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Xiaomi Redmi S2 Review

Where Xiaomi is stronger is in mid-range , it’s no secret. To check this we just have to take a look at his prolific Redmi series, where the maximum is quality / price, but also confusion . The Chinese firm has many terminals in this segment, some with many similarities to each other. The last one to join the company’s offer in Spain is the Xiaomi Redmi S2 .

It was announced at the beginning of May and Xiaomi has been in a great hurry to take it to more markets. We are talking about a terminal that follows the line of design of the latest mid-range with 18: 9 screen, which mounts the eternal Snapdragon 625 processor and gets on the double camera carriage, offering portrait mode also in the front camera. What position does the Redmi S2 occupy in the Xiaomi catalog? It is not an easy question to answer, but we are going to try it in our analysis.

Xiaomi Redmi S2, technical characteristics

XIAOMI REDMI S2
DESIGN 160.7 x 77.3 x 8.1 mm 
170 g 
Plastic and glass
SCREEN IPS 5.99 inches 
18: 9 HD + (1440 x 720, 269 ppi)
PROCESSOR Snapdragon 625 octa-core 2 GHz 
GPU Adreno 506
RAM 3 GB
CAPACITY 32 GB + MicroSD up to 256 GB
SOFTWARE Android 8.1 Oreo + MIUI 9.5
REAR CAMERA 12 MP + 5 MP, f / 2.2, PDAF, EIS, portrait mode, auto HDR, FullHD videos 30 fps
FRONTAL CAMERA 16 MP, LED flash, portrait mode, auto HDR, beauty mode
CONNECTIVITY Dual SIM, LTE, WiFi, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS / Glonass / Beidou, MicroUSB, minijack, fingerprint reader
BATTERY 3.080 mAh
PRICE 179 euros on
Amazon for 164 euros

Design: plastic can also be premium

Xiaomi Redmi S2

As soon as the Redmi S2 was taken out of the box, I had a strong déjà vu sensation, and the design of this model is very similar to that of the company’s other midrange, such as the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus or the Redmi Note 5 . Among the similar ones we have the same screen of 5.99 inches and elongated format or that chassis with rounded lines that embraces the edges of the terminal. Xiaomi maintains the same design language, but there is an important difference with his twins: the material.

The design is reminiscent of the Redmi Note 5, but replaces the metal with a plastic chassis. Of course, the good finishes are maintained.

As we saw with the Redmi Note 5A , the material selected to create the case of the Redmi S2 is not metal, but plastic. However, it is a detail that we only notice to the touch since at first glance the finish looks like the usual polished aluminum. Neither does it reveal the construction, which feels solid and with very good finishes. Yes it is true that the union between screen and housing is different and does not have the usual rounded edge, but the transition is more abrupt. All in all, the sensation in hand makes it clear that yes, plastic can also transmit that premium sensation.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

The change of material is just that, at the construction level we still have a fixed housing that does not allow us to access the battery , with the SIM / MicroSD tray on one side and the classic ports and buttons in exactly the same positions; buttons on the right side, microUSB and speaker below and minijack above.

It also coincides with metallic mobiles in that its surface is very smooth,something that combined with its size makes the handling not entirely comfortable and very uncomfortable if it is with only one hand. As usual, Xiaomi includes a transparent silicone case that helps improve grip while protecting against scratches.

Xiaomi Redmi S2 Being plastic, in theory you do not need antenna lines, but there they are.

There is a detail that we had not seen in other models and is that the Redmi S2 has a few lines crossing the back that remind the classic antenna lines. When we see this type of lines it is usually in mobile phones with an aluminum casing since this material blocks the signal, but being plastic in this case it seems that it is a purely aesthetic addition . It does not bother too much but there it is.

The vertical double camera protrudes enough so that the mobile is not straight when placed on the table.

In the back we also have the double camera that protrudes slightly from the chassis, a detail that it shares with many mobiles. In the Redmi S2 does not bother excessively, but it is true that when placed on a flat surface it remains skewed. The advantage is that it does not ‘dance’ when we play it. In this case the silicone cover is again a good ally.

Xiaomi Redmi S2 Photo not suitable for maniacs of symmetry and balance.

If we go to the front, as I said, Xiaomi continues on the path of the 18: 9 format with a 5.99-inch screen that has rounded corners, as the current trend marks. There is not a very marked reduction of frames, especially in the lower frame, which despite not having capacitive buttons or fingerprint reader is still considerably wider.

