Introduction

Xiaomi has been a regular around here lately and one of the last times we heard of them was how they sold a boatload of phones in no time. And it wasn't their finest either. A heavily discounted midranger made a splash at the box office, in India no less.

And it wasn't like the company was clearing up old stock - it would've sold fivefold judging by the number of registrations. Yep, the Redmi 1S is a tempting offer but the sub-$100 price in that Indian flash sale made it nearly impossible to resist. Similarities to what Motorola did with their bestseller, the Moto G, are by no means accidental.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S official pitures

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is playing by the book - the midrange chapter to be precise. It has a 4.7" IPS display of 720p resolution, Snapdragon 400 chipset with a quad-core processor, a decent 8MP camera, and 8GB of inbuilt storage. Like we said, Xiaomi's Redmi 1S is trying to beat the Moto G at its own game and is by no means clueless about how to do it.

Key features

  • 4.7" IPS 720p capacitive touchscreen with 312pi pixel density; AGC Dragontrail glass
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with MIUI v.5
  • 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU; 1 GB of RAM; Adreno 305 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • 8 MP camera with LED flash, 1080p video capture
  • 1.6 MP front-facing camera; 720p video recording
  • 8 GB of built-in memory, expandable via a microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • Dual-SIM
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
  • 2,000mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • No LTE (single-SIM 4G version available in China)
  • No KitKat yet
  • Thick and heavy

No doubt about that, it's Xiaomi's take on the older-gen Moto G, add or take. The Redmi 1S is currently on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean while the Moto G enjoys KitKat. On the flipside, it's got an 8MP camera with 1080p videos against 5MP stills and a 720p camcorder on the Moto. They both offer 8GB of storage but the Xiaomi Redmi 1S easily tops that with a microSD slot.

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S puts a simple finish to what's a rather plain design to begin with. Nothing wrong with the looks, we find it a sensible if understated styling. It's not impressively compact but then again, the Moto G is clearly thicker and gets away with it.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S live pictures

Anyway, we'll have enough time to reflect on the design. That's exactly what we're up to next, right after the break.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi 1S

We're used to seeing manufacturers take a green stand with packaging made of recycled materials and Xiaomi's retail box is by no means a novelty. The _phone_ comes with just the basics - an A/C adapter and a USB cable. There is no headset in the box, which isn't ideal but is much easier to swallow at this price point.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S retail box

Design and build quality

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is by no means huge but perhaps it could've been a little more compact for its screen size. At 137 x 69 x 9.9mm, it is about the size of the flagship Xiaomi Mi 4, but thicker.

To be fair though, there're more relevant points of reference. Sony's Xperia M2 is of similar dimensions and the Moto G itself isn't impressively compact either. The weight of 158g is perhaps a little above average.

When it comes to design Xiaomi Redmi 1S is by no means a head-turner and doesn't get carried away trying to pull off a premium look. The red capacitive key icons are a nice accent, while the matte plastic rear cover is practical and looks durable, well in tune with the overall design that's sensible rather than captivating.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

With fancy materials and finish hard to come by in that price range , the Xiaomi Redmi 1S gets the right things right. It is indeed a very well built smartphone, no squeaks when handled and everything seems to fit tightly in place. The only bit we are not particularly fond of is the love for fingerprints that the whole body shows and that surprisingly includes the matte plastic back.

The front is entirely covered by AGC Dragontrail glass, something which the high-end Xiaomi Mi 4 fails to offer. The screen ends on a slim frame of glossy black plastic, the sides are actually covered by the matte battery cover.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The Redmi 1S front - the matte back

While the Xiaomi Redmi 1S is by no means compact, it's easy enough to handle and carry. The build is solid and the simple finish looks like it'll last and that can't be said for too many phones in this price range.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Handing the Redmi 1S

Controls

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S has a pretty standard set of controls. The smartphone uses capacitive buttons beneath the display, marked with a rare red tint.

