Today I invite you to the review of Redmi Note 7, which has become the undisputed hit on the market.
This is mostly due to the attractive price, but this is not the only factor determining its success. What are the others – and whether this price does not force any compromises on its buyers – you will find out from this review!
|Redmi Note 7 - video review
video: GSMcgoice.com, via YouTube
- Construction, set, quality of assembly
- Display, security
- Interface, applications
- Efficiency, battery
- Communication, sound
- Photography and video
- Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
Construction, set, quality of assembly
Redmi Note 7 arrives to its buyers in a cardboard box, ornamented with an ascetic graphics. The set itself is a bit ascetic as well. We will find a USB cable, silicone cover, “papers” and a tray for opening the cards’ socket. There is a common, 10-watt charger. It is strange, because the smartphone supports the Quick Charge 4.0 function – so it looks like we need to buy an appropriate charger separately. There are no earphones in the set, but fortunately Redmi Note 7 has a minijack. So we can see the first compromise at the start.
Fortunately, when it comes to the stylization, the manufacturer spent no expenses. The smartphone looks modern and is likeable, especially in the blue version (with the slight gradient) or the red one, which is going to be available slightly later. The stylization is “on time” – so there is the notch on the display in the shape of a water drop, dual camera at the back and a shiny finish. We can say that the looks of the phone does not stand out from its competition – but Redmi Note 7 can be called, without a doubt, a pretty phone.
But not all that glitters is gold. The bezel around the display is narrow – but not too much. There is a bit more space at the top and a slightly thicker bottom. In addition, around the display there is a narrow frame made out of plastic. The same material was used to create the body of the device.
The plastic, covered with a shiny lacquer nicely imitates metal, but it decreases the weight of the phone as well. Just like the stiffness, unfortunately. My device withstood the period of tests without any harm and I did not notice any tendency for creaking or bending. However, on the popular YouTube channel JerryRigEverything there is a video, which shows that the body of the phone has a weak point and it can break when enough force is applied.
I did not conduct such an extreme trial – and I will repeat myself – I did not notice anything disturbing during a regular usage of the phone, though I suggest you not to carry your Redmi Note 7 in the back pocket of your tight trousers. Another compromise?
The fact that the frame of the phone cannot be scratched easily, just like the glass panels covering the back and the front, is a consolation. The only thing that can give you nightmares is the susceptibility to dirt – but this is typical for most glass housings.
However, there is another detail that can irritate. The camera module that stands above the housing. It is so high above (I checked – 2.1 mm) that it cannot “hide” even when we place the phone in the cover added to the set, and the phone wobbles when it is placed on a flat surface. What is more – it raises concerns when it comes to the durability of the glass covering lenses.
However, after a month of using Redmi I do not see any visible signs of usage on the glass and I was not too particularly careful about this element and I was not using the cover.
I complained a bit – but I must say that I still like this device, even despite these flaws. In reality, when it comes to the housing, it only lacks waterproofness – but I cannot demand it in this price shelf, so let us move to quick glances of what is where.
The front: the display, camera, speaker and a single-coloured, rather discrete notifications LED on the lower side, next to the USB socket. A bit unusual… The back? The standing camera module with its LED flash mentioned before, round fingerprint scanner and a small logo.
At the bottom – USB-C, single speaker and a microphone (disguised in the row of holes, suggesting a presence of a single speaker). The right wall is taken by buttons – placed classically and comfortable in usage, while on the left side there is another compromise.
The cards’ tray is decent – but, unfortunately, it is a hybrid, so we must choose between using Dual SIM and enhancing the memory. And here I recommend buying the top version, with 128 GB of internal memory. There is a lot going on the top wall. Besides a minijack and an additional microphone there is the infrared sensor.
More about it later, now I will finish reviewing the housing by saying that – when it comes to the price of the phone – I rate it high, though with some concerns. The quality of assembly is impeccable.
