The Redmi 7A is the latest entry-level phone from Xiaomi and it’s targeted at first-time smartphone buyers. This phone brings a tonne of upgrades, both minor and major, over its predecessor — the Redmi 6A — without the price hike that often comes with a new-generation device. Starting at Rs. 5,999, the Redmi 7A aims to further solidify Xiaomi’s dominance in the entry-level segment, but competition has intensified now.
A new design, faster processor, larger battery, and better camera are among the many upgrades introduced by Xiaomi in the Redmi 7A. This phone is definitely a big step up from the Redmi 6A(Review), but how does it stack up against rivals like the Realme C2 (Review)? And more importantly, is the Redmi 7A now the best choice in this segment? Read on to find the answers in our review.
Xiaomi Redmi 7A design
The Redmi 7A ditches the easily recognisable ‘low-cost Redmi’ look and opts for a clean unibody design. The phone is a tad narrower and shorter than its predecessor, but at 9.55mm, the Redmi 7A is thicker than the Redmi 6A and a lot of other phones out there.
On the bright side, the Redmi 7A is quite comfortable to hold. The rounded corners and the matte finish on the back feel good in the hand. The rear panel is made of thick polycarbonate and feels sturdy, and we did not feel any flex across it.
We quite like the matte finish because it is non-slippery and also doesn’t smudge easily. The Xiaomi Redmi 7A comes in three colour options – Matte Blue, Matte Black, and Matte Gold – and as their names clearly suggest, all three sport the same surface finish. We had the Matte Blue variant for review and it looks quite chic.
The phone boasts of a layer of nano-coating material for protection against accidental liquid splashes, but it is not IP-rated, so don’t take it swimming with you. As for the Redmi 7A’s build quality, Xiaomi is betting big on it and is offering a two-year warranty on this phone, which is a first for a Redmi model in India.
The Redmi 7A does look a little chunky thanks to its 9.5mm thickness, but we can’t really complain about the looks of a phone that costs Rs. 5,999 and offers this kind of hardware. Looking over to its rivals, the Realme C2 might look more appealing with its geometric diamond-cut pattern on the back.
One useful design change on the Redmi 7A is its speaker placement. The Redmi 6A’s speaker was located on the lower portion of the rear panel, which meant that audio was muffled when the phone was lying on a flat surface. On the Redmi 7A, the speaker has been moved to the bottom, and it now sits alongside the Micro-USB port.
The power button and volume rocker are positioned comfortably on the right and provide decent feedback on being pressed. On the left side, one can find the 2+1 card slot that can house two Nano-SIMs as well as a microSD card of up to 256GB capacity simultaneously. Storage expansion will likely come in handy as the 16GB of storage on the phone’s base variant might run out quickly.
Overall, Xiaomi has injected some aesthetic freshness into its entry-level Redmi phone lineup with the Redmi 7A, all the while making sure that the phone is sturdy as well.
Xiaomi Redmi 7A specifications and software
As mentioned above, the Redmi 7A comes with a host of upgrades. The phone packs a 5.45-inch HD+ (720×1440 pixels) display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The display is certified by TUV Rheinland for reducing eye fatigue caused by blue light emission, for a more comfortable reading experience.
The Redmi 7A is the first phone in the entry-level Redmi ‘A’ sub-series to pack an octa-core processor, drawing power from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 SoC which has eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2GHz. It marks a significant upgrade over the quad-core MediaTek Helio A22 ticking inside the Redmi 6A.
The phone comes in two variants with 16GB and 32GB of internal storage, but the amount of RAM remains the same at 2GB. We have the base 16GB variant for review, on which you get around 10GB of usable storage space.
We quickly ran short of storage after downloading most of our day-to-day productivity, social media, and benchmarking apps, plus a few games. You’ll need a microSD card if you plan to use this phone for more than just the basics, or if you want to store a lot of media files.