The 1.6MP front-facing camera is next to the earpiece, where you'll also spot the ambient light and proximity sensors.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The 1.6MP front camera is above the screen • the red touch-sensitive keys - below the display

The left side of the _phone_ is completely bare. On the right, we find the silver volume rocker and the power/lock key.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Exploring the left and right sides of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The top of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S only features the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The bottom is where the microUSB port and the primary microphone are.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The audio jack is on top • the microUSB port - at the bottom

The 8MP camera lens, accompanied by a single-LED flash and the secondary microphone are at the back. The loudspeaker grille is a bit unusually placed near the top. Perhaps the idea was for the projecting camera module to help it not get muffled when the phone is lying flat on a table.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

A peek at the back

The rear cover of the Redmi 1S is user-removable and lets you reach the 2,000mAh battery, the hot-swappable microSD card slot and the two SIM compartments. The Xiaomi Redmi 1S uses standard mini SIM cards.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The back panel is removable

Display

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S features a 4.7" HD IPS display with a pixel density of 312ppi. It's covered by AGC Dragontrail glass for protection against scratches and cracks from pressure.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The 4.7" IPS display Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Here is the display matrix of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S shot with our digital microscope. Taking a closer look at it reveals a standard RGB arrangement of the sub-pixels that make up the Xiaomi Redmi 1S LCD panel, not that we've expected anything else.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The display on the Xiaomi Redmi 1S is quite bright at 100% with great contrast and colors. Unfortunately dropping the brightness reduces the brightness quite sharply and the screen becomes dim very soon, the 50% setting is actually closer to 25% of the actual brightness.

An important note has to be made here - the screen, while employing an excellent panel has a very reflective glass on top, which causes its image quality to degrade rapidly when there are external light sources present. So while it looks great in a pitch black room, it loses a great part of its coolness in even moderately lit environments.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Redmi 1S 0.08 158 1437 0.45 615 1370
Xiaomi Mi 3 0.18 142 809 0.61 557 907
Xiaomi Mi 4 0.17 164 940 0.73 679 929
Motorola Moto G 4G 0.42 387 916 0.7 651 929
Motorola Moto E 0.27 278 1024 0.49 522 1062
Sony Xperia M2 0.33 325 989 0.64 643 1000
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 0.26 247 960 0.44 531 1094
Samsung Galaxy S III mini 221 385
LG G2 mini 0.12 91 752 0.52 398 748


The sunlight legibility is also quite poor due to the highly reflective glass. You are going to have a hard time using the Redmi 1S in the bright sunny days.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Xiaomi is providing options for color temperature and saturation. Glove mode is available too, but you probably shouldn't leave that turned on if you don't need it because it may drain your battery faster.

Finally there is an option to prevent accidental unlocks of your screen, while the phone is in your pocket. If enabled, you won't be able to unlock the scren while something is covering the proximity sensor. Again, that would take its toll on the battery life.

Battery life

Xiaomi has put a 2,000mAh battery inside the Redmi 1S and it is removable, so you can replace it anytime you want. We ran our battery test and the Xiaomi Redmi 1S scored 51 hours, which means you can count on two full days if you do an hour each of calling, web browsing and playing video per day.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Connectivity

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is a dual-SIM phone with dual stand-by. It works with mini-SIM cards, but 3G data speeds are only available on the first SIM. Here's the list of supported standards:

  • Tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz (SIM1 & SIM2)
  • 3G: 1900 / 2100, 21 Mbps HSDPA (SIM1)

LTE is the obvious thing missing here, but that's hardly a frequent occurrence among the phones as affordable as the Xiaomi Redmi 1S. In fact this one has an LTE version, but that's single-SIM only and is only available in China.

The rest of the connectivity features include Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and hotspot. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, plus an FM radio with RDS.

There is a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data connections. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory and microSD card over the USB cable. The microUSB 2.0 port can also be used in USB On-the-go mode for connecting USB peripherals such as pen drives, keyboards or real USB hard drives.

