Xiaomi makes budget-friendly products. The difference, though, is that you’re not paying for a straight-up inferior experience even at a bargain bin-level price. As other brands make serious cuts in an effort to reduce costs, Xiaomi pushes hardware and software to their limits.

From its Redmi series, Xiaomi’s Redmi S2 stays modest. The specifications aren’t cutting-edge nor dull. Yet the price tag leaves more money in your wallet than most mid-range devices do.

The Redmi S2 isn’t available around the world, but maybe you’re lucky enough to be located in an eligible market. Xiaomi might surprise you with how good this phone actually is. While you can find plenty of mobile devices for $160, none of them are as well-made and strong as this one. Because of that, we’re interested in telling you what makes Xiaomi’s Redmi S2 a good pick.

Here’s why you should consider the Redmi S2 if you’re looking to save some money.

Mid-range performance, low-end price

The showrunner comes from Qualcomm, and it’s not a Snapdragon 400 series chip. Shocking, right? Xiaomi called on the chipmaker for its Snapdragon 625. With this power-efficient unit, the Redmi S2 runs leaps and bounds ahead of anything similarly-priced.

Xiaomi’s Redmi S2 can’t fly through apps and games at a blazing-fast speed, but $160 normally struggles to open Twitter stutter-free. The phone never stumbled through basic tasks, and in-app performance was as smooth as expected.

Go shopping, and try to name another mainstream brand that sells a Snapdragon 600 series-toting phone for under $200. Xiaomi’s business model of ultra-affordability impresses again. There’s no substantial compromise on performance from the Redmi S2.

That (faux) all-metal design

Even though it’s not aluminum, the Redmi S2’s exterior sure does resemble it. Xiaomi needed to use plastic, but its selection looks and feels like metal.

The Redmi S2 somehow tricked me into thinking it’s made of aluminum despite that being impossible because of its low-cost nature. That’s a testament to how great this piece of plastic comes across.

Aside from HMD Global’s Nokia 3.1, you’ll be hard-pressed to identify a phone so cheap that’s so well-made.

Just look at other entry-level devices for a moment. Xiaomi’s competitors at the same price are using plastics that collect fingerprints and smudges. The mid-range segment has moved toward metal and glass, and that’s where the Redmi S2 falls on paper. Still, the Redmi S2 undercuts those devices in price.

Xiaomi went the extra distance by using soft edges as well. It’s not like the edges or corners dig into your hands. The antenna lines are visible, but none of them are jumping out in an intrusive manner. Overall, the Redmi S2 is simple and sleek.

MIUI with a hint of Oreo flavor

Based on Android 8.1 Oreo, the Redmi S2 offers a pretty up-to-date experience. It’s also paired with MIUI 9.5, Xiaomi’s software overlay. The two work together and unlock a slew of features.

Make sure to choose the Global Version if you’re picking up this phone. The Redmi S2 has a Chinese Version, but you won’t get access to Google Mobile Services. Xiaomi’s Global Version ships with Google’s full collection of apps and services that includes the Play Store.

Admittedly, MIUI could be an acquired taste for many consumers. It’ll take some time to get acclimated to the layout and behavior, and then you’re jumping between apps and menus as you would on any other Android device. Maybe you’ll grow to appreciate Xiaomi’s spin on Android, too.

So much screen real estate, so many cameras

Xiaomi added a modern touch for the Redmi S2’s display. It measures 5.99 inches, stretching to the top and bottom while slimming the bezels. That means you get more screen real estate and less bezel than imaginable on a low-cost phone.

The LCD panel seems a little too cool, but that’s not a fair knock here. What matters most is that its size and resolution keeps users satisfied. Watching videos or playing games on the Redmi S2 doesn’t feel restricted.

As for the cameras, the Redmi S2 boasts three of them. The 12MP and 5MP lenses on the back are decent. Nothing spectacular, nothing awful. You might appreciate the bokeh effect, though. Then, up front, Xiaomi elevates your selfie-taking with a 16MP lens that includes HDR and soft-toned flash. On the Redmi S2, your selfie should look social media-friendly or better.

Most non-flagships take crummy photos and videos. If you’re spending $160, you should expect the absolute worst. But the Redmi S2 captures a scene much like a mid-range device, and that’s impressive.

Now that you know a lot more about the Redmi S2, it’s time to make a decision. Should you purchase one? The Redmi S2 is a no-brainer on a tight budget. Phones are getting more expensive, but Xiaomi’s remained true to its roots. You can get the Redmi S2 for just $160 while not losing out on key features for a phone.

Buy now: GearBest

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