI it is also possible to set up a “Second Space”, with which you can call up a password-protected second system that has a separate app and file system. You can also clone individual apps, so you can use WhatsApp twice on your phone. To improve the user experience, there is also a reading mode that reduces the amount of blue light in the evening hours to ensure a better sleep. Numerous themes can also be downloaded from the MIUI App Store and the look of the system can be defined down to the smallest details.
To take full advantage of the large 6-inch display, Xiaomi has also integrated the option of using so-called full-screen gestures on Redmi S2 instead of the on-screen buttons. These wipe gestures replace the displayed buttons and thus free additional space for content. If you swipe from bottom to top, you get back to the home screen. Swiping from bottom to top in an open app and holding in the middle of the display takes you to the app overview. Swiping from the left or right triggers the Back command. Xiaomi has copied this operating concept from Apple’s iPhone X and it works very well in practice.
On the rear of Xiaomi Redmi S2, you find a dual camera, which, unlike many low-budget dual cams, is not a fake sensor. The main camera has a resolution of 12-megapixels and an f/2.2 aperture. The sensor is supported by an additional 5-megapixel camera, which is used for portrait photos with depth of field. On the front, there is a 16-megapixel camera supported by KI software.
In the daylight, the camera produces very nice shots with a lot of details and a natural colour representation. The pictures look really great even on a large PC monitor and don’t have to hide behind those of much more expensive models. The autofocus works very reliably and quickly and a shutter release time is hardly perceptible. The difference to the more expensive Redmi Note 5 or even Xiaomi Mi A2 is getting smaller and smaller. The 16-megapixel front camera is also really impressive. It makes really beautiful pictures with a very high number of details and strong colours, as you are actually not accustomed to in this price range. When taking pictures, you should avoid backlighting, as the front camera then has problems with the white balance.
As soon as less light is available, Redmi S2 still makes usable, but no longer particularly good pictures. This is partly due to the low f./2.2 aperture. In comparison to other smartphones around 130$, Redmi S2 is still one of the good low-light smartphones, but the result is just not intoxicating.
On the other hand, Redmi S2 performs very well in the sub-category of the dual camera. If you look at how badly this function works even with large manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE or Meizu in the price range over 200$, you can only praise the “small” Xiaomi Redmi S2. In most cases, the division into foreground and background is very good, although there is a somewhat higher error rate than with a more expensive Xiaomi Mi A2. The portraits are generally convincing. This also applies to the front camera, which also has a portrait function available, which, however, is only created using the KI software. Absurdly, this works just as well as the “real” dual camera on the rear, which in turn calls into question the purpose of a second sensor at all. However, it is all about the practical application and here, the portrait photos of both cameras can convince.
Redmi S2 produces video recordings in Full-HD with 30FPS. The recordings are supported by electronic image stabilization, which works well in practice. However, 4K recordings or Full HD with 60FPS are not possible.
Redmi S2 supports all necessary 2G and 3G frequencies. As far as 4G LTE support is concerned, the China version of Redmi S2 lacks the LTE band 20. If you need band 20, you should definitely use the Global version, which supports the following LTE bands:
FDD LTE: B1 (2100MHz), B20 (800MHz), B3 (1800MHz), B4 (1700MHz), B5 (850MHz), B7 (2600MHz), B8 (900MHz)
Reception is very good due to the plastic casing and we never had any problems using mobile data during the test phase. When making phone calls, Redmi S2 convinces with a clean sound on both sides. A noise-cancelling microphone also filters noise from the conversation. The hands-free function can also be used without any problems.
The same applies to GPS reception (with GPS, Beidou & GLONASS support), which locates the smartphone to an accuracy of about 3 meters. Navigation in Google Maps works very well both in the car and on foot. The Bluetooth protocol is sufficiently up-to-date with transmission 4.2 and showed a stable reception over a good 10 meters. The Wi-Fi has b/g/n standard with 2,4GHz support and also here the reception is strong. 5GHz networks are not supported, which is not a real minus point in the price range of Redmi S2. Xiaomi includes a lot of sensors for such a cheap mobile phone. Besides the standard sensors (brightness, approximation, acceleration) there is also a gyroscope, an E-compass, and an infrared transmitter. A 3.5mm headphone connection and a mono speaker are available for listening to music. The speakers of Redmi S2 convince with a loud and differentiated sound – of course, you don’t get the sound of a high-end smartphone here, but for watching YouTube videos the sound is always sufficient.
The battery of Xiaomi Redmi S2 has a capacity of 3080mAh. Together with the economical Snapdragon 625 processor and the low display resolution, this results in a good battery life. Compared to Redmi 5 Plus with 4000mAh, the battery is a bit smaller, but the display with HD resolution also needs less energy. At least in theory. In practice, however, there is a clear difference. Redmi S2 is clearly inferior to Redmi Note 5 and Redmi 5 Plus.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
Even if Redmi S2 can’t keep up with 5 Plus and Note 5, it still has a more than decent battery life. Over the test period, I challenged the mobile phone relatively strongly with benchmarks, YouTube and games. On average, a display-on time of 7 hours was achieved. Intensive tasks such as gaming, consume 15% of the battery per hour. In my case, the battery lasted for 1.5 days. Hardcore users should also be able to get through the day easily. However, you can’t expect a real “2-day smartphone” like Redmi Note 5.
The battery is charged in 2 hours and 15 minutes with the supplied 5V/2A power supply. Quick-charge is therefore not supported.