Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Review
Alright, Xiaomi has launched their next midrange series of smartphones. Redmi Note 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro are the two newly introduced smartphones by the Chinese giant. Even though both devices fall in the same model range, they exhibit serious differences in the specification, pricing and the design. Redmi Note 5 is a budget level midrange smartphone, but the Note 5 Pro is a camera focused smartphone. In terms of pricing and design, Note 5 clearly stan so far from the Note 5.
We have managed to get a review unit of Xiaomi’s latest smartphone model Redmi Note 5 Pro. We have been using the device for the last one week, and now we are publishing our verdict about the device for our readers.
If you don’t remember, the predecessor Redmi Note 4 was the most selling smartphone of last year. So the entire tech world was waiting curiously for the successor, that is 2018 model in the Redmi Note series. As expected, Xiaomi heard to the fans and released the Note 5 model. But, many of the consumers were requesting for a higher variant with more features in the Redmi Note series, maybe that’s why they introduced Redmi Note 5 Pro with more features, better camera and better design. Let’s check out the quick specifications of Redmi Note 5 Pro:
Specifications of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
|Display||5.99 inches, 92.6 cm2 (~77.4% screen-to-body ratio), 1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9 ratio (~403 ppi density), IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.|
|Chipsets||Qualcomm SDM636 Snapdragon 636, Octa-core 1.8 GHz Kryo 260, Adreno 509.|
|RAM||4GB RAM/ 6GB RAM.|
|Storage||64GB internal storage ~ Expandable via microSD slot.|
|Rear Camera||Dual: 12 MP (f/2.2, 1.25 μm) + 5 MP (f/2.0, 1.12 μm), phase detection autofocus, LED flash.|
|Front Camera||20 MP (f/2.2, 1/2.8″, 1 μm), LED flash, 1080p.|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery.|
|Software||Android 7.1.1, MIUI|
|Colours||black, blue, or rose gold.|
The most exciting thing about the Redmi Note 5 Pro is its design. We can say it is very very similar to the Apple’s iPhone X design. If you look at the back camera positioning, the Redmi Note 5 is a carbon copy of iPhone X. However, it’s not a big deal. Still, it looks great. On the front, the infinity display with 18:9 aspect ratio and the curved edges make the device much immersive. But sadly, it does not have any thin bezel design or something like that. It still features an old-school big bezel on the top and bottom front, which is really bad. They could have reduced the bezel size. The metal frames on the sides are slightly thicker than the Redmi Note 4, so it may feel little unsettled while holding for a long time. Personally, I have thought for a moment that whether the bezel-less design is a curse or boon because we do not actually have a little enough extent for holding the device sometimes. However, let it be.
If you ask me about the weight, it weighs around 181 grams in total which is not really good, but it could be due to the metal back and substantial battery. The device is available in Black, Blue and Rose Gold colour options. So you can choose your favourite colour design for your unit. It doesn’t have any capacitive navigation buttons since it is available as the on-screen navigation system. That’s a significant improvement from the predecessor Note 4. On the top front, it has a camera unit, selfie flash, earpiece and sensors. The volume and power buttons are on the right of the phone and are slightly out of reach when you’re holding the phone normally, but feel solid. Up top, there’s an IR emitter just like on previous Redmi Note smartphones. At the bottom of the device, it has a 3.5mm headphone socket, microphone, Micro-USB port, and a speaker grille. It comes with a hybrid dual-SIM slot which can hold two Nano-SIMs or a microSD card (up to 128GB) in the second slot.
The phone is little taller than most of the 5.99-inch smartphone as it has thicker bezels on oth top and the bottom. So it will be inconvenient for most of the users. Thanks to Xiaomi, the fingerprint scanner placement is pretty accurate, which can be reached easily without any confusion. The back panel is not very acceptable for many of the users as the dual camera setup is apparently bumped and makes it ugly on close up look. The dual camera and flash arrangement are 100% same as the iPhone X, and the bumping is also similar to that. So you will have to handle the device carefully. Otherwise, you will scratch the camera glasses. Overall, the device is cumbersome on hands and feels very durable too. The iPhone X inspired design makes it more attractive.
Let’s talk about the major improvement from the Note 4. The all-new Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a 5.99-inch display with 18:9 aspect ratio. If you want, you can read more about the 18:9 ratio screen trend here. So finally, Xiaomi is also joining the bandwagon of 18:9 screens. However, it does look perfect and gives a new dimension to the Redmi series. The 5.99-inch display has a full-HD+ resolution, which is more comprehensive than what standard full-HD displays offer. Xiaomi boasts of it having a maximum brightness of 450 nits, which means that in the real world, the screen is easily legible even under direct sunlight. Gorilla Glass has been used for scratch protection.
What I like about the display was how accurately it rendered colours without going overboard with the saturation and tone. These levels can also be adjusted using MIUI’s display mode customisations to a user’s liking.
The display was a sharp, sharp enough to render all those fine lines and text in Xiaomi’s MIUI 9 accurately without any jagged edges. Another detail that Pro does really well is around the corners of the display. They look pristine and polished and are not squared out like those on the Honor 9i, lending it a premium look.
The new Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with Android 7.1.1 based MIUI 9 custom skin as the operating system. But many of the fans were requesting for stock Android experience in the Note 5 series. So recently, Xiaomi India’s official Twitter page conducted a poll which was deleted after few mins because the majority of the voters chose Android One as their desired operating system for the Note 5 series. Then the company launched the smartphones with their MIUI on it.
