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Xiaomi Redmi 1S: This phone stoops to conquer!

 Bangalore, September 1 2014: The Redmi 1S  may disrupt the budget smart-phone segment  -- as its costlier cousin, the Mi3, did  at the high end.

Five weeks ago we brought you a test report of Chinese phone maker Xiaomi's  first  handset  launched  in India -- the Mi3 --  which offered premier smartphone specs at half the  market price and caused  the website of FlipKart to crash. Now it looks as if Xiaomi's  second India offering -- the Redmi 1S --   may do likewise, for what  the late CK Prahlad famously called the 'bottom of the pyramid" -- customers who aspire for  smartphone experience at feature phone prices.  Like Oliver Goldsmith's heroine, this is a phone that stoops to conquer!

Unboxing the 1S,  is an experience very similar to that of its costlier cousin: the same starkly minimalist packaging -- Xiaomi still audaciously provides a Made-for-China  power plug and Indian buyers presumably have to lump it or buy their own adaptor. Thankfully the startup instructions are in English this time.

The 4.7 inch  In Plane Switching (IPS) screen  uses a special scratch resistant glass - we tested the claim. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.6 GHz quad chip;  1 GB RAM and 8 GB flash memory ( 6 GB usable, expandable to 64GB with microSD card), an 8 megapixel  rear camera  with wide angle and flash and a 1.6 MP front camera -- these are all specs that one is unlikely to find in a phone that cost less than Rs 10,000. Interestingly, the  rear camera can record full HD 1080p video though the phone can only display 720p HD.  This is a dual  micro-SIM phone,  one of which  supports 3G.  The audio technology from Dirac adapts to the headphones you use.

The makers have  created their own User Interface on top of Android's -- and  whether you find it  useful or just a departure from the familiar, is a matter of personal taste.

The OS seems to be Android Jellybean and not the latest KitKat -- but at an asking price of Rs 5999, it's still a great  bargain.  FlipKart is again replaying its drama of  pre-registration by today ( September 1) midnight for  purchase from tomorrow -- let's hope they have learnt from the Mi3 fiasco and  won't irritate aspiring buyers.



Anand Parthasarathy



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