Xiaomi cannot do anything wrong in India. The manufacturer sold almost 10 million Redmi Note 4 units in the country last year and is looking to maintain that momentum with the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Xiaomi built its entire business model by offering great value for money, and as indicated by sales numbers, the strategy has yielded good results for the brand. But tracking the Redmi Note 4 is a difficult act since there was not much problem with the device.
That’s why with its 2018 budget phone, Xiaomi is focusing on major updates in all the major areas. The Redmi Note 5 Pro features an 18: 9 screen, a double camera on the back and a 20MP front camera with LED flash, a Snapdragon 636 chipset and up to 6GB of RAM. Xiaomi led the battery life category last year, and things are no different this year: the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a 4000 mAh battery.
Since the competition also includes increasingly powerful phones, does the Redmi Note 5 Pro have what it takes to promote the cause of Xiaomi in India? Let’s find out in this Complete Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Review.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Design
The Redmi Note 5 Pro marks Xiaomi’s foray into the 18: 9 form factor in the budget segment. The brand marked the way for the panels without bevel with Mi Mix and Mi Mix 2, and while the effect is not so surprising anywhere in the Redmi Note 5 Pro, you get a higher screen of 5.99 inches with significant levels reduced. when compared to Redmi Note 4 from last year.
The switch to an 18: 9 panel also means that there is a new design up front. The capacitive navigation buttons have given way to the on-screen keys, and you can change the orientation of the buttons backward and overview from the configuration menu.
Back, things are more familiar. If you ignore the camera module, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is identical to the Redmi Note 5, which in turn shares the same aesthetic design as the Redmi Note 4. The Redmi Note 4 had an iterative design that was almost identical to the Redmi Note 3, then what we have here is a design language that has three years.
As in previous years, the antenna incrustations on the top and bottom of the device are made of plastic but have a metallic finish. There is a small variation in color between the inlays and the metal back, particularly in the golden version. It is not so noticeable in the other color options of the device.
While aesthetics have evolved over the past three years, the design on the back is starting to look obsolete. The design works for the Redmi Note 5, which starts at ₹ 9,999, but it would have made more sense for Xiaomi to differentiate the Redmi Note 5 Pro from the standard variant.
Speaking of the lack of differentiation of the Redmi Note 5, the Note 5 Pro also comes with a micro USB charging port. The standard is becoming obsolete, and the responsibility now lies in Xiaomi to make the switch to USB-C in the Redmi series. That said, the IR blaster is intact, as is the 3.5mm connector. The volume and power buttons also offer a good amount of tactile feedback.
The 18: 9 front panel is one of the best in the budget segment.
The fingerprint sensor on the back is identical to what Xiaomi has used in the past, and it authenticates quickly and positioning is correct. The sensor is in the top section of a third and is right next to the natural resting position of your index finger. There is also a more prominent curve where the back meets the middle of the frame, which allows a better feeling in the hand.
Upon reaching the screen, the 5.99-inch LCD panel is one of the best in this segment. Xiaomi has the habit of offering vibrant screens in this category, and the same is true for the Redmi Note 5 Pro as well. The panel offers a resolution of 2160×1080, which is becoming the standard for the 18: 9 format.
The ready-to-use colors are excellent, and you can adjust the settings according to your preferences by entering the settings. The phone also comes with a blue light filter that can be set to activate automatically from dusk to dawn. If you are someone who uses your phone a lot during the night, you must activate the function since it reduces the tension in the eyes.
For better or for worse, the camera’s sensor (with the lenses vertically aligned and the flash inserted in the middle) is identical to the iPhone X. It also protrudes from the back, which causes the phone to wobble when placed on a flat surface like a table.
However, in general, the quality of construction, as well as the fit and finish, are excellent, with Xiaomi adopting stricter quality control measures. At 181 g, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is heavier than its predecessors, and the higher panel does not allow it to be used with just one hand.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Hardware
Xiaomi is regularly in the first wave of manufacturers to deploy the latest Qualcomm hardware. We’ve seen that in years past, and that’s also the case with the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which is the first device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 mobile platform.
