Hey guys. The Redmi S2 is another budget offering from Xiaomi, features taken from other Xiaomi phones put together to become the Redmi S2. While using it, it resembles and feels a lot like the Redmi 5 Plus.
Design and Build Quality
Something fresh about the design are the antenna bands. The dual lines now follows the perimeter of the phone and does make the back pretty clean looking. The sides are very rounded and there isn’t any sharp corners, which makes the phone pretty nice to hold. Talking about the body, it feels a lot like metal but it’s actually plastic. Not surprising as a budget phone. But it comes with a TPU case which is great as the phone can get pretty slippery.
The size of the phone is similar to the Redmi 5 Plus. One handed use was a little difficult but at least the power and volume buttons are pretty easy to reach, and feels very tactile too. As always, One Handed mode is there if you need.
At the top you can find the microphone, IR blaster and a headphone jack. The quality from the earphones sound great, pretty similar to the other Xiaomi phones I have used. You can adjust the sound using the inbuilt settings and equalizer.
At the bottom the speaker grills flank the micro USB port. The left side is the microphone and the right side is the actual speaker. On the left of the front camera is the notification LED. No color customization can be done and you can only change 2 settings for it.
Hardware and Display
The fingerprint sensor is placed at the back similar to the other Xiaomi phones. As for unlock speeds, I feel it’s very fast, somehow faster than before. Accuracy is great as well and it works even if the display is off.
There are 2 variants available, 32GB / 3GB RAM which I am using and 64GB / 4GB RAM. There is also support for micro SD card up to 256GB. If that isn’t enough, you can make use of the USB OTG.
The Redmi S2 comes with a single SIM tray, but it houses 2 Nano SIM and a micro SD card. Both SIM supports 4G but only 1 SIM can be 4G at any one time. These can be changed at the mobile network settings.
As for the display, the Redmi S2 has a 18:9, 5.99 inch LCD panel with a resolution of 720 x 1440. It isn’t the sharpest screen at 269 ppi, but it gets the job done. Like the Redmi 5 series, it ditches the hardware buttons in favor of software navigation. They have gestures to mimic buttons like swiping up to the home screen and swipe and hold to recent apps. I find that when using gestures, the display seems overly sensitive. Sometimes it will tap on to items when I am scrolling. Seems a little buggy and hopefully it will be fixed. I have always found Xiaomi phones to have a vibrant display and the Redmi S2 is no exception. Likewise it’s bright enough to be used outdoors.
Software and Performance
All of us know the Snapdragon 625 is overly used and not surprising the Redmi S2 have it as well. Performance is above average and the chip boasts in power efficiency too. Benchmarks are in the low to mid range which is pretty expected. Navigating in the UI is generally lag free but if an app is opened for the first time, I would get some lags here and there. Other than that apps load quite fast without much issues. With the 3GB of RAM onboard, multitasking will not be a problem.
I tested with 2 games, PUBG and Rules of Survival. As for PUBG, the only setting is Optimal and Balanced. I set it to Optimal and framerate was surprisingly quite good. For ROS, I set it to excellent and high framerate. At first it seems quite smooth but when there are more players and objects to be rendered, the game struggles with some stuttering. Both games are pretty resource consuming and if you don’t mind setting to lower graphics, it should be fine.
Normal usage like calls work as usual. Network bars are around max most of the time. Speedtest on both 4G and 2.4Ghz WiFi is pretty good, and the WiFi only supports 802.11 b/g/n.
The Redmi S2 is running Android 8.1 with MIUI 9.5 on top. It’s preinstalled with Global ROM which I verified on the Xiaomi forums. Which means Google services are already installed so you don’t have to do it yourself. For a more detailed MIUI 9 video, I have one which I will put in the description box below.
Battery life was average for a 3080mAh size. Used it normally with some gaming, had about 15 – 25% battery left at the end of each day. Gaming takes up a lot of battery, around 7% for 15 mins of playing. If you don’t game a lot, it can definitely last a full day depending on individual usage.
Using the bundled charger rated 5V/2A, it took around 2 hours and more to fully charge from flat to 100%. It’s pretty slow and doesn’t support quick charge. To push your battery life further, there is the battery saver mode.
The Redmi S2 has a 12MP + 5MP for the portrait and Bokeh effect. It has also has the common modes like Panorama, Tilt Shift and Scene mode. Likewise tapping the triple circle icon brings up filters.
Day shots are pretty good with good lighting and with HDR, photos are much brighter. In low light photos can get a little grainy and it takes a little longer to focus. HDR makes low light shots look brighter but can get blurry easily as it takes longer to focus. As for HHT, I don’t see much difference with or without. For manual mode, the only setting you can adjust is White Balance and ISO.
No problems with auto and manual focus in daylight but in lowlight, its slower and does have a little difficulty getting things in focus. Macro shots are pretty decent with a distance of about 20cm to be able to focus clearly. Pinch in to zoom and be up to 8X.
For video recording, it can record up to 1080p and is quite stable with image stabilization. The 16MP front camera takes pretty nice bokeh shots with the depth effect as well.
This phone bears a lot of resemblance to the Redmi 5 Plus. The Redmi S2 performs well but there is still room for improvement. The battery can be larger, camera can be better in low light and also the occasional lags can be minimized as well. Using price as a factor, I would go for the Redmi 5 Plus instead for the better resolution and larger battery.