Please enter the email address account
Xiaomi Redmi 7A review

Xiaomi Redmi 7A review

Throughout 2019 to date, it seems to have been Xiaomi’s mission to make a mark in the west.

Following a relatively tentative initial venture to our rain-soaked British shores in late 2018, the Chinese firm has since deluged consumers with a large array of devices, each keenly targeted at a different segment of the market.

The Redmi 7A is Xiaomi’s pitch for the segment of buyers who think spending over £100 on a phone is the very picture of decadent excess, as it has been built and designed with value in mind.

However, where only a few years ago these people would have been condemned to anemic has-beens for such a price, today the competition is fierce - there are many options, each of which has its own attractive selling points. Simply selling for £99.99 (around $125/AU$180) unlocked is not enough.

So, beyond a tech-head’s grab-bag of specifications, does the Redmi 7A have something which sets it apart from the crowd? If you are in the market for a cut-price handset, should this be your first consideration? Read on to find out.

Key features

    • Small by modern standards
    • Has a big, 4,000mAh battery
    • Includes an FM radio that works without wires

It has been such a long time since phones were designed with one-handed use in mind, that the appearance of one in 2019 is almost anachronistic. In our future of massive phablets, that one could potentially wish to use their device easily on the move is a positively antediluvian thought, so 2010.

This aside, the Redmi 7A is indeed small by modern standards - with a screen measuring 5.45 inches on the diagonal. This, coupled with the large screen-to-body ratio and 165g weight, make for a phone which will fit nicely in the palms of most.

This ethos of practicality also carries somewhat into fit and finish - unusually for the price this device comes with a splash-resistant coating. This doesn’t mean that your phone will be able to survive a high-dive into a toilet or pint glass, however it does mean that it will probably survive if caught in the rain.

We should also talk about the battery a little, for this has one worthy of the flagships. With the advent of the Huawei P20 Pro it became the norm to stick oversized batteries in flagship phones, however Xiaomi has been playing this game for years, and at the budget level.

The Redmi 7A comes packing a huge 4,000mAh power pack, and with the relatively anemic chipset and small screen, great things are to be expected in terms of battery life - though more on this later.


An interesting addition too is an FM radio, which can be played without an antenna. For context, many phones feature an FM radio, however, most require wired earphones to be plugged in before the function can be used, due to the wires on the earphones working as the ‘antenna’.

With the Redmi 7A, this antenna is inbuilt, meaning that the radio can flow freely through the bottom-firing speaker with no issue. Though this might not appeal to a generation raised on Spotify, for others this means unlimited free music without any monthly subscription.

Lastly, Xiaomi, desperate to use the term ‘AI’ until its dying breath, has added an ‘AI’ face unlock. This essentially means that, with the lack of a fingerprint scanner, the user is forced to use the front camera to unlock their phone. This feature is neither fast nor convenient, the fingerprint sensor is much missed as a result.


Design

The lack of a fingerprint scanner isn’t to deny the Redmi 7A of its essential quality and solidity, however. Hewn from polycarbonate (read ‘posh plastic’) there is no give nor flex to the handset. The use of plastic in the design ought to help too in the case of an unfortunate drop, as the material is simply less brittle than metal or glass.

It is the screen which occupies most of the front of the Redmi 7A, with no notch in sight (mercifully), and the 5MP selfie camera sitting just above in a full bezel.

The right of the handset contains the power button and volume rocker, the left side houses the dual-SIM card and microSD tray, the top has a headphone jack and the bottom hosts a micro USB charging port and sole bottom-firing speaker.


The rear has Xiaomi branding and a single 13MP snapper. This is as clean a design as one could expect for the price point, however the lack of a proper fingerprint sensor does grate, for those making the transition from a device with a functioning sensor, it will likely prove to be difficult.

On the issue of convenience, there is also no NFC, which means no mobile payments, another small problem. Luckily, the screen comes with the usual scratch-resistant glass - no word on make or brand - and an oleophobic coating to repel the various oils of the human hand.

Despite coming in four different colors, and being pleasant in a utilitarian sort of way, the Xiaomi Redmi 7A isn’t a device which will wow anyone, but it's one which will likely be able to withstand a few years of relatively rough use.

For those people unwilling to spend much on a phone, or to replace their devices frequently, this is a definite win.


Screen

At 720 x 1440 the Redmi 7A, from the offset, is not out looking to win any resolution wars. But the quality of a screen goes far beyond how much detail it can render, color, brightness and more all contribute heavily to the overall experience of using the device.

Luckily then, the experience of using this 5.45-inch screen is mostly positive. Starting with brightness, anecdotally we found that bright sunlight generally didn’t pose much issue in our day-to-day usage, and when reading in total darkness the screen can also get sufficiently dim so as not to sear your eyeballs into oblivion.

Color isn’t quite so positive an area, however it isn’t a deal-breaker. LCD screens, and those used by Xiaomi in particular, often have a very ‘cool’ cast, meaning that whites can often appear blue-ish. This may appeal to some, but for those who like their colors to have a little ‘pop’, there is a fairly comprehensive screen-adjustment utility, where colors can be set to any level you may wish.