The Snapdragon 636 is interesting as it introduces Kryo cores in the budget category. The Snapdragon 660 did the same for the mid-range segment last year, but most of the phones powered by the chipset – the OPPO R11 and the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 – were limited to the Chinese market.
The Snapdragon 636 has eight cores in total, with four performance cores complemented by four low-power cores. We have seen that same combination in use in the Android space for a few years and achieves the ideal balance between performance and energy efficiency.
The four high-performance cores are based on the Cortex A73 from the ARM, one of the fastest cores available today. The energy efficient cores are based on the Cortex A53, a pillar in the budget segment in the last two years. Qualcomm has previously offered fully customized cores on the Kryo platform but is taking advantage of the “Built on ARM Cortex Technology” license agreement to build semi-custom cores.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is on par with the flagship chipsets of a few years ago.
The license allows Qualcomm to take ready-to-use Cortex cores and make modifications to adjust overall performance. We have seen Qualcomm follow this path with the Snapdragon 820, 821 and 835, and the chip provider is now doing the same for later Snapdragon chipsets. Going with a Cortex license has several benefits since it allows Qualcomm to go to the market faster, it does not need to design a core from scratch while retaining a competitive advantage.
Returning to the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Kryo cores make a tangible difference in terms of overall performance. You’re seeing anywhere a 15-20% increase in CPU speed and a 10% increase in GPU performance. As we have seen in the reference points, the Snapdragon 636 is a Lowclock version of the Snapdragon 660, which offers performance equivalent to the iconic chipsets of a few years ago.
The performance of the hand with the Redmi Note 5 Pro is extraordinary, and it is safe to say that this is the fastest phone in the budget segment by some margin. The performance of the GPU means that the phone can now also handle visually intensive games, which was a limitation of the Redmi Note 4 from last year.
Points of reference Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is also adorned with LPDDR4X RAM, which until now has been limited to the high-end segment. It would have been great if the device had also offered UFS storage, but the global storage demand meant that it was not feasible for Xiaomi to include it in the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Instead, the phone has eMMC 5.0 storage, and with both variants that offer 64 GB of internal memory, will not be exhausted in the short term.
Another novelty with the Redmi Note 5 Pro is Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 5.0, with both functions limited to the Pro variant and not available in the standard version. Speaking of connectivity, the Redmi Note 5 Pro had no problems with calls, and the speaker at the bottom is surprisingly loud. In summary, if you are looking for most of your investment in the budget segment, this is the phone to obtain.
Xiaomi prioritized the battery segment last year, featuring a 4100mAh battery in the Redmi Note 4. The huge battery combined with the MIUI optimizations allowed the Redmi Note 4 to run rings around its rivals. A year later, that has not changed. While the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a slightly smaller 4000mAh battery, it guarantees the same great battery life in its class.
You will easily get a day and a half of using that battery consistently, even if you are an advanced user and depend on your mobile primarily for your entertainment needs. In my use, I averaged nine hours of screen diffusion in time for two days.
My main problem with the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s battery is the lack of fast charging. With the battery lasting more than a day on average, most of the time it will look to recharge your device in the middle of the day, and that poses problems since the integrated charger has a maximum of 5V / 2A. The phone itself is not compatible with fast charging, taking agonizing two hours to go from zero to a full charge.
Fast charging is not a big problem on a device with such a long battery life, but the lack of that is one of the few areas where the Redmi Note 5 Pro is behind the competition.
Software Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
On the software front, it’s a business as usual. The Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with the latest version of MIUI 9, but if you waited for Oreo, be prepared to disappoint. The phone is still based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, with an Oreo update scheduled for later this year.
Also, with the Redmi Note 5 Pro being the first to run the Snapdragon 636, there are strange faults along the way. My unit is in the 22.214.171.124 nightly compilation, and the stable 126.96.36.199 update is scheduled to arrive at the phone shortly after its release. The stable construction should solve the problems and allow the phone to take full advantage of the Snapdragon 636.