User interface - Android Jelly Bean with MIUI v.5

Xiaomi Redmi 1S runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean skinned with company's proprietary MIUI v5. The MIUI ROMs have been around for quite a while and are fairly popular among the Android community. Xiaomi's customizations run very deep and replace everything including all Google services, but you can get them from the Mi Market app. The models sold outside China come with the entire Google package pre-installed.

Xiaomi has already announced the new MIUI v.6. It brings is a complete UI overhaul with flat looks, updated system apps, among other updates. It should become available on the Xiaomi Mi lineup later this year.

Here's quick walkthrough of the MIUI v5 on video to get you started.

The lockscreen looks very familiar and we've already seen similar in Huawei's Emotion UI. There is centered circle with shortcuts in the four cardinal directions: a simple unlock to the South, start the camera to the North, messaging is to the East and the dialer/call log is to the West.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The MIUI v5 lockscreen

Beyond the lockscreen is the Android homescreen with four customizable shortcuts docked at the bottom by default, but you can dock up to five items. You can have any app there or even folders with multiple items if you will.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The MIUI homescreens • there is no app drawer

There is no app drawer - anything you install pops up on your homescreen, which can have unlimited panes. There're no shortcuts and the usual routine of removing icons (dragging them up to a recycle bin at the top of the screen) will uninstall the corresponding app. There is a pop-up for confirming the action though, so you can't accidentally uninstall apps.

Homescreen widgets are available, too - tap and hold on the homescreen, then choose Widgets. There are some interesting options available, but of course, you can get even more from the Play Store.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Customization menu • widgets • wallpapers • transition effects

Homescreen effects are available from the customization menu. You can change themes, too. A theme will change your homescreen wallpaper, lockscreen style, system icons, system font and the sound profile.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Themes repository • Applying a new theme

The notification area has two tabs - the first one holds all notifications, while the second is a 4x4 grid of toggles. You can add, remove and rearrange toggles. The Quick Settings tab is the one that opens by default unless you have unread notifications. This sort of behavior does make sense in some scenarios but it certainly is a bit confusing at first.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Toggles • Notifications

Xiaomi provides its own app repository and cloud service for content syncing between devices. While the Mi Market somewhat mirrors the Play Store functionality, Mi Cloud is a different story.

Each Mi Cloud account is granted 5GB of free storage. You can use it to backup contacts, messages, your entire gallery, call log, notes, settings, voice recordings, Browser content (history, tabs, webapp data) and your music library. Sounds familiar? Yes, indeed! Xiaomi's sync and backup service shares lots of similarities with the Apple iCloud. There is even a free Cloud Messaging option that allows Xiaomi users to exchange messages over the internet connection instead of being billed for SMS.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Configuring Mi Cloud and Cloud Messaging

Finally, if you signed in with your Mi Cloud account, you can opt for the Find device function - a handy feature in case you misplace your Xiaomi Redmi 1S or someone steals it.

Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Google Now

It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice input as well.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S runs on the poplar mid-range chipset Snapdragon 400 with a quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Adreno 305 GPU and a lowly 1GB of RAM. It runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean skinned with MIUI v5. Once the MIUI v.6 based on Android 4.4 KitKat arrives we expect the a minor bump in the benchmarks scores.

First off, we focus on the CPU and overall benchmarks we have in our arsenal. GeekBench 3 shows the Xiaomi Redmi 1S as a great performer on par with the fastest S400-powered phone - HTC Desire 816. The Redmi 1S has better scores than the rest of the S400 gang, but that's understandable as it CPU has a faster clock (1.6GHz vs 1.4GHz).