The Redmi 7A also features upgraded imaging hardware. This phone sports a 12-megapixel Sony IMX486 sensor with larger 1.25micron pixels, which is actually superior to the 13-megapixel snapper on the Redmi 6A. It is also the same sensor that has been used for the camera-centric Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review), which means buyers should be able to expect some good results. The front camera is a 5-megapixel snapper which also handles face recognition duties.
Another area where the Redmi 7A improves over its predecessor is battery capacity. The phone comes equipped with a 4,000mAh battery, which is 33 percent larger than the 3,000mAh unit inside the Redmi 6A. The retail package includes a 10W charger along with a Micro-USB cable, SIM eject tool, and some paperwork.
Connectivity options on the Redmi 7A include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/ A-GPS, FM radio, Micro-USB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone measures 146.30×70.41×9.55 mm and tips the scale at 165g.
On the software side, the Redmi 7A runs MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie. Our review unit ran the June security patch. If you have used MIUI before, you’ll feel right at home.
To start with, there is no app drawer. Swiping up on the home screen opens the Mi Browser (this action can be disabled), while swiping to the left shows the apps installed on the phone. Swiping to the right opens the customisable shortcuts page that shows utility widgets, calendar events, app recommendations, Twitter moments, etc.
The Redmi 7A comes with a tonne of preinstalled in-house and third-party apps such as Amazon, Facebook, WPS Office, Dailyhunt, Ludo Master, Paytm, ShareChat, and Mi Chat, to name a few. We came across ads in some of the preinstalled apps as well as on the installation permission screen after downloading new ones. We had to disable the “Receive recommendations” option in the MIUI Security app to stop seeing these pesky promotions.
On the bright side, MIUI 10 has a host of nifty features such as Second Space for creating an additional user profile, Dark mode, Reading mode, and Dual Apps, to name a few. One can also enable navigation gestures or go with the quick ball feature for navigating through the UI.
In case you choose the navigation gestures, you lose the ability to assign long-press gestures to the default Android navigation buttons. For example, the shortcut to activate split-screen multitasking on long-pressing any of the navigation buttons is gone. You can still do this through the app switcher, though. Similarly, you can’t call up Google Assistant by long-pressing the Home button, but you can assign this function to the physical power button instead.
Xiaomi Redmi 7A display and performance
The Redmi 7A’s display is an IPS panel with an HD+ resolution. Its colour reproduction is decent and content looks sharp. The viewing angles are also good, but the maximum brightness level could have been higher. Under direct sunlight, the brightness seemed insufficient to comfortably read text and watch media, even when pushed all the way up. The display is reflective, and we found it a little dull in outdoor conditions
In comparison, we the display on the Realme C2 (Review) looks more vibrant. The Redmi 7A allows users to tweak the display temperature and also increase contrast. The reading mode comes in handy at night, and you can also set a custom schedule for activating it.
The bezels at the top and bottom of the Redmi 7A make it look a little dated, but once again we have to remember that this is an extremely affordable phone.
As far as performance goes, the Redmi 7A is at par with most of its rivals and ran smoothly for the most part. We did not expect a super fluidic experience from this phone given its entry-level pricing, but it proved to be a decent performer.
In our day-to-day usage, we found that apps ran smoothly, although they took a little longer to launch than we are used to. While switching between apps, we also noticed that the phone occasionally stuttered, especially when more than five or six apps were running in the background. Sometimes, even basic apps took a couple of seconds to load, but we could live with that.
The 2GB of RAM is definitely a performance bottleneck, but if you are not running games in the background, multitasking will be smooth. Thankfully, we did not come across instances of unresponsive apps, something that frustrated us in case of the Infinix Smart 3 Plus (Review) which is powered by MediaTek Helio A22.
Casual games such as Temple Run and Candy Crush ran without a hitch, but the same can’t be said for graphics-intensive ones. PUBG Mobile was set to its low graphics settings by default, and we noticed stutters and frame drops. Still, the gameplay was comparatively better than most other phones in the same price bracket.
