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Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 hands-on: Is an Apple iPhone 6s Plus really worth $500 more?

I spent a couple of weeks with my first Xiaomi smartphone and cannot believe you can buy such high quality hardware for just over $200, $500 less than a comparable 5.5 inch Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 13 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 retail package

I spent more than $900 for my 64GB iPhone 6s Plus and more than $700 for my Samsung Galaxy Note 5. These high end smartphones are essential to my work so I personally find they are worth the high price.

However, after testing out a Gold Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 for a couple of weeks I believe these low priced Chinese smartphones may eventually help bring these prices down. ZDNet's Jason Perlow wrote last month that there was no way to stop the Chinese smartphone makers and after this recent test I'm convinced he's right.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has been out for several months, but the one I tested has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor instead of the Mediatek Helio X10 in the first device. Xiaomi announced this version in January and it just launched in India last week. The US equivalent price for the device is just $185, which is absolutely incredible

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2 of 13 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5

The hardware is fantastic with a metal body, raised glossy gold frame around the display, elegant rear fingerprint scanner similar to the new Nexus devices, a whopping 4,050 mAh battery, an IR port for remote functionality, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot. Specs like this on other devices easily cost you double, triple, or more. It has a 5.5 inch 1080p display, 16 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front-facing camera.

I was sent a gold version to test out and it looks and feels amazing. The fingerprint scanner is fast to unlock it, the camera takes decent photos, and I never saw any lag in performance. The battery lasted for days, but keep in mind I didn't always have a good cellular connection.

Unfortunately, the radios are not tuned for US customers so while I did experience some 4G connections the signal bounced around from no signal, through GPRS, and up to LTE. I would love to see a US version released and will now definitely keep my eye out for other Xiaomi products. It has a dual SIM card slot where one slot can also be used for a microSD expansion card.

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3 of 13 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 vs Huawei Nexus 6P

We have heard that Android N may do away with the app drawer and we have seen LG already take it out on the new LG G5. Like other overseas smartphones I have tested before, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has no app drawer so that all apps installed appear on a home screen panel. Google apps are supported and installed out of the box.

There are very few extra apps installed on the device as it goes for a fairly pure Android 5.1.1 experience. There is no carrier bloatware or other wasted resources. You can select themes for the device, use the custom web browser, enjoy FM radio, and control your media equipment.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and could easily recommend it if it had US wireless carrier support.

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4 of 13 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Rear fingerprint scanners on Note 3 and Nexus 6P

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Upper right of the Redmi Note 3

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Lower right showing the edge design

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Right side power and volume buttons

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IR port and headset jack on top

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microUSB and speaker view

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No app drawer here

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Google apps are supported

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Preinstalled tools

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Notifications area with quick actions

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