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 816
    1510
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1492
  • HTC Desire 510
    1471
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1373
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1359
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1175
  • LG G2 mini
    1123
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1106
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1074

The compound AnTuTu 5 shows a mediocre result, on par with the S400-running Xperia M2 Aqua and way below the phones featuring more powerful chipsets.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    46566
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    32487
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    28758
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    19912
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    19016

Basemark OS II gives an overall CPU score and breaks down the single and multi-core performance of smartphones. The overall performance is really uninspiring even though the Redmi 1S did an excellent job handling the Android OS and some popular games. The Cortex-A7 cores inside the Snapdragon 400 of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S did a decent job when performing alone, but rather poor output when working together.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia T3
    535
  • HTC Desire 816
    520
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    495
  • HTC Desire 510
    491
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    452
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    434
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    394
  • Sony Xperia M2
    298

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 816
    1739
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1465
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1435
  • HTC Desire 510
    1332
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1192
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1164
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1131

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 816
    7071
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5759
  • HTC Desire 510
    5484
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5012
  • Sony Xperia M2
    4927
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    4887
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    4875

Moving on to graphics-intensive tests. GFXBench offers the T-Rex and the latest Manhattan tests, both in off-screen and on-screen versions. The Manhattan utilizes OpenGL ES 3 that was made available since Android 4.3 Jelly Bean release. Unfortunately the Xiaomi Redmi 1S couldn’t run the Manhattan benchmarks as it always ran out of memory.

Adreno 305 is too low-powered to show any serious framerates even on the T-Rex tests - it did poor on both the 1080p off-screen benchmark and the 720p on-screen run.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6
  • Sony Xperia M2
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5.9
  • HTC Desire 816
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    5.8
  • LG G2 mini
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    5.7
  • HTC Desire 510
    5.3

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    15.5
  • HTC Desire 510
    15.5
  • Sony Xperia M2
    15.4
  • LG G2 mini
    14.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    11.2
  • HTC Desire 816
    11
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    10.9
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    10.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    10.3

Finally, we come to JavaScript performance where we have Mozilla's Kraken 1.1. JavaScript performance is great for the class. Unfortunately we weren't able to run the compound BrowserMark 2.1 test because the Xiaomi Redmi 1S ran quickly out of memory.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    12470
  • HTC Desire 816
    13564
  • Sony Xperia T3
    13738
  • HTC Desire 510
    14443
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    16118
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    16129
  • Sony Xperia M2
    18047

The Snapdragon 400 seems to be the maker's favorite chipset when creating midrange devices and it has proven capable enough to handle smartphones with display resolution up to 720p. A better 64-bit version is already available on the market, but we bet the Snapdragon 400 device will stick around for quite a while. And while the Xiaomi Redmi 1S didn't rock the leaderboards, it did an okay job nonetheless and we can hardly complain about its real-world performance.

Contacts and telephony

The dialer and the phonebook share a single app although there are two shortcuts. The app uses a tabbed interface - recent with dialer, then there's the contact list and directory (a.k.a. groups).

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The Phonebook

Contact info is displayed as a list of all available details. Custom ringtones can be selected for each contact and duplicate contacts can be merged into a single entry.

The dialer supports Smart dialing and works great - it's looking up both names and phone numbers so you always find what you need.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S supports voice call recording and it can do it automatically on each call if you like. You can also assign an answer gesture, pre-define quick responses upon reject, there is even support for internet calling.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The Dialer • settings

There are even more call settings if you dig deeper into the menu - flip to mute the ringer, turn on/off the proximity sensor, lock automatically once slipped in a pocket, it can even mute calls from unknown numbers.

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S scored an Average mark on our loudspeaker tests, meaning you may miss some calls and notifications if you are in a noisy environment and don't keep a close eye on it.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Xiaomi Mi 4 62 62.1 66.6 Below Average
Xiaomi Mi 3 64.9 64.8 66.6 Below Average
Xiaomi Redmi 1S 66.9 65.9 71.7 Average
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 66.3 66.2 72.7 Average
Xiaomi Redmi Note 65.9 66.7 75.7 Good
Sony Xperia M2 66.6 66.7 75.7 Good
Sony Xperia E1 70.2 73.5 75.8 Very Good
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent
Motorola Moto G 81.6 75.7 82.7 Excellent


Messaging and email

The messaging department is pretty standard - there's a list of all bubble-styled conversations organized in threads, with New Message and Search keys at the bottom and a settings button next to it.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Messaging

Attaching multimedia to a message will automatically turn it into an MMS. You can add everything from photos, videos, audio to general files. There's even a full blown slide editor if you want to make full use of the MMS standard. The Attach location option is pretty nice too.

