Xiaomi Redmi Y2 first impressions: an upgraded Redmi Note 5 for selfie lovers

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 1

Looks like Xiaomi has a massive stockpile of Snapdragon 625 SoCs lying around in the warehouse. The newly launched Redmi Y2 is the company’s sixth smartphone in India to be powered by this chipset. The previous five phones include the Redmi Note 4, Mi Max 2, Mi A1, Redmi Note 5, and Redmi 5 Plus.

Well then what sets the Redmi Y2 apart? Apparently, its 16MP front camera with Artificial Intelligence built-in. According to Xiaomi, the Redmi Y1 was the most selling selfie (phones with an 8MP resolution or more front camera) smartphone in India. I really don’t know how many folks still buy phones just based on the selfie camera. Do let me know in the comments section below. 

Until we find a consensus on this question, let’s just get down to my first impressions of the phone. 

Redmi Y2: a slightly redesigned Redmi Note 5 Pro with an HD+ display

Xiaomi has updated the design of the Y2 from its previous variant. Now you get a taller 18:9 aspect ratio display, which dictates the whole design language of the phone. Xiaomi showcased this first in the new Redmi Note 5/Note 5 Pro phones earlier this year. The Redmi Y2’s design is very similar to that of the Redmi Note 5 Pro only with a difference of the antenna lines. There are two parallel lines that run across the top and the bottom. I like this implementation better than the plastic strips on the Redmi Note 5 Pro because it doesn’t take away from the metal body.

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 3

The dual cameras on the rear are vertically aligned, with the flash module sitting bang in between of the sensors. So overall, the design feels like a mashup of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone X. And, that is not necessarily a bad thing. As for the rest of the design, Xiaomi is still persisting with a micro-USB port and I am really done with all the ranting. 

The major difference between the Y2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the former comes with an HD+ display as compared to the Full-HD+ on the more expensive sibling. In my limited time with this 1440x720p resolution display I noticed that the screen does get adequately bright under direct sunlight. This could be because the display can go up to 450nits of brightness. You’ll have to wait for my full review for a more detailed look at the display.

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 5

Redmi Y2: spot the differences in specs and software

Like I alluded to before, the Redmi Y2 comes with a Snapdragon 625 inside, which is definitely an upgrade from the SD435 inside the Redmi Y1. The phone also comes in two variants: 3GB of RAM/32GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM/64GB of storage. As is the case with most Xiaomi phones launched this year, the Y2 also runs MIUI 9 with Android Oreo 8.1 as the base. The promised update to MIUI 10 is, however, the cherry on the cake. Powering all this is a 3080mAh battery.

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 4

The specs are not too different from that of the Redmi Note 5, evidently. In my limited time, I didn’t face any stutters as such but only prolonged usage will reveal the actual performance chops of the phone. 

Redmi Y2: makes you look good, maybe a little too good

The USP of the Redmi Y2, if you didn’t know already, is its 16MP front camera. This camera comes with the support of a soft LED flash in the front for better selfies in low light. Now the camera software has been enhanced by Xiaomi’s homegrown artificial intelligence. This AI is used in the upgraded Beauty mode and for portraits. Interestingly, Xiaomi has used pixel binning to increase the pixel size to an effective 2 microns. 

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 2

I took a few selfies with the phone and compared it with the Redmi Note 5 Pro as well. I’m not going to pixel peep for the time being, You can take a look at the samples below and judge for yourself. But don’t forget that the Redmi Y2 is meant for selfies and is a far more affordable option when compared to the Note 5 Pro. 

Left: Redmi Y2, Right: Redmi Note 5 Pro

Left: Redmi Y2, Right: Redmi Note 5 Pro

What I find interesting about the Y2 particularly is its rear camera. The dual camera setup of 12MP+5MP sensors is the same as the one found inside the Redmi Note 5 Pro. This means that the primary 12MP camera has a sensor with a pixel size of 1.25 microns. And if our past tests are any indication, the Y2 should be able to capture some stellar shots like the Note 5 Pro. For now, here are a couple of samples. 

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 11

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 10

Closing first thoughts on the Redmi Y2

With the launch of the Redmi Y2, Xiaomi is creating more fragmentation in the under Rs 20,000 category. There are so many options to choose from that the mind boggles. But the Redmi Y2 is an interesting beast because the specs are pretty good for its price. Especially the rear cameras, which is surprising because it is meant to be a selfie phone. At Rs 9,999, the 3GB RAM variant looks extremely tempting. So much so, that the recently launched Moto G6 feels extremely overpriced in comparison.

Do wait for our full review of the phone before making a purchase decision. 

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Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?