XIAOMI REDMI S2 XIAOMI REDMI 5 PLUS MOTO G6 PLUS ALCATEL 3V HONOR 7C
SCREEN 5.99 inches 
18: 9 HD +
5.99 inches 
18: 9 FullHD +
5.9 inches 
18: 9 FullHD +
6 inches 
18: 9 FullHD +
5.99 inches 
18: 9 HD +
FRONT PERCENTAGE 74.5% 77.4% 74.4% 75.5% 76.3%
DIMENSIONS 160.7 x 77.3 x 8.1 mm 158.5 x 75.4 x 8.05 mm 160 x 75.5 x 8 mm 162 x 76 x 8.1 mm 158.3 x 76.7 x 7.8 mm
WEIGHT 170 g 180 g 167 g 155 g 164 g
BATTERY 3.080 mAh 4.000 mAh 3,200 mAh 3,000 mAh 3,000 mAh

If we face it with other models of similar range, the Redmi S2 is more or less at the same level as regards the use of the front, so you can not be penalized for that either. Here the insistence of keeping the six inches by default is the main problem that the total size is triggered.

The Redmi S2 is great, but the fault is not of the frames, but of that tendency to keep the six inches almost by default.

Where it could improve a bit the Redmi S2 is in the weight. It is not excessively heavy, but eliminating the metal and mounting a more restrained battery than for example the Redmi 5 Plus, the feeling is thatthere was room to reduce a few grams more.

Screen: cutting in resolution, but not in size

Xiaomi Redmi S2

We talked about the screen size of the Redmi S2 makes that the reduction of frames does not look in terms of comfort of handling, and is that no matter how compact, six inches are many inches and in this model has not been compacted much. The result is a pretty big terminal, bad news for small hands, but good news for the visual experience, right? Yes and no. It can not be denied that the larger viewing area, the better visual experience, but the size is not everything, it must be accompanied by other factorsthat in the Redmi S2 are somewhat short, starting with the resolution.

We have six-inch screen in 18: 9 format, but the resolution stays in HD +. Somewhere had to be cut …

The Xiaomi Redmi S2 mounts a IPS panel of 5.99 inches with HD + resolution, or what is the same, 1440 x 720 pixels with a concentration of 269 dots per inch. These are acceptable figures that allow you to see the images with sufficient clarity, but the jump is noticeable with respect to a FullHD panel, so here we start from a slight disadvantage.

Brightness is the other pending subject. On the one hand there is a lack of more intensity outdoors, which is common in the mid-range, but above all the main problem is that the automatic brightness system is very lazyand in many cases goes as a stumbling block. It is not a problem that penalizes the experience excessively but it can be somewhat exasperating.

Performance: again the Snapdragon 625

Xiaomi Redmi S2

The love story between Xiaomi and the Snapdragon 625 goes back to the times of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 . Ok, the mobile was announced in January 2017 (the version with Snapdragon), but it is that by then the processor had already completed one year. Now, the Snapdragon 625 has already completed two years to spare and has been succeeded by other models of the 600 series.

Perhaps part of the commitment of Xiaomi to continue integrating this chip is that it offers a very good performance. I have tested several smartphones with the Snapdragon 625 and I can corroborate it. However, with the Redmi S2 it has been the first time that I have noticed that the fluidity was not as marked as other times. Maybe the arrival of Android Oreo with MIUI 9.5 has something to do, but this Snapdragon 625 is not going as fine as usual.

The Snapdragon 625 is still a good choice, but the fluidity does not shine as much as in other models and the lag sticks out more times than expected.

Eye because the terminal saves without problems the usual tasks of day to day, but I have encountered lag and some unexpected closure more times than was usual in other models. MIUI 9.5 and its gesture-controlled interface does not help much, and this function is very demanding and ends up penalizing the experience. However, I can not say that the performance has improved greatly when you deactivate them.

All in all, the Xiaomi Redmi S2 offers good performance in the usual scenarios and lag is rather sporadic; It is even capable of moving heavy games. The 3 GB of RAM works well in multitasking and its 32 GB background will be more than enough for most users (and if it is not, it accepts MicroSD). Before going to the table comparing the results of the benchmarks, also note that the rear fingerprint reader does not present any complaint, but is fast and accurate.

XIAOMI REDMI S2 XIAOMI REDMI 5 PLUS HUAWEI P SMART BQ AQUARIS X
PROCESSOR Snapdragon 625 Snapdragon 625 Kirin 659 Snapdragon 626
RAM 3 GB 4GB 3 GB 4GB
ANTUTU 78,690 77.221 65,935 60,123
GEEKBENCH 4 844/4,316 864 / 4,293 942/3693 923/4,445

Autonomy: cutting milliamperes

Xiaomi Redmi S2

At first we compared the design of this model with that of other Redmi models such as the Redmi 5 Plus or Redmi 5 Note, and there are some obvious similarities with their older brothers, but autonomy is not one of them. The Redmi S2 mounts a 3,080 mAh battery, almost 1,000 mAh less than the Redmi on which it is inspired. In practice, the autonomy is in the average of other models with similar capacity , neither highlights nor does it remain below.

