Monsters from Asia: the $150 Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is an incredible deal


If you're thinking of visiting China, or have friends or family there, you may want to ring them up and have them place an order for the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon edition and bring it over. At the equivalent of ~$152, it's a killer deal, at least for locals—and even if you end up purchasing it through an online re-seller that ships worldwide, it's still worth considering.

So what's the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon edition, and how is it different from the standard Note 3 model? It basically comes down to a switch in the processor—arguably a sizable upgrade over the MediaTek Helio X10. Instead of that one, you're getting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 650, with an Adreno 510 GPU on board. It's a hexa-core chip under an ARM big.LITTLE design, with two Cortex A72 cores at 1.8GHz and four Cortex A53 cores at 1.2GHz. The processor cycles between these two clusters of cores depending on the task at hand, or powers them all at once when full performance is required. Coupled with 3GB of RAM, the Redmi Note 3 ought to satisfy most folks' needs.

Design-wise, the Note 3 also doesn't disappoint, with metal adorning the exterior, and a fingerprint scanner occupying the rear. The 5.5-incher comes with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, or a pixel density of 401, so you can rest assured that detail is plentiful. The panel offers a few other extras too, such as smart contrast (dynamically tweaks image depending on surrounding light), low minimum brightness for easy nighttime reading, and even the now trendy, sleep-friendly blue light kill switch

The Snapdragon version of the phablet also impresses on the camera front, with an upgraded, 16-megapixel main snapper with wide, f2.0 lens, extremely quick phase-detection auto focus (0.1s focusing time advertised), and a dual-tone LED flash for more natural nighttime snaps. Despite having the hardware to power 4K video recording, the Note 3 is unfortunately limited to just 1080p video, but it does offer slow-motion capture at 120 frames per second. Finally—and you'll love the sound of this one—Xiaomi has packed a pretty massive, 4,050mAh cell with the Redmi Note 3, which powers the phone in concert with Android 5.1 Lollipop (with the highly-customizable MIUI 7 skin on top). An update to Marshmallow is planned.

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The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is still in its early roll-out phase, meaning Xiaomi is only selling a given number of devices on a pre-determined date (usually a few times a week). For the time being, this will cause a surge in re-seller pricing, with $220 being the only one we've found so far (pre-order only). If you dig the Note 3, keep in mind that the LTE bands supported by the phone (1800/2100/2700) are unsuitable for use in the US, but will work for most Europeans.

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