(Time to dust off this blog!)
I Really Need a Replacement
I was looking for a new phone for a while now…
My old LG L5 II was old after less than one year… With a single core 1GHz Mediatek processor and 512MB of RAM, it was laggy, constantly reloading the launcher and ending up without memory for a few apps. Why? With android 4.1.2, after a reboot, out of the 512MB of RAM, I only had 120MB available. Barely enough for my usage.
So, thinking that new android OSs are only going to take more RAM after a reboot, I wasn’t going for another low RAM device… 1GB would quickly lead me into another crappy experience. So, I had to go for a 2GB+ RAM device. That was settled. The first time I saw the Redmi2 it didn’t tick this box, as it only had 1GB RAM, so it was discarded with so many other devices.
I started looking into chinese phones after I saw an article on MoDaCo about the iOcean X7, with its 5″ FullHD screen, and getting a decent review. The price was about right… less than 200£ (at the time, 1£ ~1.15€). That was almost 2 years ago… but my LG L5 II was still newish, so I postponed until I actually needed a dual-SIM phone.
Now, my LG has worn out its welcome. I mean, it works fine, until you start using more than one app at the same time. And the GPS experience was abysmal! I could do a hole car trip for a full hour and it would just not get a fix. This was particularly exasperating when I really needed the GPS to know how to get to a particular place.
And, while using an app that requires some positioning info, would render multi-tasking unbearable… even when a call was incoming, it would take a few seconds until I could answer the phone.
I figured this was probably due to the processor… crappy early stage single-core Mediatek at 1GHz. So I was thinking that a Qualcomm could do the trick much better than the MTK.
This LG phone only had 4GB ROM… but I only had 1.8GB available for apps and everything else. Luckily, it has an SD-card slot and, after rooting the phone, I could use Link2SD to put most of the apps on the SD card, while the phone thinks they’re on internal memory. I figured, this is linux, it must have the ability to link files from other partitions… google… and link2SD came up as the perfect solution.
Even if not for linking apps, I really like having an SD-card so I can put my music files in there. 🙂
So, I need something with 2GB of RAM and a decent GPS functionality to replace that old guy.
But the old guy did have some decent things, like the screen, with its 233dpi, IPS LCD which was really nice. At the time I got it, I refused to get the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini due to its crappy Pentile matrix which gives a zigzaggy look to everything… even knowing I was trading a good processor for an inferior one. This means that 233dpi, for me, was good enough. A little more wouldn’t hurt, but not too much, as we know that each extra pixel requires some extra processing and consumes some extra battery. Also, retina display is defined at around 300dpi, so I figured that was a nice goal.
A 5inch 720p screen has about 294dpi which is spot on. But some phones sport a 4.7inch 720p screen which gives some 312dpi. A bit nicer.
A 5inch 1080p screen is overkill at 441dpi. Heck, even the now famous 5.5inch variety has 401dpi. Battery hogs for no discernible improvement in visual quality!
After all this talking, the list:
- 4.7 or 5 inch 720p screen – no pentile crap
- Decent GPS usage
- 2GB+ RAM
- 16GB+ ROM
- Decent battery (I was going for 2500mAh+)
- LED torch – sometimes, we need to light up a place, or take a nice photo.
- 1080p capable camera
- Quad-core processor
- SD-card slot
- Android 5
The Moto G Effect
Along comes 2015’s July and Motorola announces the Moto G (3rd generation) with a 2GB RAM version and a price tag, in India, equivalent to 200€…. I figured it would be my next phone!
Sadly, in Europe, it cost something between 260€ and 290€… Way beyond my budget.
But it did tick all the boxes… and the processor was a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410.
The same processor, as luck would have it, that can be found in Xiaomi’s Redmi2.
And the Redmi2 also ticks all the boxes. But it’s from a chinese company. And these chinese phones, while the price is very nice, the durability isn’t that great, as attested by a few friends of mine.
Is It Worth It?
So I wasn’t convinced to get a chinese phone… until I saw some reviews on youtube. Drop tests, screen scratch tests… the works! And the phone managed to come out relatively unscathed, similar to what happened to some similar tests made to the iphones and galaxy S’s. It seems these chinese phones can take a beating.
Xiaomi is known for using the MIUI ROM, a ROM filled with extra goodies, almost like the well known CyanogenMod. This means that official updates are almost certain to come, so the fact that the Redmi2 came with MIUI6 which is built over android 4.4.4 did not concern me too much. Actually, MIUI 7 is almost ready for updating (still on android 4.4.4, odd).
On the other hand, Xiaomi phones used to come with a Native Root mechanism, so you can just turn root access on and off. It’s no longer the case, apparently, but rooting isn’t difficult (http://en.miui.com/thread-121619-1-1.html).
Being in Europe, I figured it was better to order the phone from somewhere in Europe to avoid waiting for it for months and having to deal with customs and paying even more.
I found it at around 150€, plus shipping, on what looked like an official Xiaomi european vendor… looked like. But it wasn’t clear if the phone would actually be shipped from within Europe, so I didn’t get it from them.
Searched a bit for “european warehouse” and “redmi 2” and the good guys at GearBest surprised me with the 115€ price tag.
For something equivalent to the Moto G’s 270€? I’ll have some of that!
It got shipped from the UK, via DHL and took the maximum estimated time for arrival, 5 week days.
I’m now the proud owner of a Xiaomi Redmi2 Prime. 🙂
(review to come)