There are more cuts: despite maintaining a fairly generous size, the battery remains at 3,080 mAh, almost 1,000 mAh less than its older brothers in the Redmi series.

The battery usually gives for a day of use without problems, reaching the end of the day with a 15-20% load has been usual , although with a more intensive use it may touch refuel before returning home. If we talk about screen hours, the duration is usually around 4.5 or 5 hours, nothing especially remarkable.

Like other models of its range, the Redmi S2 is still betting on the MicroUSB and does not carry fast charge , although the fact that its battery is not so big gives it an advantage. In the first 30 minutes we get a 30-35% load, in total 100% is reached in a little over 2 hours.

Software: the latest from MIUI (finally) comes with the latest Android

Xiaomi Redmi S2

One of the usual complaints in Xiaomi terminals is the software. I do not mean the MIUI layer itself, which despite its strong customization offers a fluid performance and provides useful tools, but the Android version.

MIUI 9.5 brings news such as control by gestures, but also Android 8.1 Oreo. It was time.

Until recently, most terminals of the firm were still stuck in Android 7.0 Nougat, but with the arrival of MIUI 9.5 also comes the latest in Android, specifically version 8.1 Oreo, so we can say that we are up to date on what updates are concerned. The downside is that the customization of MIUI ‘buries’ some Oreo own features such as shortcuts in the icons, although we do have the balloons that indicate that there are notifications.

Xiaomi Redmi S2 Gesture control is part of MIUI 9.5

Among the novelties that MIUI 9.5 brings, gesture control is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding. Here Xiaomi proposes a solution that is very reminiscent of the iPhone X; sliding quickly from the bottom of the panel we return to the home screen, while if we do it more slowly we open the multitasking interface. If we are inside an app, we can go back or forward by sliding from the edges.

With the gestures, the navigation bar disappears and we take advantage of more screen, but in mid-range models they are not completely fine, besides they get fatal with ‘Swype’ keyboards.

The advantage of the gestures is that the navigation bar disappears and we take more advantage of the screen, but they have a clear disadvantage and that is that they do not get along well with swype type keyboards. Also, as I mentioned above, in less powerful models like this Redmi S2, they are not all fine so I personally ended up using the usual navigation bar.

Finally, comment that the Redmi S2 comes with a good list of pre-installed apps , including Google services, MIUI own apps and as additional Microsoft apps. The good news is that most can be uninstalled.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

When we talk about economic ranges, the sound is not usually a remarkable aspect and in the Redmi S2 this tendency is fulfilled. The terminal offers an acceptable audio experience, it is not bad bad but neither is it especially striking.

The loudspeaker is located on the lower edge, but beware that although there are two grids, only one emits sound , the other is the microphone but has been given the same design for the sake of symmetry. The sound of the speaker has a good volume and it is quite clear, but if we look for quality, the best thing is to take advantage of the minijack port located at the top

The only speaker of the Redmi S2 offers a loud and clear sound, but the experience is much better with headphones.

With headphones the thing improves a lot and also an advantage of more basic models is that the minijack has not yet disappeared, so that our old headphones will be worth it without any problem, especially since they are not included in the box. Xiaomi does include an equalizer and the Mi Sound Enhancer feature designed for your own headphones.

Cameras: double defocus

Xiaomi Redmi S2

Although the Redmi S2 is quite restrained in aspects such as screen resolution, in the cameras it bets strong with a dual configuration in the rear that combines sensors of 12 and 5 megapixels. This option allows you to apply the famous portrait mode that blurs the background. But Xiaomi is not satisfied with this and also adds the portrait mode in the front camera although it is simple, not double.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

We started with the camera app, section that is updated with MIUI 9.5 and modifies a bit the structure we already knew. At the bottom, just above the shutter button, we have the photo and video modes. From left to right are the following: Short video (record videos of 10 seconds), Video, Photo, Portrait, Square, Panoramic and Manual. By the way, manual mode is not updated and still only offers the option to adjust ISO and white balance, so it does not help much.

The other options are in the top bar. In this case we have flash, HDR, filters in real time and a drop down that houses more options such as scenes, HHT mode for low light scenes, beauty mode among others. The operation is quite fluid although sometimes the focus is blocked and the damn lag appears, usually in portrait mode.