Moving on to email, the Gmail app (if included) has handy shortcuts at the bottom of the screen and supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The default app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there's no unified inbox.

There is also a generic Email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple Exchange, POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Gmail • Email

MIUI offers two keyboards by default. The first one is Google keyboard - it has always been pleasure to use and is one of the most preferred Android keyboards out there. On this screen the keys are comfortably large in both portrait and landscape mode. There is support for gesture typing, handwriting and voice input.

The second one is the wide-spread SwiftKey. It is chosen by default since the initial setup, but you can change it later from Settings. It is among the best we've seen to date, heavily relying on swype input.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Google keyboard • Swiftkey

Image gallery

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S comes with a custom Gallery app. It defaults to your camera roll with two shortcuts at the bottom that will take you to album view of your local images and album view of your cloud pictures. You can't change this view, nor can you customize the default folders.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Gallery

The available features when viewing a single image are pretty standard - set image as wallpaper/contact image, share it, delete it, enter edit mode or just get more info.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Viewing a single image • options

The integrated editor offers various effects, frames, tools (crop, mirror, straighten, rotate, fisheye, doodle) plus light adjustments that let you bring out the shadows or the highlights.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Editing an image

Music player

The MIUI music player is a custom app with a well-laid out, easy to navigate interface. It has a huge visualization screen doubling as a Now Playing windows. Below you get four non-customizable tabs - All Songs, Artists, and Playlists.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Music Player

The player has cool 3D effects, transitions and transparent elements, especially on the expandable Now Playing section.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Now Playing screen

Xiaomi's Music app offers customizable equalizers with a few default presets already available for use. You can also try Xiaomi's MiSound enhancer, which comes into play when you use headphones, and especially, a Xiaomi-branded set.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Audio enhancements and equalizers

Finally, you can edit song info and you can also enable automatic song info download in case the ID3 tags are empty. Lyrics can be downloaded, too.

FM radio

The phone has an FM receiver and supports radio recording. There is a sleep timer as well.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

FM radio app

Video player

Xiaomi Redmi 1S does not feature a separate video app. Instead you have to browser your files via the image gallery or the file explorer app. We suggest using the latter (Explorer), because the Gallery doesn't recognize MKV and WMV files.

The video player interface is very basic interface but there is rich video codec support. It managed to play everything we threw at it (including MKV and WMV files). The AC3 audio codec is supported too.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Video player

Subtitles and pop-up play are not supported by the MIUI's video player.

Audio output is solid

Given the uninspiring performance of its Mi3 and Mi4 siblings, we didn't really have very high expectations about the Xiaomi Redmi 1S audio output. However the entry-level smartphone not only wasn't much worse than its colleagues, but it was even slightly better overall.

When connected to an active external amplifier the Redmi 1S showed great excellently low noise levels, very good and no distortion whatsoever. Add the spotless frequency response and you only have the disappointingly low volume levels as a drawback to this performance.

Even better, besides the extra stereo crosstalk, there's virtually no degradation when you plug in a pair of headphones. This would have been a solid showing even if the phone was retailing for twice as much, but in this price range we really have nothing to complain about (yes, moaning about volume levels on a $100 handset in unacceptable).

