Xiaomi is once again delivering incredible value with the Redmi Y1.
Xiaomi has launched six phones in India this year: the Redmi Note 4, the Redmi 4A, Redmi 4, Mi Max 2, the Android One-based Mi A1, and the bezel-less Mi Mix 2. Five out of those six devices are aimed at the sub-₹20,000 segment, and now the company is adding to its ranks with a new sub-brand in the Redmi series.
The Redmi Y1 is positioned between the Redmi 4 and the Redmi Note 4. While the design and specs on offer look similar to what we've seen from the manufacturer in recent times, the main differentiator with the phone is a 16MP front camera, which has a "Selfie LED" front-facing flash module.
The Redmi Y1 builds on the design of the Redmi Note 4. You still get the chrome accents at the back, but this time around, the line at the top cuts through the camera sensor and LED module. The gently curving sides and rounded edges make it easier to hold and use the phone one-handed, and the build quality is top-notch.
Up front, you get a 5.5-inch 720p display with sizeable bezels at the top and bottom. Xiaomi has switched to USB-C with the likes of the Mi Max 2, but the Redmi Y1 still relies on a microUSB port for charging. You do, however, get the IR blaster, a mainstay on most Xiaomi phones.
The Redmi Y1 comes with dual SIM card slots along with a dedicated slot for a microSD card. There's also a 3.5mm jack located next to the IR blaster.
Other specs include a Snapdragon 435, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, and a 3080mAh battery. The battery is conservative when you consider the fact that the Redmi 4 features a 4100mAh unit, but it should be more than enough to last a day on a full charge.
The Redmi Y1 marries decent hardware with a class-leading front camera.
The phone is the first in the country to run the global version of MIUI 9 out of the box, bringing with it a slew of under-the-hood changes that make the user interface feel significantly smoother. There's also a Google Now-style dashboard that takes up the leftmost home screen, giving you easy access to frequently used apps, contacts, notes, and more.
I've been using the phone for just over two days now, and the front camera is certainly better than previous Redmi devices. The LED flash makes a lot of difference when taking selfies in low-light conditions. The flash automatically kicks in when it detects low levels of ambient light, and you can also toggle the LED manually.
The rear camera, meanwhile, is average. It takes a lot of time to dial in on a subject, particularly if you're using HDR. It also takes a few seconds to save images to the gallery. With the Redmi Y1, it's clear that the focus is on the front camera.
OPPO and Vivo have built up their brands by offering great selfie cameras, and Xiaomi is targeting that audience with the Redmi Y1. The only difference is that while OPPO and Vivo cater to the mid-range segment, Xiaomi is offering a similar experience for half the price.
It's easy to see why Xiaomi is setting its sights on the sub-₹10,000 segment. A bulk of phone sales in India are budget devices, and by offering a variety of phones with differentiated features, Xiaomi is looking to reach a broad audience. If you want a phone with two-day battery life, the Redmi 4 is the obvious choice. For those on a tight budget, the Redmi 4A is the ideal device. The Redmi Y1 is now available for those looking for a great front camera.
One out of every four devices sold in India this year had a selfie-centric camera, so there's a huge potential for a phone like the Redmi Y1. Furthermore, Xiaomi is getting serious about the offline sector, with 20% of the brand's sales from the last quarter coming from retail stores.
And after relying on word-of-mouth advertising for much of its existence, Xiaomi is now aggressively marketing its devices in India. That includes bringing in Bollywood A-listers, setting up a retail distribution network, and launching Mi Home stores across the country. All of these add considerably to the overhead, so it'll be interesting to see if Xiaomi can continue offering its devices at such affordable prices in the future.
For now, though, the Redmi Y1 is a great addition to the Redmi lineup. The phone will be available in the country for ₹8,999. There's also a variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage that will be sold for ₹10,999.