It's not so surprising to see Xiaomi releasing so many smartphones in recent times because it's currently India's No 1 smartphone brand right now and with bigger market share comes new challenges. Being the leading smartphone brand in the country, Xiaomi has to stay connected with the users, and the best possible way to do it is by releasing a new product every now and then. That's what Xiaomi India is doing right now. The latest launch from the Chinese company is the selfie-centric Xiaomi Redmi Y2, which on paper has a lot of resemblance to the Redmi Note 5 and in real life, it's strikingly similar to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. Both the Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro are excellent smartphones and comes with their own pros and cons, but what does the Redmi Y2 bring to the table and why does it even exist? Well, I have been using the Redmi Y2 for nearly two weeks and here's what I think about the handset.
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 Review: Design and Display
As I mentioned in my first impressions article, the Redmi Y2 looks better than the Redmi Note 5 Pro as the antenna band lines on top and bottom make up for a good look. The Redmi Y2 is constructed out of plastic, and it's noticeable immediately right after taking the device into hands. It measures 8.1mm in thickness and weighs 170 grams. Even though the phone is constructed out of the plastic, it's on the heavier side, that's largely due to the massive size of the handset. But the weight of the device is evenly distributed, something we're used with Xiaomi smartphones.
The phone comes in three colour options- Rose Gold, Gold and Dark Grey. The Dark Grey variant, in particular, is my personal favourite and of course, it looks better than the other two. The volume rockers and the power button are located on the right side, while the bottom of the phone houses the single speaker grille and a micro USB port. Yes, the Redmi Y2 has a micro USB port and not the USB Type-C port. To the top, Xiaomi has added an IR Blaster, which allows users to control ACs or TVs. The buttons are tactile, and I did not notice any issues with them during my usage. The fingerprint scanner is placed on the rear side and it works extremely well without any issues.
On the whole, the Redmi Y2 is a not as spectacular as the Honor 9 Lite in terms of design, but it doesn't look bad either. As always, Xiaomi is not known for design in the budget segment.
Moving onto the display, the Redmi Y2 sports a 5.99-inch screen carrying a resolution of 720x1440 pixels that further extends to a pixel density of 269 PPI. Most of the Xiaomi smartphones releasing these days are coming with 18:9 displays and the Redmi Y2 is no exception. This is the first Xiaomi smartphone priced in India over Rs 10,000 to sport an HD+ screen (the 4GB RAM variant). This screen won't disappoint you, but at the same time, doesn't inspire any confidence. Xiaomi says the display can go up to 500 nits of maximum brightness, but it suffers mainly due to the reflective panel. Colours are accurate, but blacks aren't that deep, which is evident right from the first glance. Even under bright sunlight, text on the display is viewable, and as seen on several budget smartphones, the screen attracts smudges, as a result, viewing angles are affected.
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 Review: Performance
The Xiaomi Redmi Y2 is the fifth smartphone from the Chinese company to offer the Snapdragon 625 SoC- the other four are the Redmi Note 4, Mi Max 2, Mi A1 and the recently launched Redmi Note 5. All the four devices are excellent performers and the Redmi Y2 joins the long-growing list. Xiaomi launched the smartphone in two memory configurations- one with 3GB of RAM & 32GB of internal storage and the other one comes with 4GB of RAM & 64GB of internal storage. There's a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC is a proven chip as it blends both performance and power efficiency. Day-to-day tasks were a breeze on the Redmi Y2. Games such as World Cricket Championship 2, Asphalt 8 worked fine on the 3GB RAM variant, but the PUBG gameplay was not as smooth as one would expect.
The Redmi Y2 ships with Android 8.1 Oreo-based MIUI 9.5 out of the box. Notably, it's the first Xiaomi smartphone in India to run Oreo right out of the retail box. As you might be aware of, MIUI is a feature-rich custom ROM built on top of Android. It offers tons of features such as second space, dual apps, Themes support and more. The software experience on the Redmi Y2 with MIUI 9.5 was mediocre. The handset showed some lags while browsing through the recent apps screen and I noticed some issues related to Gboard as well. But all these issues were not present in the MIUI 10 Global Beta ROM which was released for the Redmi Y2. The software on Redmi Y2 requires some tuning.
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 Review: Battery
Xiaomi made massive changes to the Redmi Y2 when compared with the Redmi Y1, but the company kept the battery size similar at 3080mAh battery. The Snapdragon 625 SoC is a power-efficient chip compared to the Snapdragon 435 SoC found on the Redmi Y1. The battery life combined with the power-efficient chip and Xiaomi' software optimisations is top-notch on the Redmi Y2. The smartphone delivered over four hours of screen-on time even with full usage on 4G. On days with complete Wi-Fi connected, the device delivered close to six hours of screen-on time which is massive for a budget smartphone with a mere 3080mAh battery.
What's disappointing is the charging speeds. The Redmi Y2 comes with the standard 5V/2A charging support, and the phone takes close to two hours to fully charge from 0% to 100%. That's expected from the price range the Redmi Y2 comes in though.
