A surprising amount of power for just over 100 sheets
Chinese firm Xiaomi is famed for its budget blowers, and the Redmi 6 is the latest in a long line of cut-price handsets which offer a premium user experience for what feels like pocket money when compared to the likes of the Galaxy S9 and iPhone XS. Despite costing just over £100, the Redmi 6 is packed with cool features, including a roomy 5.45-inch display, nippy fingerprint scanner, dual-camera setup and Android Oreo from day one. Despite being intended for the Chinese market, it's also fully compatible with EU mobile networks. You can order it from online stores like Gearbest for around £115.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 review: Design & Display
While it looks the part from a distance, the Redmi 6 is made from plastic rather than brushed metal, which is a bit of a letdown but understandable at this price point. It feels light in the hand but boasts a sturdy construction – although don't go expecting any kind of water or dust resistance.
Everything is pretty much as you'd expect, with the fingerprint scanner – which is super-quick – and dual-camera setup located on the rear of the device. Oddly, the speaker has also been placed here, which means you often accidentally cover it during use.
Another unique thing is the fact that Xiamoi has given the MicroSD card and second SIM their own slots, so you can happily run two SIM cards at the same time without having to sacrifice memory expansion. A 3.5mm headphone jack is thoughtfully included, but we're sad to report there's a Micro USB socket for charging and data transfer – we'd like to have see the more up-to-date USB Type-C, if we're honest.
While the Redmi 6 only has a 720p screen, it's quite large and has a widescreen 18:9 aspect ratio. It's an IPS panel with good viewing angles and decent contrast, but we can't help but feel that it looks a little weak, even when set to maximum brightness.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 review: Software & Performance
The Redmi 6 has Android Oreo right out of the box, which sits under Xiaomi's own MIUI 9 interface. If you've never used it before, it feels like a mix of Android and iOS, and cherry picks the best elements of both. It has a clean, uniform style which is augmented by an impressive degree of user customisation, although Xiaomi's built-in 'optimisations' can be a little aggressive at times.
We're looking at the global version of the phone here, which means it has full English language support, but you can expect to run into the odd bit of Chinese text every now and then. GearBest, who supplied the unit, have removed all of the Chinese bloatware which usually ships on Xiaomi phones, so be wary of ordering from resellers who aren't quite as forward-thinking.
A MediaTek MT6762 Helio P22 chipset sits at the heart of the Redmi 6, and it's equipped with 3GB of RAM. It's hardly going to blaze any trails but the hardware is roughly comparable with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 625. It's in the same ballpark as mid-range Android phones, which is impressive given the low price. Moving around the UI is smooth and responsive, but the phone can struggle with more intensive tasks, such as 3D gaming.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 review: Battery, Memory & Camera
Dual-cameras are all the rage these days, and Xiaomi has equipped the Redmi 6 with an impressive setup. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor while the secondary 5-megapixel snapper is used to create convincing 'Bokeh' effects. Because the main camera has a large pixel size of 1.25μm, loads of light is able to enter the sensor and this means low-light shooting is much better than it usually is on phones in this price range. HDR also works well, bringing out details such as leaves and brickwork. Despite all of this cool stuff, the Redmi 6 isn't a slouch when it comes to focus and capture time, either. The bokeh mode works well too, but elsewhere things are less impressive; the 5-megapixel selfie cam is average and video recording is limited to 1080p at 30fps.
Here are some example photos taken using the Redmi 6's default shooting mode.
There's a 3000mAh battery inside the Redmi 6 which can't be replaced by the end user. We found this was large enough to make it through an entire day of typical useage; there's no quick-charging included so you'll want to leave the device connected to the wall overnight.
With 32GB of internal memory as standard, the Redmi 6 is pretty much average when it comes to storage – but that Micro SD card expansion slot means you can boost this in a cheap fashion using flash media. Because the second SIM has its own slot, you don't need to worry about losing the memory expansion option if you have two mobile contracts.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 review: Conclusion
Xiaomi seems to have cornered the market when it comes to low-cost phones, and you'd think there was a limit to how many it could have on shelves at any one time. However, the Redmi 6 is a fine purchase, despite the competition not only from other Chinese phone makers, but from Xiaomi's stable as well. It's running a solid OS, has great photographic prowess and can make it through an entire day with moderate use. Only the lack of waterproofing, NFC and fast-charging really count against it.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 review unit kindly provided by GearBest