The Redmi Note has a special place in the Indian smartphone story. Although it made news for all the wrong reasons when it was initially launched in 2014 (there are some controversies with the defence forces), it has since emerged as one of India’s most successful phone series.

redmi note history

In fact, at one stage, Xiaomi used to claim that if the Redmi Note series was a phone brand in its own right, it would be among the top five phone brands in the Indian market. There are many reasons for the series’ success, but surprising consumers and us is one quality it has always had. Rare indeed was the Redmi Note launch or campaign that did not make us raise our eyebrows at some stage – whether it was about design, price, or simply a different approach to things.

So as the series turns eight and we stand on the verge of the launch of the Note 12 series, here are eight occasions when a Redmi Note device surprised us:

The Redmi Note 3 proves a Rs 10,000 phone can also be a flagship

Before Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 3 in the Indian smartphone market, the word “flagship” was almost always exclusively used to refer to the most high-end, well-specced smartphone from a brand. But when Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 3, the brand turned the definition of a flagship phone on its head. While it was a sub-Rs. 10,000 phone, which was not even in the vicinity of the kind of flagship devices launching at that point in terms of specs and price, Xiaomi made it a point to highlight it as one.

While big specs and numbers at relatively affordable price tags may not be such a rare sight anymore, the Redmi Note 3 was one of the first phones that brought this idea to the table. The design, the specs, the numbers, and the features were more than enough to get Redmi Note 3 the attention it deserved but to top it off, Xiaomi ensured that the phone got the flagship attention it deserved. It was a marketing masterclass, and all of it together made the Redmi Note 3 one of the most prominent phones in Xiaomi’s portfolio in India. And paved the way for the series’ permanent residence in the smartphone Hall of Fame.

The Redmi Note 3 redefines value for money

The first Redmi Note was launched in India in late 2014, but the series really became a rage with the Redmi Note 3. Yes, its high-profile launch (seldom seen for a device at its price point) did help, but what really made the phone a massive success was what it brought to the table at a surprising price tag. At a time when consumers were used to hardware, design, and software compromises at lower price tags, Xiaomi brought a phone that looked tough with a metallic body, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, and a surprisingly large 4,000 mAh battery.

redmi note 3

Even the software was MIUI which ran more smoothly than the competition (mainly buggy and cluttered interfaces from Indian brands at that stage) and was packed with handy features. All of this at a starting price of Rs 9,999 was something that stunned even those who were getting used to Xiaomi’s ability to offer very good value for money. It also set a new benchmark for Rs 10,000 smartphones. Xiaomi; ‘s journey to becoming the leading smartphone brand in the country can be said to have begun with the Redmi Note 3 step.

Using employees for a marketing campaign with the Redmi Note 4

Celebrity brand ambassadors are a pretty common sight in the world of tech. For a while, Xiaomi steered clear of all conventional forms of marketing, including using celebrities to promote its products. But with the launch of the Redmi Note 4 in 2016, Xiaomi made a few people the ambassadors of its products, but these people were not celebrities. Xiaomi has been known for using out-of-the-box, innovative marketing hacks to promote its products. One such unconventional and innovative marketing campaign that really helped the brand and the product being launched at the time stand out was the Redmi Note 4 campaign called the New Note Rises. Apart from all the things that make a Redmi Note (the usual amazing price-to-spec ratio and clever online marketing) a hit, this campaign came with a slightly different promotional idea.

redmi note 4 campaign

Along with the Redmi Note 4 on the posters, Xiaomi placed some very unique brand ambassadors– its employees. Instead of taking the road often traveled and going with a known face or celebrity, Xiaomi chose to go with the people who had been involved in the making of the smartphone and put their faces on its promotional posters. The company used its strong online presence, and the campaign was a straight-out hit. Not only did it save money by not hiring a celebrity to endorse its product, but it also hit the right chord with the viewers, showing them the faces that made the phone a star.

Avoiding conventional ads and then hitting it out of the park with the Naya Note campaign for the Redmi Note 5 Pro

After the successful New Note Rises campaign for the Redmi Note 4, Xiaomi dipped its toes in the conventional marketing pool and created an ad campaign for the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Demonetisation was a recent event in India. While it had been inconvenient for people in general, Xiaomi used the idea of the new currency being launched in the country to promote its new Note– the Redmi Note 5 Pro. To promote the phone, Xiaomi created a very funny, clever, and pun-filled campaign called the Naya Note campaign (which translates into the New Note campaign) and used the context of new currency (Notes) being introduced in the country to promote the new Redmi Note 5 Pro that the brand had recently launched. The campaign was the perfect mix of information and entertainment which was (kind of still is) a very rare sight in the tech world.

