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Sep 23, 2014
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In the current smartphone scene, a shitload of companies—both foreign and local—are screaming for the insides of your dirty, hole-ridden wallet. While a few big brands dominate the high-end, lesser-known names are jostling like Haggardo Versoza commuters in the MRT for the low- to mid-end range.

Of these brands, Xiaomi is one of the most intriguing. A fairly new Chinese manufacturer, it’s exploding globally, thanks to good reviews, aggressive pricing (have you seen their freakishly affordable Mi 3 superphone?), and the fact that their phones are like honest politicians: damn hard to find.

This last point makes their devices even more desirable, not to mention more hyped up.

xiaomi redmi 1s review

Right now, you won’t find any of their stuff in physical shops, only on online store Lazada. To get their newest phone, the Redmi 1S, a dual-SIM handset with mid-end specs at a rock-bottom price, Lazada opened up select pre-registration days just for you to virtually line up and reserve a unit. #IkawNaAngIspeysyal

The burning question: Is the phone really worth all that? Fortunately though, we won't have to leave that to haka-haka since we've managed to score a fresh unit to play with!

Read on to find out if the phone is more than just another device with a cheap-o price tag or if it's (gasp!) just a waste of your hard-earned katas ng dugo't pawis.


SOFTWARE TALK

MIUI

Of course, you can’t talk about a Xiaomi phone without first talking about what makes it so unique—the MIUI (pronounced “mee-you-ai”) operating system. The Redmi 1S comes pre-loaded with MIUI v5, which is based on Android.

At its purest version (read: no bloatware and minimal customization), MIUI, ironically, looks and operates a lot like Apple’s iOS. Same rounded fonts, same flat design, same soft grid-based folder, same animation, same pristine looks. Check out the screenshots below to see the design cues from Cupertino.

xiaomi redmi 1s review

This is not a bad thing. Apple design is rightly praised for grace and simplicity, and the MIUI's look reflects that inspiration. Mala-iPhone talaga—and for us, an iOS feel on an Android device is a very good thing.


Customize, yo!

Customization options fall in that middle ground between the iPhone’s closed-off ivory tower and Android's anything-goes freedom. Yes, the MIUI theme store serves up 4,000 easy-to-install packages to reskin your phone. Yes, you can change which toggles and notifications appear on your drop-down shade. But the system seems to actively not want you to put widgets on the screen—the menu is badly organized and crashes often—and no, you’ll never, ever get an official app drawer.

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Built-in apps, FTW!

Program-wise, the MIUI 5 comes with a whole raft of apps that not only look good, but are well-implemented—except maybe the default Messaging app, which is just bad-looking. (That blank profile picture box? Major turn-off!) We like that the file manager can arrange your files by categories, and the weather icon changes depending on the outside conditions. When you use the camera, you can swipe to the left in the picture viewer to instantly return to camera mode—a feature we didn’t know we wanted until we poked around with MIUI.

xiaomi redmi 1s review

Even more useful are the phone maintenance features, like the dedicated cleaner (for managing junk files) and security apps, and an easily accessible mobile data tracker. For those keeping tabs on their mobile Internet use, this last one is a godsend.


NEXT: Let's talk hardware!


Photos Lio Mangubat
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