In addition, there is also the option for a system-wide ‘dark mode’ and the option to change text size and more - great news for those who have the eyesight of a mole. One slight bugbear is the overly zealous auto-brightness. We found that the screen could jump from bright to dim without even a moment’s notice, and often without any prompt.

The lack of a notch also proves to be a winner - there is no black bar blocking the screen. In all, the screen on offer is definitely a selling point, even against competitors at the same price.

Battery life


  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Two days of life

Great battery life, oddly, is a preserve mainly of budget phones. Those at the high end tend to have a focus on premium fit and finish, on highly powerful internals, and not so much on longevity.

The Redmi 7A doesn’t quite come packing the same enormous power pack as the likes of the Lenovo P2 from years past, however its 4,000mAh unit is ample, and coupled with the efficient low-power chipset and low resolution, small screen makes for some truly outstanding battery life.

On an average work day, in an area with notoriously poor signal, with a 45-minute commute, messages, calls and reading throughout the day, along with a little game playing, we finished with 79% in the tank.

Indeed, we then didn’t need to charge that night and were able to boldly stride into a second day with no issue. This is one of the fabled ‘two-day’ phones, which will last, at the very least, through a full day of usage with no issue. On our best showing, across two days, the device had dropped to 11% by the end of the second day with over 7 hours of screen-on time to show for it.

The TechRadar battery test mostly backed up these claims, with the device dropping only 11% of its battery across the course of a video streamed over local Wi-Fi, at full brightness and resolution, for 90 minutes. A great showing indeed.

Xiaomi also packs a 10W charger in the box, which doesn’t exactly beat the likes of Warp Charge on the OnePlus 7 Pro but gets the job done. For those of you who really need something which can last and last, the Redmi 7A is a highly solid pick, a true battery champion.

Camera


  • 13MP rear lens and 5MP selfie snapper
  • Performance isn't great, especially in low light
  • Uncluttered camera app

In most segments of the smartphone market, the quality of the camera experience has had a generally positive progression over time - as the years go by the cameras on phones of all types have improved at least a little.

The most dramatic changes have typically been reserved for the most expensive phones though, and those at the bottom of the pricing ladder, such as the Redmi 7A, are often left out of any positive developments.

On paper, this story bears out once more - the Xiaomi Redmi 7A has a 13MP f/2.2 single rear snapper, alone but for a flash, and a basic 5MP selfie camera. But a camera is more than just a list of specifications, so what is this one like to use and does it take good photos?

The phone uses the standard Xiaomi camera app, which is to say it is a near carbon copy of the app produced by Apple for the iPhone. Saying this, it lacks some of the options of its more expensive peers also produced by Xiaomi. For example, there is no portrait mode or panorama mode.


Swiping up and down allows changes between different photo modes, and on the left can be seen toggle for various modes, the dubious ‘AI’ (best activated if you enjoy nuclear colors), an HDR toggle, and a ‘beautify’ feature.

If this latter feature was capable of producing some modicum of beauty, it would be interesting, however it is best activated only if you feel that ‘horrifying ungodly waxwork’ is somehow an image worth achieving.

The camera experience is uncluttered, and there are options to alter saturation and more to your liking, which are nice additions. More importantly the app is quick in operation, never getting in the way of picture-taking.

With regards to photo quality however, unfortunately that old nugget about camera performance in the budget segment holds true.

In perfect lighting, detail is mostly good with little sign of over-sharpening, though the dynamic range is narrower than we’d like. Especially without HDR active, the sky tends to blow out significantly.

Colors are well-balanced too in their out-of-the-box form, though with the ‘AI’ mode active you will be fighting to keep saturation at an acceptable level. In Xiaomi’s world, the only shade of green allowed is radioactive.

When the lights go down and things become a little more challenging, then the camera begins to struggle even more. As it has a narrow aperture and no way to stabilize the image, the results produced have little detail, poor color and are very noisy. This phone isn’t a miracle worker, however Xiaomi makes no great claims in this area.

For casual snaps, and certainly for the likes of Instagram, the shots produced by the Redmi 7A are of sufficient quality, however they will not challenge the results of devices even only slightly more expensive.

Performance and benchmarks

  • Solid general performance
  • Snapdragon 439 chipset

This said, the chipset powering the Redmi is mostly up to the task. The Snapdragon 439 is built on a 12nm manufacturing process, making it nice and modern, and it sports eight cores to power through daily tasks. The 4XX series of processors sit under more powerful and premium options, such as the 6XX series and the 8XX series, and are generally considered as sufficient for the majority of users.

This mostly bears out in the benchmarks, with the device achieving a single-core score of 835, and a multi-core score of 3,004 in Geekbench 4. Benchmarks are never really a completely accurate measure of how a device will perform in the day to day, however the experience of using the Redmi 7A, in the knowledge that it costs £100 (around $125/AU$180), is absolutely a pleasant one.

Again, the lack of RAM is the biggest issue, and Xiaomi’s software support in the long term will be essential in keeping this device feeling fresh in months to come.











Xiaomi Redmi 7A 5.45 inch 4G Smartphone Global Version


$124.04


$99.99















Xiaomi Redmi 7A 5.45 inch 4G Smartphone Global Version


$124.04


$99.99















Xiaomi Redmi 7A 5.45 inch 4G Smartphone Global Version


$124.04


$99.99









Recommended for You