And here go the detailed results so you can check them out for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Xiaomi Redmi 1S +0.08, -0.02 -95.4 88.4 0.0045 0.028 -82.3
Xiaomi Redmi 1S (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.07 -95.3 88.2 0.0090 0.032 -52.8
Motorola Moto G +0.08, -0.85 -92.1 91.9 0.0059 0.082 -91.4
Motorola Moto G (headphones attached) +0.10, -1.03 -92.0 91.8 0.010 0.117 -50.4
Oppo R819 +0.04, -0.09 -92.4 92.3 0.017 0.045 -87.9
Oppo R819(headphones attached) +0.58, -0.13 -91.0 90.9 0.015 0.438 -48.7
Nokia Lumia 625 +0.13, -0.10 -90.3 90.3 0.013 0.355 -82.5
Nokia Lumia 625 (headphones attached) +0.24, -0.00 -90.2 90.2 0.014 0.460 -83.8

Xiaomi Redmi 1S frequency response

Xiaomi Redmi 1S frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Great 8MP camera

Xiaomi Redmi 1S features an 8MP camera, equipped with a LED flash.

The interface is fairly simple - everything is placed at the two side bars. On the left you get front camera shortcut, camera/camcorder switch and flash settings. The right sidebar has the settings toggle, the camera shutter and the gallery shortcut.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Camera UI

The settings offer HDR, scenes, focus mode, white balance, exposure and ISO manual settings, among others. The Face Detection switches is within the additional settings.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S camera resolves a decent amount of detail, color reproduction is accurate and the white balance is right most of the time. The noise levels are somewhat high, but the auto-focus does great in most cases. We had few samples where the white balance were off, but insignificant among the rest.

Certainly, considering the price range, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S camera is excellent and much better than its peers.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S camera samples

The HDR mode is conservative and rescues both the highlights and shadows without making the contrast too low.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

HDR off • HDR on

Panorama shots are available too - you can capture both landscape and portrait panoramic photos at about 180 degree. Shooting is easy but the stitching takes more than a minute to complete. The end result is rather disappointing though - the landscape shots come in 2300x400px pixels while shooting in portrait mode results in the somewhat more usable (but again far from great) 3000x800px.

While the panoramic images are stitched very well, the quality and resolution are below the competition.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Portrait panorama • landscape panorama

Photo comparison tool

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is more than capable of carrying its own weight in our Photo Comparison tool. You can see it puts up a good fight against the other 8 MP snappers and comes on top in quite a few occasions.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Xiaomi Redmi 1S in our photo quality comparison tool

1080p video recording

Xiaomi Redmi 1S camcorder has the same UI as the still camera. It supports time-lapse videos with customizable snapping interval.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Camcorder UI

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is capable or recording up to 1080p@30fps. The bitrate of the samples is 15 Mbps, audio is captured at 96 Kbps with 2 channels (read stereo).

The detail levels in the 1080p videos are very high, colors and contrast are great too, while the framerate is very consistent at 30fps.

And here is a 1080p video we've uploaded on YouTube.

You can also download the 1080p untouched video sample taken straight off the Xiaomi Redmi 1S.

Video quality comparison tool

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S enters our video comparison too. There are plenty of 1080p camcorders you can compare it with. It has proven to be among the best with great detail, colors, and contrast in the 1080p range.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Xiaomi Redmi 1S in our Video quality comparison tool

MIUI Browser works great, but eats more system resources than Chrome

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S comes with the feature-rich MIUI Browser. It does a great job browsing, syncing with your Google account, supports downloads, there is a night mode, too. It is as fast as Chrome, but does not support Find on Page or copy text (only links). On the positive side, it has a built-in Reading mode, which isn't available in Chrome. It enlarges the text font and strips away unneeded elements, leaving only the article you are reading in focus.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Mi Browser

Unfortunately, the MIUI Browser didn't handle pressure particularly well - it couldn't handle our battery-test browsing script for more than three minutes without crashing.

That's why we suggest you install Chrome, at least as a backup, just in case you need to avoid crashes or you need to find something on a page. Plus it can sync with your Google account easily.

Other pre-installed apps

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S offers a great file managing app called Explorer, but there is no document viewer/editor pre-installed. There are plenty of free options in the Play Store (even ones made by Google), so this shouldn't pose a problem.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Explorer

Xiaomi Redmi 1S also features the WPS Office suite, which supports creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt).

