The bottom end of the smartphone market is crammed with models and variants of them, in many cases with only very minor differences between them just in order to cater to people with limited budgets and specific requirements. A case in point is Xiaomi, which has launched well over a dozen options priced below Rs. 15,000 so far this year. No matter whether you prioritise CPU power, RAM and storage, camera features, or battery life, Xiaomi wants to put enough options in front of buyers that they won’t even have to look at what the competition has to offer. Still, it’s a tough balancing act.
The Redmi Note 8, which the company just surprise-launched alongside the Redmi Note 8 Pro (Review), has been designed to hit the critical Rs. 9,999 price point. Xiaomi has stated very clearly that it could have made this phone less expensive, but it didn’t want to compromise on specifications at all. Interestingly, there’s also a variant priced quite a bit higher at Rs. 12,999 which means it straddles more than one price segment. We’re reviewing the higher priced version, but we’re still going to consider how both options are equipped to appeal to their respective target audiences.
Redmi Note 8 design
If you were hoping that the Redmi Note 8 would be a more affordable version of the slick Redmi Note 8 Pro, you’ll be a little disappointed. From the front, this phone is much more like what we’ve seen on the recently launched Redmi 8 (Review) and Redmi 8A (Review), including a chin that’s thick enough for a brand logo. It’s a fairly ordinary-looking 2019 budget phone, with a 6.3-inch screen that covers nearly all of the front and a waterdrop notch at the top. There’s a tiny white notification LED above the screen.
Xiaomi has added a touch of differentiation here in the form of a highlight colour running around the edges of the front glass. Our review unit is the Neptune Blue version, and so it has a blue streak, almost like a halo, running down the sides and across the bottom. We don’t really like this, and think it looks quite cheesy. It’s also distracting when trying to enjoy full-screen content. We hope that the Moonlight White and Space Black versions are more subtle.
The rear of this phone is also nothing like the Redmi Note 8 Pro or the Redmi 8 siblings. The camera strip is in one corner rather than in the centre, and it sticks out quite a bit. This phone will rock awkwardly when lying flat on a table. The rim of the camera bump is also relatively rough.
Xiaomi has gone with Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of this phone, and both sides have rounded edges. The rear of our Neptune Blue unit had a mirrored gradient finish with light greenish blue at the top fading into purple lower down. It would be a challenge to keep this finish free of smudges and fingerprints.
The power button and fingerprint sensor are easy enough to reach but the volume buttons are a bit too high. You get a USB Type-C port, 3.5mm audio socket and single speaker on the bottom. There’s an…