Good phones, je suis un fanboi
I am the happy owner of a REDMI 3s bought on line for 138 USD about 5 months ago.
After testing multiple smart phones in the same price range and lower, I can only say the competition should watch out. This entry level, first generation phone displays none of the bad features typically found in other low-end, low-priced Android devices such as crap battery life, jerky displays, awful response times etc. You would be foolish to buy anything else in this price range. Performance is excellent and most of the native apps work fine. Battery life is good. The phone's Qualcomm snapdragon chip is the dog's gonads in terms of power efficiency and response. I can only imagine how good the higher end models are. The REDMI fills a niche and then some.
But there are small warts that definitely need to be fixed before taking over the rest of the world:
1) Western alphabet users will need a quick and painless way to remove Chinese language artifacts such as keyboards, download tools, etc. I know this is a Chinese phone, but non-chinese users will not enjoy finding and selecting google apps by visual icon identification. Many others will find life complicated when they accidentally switch to a Pidgin keyboard. This is not a cultural superiority thing, it is a GUI and international marketing issue. I just hope they address it soon.
2) Tighten up the MUIU rom upgrade process even further. When Xiaomi users can upgrade their firmware as easily as an Apple User, the debate between iOs vs Android will soon become moot for price-conscious users.
3) Segregate the apps store by languages (alphabet again).
4) Stop sending me links to Chinese films, I would love to turn this feature off but my Mandarin is really deficient (see above). Not too keen on trying the cloud service either, for obvious reasons.
But for those who have never tried a Xiaomi, I would highly suggest a test run, if you ever see one in the flesh. OnePlusOne is another brand worth looking at as well. Both of these manufacturers have brought quality components into the average users budget range.