What is it?
Xiaomi has proven itself as a maker of quality, budget devices that provide more bang for buck. The S2 aims at doing just that once again, preferably offering more than competitors at the same price range.
All Redmi phones seem to go for that one standard look: rounded edges, flat back and glass front. It is familiar, appealing and comforting for those looking for something everyone is used to. What stands out rather too much are the sharply contrasting antenna lines. It was not cool when the iPhone 6 did it ages ago and it detracts from the overall continuity here as well. Antennas can be hidden and still work. The construction also incorporates a lot of plastic whereas Redmi has been known to offer a lot of metal in other devices. Simply put metal wears better than the easily scuffed plastic. The plastic makes it feel budget and that is a perception users want to avoid.
Aside from that, the phone construction is solid, with easily accessible buttons and nicely centred fingerprint sensor at the back. The smoothly rounded edges allow you to hold the 5.9 inch phone quite easily without risking it slipping away. Guess that is one benefit to the plastic.
The phone comes with two SIM slots and a memory card in the tray which is a pleasant surprise. It also comes with an IR blaster along the top edge.
The 1440 x720 5.99 inch IPS display offers an 18:9 aspect ratio which is starting to become the standard fare even on budget phones. The 269ppi density provides plenty sharp enough resolution but the colours do tend to appear somewhat bluish and muted. It won’t wow with the contrast or colour sharpness but it does get the job done. Bezels are quite pronounced in this day and age of large display smartphones.
Being the Global Version, this device comes preloaded with all your Google services which are not the case with Xiaomi handsets for the Chinese market. No need to flash the ROM to install Google apps. The S2 comes loaded with Android 8.1 with Xiaomi’s custom MIUI 9.5 skin over it. The S2 does away with home, back and app buttons by replacing them with gestures similar to iOS. You need to go to settings and apply the full-screen display gestures. You then swipe up or from the sides to get to the menu or return to last apps. It is a rather cool feature and after a while, you wonder why the buttons are not gotten rid of from all devices.
The MIUI also features a Second Space option that allows you to load the same app under a different login ID. Two Facebook accounts for work and personal use? Keep them both on here.
The budget-friendly Snapdragon 625 chipset is quite popular for mid-range devices and has enough juice to satisfy most users. It occasionally shows some stutter while switching between apps but generally runs smoothly. We’ve tried a few of the newer games. 3D heavy titles will run but often have a little longer loading time.
Sony provided the 12+5MP rear camera units. They are nestled one above the other similar to an iPhone. Xiaomi loves Apple it seems. The secondary camera is to help with portrait and bokeh effects and considering the price, this does a remarkable job. The portrait mode works well if you have no objects in front of your subject. Otherwise, it tries to incorporate that as a sharply rendered portion leaving certain areas of the background un-blurred so to speak. Try to setup your subject against an uncluttered background in good lighting for getting excellent portraits. Speaking of portraits, the front camera takes excellent selfies in good light but suffers from some massive over correction in low light.
Image detail is very good but colours are little washed out. You can amp up the colours as you prefer in a third party editing app. I’m surprised the detail comes out this well considering the price point. And here’s another camera related clincher: it features Electronic Image Stabilisation for a smooth, floaty video when you’re on the move. While the 625 chipset supports 4k video recording, it does not comes standard on the S2. Using the third party OpenCamera app allows you to record at 4k @ 30 fps with image stabilisation working. Go ahead, give it a shot.
A big phone with a non-demanding screen means it can easily top a day on its 3080mAh.
Xiaomi has made an excellent budget device which is jam-packed with good features. The pros include a budget phone that looks and feels familiar yet comfortable and has excellent camera features. The UI feels smooth, comes loaded with Oreo and has a good battery life. A couple of big cons would be the plastic construction and screen offering muted colours. The white bezel on the rose-gold device also makes the bezel appear much too thick.
Display: 5.99 inches, IPS LCD, 720 x 1520 pixels
OS: MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.1 (Oreo)
CPU: Snapdragon 625
GPU: Adreno 506
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 64 GB
Camera: Back-12 MP & 5 MP & Front- 16 MP
Features: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Battery: 3080 mAh
Price: Tk. 17,999/-