Image quality

Xiaomi Redmi S2

Under favorable conditions, the Xiaomi Redmi S2 offers interesting results. Here we have a very well resolved detail in complex textures, faithful colors and a somewhat limited but correct dynamic range, and there are no black areas nor burned.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

When the light begins to be scarce, there is a certain weakness in the processing, although it is not exaggerated and can only be appreciated when expanding to the maximum. We have a well resolved scene, with a defined detail, bright colors and good representation of lights.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

As expected, at night the quality suffers a lot and the noise appears easily . To mitigate it, Xiaomi has the HHT mode that manages to improve the result in most cases, although it does not work miracles. In this image, he manages to save the foreground quite well, but the background of the image appears totally plastered and without definition. Here the best formula is to look for good light conditions and avoid sudden movements so that no moved areas appear.

Xiaomi Redmi S2No HDR vs HDR

The dynamic range is one of the weaknesses of the mid-range in general, and of the Redmi S2 camera in particular. If we have a scene with a marked contrast (it does not need to be exaggerated), often leave areas too dark or burned. The good news is that we have HDR to improve it and the result is pretty good. In the example, the sky is still burned in the HDR photo, but this is not the important part of the photo, but the buildings, and the HDR has been able to detail this area more.

Xiaomi Redmi S2No HDR vs HDR

Another example where the HDR improves the result in a scene in which, although there was no excessive contrast, there were areas left more subdued. The HDR makes the bell tower and the church look better and enhances the detail of the stone.

The HDR of the Redmi S2 can be deactivated, activated or left in automatic. I recommend leaving it in automatic because it usually activates when necessary and the results improve.

Portrait mode

Xiaomi Redmi S2

We went to the star function of this and many other dual cameras: the portrait mode. The Redmi S2 only uses its duality in this way, that is, we can not zoom as it happens in other terminals, but despite this lack the fact is that the portrait mode gets quite good results, although it depends a lot on the conditions of every take.

In this first picture it was late afternoon on a cloudy day, so the light was not the best (it shows in the detail less marked), but despite this difficulty gets a very natural blur. Only in the area of ​​the whiskers of the cat is a somewhat erratic cut, but it is not too marked.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

With good light it also returns interesting results, especially because of the part of the hair that remains very natural despite being irregular. You can see some processing failures such as that marked line at the hairline or some rough cuts but you need to expand to appreciate them.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

As we have already seen, when the light goes out, the quality descends more than evident, but the portrait mode responds surprisingly well. Of course, you need to tune the pulse and avoid movements in the scene to get a good result.

Xiaomi Redmi S2Portrait mode with the rear camera vs portrait mode with the front camera

And what about the blurring of the front camera? Here we must take into account some details, starting with the fact that the front camera is not double, so the blurring is done by software . In addition, although the sensor has higher resolution, the quality of it is much lower than the rear, which ends up penalizing the final result.

Xiaomi Redmi S2Portrait mode with the front camera.

At the clipping level it works relatively well, but the detail and dynamic range of the images is mediocre. Also note that we have an HDR mode that improves these deficiencies a bit, but can not be used at the same time as the blur. Finally, it could not miss the beauty mode that has a normal mode in five levels and an advanced one that allows to enlarge eyes, clear skin and thinning face. We leave you a gallery with the photos taken with the redmi S2 at original size.

Xiaomi Redmi S2

We said at the beginning that the Redmi S2 is a difficult mobile to locate in the Xiaomi catalog, and that the Redmi series has many terminals similar to each other. In the case of this model we have a kind of Frankenstein between the design and configuration of the Redmi 5 Plus, the camera of the Redmi Note 5 and details of the Redmi Note 5A.

The Xiaomi Redmi S2 has a clear objective, and that is to bring the dual camera to a more economical segment , but it does so at the expense of cutting out sections such as the screen with that HD resolution or a smaller battery, two details that undoubtedly play against him.

Carrying the label of ‘double camera at a reasonable price’ requires sacrifices, those of the Redmi S2 are leaving us without a FullHD screen or superbattery. It is difficult to recommend it on a Redmi 5 Plus or a Redmi Note 5.

It is difficult to recommend this model in front of the Redmi 5 Plus and its titanic 4,000 mAh battery or the Redmi Note 5 that in addition to the battery adds the double camera. The price is a key point, but the difference is not strong enough to make this model stand out from the rest.

With the Redmi S2, Xiaomi follows a path that we have seen many times with other manufacturers strong in average ranges, which is to saturate the catalog with different price models and few technical differences . In this sense, although the Redmi S2 is an excellent option from the point of view of quality / price, it has its biggest competition at home. Shine is complicated in this family so numerous, but that is not bad, but quite the opposite.

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