I am pleased with the display. During the review I was mostly accompanied by a sunny weather, and I did not felt any discomfort from using the phone in the daylight. The only thing that can bother you is the necessity of taking off glasses with polarizing filters, when we are holding the phone horizontally.
When we hold it vertically it is OK, but if we will turn the phone, for example to take a photo – the image dims, we need to take our glasses off. This is typical for LCD matrixes, so I cannot consider this as a major flaw. What is important is that the intensity of the image is good, though colours in the standard setting are not the most intensive ones.
We can change this, in the menu we have wide variety of options of adjusting the colours’ balance to our expectations and in the end everyone can be pleased. In the interface we can find the eye-protection mode from the blue light, with the possibility of automatizing this process as well. I have already mentioned about the great maximum brightness, so I will add that the minimum is adjusted properly as well, and the display can be awoken with a double tap. There is nothing resembling Always-on-display.
As you all know, Redmi Note 7 has a classical fingerprint scanner. And it is a good one, which is precise and rather fast.
Basically it is difficult to say how often it has a fault reading, because I cannot remember any… Maybe once in a while? In any case, this scanner could have gotten to a flagship and I would have commend it as well, and in the phone that costs less than 300 euro it is simply superb. It is a pity, that beside securing accesses, payments and releasing the shutter, the scanner cannot be used as a touchpad – it would have worked perfectly.
On the other hand, I will complain about the facial recognition. It is simple, based on the image from the front camera, so it needs some light to work and it does not ensure such high level of security as the scanner. Fortunately, I did not manage to deceive it with a photo, the “sleeping person” method does not work either (we need to have at least one eye open), so basically – it is not that bad. The system works properly with corrective glasses (even if we have saved our face without them), however we need to remove sunglasses for the phone to recognize us.
There is a lot of good stuff in the interface, not only for MIUI fans. Traditionally, Xiaomi does not overstep with preinstalled apps – but it is not modest either and enhances the system with a few additions. If you do not like the solutions from the Google's package, there is a separate Gallery app, audio and video player and a browser.
I am interested when Xiaomi is going to install its own e-mail client, because now we must still rely on Gmail. Among the preinstalled stuff we can find a weather app, QR and text scanner, compass, notepad and an app for reporting problems, access to the MIUI community and an app for sharing files. There are Facebook, Aliexpress, Joom and Amazon apps. We can get rid of them with a single move. There is a software for managing the system as well.
MIUI is enhanced with the possibility to replace system buttons with comfortable gestures and with optional buttons’ shortcuts, created from combinations of screen’s virtual and mechanical buttons. There is the “floating” buttons as well, one-handed mode, and in some time we should have the Enterprise mode – but for now it only has a slot in the menu.
There is Second space, in which we can separate apps and private accounts from business ones, in addition we can clone apps and divide the screen. The notifications section is a typical one, and the shortcuts panel can be widely configured. We can modify the looks of the main desktop and use prepared themes as well.
And the compromise? We must accept the fact that when using some apps (like the one that cleans the system) we will see a commercial. Fortunately, it is not invasive – but it can bother us. On the other hand, if it was not for this, the phone would have been probably more expensive.
Another problem are notifications displayed next to the notch. We can only see last 5-6, in addition for a moment, because right after unlocking the display they disappear – and we need to drop down the bar. But, if we remember problems of Pocophone or Mi 8 - I should probably be happy that we can even see them…?
Snapdragon 660, paired with 4GB of RAM takes care of Redmi Note 7 efficiency. For a phone from the lower price shelf of the medium segment – it is great. You cannot boast with numbers from benchmarks, but there is definitely nothing to complain about. The phone works ably, though sometimes we can notice some small “lags”.
In an everyday usage it will not be bothersome, typical apps work as they should. We can play some games, even those more demanding ones, especially that there is a package for gamers, an addition, thanks to which we can, for example, mute notifications, limit data transfer not related with the game or clean the memory from unwanted apps, in order to boost the game. To put it shortly – when we will compare the smartphone’s capabilities with its price, it is great.
