A new member of the Xiaomi Note 4 family, this phone currently retails at under $200 and has some great specs to boot. Could this be one of the best budget smartphones currently available at the start of 2017?

The device comes shipped in a minimalist style white box. Included inside you have some basic instructions, a micro USB cable, 2 pin wall charger and a sim card ejector tool.

Build & Features:
The phone itself feels and looks like a premium device albeit without the hefty price tag. It comes in a range of different colours including Cherry Powder, Champagne Gold, Platinum Silver Grey, Matte Black & Hatsune Miku exclusive colour. My personal favourite is the matte black device, which I believe looks the most classy and elegant of the range. It feels nice and solid in the hand with chamfered edges, helping a more natural & comfortable grip of the phone.

The construction is predominantly made of a metal body, with high grade plastic on both the top and bottom for the antennae signal. However, it’s actually pretty hard to notice that the ends are indeed plastic as it all feels and looks like it’s the same material, especially on the matte black version.

On the back of the device you’ll find a 13MP Sony IMX258 rear shooter with an f/2.0 lens. The dual tone led flash allows for shooting in low light situations. Below this is a fantastic rear Fingerprint Scanner, which is very quick and snappy and will unlock instantly from standby mode. It seems pretty accurate and the placement of the scanner on the back makes it ideal when pulling it out of your pocket and being able to unlock it very quickly.

The 5.5inch LCD screen displays a resolution of 1080p at a density of 403 PPI. It looks lovely and vibrant, producing sharp looking colours and nice deep blacks. Watching video on it is a pleasure and I’m yet to experience any lag or stuttering so far. Although it is not an OLED screen the brightness seems good and picture nice and crisp. It’s great to see the screen is made with Gorilla Glass to help avoid any major scratches and cracks. The backlit capacitive buttons are also situated at the bottom of the screen, dimming when not in use. To the top left corner of the device the LED notification light follows suit and is customisable to various colours according to notification type. The front facing camera is a 5mp Samsung shooter and is capable of taking some decent selfie photos. 

On the side of Note 4X you will find the ejecting sim and micro SD tray, which allows you a combination of 2 sim cards or a Micro Sim and Micro SD card. Memory is expandable up to 256GB.
To the other side the physical power and unlock button is situated, along with the volume buttons too. I really like the feel, they are made from a strong metal and it’s also lovely to see the silver detail around the outside of each of the buttons making it look more expensive than it actually is!

The bottom edge of the phone is home to a Micro Usb charging port, main microphone to the left and mono loud speaker output to the right. Clearly Xiaomi have kept the USB-C ports for their higher end devices.

On the top side of the device you will find the headphone jack and an IR Blaster, a nice addition whereby you can control household devices from your phone. There is also a noise cancelling microphone to the side of this.

Hardware & Performance:
The Note 4X comes in a couple of Storage and Ram options. One being 32GB and 3GB ram & the other 64GB and 4GB ram. However, the latter seems to be very hard to get your hands on at present.

Xiaomi have decided to run with the Snapdragon 625 CPU in this device, & has been noted to run a lot more efficiently than the Helio X20 used in one of the Note 4 models. My user experience so far has been rather snappy and responsive. Load times have been good and switching between apps very smooth.

The phone comes shipped with Android 6.0.1 as standard and is yet to get an upgrade to Android 7.0. This is something which Xiaomi struggle to do keeping updates in line with their own MIUI system, which is currently running MIUI 8 with a new update due around June 2017. This may be a small drawback for some. The MIUI operating system is a joy to use with many customisable options and themes to suit every user.

Moving on to the camera capabilities, the 13mp rear shooter is capable of producing some nice images. There are various modes and scenes you can choose from and also a manual option, but is somewhat limited in adjustments. The HDR mode is just a click away on the main camera screen and photos tend to look more vibrant when turned on. 

Video footage can be recorded up to 1080p and with 3rd party apps installed can allow you to record in 4k. The footage can be somewhat shaky due to the lack of image stabilisation and the image can look a little soft and less detailed in different light conditions. But overall the rear camera is more than adequate for a budget handset.

The front facing camera is capable of producing some decent looking selfie pictures. Although in low light the picture quality starts to deteriorate and we see a lot of graininess creeping in. Video quality is fine and voice recording sounds loud and clear. It is limited to 720p but again through 3rd party apps can achieve up to 1080p.

It comes with a huge inbuilt 4100mah battery, which will provide you with plenty of juice to see through the day. If you’re not a heavy user you’ll manage to get 2 days use before the need to charge it up again. Heavy users will get a good days use out if and possibly more.

In terms of charging, a full charge takes approximately 2.5 hours. The phone does support quick charge 3.0 technology too, but you will need to purchase the correct charger for this as the one supplied by Xiaomi is only a standard charging unit.

When it comes to connectivity I’ve had no issues connecting the phone via WIFI and Bluetooth etc. It has been a very smooth experience so far. The only thing missing connectivity wise is NFC, which would have been a nice feature, but due to the price point I can see why this may not have been included.

Making or receiving calls, the call quality is pretty good. The phones speaker is clear and is plenty loud enough.

The inbuilt loud speaker is satisfactory, although it can get a little distorted at high volumes especially when playing music, and the depth of bass isn’t really there. That being said for a mono speaker on a budget device you can’t really knock it. 

Gaming on the Note 4x is a pleasure. The nice 5.5inch screen and responsive snapdragon 625 processor can handle the most power demanding games out there with little or no dropped frames whilst gaming. Asphalt 8 runs very smoothly and other games such as Temple Run and Subway Surfers load and play equally as well. I haven’t noticed too much overheating either, with the installed processor working very efficiently indeed.



Verdict:
So, can we say this is one of the best budget smartphones currently on the market? It is definitely up there! The Xiaomi Note 4X could also potentially give some of the flagship devices a good run for their money. You are certainly getting bang for buck in this phone.

What I do like about this particular model is not only the premium look and feel, but the ease of use and performance the device brings as a whole. The processor works well and moreover helps provide fantastic battery life. Camera’s on the Note 4X are perfectly capable of shooting good images in the right lighting conditions.

Of course, this phone is not perfect by any means, however, these in no way outweigh the positives of this device. In order to keep the phone budget friendly Xiaomi have cut back on a few things including the plastic top and bottom and no quick charger being included in the box. The only other things I feel could have been improved are the inclusion of an image stabiliser for video footage and improving the quality of the front facing camera as it can be a bit hit or miss at times, possibly an update from Xiaomi may fix the issue. One thing to note on the matte black model is that it does attract fingerprints on the back of the phone.

Overall, this is a solid device. It looks fantastic, feels great and offers awesome performance throughout. If you’re on a budget and are on the lookout for your next phone make sure to add this to your shortlist.

If you think the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X is for you, click here | to purchase!

All the best,



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