- The Redmi Note series is the highest selling phone series in the Indian market. If it was an independent brand, it would be the third largest in India.
- Initially, the Redmi Note series revolved around a core device, with Pro and Lite versions of the same, with largely similar features and design.
- The Redmi Note 11 series, however, has seen the series diversify to an unprecedented level, with devices being very different from each other.
Recently, Manu Kumar Jain, Xiaomi’s global vice-president tweeted about the launch of the latest Redmi Note devices, or to be more specific, the Redmi Note 11 Pro series. If you noted it (haha, pun), the Redmi Note Pro is now a series within the Redmi Note series. And it is not the only sub-series within the larger Note series. We have already seen a Redmi Note 11T, a Redmi Note 11S, and a Redmi Note 11 at the time of writing. All of which tempts us to go all Eminem and say:
May we have your attention, please?
Will someone fix our confusion, please?
We got a plain, an S and a T, and a Pro in the lineup
So will the real Redmi Note please stand up?
We repeat, will the real Redmi Note please stand up?
More Notes than ever before
We have no problem with the brand deciding to extend the Redmi Note branding to different phones. The series is so popular that if it were an independent brand in its own right, it would be the third-largest smartphone brand in the market. So perhaps it makes sound commercial sense to diversify it and spread some of that Note series goodness around. The more, the merrier, right?
The problem with all this Note-able merriment is that the basic Redmi Note has got kind of lost in the middle of all this. Is that important? Well, it depends on how you see it. On the one hand, it is great that the consumer has more options under one of the highest-selling phone series in the country. But on the other hand, it could also take away from the Redmi Note, which the series has built over the years.
Back to 2016…when one Note ruled them all
Cast your mind back to the Redmi Note that started it all – the Redmi Note 3 in 2016. It was simply the best phone for those who wanted everything at a budget price. It started at Rs 9,999 in those days and came with everything that most folks would want from a mid-segment phone – a full HD display, decent cameras, a competent processor, a big battery, and a very solid design. This was the Note template that was to be followed for a while – the Note was the phone that simply did everything well.
The emergence of the Pro variant changed that a little, but even the Pro initially was a Note that was slightly better than the plain suffix-less Note. It generally had better cameras and sometimes a slightly better processor. The plain Note itself remained largely unchanged in its appeal. In fact, the nomenclature of the Note series reflected the ability of the devices in it – the Note Pro Max would perhaps be the most powerful and with the largest battery. The Note Pro would have better cameras; the Note Lite would be a step behind the regular Note. The point of reference remained the basic, rock-solid Note.
When you said “Redmi Note,” you meant a device that did everything well. There might be variants that would be slightly better or slightly below it, but the plain Note was the benchmark, the center of the Redmi Note universe. Most of the specs and design flowed from it. So did the performance.
Fast Forward to 2022…striking different Notes!
That seems to have thoroughly changed. The shortage of parts might be partly to blame for this situation but mention “Redmi Note” today, and there is likely to be some confusion. There are already three Redmi Notes in the latest Note 11 series out there – the Redmi Note 11T 5G, the Redmi Note 11, and the Redmi Note 11S. And they are all rather different from each other, not just in terms of design, but also specs and performance. The Note 11T has 5G but no AMOLED display, the Redmi Note 11S has a 108-megapixel main camera but no 5G, and the Redmi Note 11 is the only one of the three which does not run on a MediaTek processor.
Two of them have MIUI 13, but the one with 5G (the most futuristic in network terms) is stuck with the older UI, MIUI 12. The design language is different as well. The Note 11T 5G has the classic curved back and sides, while the Note 11 and 11 S have a slightly curved one and somewhat flat sides. Even the textures of the backs are different, as is the arrangement of cameras. In terms of the front, two devices have 6.43-inch displays, and one is a 6.6-inch one. The only major design similarity seems to be the fingerprint scanner on the right – even the 3.5 mm audio jack is placed on the base of one and on top of the other two. Yes, they all have 5000 mAh batteries and 33W chargers, and 90 Hz refresh rate displays, but that apart, there is more “chalk and cheese” to them than “peas in a pod.” If leaks are to be believed, the Redmi Note 11 Pro series could well add to the confusion with more spec and design differences.
From unity to diversity
The addition of at least two more Note devices – the Redmi Note 11 Pro and the Note 11 Pro Max, is quite likely to muddle Note waters further. All of this means that by mid-March, users would have five distinct Redmi Note devices to choose from, across a wide price range and with different strengths and weaknesses.
The big question is: how will this affect the consumer? Will it confuse them? Only the sales figures will be able to answer that for sure. We have generally seen consumers not get too worried by similarly named or specced devices (no matter how much reviewers complain). If anything, they seem to value the variety. If that proves to be the case, the Redmi Note’s multiple series move might well open a new chapter of success for the device. One in which there are a wide variety of devices that meet different requirements of different target segments, moving from “a Note that does everything” to “a different Note for different folks.”
That said, it was the previous strategy of “one core device, followed by slightly different variants” that has made the Note the massive brand that it is today. What’s more, this approach has been followed by many players in the tech space across many segments and has generally worked. It eliminates confusion around a series. When you hear a certain series’ name or number, it gives you an idea of what the series and that number represent. The new strategy takes this clarity away. So, for instance, if you say “Redmi Note 11T,” you do not get an idea of what the product brings to the table. This is also because, unlike the previous suffixes like “Pro” and “Lite,” letters like “T” and “S” do not really indicate anything performance-oriented.
The lack of a strong set of shared specs and features that usually ties different series phones together could also potentially give them an identity crisis. They are all “Note 11,” but they do not really seem to belong to the same family.
So, will the Real Redmi Note please stand up? Some might feel that it does not need to, but we would like to see some clear connection between these multiple devices being launched under a very broad Note umbrella. We are all for a greater variety for the Indian consumer, but some unity in diversity is always a good idea.
(Akriti Rana contributed to this article)