There should be enough of the internal memory as well, in the “medium” segment at the start we have around 53GB, but if you would like to use DualSIM, you should rather choose the most expensive 128GB version. The “budget” version with 32GB can only be recommended to the less demanding users, however you should remember that it has 3GB of RAM, so its efficiency will be slightly lower than the reviewed version.
One of the biggest (literally) advantages of Redmi Note 7 is its battery, which has 4000 mAh capacity. This looks like nice lifespans – and it is in fact so.
With a normal, balanced usage we cannot deplete the battery in one day. In practice, with a typical usage, we end the day with 50-60% of the battery left and the next session with the charger will probably be on the next evening.
The lifespan, depending on what we do and how high the brightness level will be, is from 7 to almost 9 hours, so this is one of the best smartphones in this field – and without referring to price segments.
But even here there is a compromise that I have mentioned before. Even though the phone itself can charge the battery fast (Quick Charge 4.0), the charger added to the set does not allow for such madness and it takes slightly less than 2 hours to finish. This is not a bad result, but it would have been a nice gestures towards the users to add a decent one to the set. Another victim of limiting expenses is the lack of wireless charging, however in the medium segment we can forgive this.
I will begin the assessment of the communication capabilities from the biggest – in my opinion – disadvantage of Redmi Note 7. There is no NFC. Yes, the phone was developed for huge markets of China and India, where NFC is not that popular…
But the device reached Europe – so it could benefit from having this module… In any way – I am bothered with this – but if you do not need to pay with your phone, you can skip this paragraph.
Other communication modules are present and they work without any problems, though when it comes to GPS I have managed to lost the signal while being “on the road”. The phone lost itself for a few minutes, simply to return without any problems after a while. I assume that this was a separate case, because it did not occur ever again. If you ask about the sound quality it is nice, though not perfect.
The receiver is small and we need to “aim” it to our ear. If we will do it – we will be pleased with the quality of voice coming from it, it is loud and clear. Microphones work well, just like the lower, external speaker. In the loud speaking mode everything is in order, but I would not listen to music through this.
It is best to use earphones – we have a minijack, equalizer and a few predefined correction settings for different types of earphones, mostly from Xiaomi. The quality is decent. In the system there is of course a recorder and a radio, which – what is interesting – can be run without plugging in earphones as an antenna, though we will not hear much like this. Unless we are close to the speaker…
The text communication was handled to the Google keyboard, while the dialler is simple and friendly, and what is more we can block numbers through it and record calls, even automatically. The proximity sensor placed in the small notch can be troublesome. It did not always work right, sometimes we can end the call “with our ear” by accident, because the sensor failed and unlocked the screen…
Redmi Note 7 has an addition that we do not see quite often – an infrared sensor, which is a remote for controlling different devices. We can “teach it” to control TVs, players, AC or AV devices from Xiaomi, we can even create shortcuts on the desktop for each device.
The remote worked with most devices that I own – though it could not control my cable TV decoder. It happens – but even despite this “failure” I consider this as an interesting element that enhances the phone’s capabilities.
Photography and video
The sign on Redmi Note 7’s housing says “48 MP”. It is beautiful – but there is a small catch, or – if you prefer – another compromise. The main camera has the Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 matrix – which in fact has 48 megapixels, but it works in the Quad Bayer technology. What it means is that it connects four neighbouring pixels into a single, bigger one, which is supposed to capture more light, so in fact we take 12-megapixel photos.
48 megapixels can be run only in the Pro mode (that is a manual one), and while doing that we can see an untranslated description fragment in Chinese. The question is whether or not it is worth it… Besides the size I did not notice any benefits from using 48 Mpx. Maybe you will? I will simply place this 48 mega in the bag that is signed “marketing” – and will be stubborn enough to call the main camera “twelve” with big pixels. And the secondary one? It has 5 megapixels and its job is the background blurring.