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 Connectivity, Call Quality and Loud Speaker
Thanks to the two-year-old chipset, Xiaomi was not able to add dual 4G functionality to the handset. So you've to always place the Jio 4G SIM card on your first SIM slot. On the brighter side, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot. The handset supports 4G VoLTE on Jio network only as of now as other telcos- Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are yet to roll out VoLTE support. I used the device with Jio 4G SIM card in Bengaluru and the call quality is top-notch. I did not face any call drops during my entire period with the phone.
Other connectivity options in the Redmi Y2 include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS and a micro USB port resides on the bottom. Sadly, Xiaomi has not added support for 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. Also, on MIUI 9.5, I noticed the device never connected to my Wi-Fi network automatically as I always connected to the network manually. But this issue was not present on the MIUI 10 Global Beta ROM.
Coming to the loudspeaker performance on the Redmi Y2, it gets decent loud and is a bottom-firing one, so, if you're a gamer, you might have to face some struggles as you often end up covering the speaker grille while playing the game.
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 Review: Cameras
Xiaomi is addressing one issue every year with its smartphones. In 2016, users complained about the battery life on Xiaomi handsets, which the Chinese company addressed in 2017. In 2017, several users backlashed Xiaomi for equipping poor cameras on its smartphones. However, the Mi A1 turned the tables for the company at the end of 2017. Since then, the company did not look back. Earlier this year, it launched the Redmi Note 5 Pro which is still the best camera smartphone under Rs 15,000. And now, the Redmi Y2 features the best cameras on any smartphone under Rs 10,000.
The Redmi Y2 is being touted as a selfie-centric smartphone, but the dual rear cameras steal the show easily. Specs wise, the Redmi Y2 has a primary 12MP shooter on the rear with f/2.2 aperture and 1.25µm big pixels. A secondary 5MP shooter is equipped with the primary sensor to provide depth information for the shots. Both the sensors are accompanied by an LED flash.
The smartphone clicks excellent photos in good lighting conditions- images came out sharp along with a lot of details. During some scenarios, the images came out flat with lack of contrast, and in some situations, the colours looked washed out. The camera struggles a bit under extreme sunlight conditions, and the corners of the pictures were burnt for the most part. But on the whole, images in good-lighting conditions came out really well from the Redmi Y2. There's an HDR mode as well to get the dynamic range alright.
As expected with a budget smartphone, the Redmi Y2's low-light performance takes a toll, but still, it's the best in the business, beating its own sibling Redmi Note 5. Images captured under low-light conditions came out decent, but when you zoom in, you can find a lot of noise. Also, the colours are on the softer side too.
The Redmi Y2 is also a winner when it comes to video recording. Xiaomi has thrown in support for Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) with the Redmi Y2, which helps in reducing the shakes in the footage. The overall video output is pretty decent, and thankfully, the focus hunting issue is not present on this handset.
Aforesaid, Xiaomi is marketing the Redmi Y2 as an 'AI-selfie superstar' that's largely due to the 16MP shooter on the front. The Redmi Y2 has a 16MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture and 4-in-1 pixel combining support. The camera app comes loaded with AI features for Beauty mode and Portrait mode. Selfies shot on the Redmi Y2 came out really good and detailed in most of the scenarios. Like the rear camera, the front-facing camera performance also takes a hit when there's less light, but the images can be used on any social media platforms.
Lastly, we have the Portrait mode for both front and rear cameras. The secondary 5MP depth sensor adds bokeh effect to the images, and there's a dedicated Portrait mode inside the camera app. As seen on various other smartphones, the Portrait mode works well in conditions where there's light. The Xiaomi camera app has the Portrait mode placed on the right to the standard mode, but it takes a while to apply the depth effect. For example, the camera app will display a notification as the 'Object is too far' and gives various warnings to keep the object in the correct distance. However, when you get it right, the results look excellent, especially when you consider the price of the handset. As you can see in the image below, the object is blurred perfectly, and the overall result is pretty good. But at times, the blurring effect goes wrong, but Xiaomi can improve it with future software updates.
The company also added an AI-based selfie Portrait mode on the Redmi Y2, which again works well in good lighting conditions, but struggles when the light goes off.
That being said and done, cameras on the Redmi Y2 are possibly the best ones in this price range. Even though the cameras struggle in some scenarios, it outperforms the competition.
Xiaomi Redmi Y2 Review: Conclusion
The Redmi Y2 is yet another stellar offering from Xiaomi in India. The phone comes loaded with features and the cameras make the device stand out from the crowd. In fact, the Redmi Y2 faces competition from its own sibling Redmi Note 5, but the latter's cameras are nowhere close to the former's. The Redmi Note 5 beats the Redmi Y2 in terms of display, better build quality and battery life, but the Redmi Y2 has excellent cameras and latest operating system.
The highlights of the Redmi Y2 include- good-looking design, reliable performance, stellar rear and selfie cameras and decent battery life. The phone has some minus points too- plastic build doesn't give a great in-hand feel, and the software isn't fully optimised yet.
Nevertheless, if you're in search of a good-looking camera smartphone under Rs 10,000, then get the 3GB RAM variant of the handset at Rs 9,999. The 4GB variant of the Redmi Y2 is priced at Rs 12,999 in India. The Xiaomi Redmi Y2 will be available for purchase exclusively on Amazon and Mi.com every Tuesday at 12 PM. Sadly, it's available in flash sales only.