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

WPS Office

The MIUI v.5 also offers a useful Security app. It can scan your phone for malware, manage your blocklist, manage or restrict your data usage, configure battery behavior, clean some RAM, it can also manage the permissions of your installed apps.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Security app

The custom Calendar looks good, syncs with your accounts including Google, and offers Day and Month views.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Calendar

There are also the standard sound recorder, notes, flashlight, calculator, clock, and weather apps, among others, that are a given in any self-respecting Android package nowadays.

By the way, you can activate the torch from the lockscreen by a tap-and-hold on the Home key.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Voice recorder • Notes • Calculator • Weather

When it comes to getting around, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S relies on Google Maps and Navigation. Naturally, if Google Maps isn't installed on your unit, you can get it for free from the Android Market. The app offers much of the same functionality as its web-based counterpart, although you will need a data connection to take full advantage of the navigation features. Street view mode with digital compass enabled is an especially neat thing that you should definitely check out if you haven't already.

Whatever you may be missing, you'll find it in Google's Play Store.

Final words

There you go, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S didn't work out quite as expected. The reflective display and far from compact body got us preparing for a letdown but the Redmi 1S did well to turn that around and finish on a high.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S would've been just a face in the Snapdragon 400 crowd was it not for the screen resolution and, of course, the price. It comes across as reasonably snappy and has very good imaging skills - but we can think of at least a dozen others that match that description.

Yet, it's probably the cheapest Snapdragon 400-powered smartphone you can get and one that delivers adequately or above expectations on most key performance aspects.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S key test findings:

  • Build quality is good
  • The display panel is great, but the glass above it too reflective, which damages image quality
  • The battery life is very good
  • Dual-SIM connectivity, 3G on SIM 1, Wi-Fi n, FM radio
  • We rated the speaker loudness as Average
  • The simplified MIUI interface is based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and offers rich customization options but not as many extra features as other proprietary skins
  • The performance (speed, multitasking) is reasonable for the price
  • The audio quality is good
  • Camera takes very good photos and 1080p videos
  • The video player supports every audio and video codec

The thing to consider is that it's currently running Jelly Bean but is scheduled to get the latest KitKat-based MIUI 6.0. The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is available at about €100 or even less by online retailers in China and Southeast Asia.

This is near impossible for top-tier manufacturers to match. Just to be clear, we're talking the likes of Samsung's Galaxy S4 mini and Galaxy S3 Neo, the LG Optimus L9 II and the Sony Xperia M2. Some of them cannot even match the specs of the Redmi 1S despite costing twice as much.

Samsung I9300I Galaxy S3 Neo
Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
Sony Xperia M2
LG Optimus L9 II

Samsung I9300I Galaxy S3 Neo • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini • Sony Xperia M2 • LG Optimus L9 II

Even the likes of ZTE, Alcatel and Huawei will have trouble meeting Xiaomi's price. The one that gets closest is Motorola but its Moto G is what it is exactly because it's a very special exception.

Motorola Moto G

Motorola Moto G

The affordable Lumias would've made a good alternative but the HD screen resolution helps the Redmi 1S keep them at a safe distance. The fresh Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM is an impressively close match - and competitively priced too, but still not that cheap.

Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM

Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM

To get a closer match, you'll have to turn to lesser known manufacturers like Micromax. The Canvas Elanza 2, Canvas 2 Colors and Canvas Turbo Mini all offer 720p displays and run on quad-core Cortex-A7 processors. They are also dual-SIM-enabled and feature capable 8MP snappers. Unlike the Xiaomi Redmi 1S, the 5" Canvas 2 Colors and the 4.7" Canvas Turbo Mini are powered by MediaTek's MT6582 chipsets with slightly lower-clocked 1.3GHz processors, while the Canvas Elanza 2 is based on Snapdragon 200. Those three phones are a good match for the Xiaomi Redmi 1S, a hair less performance, but only a few bucks more expensive.

