Redmi has been Xiaomi's budget series for a long time now. It is also one of the most popular smartphone series in the country. In order to stay ahead of the competition, Xiaomi has consistently been launching new smartphones in the Redmi series.
The Redmi Note 7 (Review) and the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) which were launched a couple of months ago managed to shake up the sub-Rs.10,000 and sub-Rs. 15,000 markets respectively. Both these smartphones offer very good value for money and have pretty much cemented their spots in the market.
Now, the Chinese smartphone maker has introduced yet another smartphone in this series, dubbed the Redmi Note 7S. Looking at the specifications, this model is a bridge between the Redmi Note 7 and the Redmi Note 7 Pro. The new Redmi Note 7S has the same processor and RAM options as the Redmi Note 7, but has a 48-megapixel camera like the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Does it offer the best of both worlds, or should you consider some other smartphone? We review it to find out.
Redmi Note 7S design
The Redmi Note 7S looks exactly the same as the Redmi Note 7 as well as the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Like its siblings, the Redmi Note 7S has a glass sandwich design with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and the back. This helps give the phone a premium look and feel which isn't very common at this price point. While the glossy back looks premium, it is a fingerprint magnet and picks up grease very easily. Xiaomi provides a case in the box that fits well and should help keep fingerprints off the device.
From the front, the Redmi Note 7, Redmi Note 7S, and Redmi Note 7 Pro look identical making it hard to distinguish between the three phones. All three models sport big displays with tiny notches, and Xiaomi's name for this is “Dot Notch”. The frame is still made out of plastic and the button placement is identical. We found the power button easy to reach, while the volume buttons were a bit too high in comparison. All buttons have good tactile feedback.
The Redmi Note 7S is comfortable to hold in the hand thanks to its rounded frame. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top along with an IR emitter and secondary microphone. The IR emitter is a nifty feature and lets you control appliances using the Mi Remote app that comes preinstalled. At the bottom, this phone has a USB Type-C port along with two grilles on either side, of which only the right one houses a loudspeaker.
On the left, the Redmi Note 7S has a hybrid dual-SIM tray, so you'll either be able to use two Nano-SIMs or one SIM along with a microSD card. A hybrid dual-SIM slot is a little disappointing, considering that a dedicated microSD card slot is standard in some competing devices.
Redmi Note 7S has a hybrid dual-SIM slot instead of a dedicated microSD card slot
At the back, the Redmi Note 7S has a dual camera setup similar to that of the Redmi Note 7 Pro. The camera module protrudes quite a bit causing the device to rock when placed on a flat surface. The dual-LED flash is positioned below the camera module. We found the fingerprint scanner to be well positioned and we could reach it easily. The fingerprint scanner has a matte finish compared to the glossy rear panel.
Xiaomi ships the Redmi Note 7S in three colours, Onyx Black, Sapphire Blue, and Ruby Red. We had the Onyx Black variant in for review, and we found it to be is understated compared to the other flashy options. Xiaomi bundles a 10W charger in the box with the Redmi Note 7S.
Redmi Note 7S specifications
The borders around the 6.3-inch display are noticeable, especially at the bottom and around the camera notch. The display itself sports a full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) resolution and has a maximum brightness of 450nits which is good enough when using this phone outdoors. The display has good viewing angles and colour reproduction. There are different display modes to choose from, and you can also adjust the colour temperature to suit your liking.
The Redmi Note 7S is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC, which it shares with the Redmi Note 7. We have also seen the same processor power the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 (Review), which is priced within the same segment. The Snapdragon 660 isn't as powerful as the Snapdragon 675 SoC, which powers the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
Xiaomi offers the Redmi Note 7S in two variants, one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage priced at Rs. 10,999, and the higher-end one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage variant priced at Rs. 12,999. The Redmi Note 7S variants command a Rs. 1,000 premium over their equivalent Redmi Note 7 variants. We had the higher-end variant in for review.
Connectivity options on the Redmi Note 7S include dual-band Wi-Fi 8022.11ac, Bluetooth, four satellite navigation systems, and dual 4G VoLTE.
The Redmi Note 7S packs in a 4,000mAh battery
Our Redmi Note 7S was running MIUI 10.3 on top of Android 9 Pie and had the latest May security patch. MIUI is heavily customised but you'll feel at home if you are upgrading from another Xiaomi smartphone. There are quite a lot of customisations, and it could take some time to find your way around the Settings app. We found the search function to be very helpful to find the settings we wanted to tweak.
Theme support is available on MIUI, and this lets you customise the look of the software . The Redmi Note 7S has a lot of bloatware. We found Amazon Shopping, Facebook, Netflix, Dailyhunt , Twitter, Opera News, and Opera Mini among others preinstalled on the smartphone. Xiaomi's own apps are also bundled, and we found Apps (an app store), Music, Mi Video, Mi Drop, Mi Community, and Mi Pay. We found the Music and the Mi Video app to be a little spammy, as they kept sending us notifications through the day.
