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Redmi 13C 5G – Budget Smartphone Wars Heat Up as 5G Arrives in India ( 50MP, MediaTek Dimensity 6100+,90Hz and More )

After a slow 2022, budget smartphone makers are gearing up for a big battle in 2023 to capture India’s huge demand for cheaper 5G phones. Chinese giant Xiaomi is leading the charge, flooding the market with not one but two similar budget 5G models the Redmi 12 5G and now the new Redmi 13C 5G.

I have been testing out the latest Redmi 13C for over a week to see if it’s a worthwhile upgrade or just more of the same. In this review I’ll give you my take on whether Xiaomi’s newest budget 5G contender is a winner or falls flat.

Redmi 13C 5G Key Specification

  • Display: 6.74″ HD+ LCD, 90Hz
  • Chipset: MediaTek Dimensity 6100+, 6nm
  • RAM/Storage: 4GB/64GB
  • Rear Camera: 50MP + 0.08MP
  • Front Camera: 5MP
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Charging: 10W wired
  • Software: MIUI 14 based on Android 13
  • Weight: 192g
  • Thickness: 8.09mm
  • Colors: Star Blue, Night Black, Aurora Green

At First Glance, Familiar Design Cues

As someone who reviewed the Redmi 12 5G, I wasn’t shocked to see a very similar design with the 13C. Xiaomi is embracing a minimalist ethos lately, so not much changed looks-wise. You still get the dual rear cameras plus flash arranged vertically. The front punch-hole is gone, replaced by a teardrop notch, and the bezels seem slightly thicker.

But the flashy plastic back is anything but minimalist. It’s got a fireworks-like explosion of colors and textures going on. Glitter, horizontal lines, vertical lines, diagonals – depending on how you hold the phone, you’ll see different elements. For some it’ll be fun and vibrant. For me, it’s a bit over-the-top.

Beyond aesthetics the 13C 5G feels sturdy with a slim 8.09mm profile and weighs 192g, not too heavy for the size. Flat sides aren’t as ergonomic as curved edges though. Slapping on a case helps avoid palm fatigue during long usage sessions.

Vivid Colors But Low Resolution

The 6.74″ LCD display pops nicely with vivid colors and ample brightness. But the 720p resolution is underwhelming, a clear cost-cutting measure by Xiaomi. The 90Hz refresh rate helps deliver smooth scrolling and animations, a major upgrade from slow 60Hz panels.

Peppy Performance for the Price

In the budget smartphone chip game, MediaTek and Qualcomm are the heavyweights. The Dimensity 6100+ powering the 13C 5G competes well with the Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 in the Redmi 12 5G. It’s no speed demon but runs smooth for the price – day-to-day use, scrolling, app loading all solid.

Xiaomi uses toned-down software on its budget phones to conserve processing power. The stripped down UI lacks flashy animations and effects. The plain grey notification panel is an eyesore. With the Dimensity 6100+, I wish Xiaomi enabled a more polished interface.

For gaming, the 6100+ trades blows with the Snapdragon 4 Gen 2. BGMI maxes out at Smooth + Ultra frame rates, no Extreme (60 FPS).

MIUI 14 here is based on Android 13, even though Android 14 has been out for months. This doesn’t bode well for software update support down the line. Here’s hoping Xiaomi’s new HyperOS delivers more complete optimization.

Cameras – Capable But Compromised

With 5G chip costs still high, tradeoffs were made on imaging. The 13C 5G has a 50MP main camera that performs decently given the price. There’s also a random 0.08MP “auxiliary” camera of unknown purpose.

Shots in daylight are fair, though colors lean warm. For social media sharing, the photos get the job done as long as your hand is steady. Occasionally the 13C 5G can capture nice looking shots like the flower pic above.

But cropping reveals a lack of fine details, understandable for a budget phone. Low light performance also takes a hit with extra noise. The selfie camera is just passable. Again, no surprises given the constraints.

Tough to Justify Over the Redmi 12 5G

At ₹10,999, the Redmi 13C 5G isn’t a bad phone on its own merits. The design works, performance gets you by. Tradeoffs were made to hit that sub-₹11k mark and appeal to the 5G-hungry youth. For basic usage like calls and WhatsApp, it delivers.

But here’s the catch – it’s just ₹1,000 cheaper than the superior Redmi 12 5G. That phone has a better display, glass back, Snapdragon processor many prefer, and upgraded cameras. Hard to justify “downgrading” when you can get better specs for barely more money.

Making matters worse is the identically priced Poco M6 Pro 5G. Unless the other two are out of stock, I’d recommend spending just a little more for a better overall package.

So at last the Redmi 13C 5G is a decent budget 5G option on its own, but faces stiff competition from extremely close siblings. Xiaomi’s flooding the zone with too many iterative, marginally improved models. Sometimes less is more when it comes to smartphone lineups.

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