Cameras are a very important part of the smartphone business in this time and age. Yes, we know it is almost one millionth time that we are telling you this but its importance resonates with that order. Now that the usual preamble is done and over with, let’s get to the reason why we are talking about phone cameras all over again. Well, Xiaomi has launched a new device in the ultra-budget range segment, priced at Rs. 5,999, hoping to stir up the market. But why are we talking about a budget segment device and cameras in the same article? Whenever we talk about cameras it is generally associated with some high end or at least mid-range segment device where the camera is generally one of the USPs of the device. The camera is hardly ever the priority or USP of a smartphone when it hails from the budget bracket as the manufacturer puts all the effort it can to make the smartphone affordable – and one of the corners that are cut is generally the camera.
Xiaomi’s Redmi 4A, now, is a very different kettle of photographic fish.
In terms of numbers, there is nothing about the Redmi 4A’s camera which would make you jump out of your seats. It comes with a now-usual 13-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash coupled with a 5-megapixel front facing camera. But this is not actually the reason why we are talking about the Redmi 4A’s camera. The real reason is the performance which it delivers at this price point.
When we first received the smartphone, we actually were not hoping for it to do great things on the camera front, to be honest. But the smartphone proved us wrong. We took the Redmi 4A out for a walk on a bright sunny day and we actually were surprised by the kind of pictures the smartphone produced.
We generally expect a Rs. 6,000 phone to produce grainy, oversaturated or washed out pictures but the Redmi 4A actually knocked us off our feet. The fact that we were dealing with something very different hit us for the first time when we took a picture of a white flower with a yellow center with the phone (no, we don’t know what it is called, else we would be writing for BotanyPP.com). Yes, it was no iPhone 7 Plus nailing all the detail but the Redmi 4A was exceptional for its price. The flower was outlined beautifully and the colors were well-captured. We could actually see the hues of yellow around the center of the flower on the white petals. Another surprise was that even the texture was coming through. We could see the lines on the petal and blossomed part of the center, both of which actually gave the picture a lot of depth. What’s more, all the detailing did not turn into a grainy mess when we zoomed in and the picture actually held most of the detail. The cherry on top? This has to be the bokeh that was thrown in the background. It blurred out the background very subtly which made the flower pop out even more.
The second picture we would like to talk about would be the picture of an umbrella – not the usual one which saves you on a rainy day but the fancy kind which will help you keep the sun away. We took a picture of this very colorful umbrella with a ton of colors hitting us all at once. The greens, the orange, the blues and the reds really pop out. We even could see the strands of threads around the umbrella and the light through the cloth when we zoomed in which was quite something, we think. The light and the shadow play an important role in creating a good contrast in the picture.
The third picture actually went into the zen mode (quite literally). We took a shot of the statue of an oriental warrior. The guy looks a bit old but that is not what really puts it up here. It is the detailing. We zoomed in and in and in and it was just pleasure. We could see the lines on his face, the bits where the paint was a little off and even the design on the head gear. If that does not astonish you enough, then just zoom into the picture just below his hands and you will see a line of mirrors, blue and white. We zoomed in that far and the picture did not lose its basic essence – and hooray, no noise.
The phone does pretty good job in low light as well. We took a few pictures at night and we were very surprised that it handled glares well. Our expectations from a budget smartphone camera were realistic but it definitely beats a lot of budget range phones by a mile. And then there is MIUI 8. The user interface of the camera app allowed us to do more with the phone. The camera app offers seven different modes one can use and fiddle around with the camera including the Manual mode, Panorama and Beauty Mode. The phone also offers filters which make the experience so much fun. There is are modes like Tunnel, Mirror and Sketch which made us take pictures over and over again because it was just fun to use (check the Tunnel effect snap we took at a cafe if you believe us not).
Yes, we think the camera can be a little inconsistent at times and can goof up. The performance of the phone just dips a bit when you are taking pictures indoors. And it produces grainy pictures in low light. But even when it comes to inconsistency, the camera is never crazy bad but can be crazy good many a times. No, this is not the best camera phone we have ever since in our lives but when we talk about a camera phone in the budget segment, we think this one is going to beat the pants off many well-established smartphones falling not just in the same price range, but even higher ones. So, yes, the price is the USP of the Redmi 4A but no one ever said that a superhero can just have one superpower.
And after this, we are definitely going to expect much more from budget smartphone cameras. Even if they cost as little as Rs 5,999!