The Redmi Note 7 Pro plants a flagship 48-megapixel camera on a Rs 13,999 phone

Over the years, the Redmi Note series had been becoming a little predictable, following mainstream market trends, instead of setting them. However, with the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Xiaomi pulled a massive rabbit out of its hat. Yes, people had expected the Note 7 series to feature a 48-megapixel camera, but it was not supposed to be of the greatest quality and broadly similar to the Note 7, which Xiaomi had launched in China. In the event, Xiaomi stunned everyone by launching a Redmi Note 7 Pro with a flagship-level Sony IMX 586 48-megapixel sensor.

redmi note 7 pro

It was a camera that would be used by many flagships that came with much higher price tags later in the year and even in the year that followed, with the OnePlus 7T Pro and the OnePlus 8T being the most notable users. No one had quite expected a flagship-level feature in a phone priced below Rs 15,000. Unfortunately, the trend did not quite catch on (due to component prices, we are told), but the Redmi Note 7 Pro was one of the rare occasions when a phone priced at Rs 13,999 took on and beat phones priced three times as much in the camera department. It also did make 48-megapixel snappers mainstream and not restricted to a few pricey flagships.

Keeping the Redmi Note 8 below Rs 10,000

As phone prices kept going up, the price tags of the Redmi Note series went up too. Xiaomi, to its credit, doggedly stuck to keeping at least one Note variant below Rs 10,000. Still, more often than not, this decision came with compromises that made the lower-priced variants seem like rather distant cousins of the REAL Note. The Redmi Note 8, however, showed Xiaomi could still make a sub-Rs 10,000 phone rock. The Redmi Note 8 was powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor and came with a full HD+ display, a four-camera arrangement topped by a 48-megapixel sensor (rare with a full HD display at that price), a large 4000 mAh battery and a charger with fast charging (18W was fast in 2019) support in the box as well. It was a staggering value for money for its time, although the era of the sub-Rs 10,000 Redmi Note was slowly coming to an end.

Making AMOLED mainstream with a vengeance with the Redmi Note 10 series

redmi note 10 pro max

Although it had been one of the highest-selling smartphone series in India, one criticism that was increasingly leveled at the Redmi Note was the fact that it came with LCD displays, and not AMOLED ones. This clamor for AMOLED became louder with every passing year. Xiaomi finally took the AMOLED leap and, in the best Xiaomi tradition, did it in a way that surprised everyone. The brand came out with an incredibly bright and high-quality Super AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate for the Redmi Note Pro series. These were a clear step ahead of any AMOLED display we had seen at the Rs 15,999 starting price point of the Pro variants. As if this were not enough, Xiaomi even packed in an excellent AMOLED display on what was then the base Redmi Note 10 at Rs 11,999. It was vintage Redmi Note stuff – great value for money for consumers, a total headache for the competition.

Striking way too many confusing Notes with the Note 10 and 11 series

The Redmi Note story has been very colorful so far, but it has not been all pink and rosy of late. Unfortunately, some greys have managed to creep in, and we are not talking about smartphone colors here. This is because it seems like the brand has strayed away from the key principle that made the Note line-up what it was – simplicity. In the early days of the Redmi Note series, Xiaomi used to launch one, two, or at most three Redmi Notes: a base variant, the Pro variant, and sometimes the Pro Max variant. But that has changed since the Redmi Note 10 series, which has seen Xiaomi diversify its Note portfolio a little too much for comfort.

redmi note 11 series

At the time of writing, as per the Xiaomi India website, the Redmi Note 10 and 11 series had these devices: Redmi Note 11, Redmi Note 11S, Redmi Note 11 Pro, Redmi Note 11 SE, Redmi Note 11T, Redmi Note 11 Pro+, Redmi Note 10S, Redmi Note 10 Lite, Redmi Note 10 Pro, Redmi Note 10T, Redmi Note 10 and Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. That’s SIX devices in each category and some being released at different times of the year only added to the confusion. With these multiple devices in the market, it is no surprise that the real Redmi Note, the Note with the most Note-like features and price, is in danger of getting lost in the crowd.

Was this article helpful?