Xiaomi Redmi Y2

Xiaomi recently launched the successor to Redmi Y1, which shares a lot of similarities with the Redmi S2 launched in China, but carries the Redmi Y2 moniker in India. Similar to its predecessor, the Y2 is also designed keeping the young smartphone users in focus. 

When I first saw the Redmi Y2, it looked like a hybrid between the Mi A1 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro. It's priced close to Redmi Note 5, which has similar hardware but falls short in the camera department. 

Even though Xiaomi has been at the top in terms of market share, we cannot ignore that users are now talking about the iterative design upgrades and ignorance towards Android updates. So, I tried to find out if the Redmi Y2 is an incremental upgrade over its predecessor or it's just another iterative upgrade. 

Looking at Xiaomi's track-record, the company has assured that they are all ears to feedback from their users, but what do we learn from the Y2? We'll find out in the review. 

Price and availability

The Xiaomi Redmi Y2 has been priced at Rs. 9,999 for the 3GB RAM variant and Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB RAM variant. It will be available in India in Elegant Gold, Rose Gold and Dark Grey color options exclusively from Amazon India and mi.com from June 12. The company will also sell the device at Mi Home stores.

Design and display

Redmi Y1 looks a lot like the Mi A1 with vertical cameras.

Like other Redmi phones, the Redmi Y2 is made out of metal. While in this case, the design language isn't the same as the Redmi 5 or even the Note 5 series. It's more like a Mi A1 having an 18:9 ratio in a longer form factor.

The major distinctive element in the design the vertical camera module and two shiny separation lines as the antennae bands as seen on Samsung phones most recently. Rest of the design is strikingly similar to the Mi A1 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro. It has the same gentle curves on all its sides. It does not dig into the palm, but it does feel slippery because of the smooth curvy finish. 

The camera design at the rear is exactly what we've seen on Redmi Note 5 Pro. There's a slight protrusion. so considering a back cover would be a good idea to save it from scratches.

It is heavy at 170 grams and is big in size (thanks to the elongated 6-inch display), which makes it slightly difficult to operate with one hand. There is a one-handed UI mode for better accessibility, but to be honest, I haven't used or seen people using it very often.

The connectivity ports and buttons reside at the standard Xiaomi positions. That means the SIM and microSD slot is on the left and volume rocker and power/lock keys are on the right. A microUSB port, loudspeaker grill are at the bottom and there's an IR blaster and headphone jack on the top. 

The finish on the smartphone is the same as what we have seen on recently launched Redmi phones, so no surprise there. It's sturdy to hold and looks like it can survive a few drops from reasonable height. 

From the front, it looks like any other Xiaomi phones with 18:9 display in this form factor. The gold variant which I have has white bezels and if you're not a big fan of them, you can get the grey variant with black bezels around the display.

I've been repeating it but a lot of features of the device are iterative, including the display. The 5.99-inch HD+ unit looks good, and this is a consistent approach that Xiaomi follows with all their devices. 

i've been repeating it but a lot of features of the device are iterative, including the display. The 5.99-inch HD+ unit looks good, and this is a consistent approach that Xiaomi follows with all their devices. 

Colours are warm and it's sharp enough too. Touch response is good and sunlight visibility is good for a phone of this range. There's not much to complain about the display. We compared it with the Redmi 5 and the Redmi Note 5 side by side, and the similarity between the panels was clearly visible.

Performance

The Redmi Y2 runs has a Snapdragon 625 chipset, which is the very well rated mid-range chipset from 2017. On the Y2 I have, there's 3GB of RAM to aid the multitasking performance. 

In one week of usage, the phone hasn't shown any symptoms of performance struggles or software issues. Things might change once the company rolls out the MIUI 10 for this. 

I am an avid smartphone gamer, and that means I did try a couple of popular titles on this one too. While games like Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5 handled well, it does struggle with demanding titles like PUBG mobile. You can run the game, but the longer you play more sluggish it looks. 

The call quality on the phone is above average, I did experienced weaker network initially when I switched my SIM. We tested it on Airtel network in Delhi NCR.

Except that, the phone is quite an efficient performer and capable enough to sail you through basic day to day tasks without a hiccup.

Software

As mentioned, the phone runs on Android Oreo 8.1 with the MIUI 9.5 skin on top. Unlike other custom skins on competing phones, the MIUI doesn't feel like an overly furnished or bloated interface, instead, it has become a lot cleaner and logical in past couple of years. 

From the design, usability to the India centric features, the MIUI 9.5 feels user-friendly and easy to adapt. The only issue with the UI is the missing app drawer. While most other skins are incorporating either an app drawer or an option to add one, Xiaomi still refrains from having it on their phones. 

Introducing for the first time, Xiaomi has added a new gesture mode for full-screen. It's simple to use, swiping up from the bottom takes you to the home screen while dragging up and holding it down for half a second opens the multitasking menu. Swiping from the left acts like a back button.

Also, you will see a lot of Mi apps pre-installed on the phone, which is another con to deal with. Because most of them cannot be uninstalled. 

Xiaomi has worked to add some really useful India-specific UI features. Some of the best ones are IRCTC card, app vault, regional stickers and themes. So, you can say it's the most sorted custom UI after the Oxygen OS, and it does offer tons of useful features and customisation options.

Battery life

XIaomi has been among the few companies which hardly compromise on the battery front. But the company didn't find it necessary to upgrade the battery size on this one. It has a 3080mAh battery that's promised to last more than a day. 

The battery did last for a day when the usage isn't very aggressive. My usage includes an hour and half of calling, two hours of music streaming, an hour of gaming and checking social media updates. 

Snapdragon has proven to be a good chipset for smartphone batteries in the past. In fact, the MIUI 9.5 also has improved power optimisation to get the most out the cell. You can binge-watch video content on the phone for 7-8 hours in one stretch. 

It can serve you well for a 9-5 routine, but you'll most probably need to plug in the charger by the time you go to bed. 

Camera

The ‘Y’ in the Redmi Y2 stands for youth, and Xiaomi’s idea of a youth circles around a good camera setup, especially the selfie camera. It has a 16MP front facing sensor and a 12MP + 5MP rear camera setup.

Like most Xiaomi phones, the Y2 ensures fine day-light shots. There’s no to little noise in well-lit conditions and the details are well pronounced as well. It has an auto HDR mode, that works decently in most conditions. But the dynamic range is uneven even with the HDR mode. At times it fails to capture enough details under shadows. 

Very honestly, I usually do not expect outstanding low light camera on a sub 15K phone. It’s nothing to complain about, but it’s not good either. However, the front camera results are surprisingly good at times. You still need a steady pair of hands though.

Another highlight is the portrait mode on both front and rear cameras. It’s artificial, but still manages to do a fair job at detecting edges. The blur impact is inconsistent, in some cases it does get close to natural, but was also overpowering in some of the portrait pictures. 

The front camera does what’s it’s meant to do. It’s capable of clicking some really good looking pictures, especially in well lit conditions. The shots look detailed, just be sure the beauty level is set to minimum. Smoothing is aggressive and the skin gets an artificial touch up to look good. 

If it’s meant for the crowd that’s up to buying these features in a phone, it’s not bad.

Verdict

The Redmi Y2 is a big upgrade over its predecessor for sure, but the benchmark at this price is the Redmi Note 5 or the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. If compared to Redmi Note 5, it's more feature rich and balanced. The ZenFone Max Pro has an advantage of a bigger battery and superior chipset, but if camera is a concern, the Y2 looks like a better fit. 

Sudhanshu Singh
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