We have covered most of the shortcuts and features of MIUI 10 in detail in our Redmi Note 7 Pro review, so you can check that out for details.
Redmi Note 7S performance, battery life, and cameras
The Redmi Note 7S is a capable smartphone and handles day-to-day tasks with ease. Scrolling through the menus and multitasking between multiple apps was smooth, and the Redmi Note 7S showed no signs of slowing down.
We were happy with how quick the fingerprint scanner was. Face recognition is also available. It worked well in bright environments but took longer when unlocking the phone in the dark.
There is support for Widevine L1 DRM on the Redmi Note 7S, so you will be able to enjoy Netflix and Amazon Prime video at HD resolutions. The speaker is loud and we enjoyed watching content on this smartphone. We wish the positioning of the speaker was a little better, as it is very easy to muffle it while holding the device in landscape.
The Redmi Note 7S has a 48-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor
The Redmi Note 7S went through our set of benchmarking apps and the results were similar to those of the Redmi Note 7, just as we expected. In AnTuTu 7, the Redmi Note 7S managed to score 141,589 points. In Geekbench 4, it scored 1,629 and 5,827 in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively. In comparison, the Redmi Note 7 scored 1,628 and 5,532 in the same tests.
In GFXBench's T-Rex, Manhattan 3.1, and Car Chase scenes, the Redmi Note 7S returned 46fps, 13fps, and 8.2fps respectively. We played PUBG Mobile and the phone could easily run it at the Medium setting. After playing the game for close to 20 minutes, we noticed that the area above the fingerprint scanner was warm to the touch but this didn't make the phone too uncomfortable to hold.
The Redmi Note 7S has the same 4000mAh battery as the Redmi Note 7, and manages to deliver similar battery life. In our HD video loop test, the Redmi Note 7S ran for 13 hours and 17 minutes, which is a good score. Without our usage, which consisted of an active WhatsApp account, Instagram and a playing PUBG Mobile, the smartphone managed to go on for a day and a half.
Charging is fairly quick. The supplied charger took the phone to 35 percent in half an hour and to 65 percent in an hour. It managed to charge the phone completely in under two hours. The Redmi Note 7S supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4.0 standard, but you'll have to buy a compatible charger separately.
One major difference compared to the Redmi Note 7 is that you get a different camera setup. the Redmi Note 7S has a 48-megapixel Samsung GM1 primary sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and a 1.6-micron pixel size. The second camera is a 5-megapixel depth sensor which should come handy when shooting portraits. At the front, the Redmi Note 7S has a 13-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. The camera app is similar to what we've seen on other Xiaomi phones, and has AI scene recognition along with HDR and colour filters. There are different camera modes including Portrait, Panorama, Night, and Pro.
The camera AI kicks in to action when shooting with the Redmi Note 7S, and it could detect plants, buildings, and pets that we pointed the camera at. In daylight, the Redmi Note 7S is quick to meter a scene and set the exposure. It also enables HDR automatically when shooting against the light. Photos had good colour reproduction, and objects at a distance were recognisable.
Tap to see full-sized Redmi Note 7S camera samples
Macros were decent but the phone did not manage to get the colour right when photographing flowers, and the AI might have boosted it artificially. We also found that the edges of our subjects weren't as sharp as in photos shot with the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Portrait mode puts the secondary camera to use and we got good bokeh effects, but there's no way to adjust the level of blur. Edge detection was good, but the Redmi Note 7S did overexpose some shots.
Low-light performance was good too, but fine grain was visible in the output. Objects at a distance lacked detail. There is a night mode which makes photos brighter, but also resulted in more grainy output. Selfies had good detail, and we found the phone's AI beautification to be useful as it wasn't too aggressive. The backgrounds of most of our selfies were overexposed even when HDR was enabled.
Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the primary camera, but you do have the option to record at 30fps or 60fps. Electronic image stabilisation is available and manages to stabilise the output. It isn't as effective in low light, and we did notice a shimmer effect.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7S and Note 7 are nearly identical when it comes to their hardware with the main difference being their rear camera modules. If you don't really care about camera performance, the Redmi Note 7 offers the same experience at lower prices. In that case, might want to hurry up as Xiaomi is planning to phase out the Redmi Note 7 in favour of the Redmi Note 7S.
You might also want to consider the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 (Review), which is also capable and is available at a lower price than the Redmi Note 7S. On the other hand, if you are looking for good camera performance above all else, you could take a look at the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review), which also offers a stock Android experience.
If you don't mind spending a little more money, the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) is a very good choice and is worth the Rs. 1,000 premium that it commands over the Redmi Note 7S.