So, we are saying farewell to the last of the Redmi 3 kind - the Redmi 3S. Since the beginning of this year and the launch of the first Redmi 3, Xiaomi has been refining and improving devices for the sole purpose to reach more users across different markets.
Finally, the Redmi 3S has gotten everything perfect just before the Redmi 4 premiere. With the new Snapdragon 430 chipset and its Adreno 505 GPU the users can enjoy the benefits of OpenGL ES3.1 and a slightly faster performance. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is here to stay, too. And, of course, you can get the 3S in a Prime revision with double the storage and 3GB of RAM.
The Redmi 3S may seem obsolete to some, but it's the opposite of that. The phone is one of the best compact smartphones on the market with little to none competition because of the bargain pricing.
Just like its predecessors, the Redmi 3S offers a great 5" display, an amazing battery life, solid performance, top-notch build quality, and very capable cams on either side. The MIUI 8 on top of Marshmallow sweetens the otherwise cheap deal of €120 (or €150 if you are getting the Prime model).
The Redmi 3S might be the best among the Redmi 3 series, but the Redmi 3S Prime is even better - for €30 more you can get 32GB storage and 3GB RAM for better multitasking. The Dual Spaces needs more RAM so if you plan to use this feature, get the Prime model if possible.
The Meizu's m3 is a great alternative with rich color options and similar capabilities. It's made of metal, matches the power and camera capabilities, so it's up to you to choose between MIUI and Flyme.
Lenovo K5 is another 5" option from a major manufacturer with similar capabilities. It lacks the newer GPU though, and Lenovo's launcher isn't as feature-rich.
Then there is the LeEco Le 1s which has a bigger and higher-res display, and even more powerful hardware. The Le 1s is very popular in China, but this is also the phone's undoing - the scarce availability outside its homeland.
You can get 5" smartphones from companies such as Samsung, Sony, Huawei or Oppo, but you will be either paying premium for the same performance and feature set, or paying the same for a less-capable device.
Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016) costs the same as Redmi 3S Prime, and while it may up the screen class to AMOLED, it can't match the processing punch, camera capabilities, battery life, and build quality.
On the other hand, the Galaxy J7 (2016) is a close match to Redmi 3S specs albeit the bigger screen estate, but it costs double the price.
Huawei nova, a very cool new mid-ranger, also ticks the same checkboxes like the Redmi 3S, but it is priced about €400. And its camera isn't even that good.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S has little competition in its niche and Xiaomi knows it. That's the reason the company feels comfortable to flood the lineup with new Redmi 3 members now and then, and instead of criticism, it gets cheers. But those are well deserved when you make one of the best mid-rangers (with a premium twist), and then go and sell it at an entry-level price.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.