Micromax A121 Canvas Elanza 2
Micromax A120 Canvas 2 Colors
Micromax Canvas Turbo Mini

Micromax A121 Canvas Elanza 2 • Micromax A120 Canvas 2 Colors • Micromax Canvas Turbo Mini

There is also the Karbon Titanium S19 with a 5" 720p display and quad-core Cortex-A7 processor, with even higher-res 13MP camera and a 5MP front snapper for selfies. It runs on Android KitKat, offers dual-SIM option, too, and has just went on sale. It costs slightly higher than the Xiaomi Redmi 1S, but makes up for that with better looks and better camera department.

Karbonn Titanium S19

Karbonn Titanium S19

OK, there're usually plenty of reasons why one shouldn't go for the cheapest option available. Plus, every bit of caution is understandable when lesser known brands are involved. But if the original Motorola Moto G did what it did being the cheapest option available, Xiaomi can very well try too.

It works out well for consumers in Asia, which is this phone's main market. Can it work elsewhere too? The way we see it, it's only the guaranteed OS updates and reputation where the Redmi 1S falls short. Things you cannot quite put a price on against a price no one can possibly beat.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi 1S

We're used to seeing manufacturers take a green stand with packaging made of recycled materials and Xiaomi's retail box is by no means a novelty. The phone comes with just the basics - an A/C adapter and a USB cable. There is no headset in the box, which isn't ideal but is much easier to swallow at this price point.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi Redmi 1S retail box

Design and build quality

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is by no means huge but perhaps it could've been a little more compact for its screen size. At 137 x 69 x 9.9mm, it is about the size of the flagship Xiaomi Mi 4, but thicker.

To be fair though, there're more relevant points of reference. Sony's Xperia M2 is of similar dimensions and the Moto G itself isn't impressively compact either. The weight of 158g is perhaps a little above average.

When it comes to design Xiaomi Redmi 1S is by no means a head-turner and doesn't get carried away trying to pull off a premium look. The red capacitive key icons are a nice accent, while the matte plastic rear cover is practical and looks durable, well in tune with the overall design that's sensible rather than captivating.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

With fancy materials and finish hard to come by in that price range , the Xiaomi Redmi 1S gets the right things right. It is indeed a very well built smartphone, no squeaks when handled and everything seems to fit tightly in place. The only bit we are not particularly fond of is the love for fingerprints that the whole body shows and that surprisingly includes the matte plastic back.

The front is entirely covered by AGC Dragontrail glass, something which the high-end Xiaomi Mi 4 fails to offer. The screen ends on a slim frame of glossy black plastic, the sides are actually covered by the matte battery cover.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The Redmi 1S front - the matte back

While the Xiaomi Redmi 1S is by no means compact, it's easy enough to handle and carry. The build is solid and the simple finish looks like it'll last and that can't be said for too many phones in this price range.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Handing the Redmi 1S

Controls

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S has a pretty standard set of controls. The smartphone uses capacitive buttons beneath the display, marked with a rare red tint.

The 1.6MP front-facing camera is next to the earpiece, where you'll also spot the ambient light and proximity sensors.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The 1.6MP front camera is above the screen • the red touch-sensitive keys - below the display

The left side of the phone is completely bare. On the right, we find the silver volume rocker and the power/lock key.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Exploring the left and right sides of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The top of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S only features the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The bottom is where the microUSB port and the primary microphone are.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The audio jack is on top • the microUSB port - at the bottom

The 8MP camera lens, accompanied by a single-LED flash and the secondary microphone are at the back. The loudspeaker grille is a bit unusually placed near the top. Perhaps the idea was for the projecting camera module to help it not get muffled when the phone is lying flat on a table.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

A peek at the back

The rear cover of the Redmi 1S is user-removable and lets you reach the 2,000mAh battery, the hot-swappable microSD card slot and the two SIM compartments. The Xiaomi Redmi 1S uses standard mini SIM cards.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Xiaomi Redmi 1S

The back panel is removable