Fortunately, Redmi Note 7 can boast with a decent, for its price, photo quality. At the first glance – they are perfect for such a cheap phone. However, after we will zoom in we can see that the details representation is far from ideal – though it of course remains on a good level. Colours are captured properly, but if we like them more underlined, juicy – it is worth turning on the AI, which will adjust settings depending on the recognized scenery.
The effect is enhancing colours and contrast, and if we will add HDR, photos will be really pleasant. Redmi Note 7 captivated me with colours representation of sky and water – but it will work decently in other sceneries as well. In my opinion, when it comes to other middle-guys, Redmi Note 7 stands out positively.
It is slightly worse after the dark, lots of noises appear. But there is a solution for this in the PRO mode. We just need to force a lower sensitivity, extend the shutter opening time – and the shot will be much better than the auto mode. Yes, it could benefit from having a stable support – but even if you will handle everything to the auto mode besides the sensitivity, in the Pro mode it will be much better. In the camera software there is the Night mode as well. In some conditions it can “draw” out something more and enhance the contrast – but it depends on the particular scenery. It is worth a try. In any case – I recommend using the Pro mode.
Redmi Note 7 offers a portrait mode, that is a background blurring. It works nice, it rather precisely cuts the foreground object from the background, though it can have some problems with more complex edges (like hair). Still, I assess this positively, though it lacks some additional effects, know from models like Mi 8 Pro.
In addition, we have nicely working panoramas and a nice digital zoom (for this phone’s class of course).
The front camera proves to be decent and it is difficult to reproach it for anything particular. Let us say that the photos’ quality is appropriate – skin’s colour is represented well and the background complements the foreground person not dominating over it.
We can use beautifying and a software for background blurring. It works slightly worse than in the back camera, but in my case – due to my software-friendly hair – it worked pretty nice. If you have a lush hairstyle – the “cut” will be slightly less precise.
When it comes to the video recording it is good. The image is smooth, the sound is recorded with an appropriate dynamics and clearness – but in Full HD with 60 frames per second. 4K appears only after installing an alternate app – but we assess the phone straight from the manufacturer. Still, you can be pleased with the quality of videos – apart from those recorded in slow motion in 120 frames per second. Unfortunately, here we will notice some distortions in smoothness. It is best not to record while moving – we must remember that the image stabilization in Redmi Note 7 is only a digital one.
|Redmi Note 7 - sample videos
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
The camera is accompanied by a simple, rather friendly interface. Main work modes can be switched using gestures, by swiping the finger to sides. In every mode, under the “hamburger” button, we have even more additional options, and next to them – shortcuts to least used settings. There are colour filters as well – and I would not complain, if it was not for the flaw with the translation with the 48MP switch.
With prices with which Redmi Note 7 is being offered, I should basically have no concerns. We receive a nice phone, with a good display, nice efficiency and a strong battery. This is a phone, which takes good photos and videos, it ensures a decent quality of communication, it has a friendly interface and a few reasonable additions. It is difficult to find a more interesting proposition in this price.
When considering whether or not to buy it, we must remember that in the set we will not find earphones and a quick charger and the housing is not waterproof and some say that it is easy to bend it. You should take into consideration that 48 megapixels is mainly a marketing trick and basically you will not find any benefits from it, and if you would like to use DualSIM, you cannot enhance the memory with a card. And do not forget, that it does not have NFC – provided that you care about this. If you will agree with these compromises – you will be pleased. I would have been fully pleased if I did not had to carry my wallet with…
Advantages and disadvantages
- attractive price
- strong battery
- friendly interface with clever additions
- decent display
- great, active fingerprint scanner
- nice efficiency
- decent photos
- minijack and FM radio
- effective looks
- IR remote
- notifications LED
- cover in the set
- lack of NFC
- troubles with notifications
- hybrid cards’ socket
- lack of earphones in the set
- lack of QC4 charger in the set
- lack of waterproofness
- a bit “cheated” 48 MPx
- small speaker, proximity sensor is not precise
|Redmi Note 7 - hands-on and first impressions
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube