Xiaomi Redmi A3 Review: Entry level

The Redmi A3, part of the A series, is a budget entry-level smartphone from Redmi. This phone targets individuals seeking their first device or those simply needing basic functionality like messaging and phone calls. Its appearance might be deceiving but price reflects its budget-friendly nature.

Design and Build

A person holding a A3 phone, highlighting its sleek design and sturdy build quality.

Xiaomi’s Redmi A3 is actually built quite nicely. The blue variant I have comes with a glass back design, although I’m not sure if it’s actual glass or plastic that resembles glass. The blue and black variants have this glass-like appearance, while the green variant has a leather-like finish. Personally, I wanted the green one, but it wasn’t available. Nevertheless, it’s a good-looking phone with a premium feel especially when compared to last year’s A2, which looked more like a budget phone.

The design of the A3 is clearly well thought out, with noticeable improvements. It stands out with its flat sides giving it a unique aesthetic. However, if I were to nitpick, I’m not a fan of the glossy finish on the blue and black models. Opting for the green leather-like variant would be a better choice in my opinion.

When I first unboxed the Redmi A3 I couldn’t find the fingerprint sensor at first. It turned out to be integrated into the power button, unlike the A2 where it was located on the back. Additionally, the A3 features a tray on the left side for two SIM cards and an SD card. Starting at 64 gigs with a maximum of 128 gigs, the option for expandable storage via an SD card is very welcome. Interestingly the box doesn’t include a phone case or earpiece which would have been nice additions.

Display

Xiaomi A3 laced on a clean desk, displaying a video to showcase its display picture quality.

When you turn you’re immediately reminded that Redmi A3 is an entry-level smartphone. It sports thick bezels around the screen and a less-than-attractive teardrop notch, which is typical for this price range. The display is a 6.71-inch 720p IPS LCD with a 90Hz refresh rate, which is pretty standard for this segment. However, two things stand out to me: the higher refresh rate and the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection for the screen.

The 90Hz refresh rate enhances the user experience particularly when scrolling or watching content. And Corning Gorilla Glass 3 adds durability and peace of mind for screen protection. Even comes pre-installed with Netflix, indicating a focus on content consumption.

Despite the less-than-perfect specs like the lower resolution and thicker bezels, the display should satisfy the needs of most everyday consumers, especially considering suitability for video content consumption.

Software

A person holding displaying the home screen to showcase its software and user interface.

The software on Redmi A3 is good enough. It runs on MIUI, but the user interface doesn’t resemble MIUI much; instead, it looks more like stock Android. The departure from the usual MIUI design might be aimed at improving the performance giving it a smoother user experience. They seem to have stripped off many features to keep it simple and lightweight. For instance, the phone only includes one built-in wallpaper.

Furthermore, Redmi A3 operates on Android 14 Go Edition which is optimized for devices with lower specifications. Overall, the software experience is streamlined and straightforward catering to users who prefer simplicity and efficiency.

Performance

I found something strange regarding the processor of the Redmi A3. GSM Arena’s website states that it comes with the Mediatek Helio G36 processor, but upon checking, I discovered it’s actually using the Helio P35. I confirmed this using two different apps both indicating the P35. Either the apps are incorrect or GSM Arena made a mistake. 

My unit has 4 gigs of RAM, which is the highest available in my region, though there’s also a 6 gig variant. It’s advisable to avoid the base model with 3 gigs of RAM. More RAM tends to provide a better experience. 

Despite the older chipset, the Helio P35 manages basic tasks adequately. It may take a moment or two to open apps, and occasional stutters might occur. However, as long as you’re not pushing the phone beyond its limits and stick to basic usage, it performs satisfactorily. 

This isn’t a gaming phone; it can handle some light 2D and 3D games, but more demanding titles might not even be downloadable. Lighter games like Subway Surfers run smoothly, though. 

In comparison to its predecessor, the A2, there’s technically a downgrade, but it’s relatively insignificant given the intended usage for this phone.

Cameras

Close-up image clearly showing the 8MP camera setup of the Redmi A3.
Image: Eugoson Quorch

When it comes to cameras, there’s no difference compared to the A2. We have the same sensors on the Redmi A3: two main cameras on the rear, but practically just one—a primary 8-megapixel sensor and a 0.8-megapixel auxiliary sensor. On the front, there’s a 5-megapixel selfie camera.

A person holding a of chips, demonstrating the 8MP camera picture quality of the Redmi A3.
Image: Eugoson Quorch

Given the low expectations one should have, the camera quality is decent. With just 8 megapixels, don’t expect a lot of detail or sharpness. However, with ample lighting, you can capture reasonably good photos. Video quality is also satisfactory at best, recording at 1080p with no stabilization.

It’s clear that camera quality isn’t the selling point of this phone.

Battery

While the camera performance may be just okay, the battery life of this phone is really impressive. It boasts a substantial 5,000 mAh battery, easily lasting a day and then some, depending on usage. With basic usage, you can expect around 8 to 9 hours of screen-on time. However, charging speeds are not as remarkable. The A3 comes with a 10W charger in the box, translating to around 2 to 3 hours for a full charge. It’s more of a plug-in-at-night, pick-up-in-the-morning kind of device.

Interestingly, the charging speed hasn’t improved from its predecessor, the A2, which also supported a maximum of 10 watts. However, one notable upgrade is the switch to a Type-C port, a welcome change from the older model.

Final Though

I believe it’s a pretty solid entry-level phone, with the emphasis on “pretty.” Compared to the A2, it offers a better design, more RAM, increased storage, a 90Hz refresh rate, and, of course, the USB-C port. The only downside would be the price, at least for those in Nigeria. The A3 price is $110. 

Considering that just two years ago, you could get a Redmi Note for about 100,000 naira, paying the same amount for a Redmi A series device might be challenging. However, as I mentioned in my last video, perhaps this is the new normal. When considering the A3, it’s important to have the right expectations. Remember, it’s a budget smartphone designed for specific users. 

I believe those who understand its target audience and intended use will appreciate what the A3 has to offer.

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