When it comes to benchmarks, the Snapdragon 439 powering the Redmi 7A performed much better than the MediaTek Helio A22. The scores we got were also slightly higher than what we’ve seen from the Helio P22, which powers phones like the Realme C2 (Review). The Redmi 7A scored 826 and 2,900 respectively in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests. In AntuTu 7, the Redmi 7A put up a tally of 69,990.
Coming to the more graphics intensive benchmark tests, the Redmi 7A’s Snapdragon 439 yielded better results than the MediaTek Helio A22 as well as the Helio P22 powering its closest rival, the Realme C2. In GFXBench’s Manhattan 3.1 test, the phone returned 13fps. The Redmi 7A’s 3DMark Sling Shot score stood at 821.
Xiaomi Redmi 7A cameras and battery life
The 12-megapixel rear camera on the Redmi 7A captures crisp shots with commendable sharpness and punchy colours, at least when the ambient light is good. The photos captured in daylight look good on the phone and are worth sharing on social media. When seen on a big screen, however, you do notice shallow depth and weak dynamic range, but that’s not surprising at this price level.
The photos captured indoors and in low-light conditions were not as impressive, because they lack sharpness and turned out grainy with a lot of noise. The Redmi 7A captures vibrant macro shots with decent sharpness, but there is not much in terms of surface detail. Also, if you like true-to-life colours, macro shots captured by the Redmi 7A will disappoint you.
A major gripe we have with the camera is the inconsistent focus lock. The phone struggled at locking focus, and even slight movement resulted in blurry photos. Another issue is the shutter delay, especially while capturing photos in HDR mode. The phone often made us wait for a second or two while it saved a photo.
The camera app offers a wide range of filters to choose from. There is also a beauty mode with five levels of beautification. We found that it essentially smoothens and lightens skin, but in doing so, also blows out the colours of background elements.
There is also a portrait mode that does a decent job of applying background blur, but quite often the camera blurred out parts of the subject that should have been left intact. In comparison, the Realme C2 (Review) does a better job of isolating and highlighting the object in focus, thanks to an additional depth sensor at the back.
The 5-megapixel camera captures photos that can be described as okay at best. In daylight selfies, we noticed that the Redmi 7A lightens skin colours without even applying any beautification filter, while background details turned out to be soft.
The photos look good enough on the phone’s screen, but on zooming in, one can easily notice the grainy texture. Low-light selfies have little in terms of detail and turned out noisy with poor colour reproduction.
The Redmi 7A can shoot up to 1080p video at 30fps. There is a lot of jerkiness and focus hunting in videos, and colours don’t look good either. Videos are grainy and washed-out overall.
The upgrade in battery size reflects in the battery endurance figures. With regular usage involving Internet connectivity throughout the day, social media usage, messaging, calling, and around 30 minutes of gaming, the Redmi 7A had no trouble making it past a full day with around 30 percent power still left at night on average. In our HD video loop test, the Redmi 7A lasted 14 hours and 47 minutes. The bundled 10W charger takes a little over two hours to fully charge the phone.
The Redmi 7A is a major upgrade over the Redmi 6A (Review) with improvements in almost all areas. The design is fresh and the build quality is better too. The display is also decent for the asking price, and the rear camera performs well under daylight.
The Redmi 7A’s battery life is impressive and the performance upgrade it brings is also noteworthy. There are occasional stutters when the phone is subjected to stress, but its performance is still on par with other phones in this segment. On the other hand, the selfie camera is a little disappointing, and you will also have to live with ads in MIUI.
If you are looking to upgrade from a budget phone that’s a few years old now or if you are a first-time smartphone user, the Redmi 7A is worth every paisa. Other than the Realme C2 (Review), the Redmi 7A has no major competition out there. However, if you want a more appealing design and an additional camera for better portrait shots, the Realme C2 is the one you should pick.