First Cut: Xiaomi Redmi 8: The 8A with some glossy style and spec substance!
No A in name, but still A-grade
Xiaomi has been upping the ante in the budget segment of the Indian smartphone market of late. Just last week, the Chinese brand which has been the number one player in the Indian market for almost two years now, had released the Redmi 8A, which brought a number of new features to the budget smartphone segment (a USB Type C port, a very good camera, a huge battery, and a very eye-catching design) and now hot on its heels, comes the Redmi 8.
The Redmi series has always sat between the budget Redmi A and the more mid-segment Redmi Note series, and the Redmi 8 is no exception. Which is actually a very good thing. Because just as the Redmi 8A and Redmi Note 7 Pro, the Redmi 8 is a very striking device. And just like those two worthies, it comes with a version of Xiaomi’s Aura design, this one called Aura Mirror finish. The back is carbonate like the Redmi 8A but whereas that device had a slightly more textured feel to it, the Redmi 8 goes all out being smooth and glossy. And it looks good doing so, although it will pick up more smudges and dust than the 8A (check our images if you believe us not). We had the Ruby Red variant (there are also Onyx Black and Sapphire Blue) and it was very striking, with the light forming patterns on its back.
In design terms, the 8 largely follows the template of the 8A. Both devices are almost of the same size – 156.4 x 75.4 x 9.4 mm – and even weigh the same (188 grams). And like the 8A, the 8 too has a front mainly dominated by a 6.22-inch display with a tiny notch containing the selfie camera. Even the camera arrangement on the back is similar – a small capsule-shaped unit in the central part of the upper half, although a closer look will show that this time there are two cameras in that unit and just below it is a fingerprint sensor (something the 8A did not have). There is also a black enclosure around the camera unit and the Redmi branding beneath it, which looks very classy, and this time “Designed by Xiaomi” does not appear on a thin strip of its own but simply vertically in line with the camera unit. Like the 8A, the Redmi 8 too comes with P2i splash proof protection.
Truth be told, we liked the more grippy feel of the 8A, but we can see the bling oriented crowd preferring the 8.
The appearance might be a matter of preference, but when it comes to specs, there’s no questioning who is the boss among the 8 and the 8A. Although both phones have similar HD+ 6.22 inch displays (protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5) and are both powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor, the 8 has 3 GB/ 32 GB and 4 GB/ 64 GB RAM and storage variants as compared to the 2 GB/ 32 GB and 3 GB/ 32 GB ones of the Redmi 8, although both have dedicated microSD card slots that expand storage by up to 512 GB.
Also while both phones have similar Sony 363 12-megapixel sensors (the same seen on the Poco F1), the Redmi 8 gets a 2-megapixel second sensor for depth sensing. Both phones have an 8-megapixel selfie snapper that also supports face unlocking, although the Redmi 8 also brings a fingerprint sensor to the party. In connectivity options too, both phones come with similar options – 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and FM Radio (which works just fine over the speaker!). Finally, like the 8A, the 8 too sports a large 5000 mAh battery with support for fast charging through a USB Type-C port. Alas, like it, it has no fast charger in the box – only a 10W one. This being a Xiaomi phone, you get an MIUI interface on top of Android (9, in this case).
All of which makes the Redmi 8 a slightly shinier (in design terms) and substantial (in spec terms) version of the Redmi 8A. And its starting price of Rs 7,999 for the 3 GB/ 32 GB edition (Rs 8,999 for the 4 GB /64 GB one) would make it very decent value for money. However, special pricing of Rs 7,999 for the 4 GB/ 64 GB variant makes it one heck of a headache not just for the competition but even the 8A, which starts at Rs 6499 but has no 4 GB/ 64 GB variant to speak of.
Stay tuned for our review to find out just how much a difference those specs make!