Amidst high expectations, Xiaomi recently launched its new Redmi-series phone, the Redmi Note 4. Since the handset was first introduced in China around 5 months back, we had rightfully expected the Indian variant to come with some additional perks. However, now that we have closely examined the new Redmi Note in our own space, we are not fully satisfied with the choices Xiaomi has made moving forward from the blockbuster Redmi Note 3. One of the major Redmi Note 4 peeve points is its design.
The ‘metal unibody’ design with two ‘symmetrical’ circles – a camera sensor followed by a fingerprint reader – and two color-matched plastic caps on top and bottom is frankly growing mold.
Also Read: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review
Even at the time of Redmi Note 3 launch, we liked what other contemporary players did a tad better. The then trendy chamfered edges on Le 1s, the brushed metal touch on Honor 5X and even the stereo speaker implementation on Lenovo K4 Note (an otherwise chunky handset) felt better back then.
But the Redmi Note 3 went on to be a runaway success and other budget phones ended up using the same design – over and over again. All through 2016, we have repeatedly endured more than a handful of phones brandishing the same formulaic design, and as of now, it feels repulsive. Lenovo sugar coating it as a design ‘inspired by Alton Barnes artwork’ didn’t mean squat either.
We naturally had high expectations from the current Redmi launch cycle. Especially, since Xiaomi is using a newer high-quality process for the Redmi Note 4 and Redmi Note Pro in China, one that gives it better control over the structure and finish of the handset. These “fully metal” phones go through 30 different processes and are carved from a single piece of Aluminum. These small design details might not seem like much on paper, but they go a long way in enhancing the look and feel of the handset when you meet it in person.
So, we weren’t quite happy about Xiaomi using the old process for the Indian variant of Redmi Note 4, the one that is regressive enough to still use ungainly plastic trimmings on the rear. The diamond cut edges that embellish the all-metal Chinese variant are also missing (and that does matter).
But our sour feelings were mildly ameliorated when we first examined our Redmi Note 4 review unit. That’s because, in spite of the cutbacks, the new Note 4 still feels a lot better than its predecessor.
Yes, the Indian Redmi Note 4 design is in no way groundbreaking and isn’t at par with the Chinese variant (which retails for almost the same price). It falls in the same rut where manufacturers try to inculcate design labels rather than actually giving two hoots about making a unique and refreshing product. But at the same time, there are a few subtle changes that make Note 4 conspicuously different from its predecessor.
The 2.5D glass layered on the front, a flatter body that’s also a hair slimmer, a back cover that elegantly tapers and folds to form flat side edges, and narrower bezels on the front are changes that give it a distinct feel. It won’t be setting any design benchmarks but in light of the other existing options, it would perhaps be unfair to complain.
At the same time, the Note 4 is bound to feel trite after the first few weeks and design is the part where Xiaomi didn’t go that extra mile. There is certainly a big room for improvement here. You could dismiss the argument by saying that users will anyway slap a case on it, and perhaps you might be right, but then that would be true for all phones. Then why bother with aesthetics at all?
Of course, Xiaomi’s market share has skyrocketed and the brand has over the years cemented its strong hold over online budget phone segment. And Redmi Note 4 may very well turn out to be an impressive phone ‘for the price’ (our review is underway), but our resentment stems from the fact that we had expected more.