So, the value to be had in the Redmi Note series is indisputable. A handful already of affordable midrangers have helped Xiaomi grow a loyal following in Asia but also raise brand awareness in old, established markets traditionally dominated by big-name brands.
There's no difference on the outside whatsoever, as the Redmi Note 3 (Snapdragon) isn't a facelift, but the same device with a new engine. Not sure whether the two models will ever be offered side by side in the same market but if that happens, be sure to go with the Snapdragon-rocking Redmi Note 3.
The Qualcomm chipset is snappier than the MediaTek Helio X10 in the original release and runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with MIUI 8 trouble-free.
Apart from the chipset, we're also delighted with the new 16MP sensor. Even before considering the extremely competitive price point of the phone, its imaging prowess is admirable. And this time even you'll be easily able to transfer your photos and videos onto the microSD card slot - which is not an option in the MediaTek-powered original.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is priced as an open-box item, but make no mistake about it - the phone can easily stand comparison to more premium competitors. Speaking of, the first place to look for solid but equally affordable competition is China.
Meizu can offer the excellent MX5 and m1 note metal. The latter was the real threat to the original Note 3. It has virtually the same 5.5" IPS 1080p display, runs on the Helio X10 chip, the camera is 13MP with a dual-LED flash, the body is made of metal, and there is even a fingerprint sensor. However now that Xiaomi upped the processing and imaging power things are decidedly in its favor.
The battery is another advantage at 4,000mAh for the Note 3 and 3,140mAh for the m1 metal.
Thinking value, the Lenovo K5 Note and the Meizu m3 note spring to mind. Powered by a Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10 each, the Lenovo and Meizu are rocking 13MP main camera units and that pretty much sums up the differences. The rest is nearly the same and even the price shouldn't vary dramatically.
An equivalent package by a major brand will cost you considerably more. Still, the Galaxy J7 (2016) might be worth considering as it adds Android Marshmallow to the table and the vibrant colors of a Super AMOLED screen on a budget. It even has a superior battery life, but it's not all metal, has a 720p screen and still costs a bit more.
The way we see it, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has become an even better deal with the Snapdragon 650. It's one of the most popular phones in our database for a reason - no wonder Xiaomi are trying to get more mileage out of it. Not sure how the owners of the original MediaTek-powered version feel about it but soon enough the Redmi Note 4 will probably make the argument irrelevant.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.