Xiaomi Redmi 3S review: Game of Iterations

Game of Iterations

GSMArena team, 10 October 2016.

MIUI 8 is in charge

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S comes with Android Marshmallow and MIUI 7.5 by default, but the MIUI 8 update is awaiting to be installed within the Update app. MIUI is one of the most comprehensive customizations of Android to date. It has a big following in China where Google services are not accessible so Xiaomi refocused the ecosystem away from Mountain View's services. For those living elsewhere, there are various international (global) ROMs, which come stripped from the Chinese services, in favor of Google's.

Xiaomi Redmi 3S review

MIUI 8 starts off with a fresh overhaul on the visuals but the new icons, color scheme, and animations are more of a refinement rather than a departure. But the looks are just a minor part of the new MIUI.

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MIUI 8

The highlights of the new features are Dual Apps and dual spaces. Dual Apps allows you to have two instances of the same app on your device, so you can, for example, have two WhatsApp accounts on the same phone, one for each SIM, something you couldn't do before. You can have two instances of any app.

Dual apps settings - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Dual apps - the second instance is marked with a special icon - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
Dual apps settings • Dual apps - the second instance is marked with a special icon

Any app can become a dual-app - you just need to enable it from settings. The second instance has a yellow indication on its app icon, so you'll always know which instance you are opening.

Dual spaces lets you have two different workspaces on your device, each with its own set of apps, customizations, and image gallery, and you can enter a custom passcode or a different fingerprint to enter either of the space.

Space 1 - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Space 1 - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Space 2 - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Space 2 - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
Space 1 • Space 1 • Space 2 • Space 2

Configuring a second space is very easy and straightforward. After setting a different PIN and/or fingerprint, you can import and share photos, files, and apps between the two spaces, or choose to keep those entirely separated. You can also opt to view notifications from the other space, so you won't miss anything.

Configuring Two Spaces - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Configuring Two Spaces - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Configuring Two Spaces - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Configuring Two Spaces - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review Configuring Two Spaces - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
Configuring Two Spaces

Switching between those spaces is hassle-free (you even get a Switch shortcut in the notification drawer), but far from blazing-fast. The Snapdragon 430 and its 2GB RAM aren't the best configuration to handle the switch in an instant - it takes a few seconds depending on the opened apps and shared content.

There are more novelties in MIUI 8. The Phone app and Caller ID are smarter than before now. There is also a brand new Gallery app, a new Notes app, new advanced image and video editors, and a new Quick Ball function that puts a circle on the side of the display that houses quick shortcuts to various functions.

Quick Ball can pop up to 5 shortcuts and you can put here pretty much anything - from Android actions to app shortcuts. The Ball can also hide automatically on chosen apps, and move aside when you are running a fullscreen app.

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Quick Ball

The lockscreen is fairly standard (time, notifications, a couple of shortcuts), but once you set up the fingerprint reader, you'll rarely see it anyway. Still, the Wallpaper Carousel can put beautiful images on the lockscreen every 15 minutes.

The always-on fingerprint sensor proved quite accurate and can take the phone from sleep to homescreen pretty quickly (the lockscreen is bypassed). It's as fast as some of the latest flagship implementations, which is quite a treat.

The lockscreen - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review The lockscreen - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review The lockscreen - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
The lockscreen

MIUI has a simple philosophy - every shortcut, plus widgets of your choosing, are dropped on the homescreen. You get a docked menu for the most commonly used apps, of course. The homescreen also supports wallpaper carousel, you can enjoy different beautiful wallpapers all the time.

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The Homescreen

The notification drawer sees the biggest visual change, with a consolidated list of quick toggles, notifications, and a weather panel at the top that changes color and animation according to the weather.

The notification drawer - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review The notification drawer - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
The notification drawer

The app switcher feels like it came out of iOS - apps are either represented by their icons, in a single horizontal row, or by appropriate thumbnails in the same manner.

The Task Switcher - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review The Task Switcher - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review The Task Switcher - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review The Task Switcher - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
The Task Switcher

Themes are fully supported and several are available out of the box. You can download more, they change wallpapers, lockscreen style, system icons and font, sounds too.

Theme store - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review downloading a theme - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review a new theme - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review a new theme - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
Theme store • downloading a theme • a new theme

Finally, the MIUI 8 supports scrolling screenshots - the feature lets you take a screenshot of an entire page by scrolling and combining multiple images into one long screenshot that you can then crop to your liking.

Creating a scrolling screenshot - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review the result - Xiaomi Redmi 3S review
Creating a scrolling screenshot • the result

Reader comments

  • Lindo

I had bought my Redmile 3 almost 3 years ago. I love, it's camera and other features are perfect for me. It's been a while since I've been using it as a result it's battery stopped charging. I've looking for a replacement all over Cape Town with no ...

  • Anita sam

My phone got locked it is not opening the diagram only one line coming and finger also not opening because of lockdown I can't go out and show to the service center

  • Fuck

I got it