The optimization could also be the reason why Xiaomi stayed with the Snapdragon 625 for the standard version of Redmi Note 5. The manufacturer has been optimizing the chipset for more than a year, to the point that it works with nary a lag or stutter. It will take at least a few weeks to get the Redmi Note 5 Pro on the same level, after which we expect the Oreo update to arrive on the device.
MIUI is a ROM that needed a visual update.
In addition to the lack of Oreo, the user experience offered with the Redmi Note 5 Pro is similar to the Xiaomi devices released over the past twelve months. There are a lot of customization options and more features than you will end up using, but that is one of the main attractions of MIUI. Xiaomi has invested considerable resources in the creation of features, and MIUI 9 has a lot to offer in the form of quick responses in the notification window, a new My Video application, native split-screen functionality and much more.
Then, there are older features, such as dual applications, that allow you to run two instances of an application simultaneously, and Second Space, through which you can create a separate profile on your device. The SMS application has been adapted for Indian clients, taking the information from a ticket confirmation SMS and automatically creating a card with all the relevant details highlighted.
MIUI 9: Nine new features you need to know
As I said last year, MIUI will never stick to Android “pure” in terms of visual design, and that’s because most of its users are in China. The unregulated nature of the Chinese application market is what led to features such as a dedicated security application and granular control over automatic start permissions.
But with a use that is increasing in markets like India, we may see a generalized change in MIUI in the coming years. The redesigned notifications panel is definitely a step in the right direction, but the interface as a whole needs an update to make it more modern. The recent menu, for example, has not changed since the KitKat era, and if you need an application drawer, you will have to look for a third-party startup program. Hopefully, Xiaomi will address these problems and make much-needed changes to MIUI sooner rather than later.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Camera
If you ignore the fact that the arrangement of two lenses on the back is identical to that of the iPhone X, the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s camera has a lot to offer. The phone has a main 12MP camera that joins a secondary camera 5MP deep, and up front, you get a 20MP camera with LED flash.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro does an impressive job in natural light conditions, with images that offer a lot of detail and precise colors. HDR is disabled by default, and although the mode was more of a hindrance in Redmi’s previous devices, it is actually usable in the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Finally, the phone does a decent job in low light conditions, which is a Big problem since most cheap phones have problems in this area.
The camera of Redmi Note 5 Pro outperforms other phones in this category by one mile of the country.
I put the phone to the test by using it as my daily controller during the Xiaomi launch event earlier this month and I was impressed with the overall results. I usually rely on Pixel 2 XL or Note 8 for coverage of launch events since the lighting in these places is not ideal, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro did an admirable job.
The dual camera configuration also allows the portrait mode, which we have seen in the Mi 6 and more recently in the Mi A1. The background blur effect is more conservative this time, but as Xiaomi pointed out at the launch event, its edge detection algorithm is on target.
On the front of the video, you get electronic image stabilization, but you lose 4K recording. It is not clear why the feature was removed since the Snapdragon 636 can handle 4K video, and as good as the Redmi Note 5 Pro is to take photos, the videos are not the strong point of the device.
Sure, the Redmi Note 5 Pro will not blow the Note 8 out of the water, but you must remember that the phone is available for less than a quarter of the price of Samsung’s flagship.
Should you buy it? Absolutely
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the strongest of Xiaomi in the budget segment in the last two years and puts the brand in an excellent position as we approach the launch cycle for 2018. The 18: 9 screen is a change much needed to keep the device competitive, and the Snapdragon 636 ensures class-leading performance for the foreseeable future.
The phone is offered in two variants: a model with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, and a version with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The 4GB model sells for ₹ 13,999 and is for sale, and the 6GB version is available for ₹ 16,999. The phone should reach Xiaomi’s offline partners shortly after its launch, and go to the 22 Mi Home stores in the country.