We don’t have to give you an introduction to the MIUI as it is one of the most popular custom user interfaces based on Android. It is very similar to that we have seen in the Redmi 5A and the Y1 series. We didn’t encounter any noticeable lag or stutter in the animations either. The leftmost home screen is dedicated to giving you card-style updates, shortcuts for apps (you can add your own too), a space to take quick notes, cricket scores, and calendar events. It does come with some third-party integrations such as Ola for quick ride booking and all. However, we don’t have an official word from the brand about the availability of Android Oreo on this device.
Apart from the third party app integrations, the smartphone comes with a bunch of in-house apps from the Xiaomi itself, which are useful in many instances. The Redmi Note 5 Pro app repository encompasses a lot of Mi Apps and features including Second Space, Mi Drop, Mi Talk, Mi Cloud, etc. The Second Space lets you use dual of any of the apps so that you could be able to use two WhatsApp or two Facebook accounts on single smartphone simultaneously. Taking the Mi Drop, it is equivalent to the Apple’s AirDrop feature which is a file sharing kiosk. Similarly, the QuickBall app lets you use an on-screen floating navigation panel resembles the Apple AssistiveTouch panel on iPhones.
The main home interface may look familiar, but the notifications and quick setting panels have revamped to an extent. Anyways, the Xiaomi still has not provided their Operating System skin with an app drawer, which disappoints many users. So whenever a user wants to have a separate app drawer in order to organise everything well on the face, only a third party launcher app could help out.
The smartphone software version points to the older Android 7.1.1 Nougat based MIUI 9 with the security patch dated December 2017. However, we could not feel any laggy, slow performance on the UX base, unlike the earlier devices including Xiaomi Redmi Y1 and Redmi 5A. The buttery smooth experience with the convenient Interface design elements makes the smartphone usage much interesting ever, among the midrange devices. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro is expected to get an OTA (Over-The-Air) update to the Android 8.1 Oreo software with the same MIUI 9 skin atop. Surprisingly, a recent firmware teardown by XDA-Developers suggests that the forthcoming update will bring the Project Treble support to the smartphone. In case you are not aware of the Project Treble, this will help OEMs in bringing the updates much fastly to the smartphones. Instead of reworking on the software version everytime a new update from Google pop up, they can separately update the Operating System layer which will be almost uniform to the manufacturers. So from the Android Oreo, the smartphones users will the get the latest version of the Android Operating System without having much waiting time. The smartphones are said to receive updates consistently for at least 2 to 3 years.
On the board, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 CHipset, coupled with 4GB or 6GB of RAM. The unit we have been received with is the 6GB version. The motherboard version of the smartphone which most of the benchmarking platforms points out is the SDM660, which may get you confused about the exact chipset of the smartphone. For your information, the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 is an underclocked Snapdragon 660 Chipset with the same Cryo CPU’s and Performance-Low power cores, but a lesser powerful GPU on the board.
As the Qualcomm 636 Chipset was derived from the robust midrange SD660, it surpasses the expectations in every aspect. The smartphone smoothly switched between apps while multitasking and there were no notable memory leakage instances. The optimised UI of the device too helped in managing the RAM not to exceed the overflow level. It is really a wise move to opt for the Redmi Note 5 Pro with a powerful chipset by adding up a few thousand rupees from the wallet, instead of buying the Redmi Note 5 with Snapdragon 625 SOC which they stick onto, from more than a year.
On the storage face, the smartphone has only the eMMC 5.0 storage space, instead of the faster UFS 2.0 technology or equivalent. However, the LPDDR4X RAM of the smartphone fills the hole with its flagship level memory operation speed. The smartphone has almost 15-20% of performance tweak from the older versions, says the brand on the paperwork. The performance hike reflects clearly in the daily usage.
It is not the first time XIaomi is launching their smartphone with a dual-camera, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the second most Xiaomi-made midrange smartphone to arrive in India with one. The Xiaomi Mi A1 which was launched earlier last year had a pair of dual lenses on the rear, one with a 2x optical zoom capability. The company has improved a lot in their second attempt with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. On the spec sheet, the smartphone engraves the camera department with a 12MP primary sensor, coupled with a 5MP depth-sensing lens with the same old Optical Zoom enabled. Coming to the front, the smartphone has a selfie snapper of 20MP, possibly the best-in-class.
While reviewing the smartphone major camera sensor, we would love to make a contrast with the Mi A1 dual camera smartphone in lieu of the predecessor Redmi Note 4. The taken pictures have the colour details and clear pixel definitions comparatively and having an average level of white balance. The smartphone outperforms many other competitors in the indoor photography. But while coming to the outdoor sunlight, the camera samples fail to create an optimal level of saturation due to the average photosensitive upshot of the primary lens. Color reproduction of the resulted images are decent in optimal conditions, but too bright or too dark conditions may disappoint you somehow. The autofocus, as well as the touch focus rate, are just same as the older devices. But in low-light conditions, the autofocus fails to impress, and the shutter rate lags a little, in order to capture little more light. However, the smartphone has a fantastic image capturing capability, including the excellent colour temperature management.
Taking the advantage of the dual-lens technology, the company has also included an inbuilt portrait mode on the smartphone, similar to the Xiaomi Mi A1. This time, the edge sensing and depth focusing have turned out to be much better than ever before. Also, the device has EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) feature in video shooting, which stabilises the video avoiding the small shaking. But the 4K video recording does not support the EIS but does not feel it a necessary feature in 4K.
Coming to the front mounted 20-Megapixels selfie snapper, it can be concerned as one of the best selfie cameras among the midrange smartphones. There are plenty of options available, including the depth mode and Beautification mode alongside a selfie-flash. The Beauty mode does not make the images look natural. The Depth Mode blurs the background, but not much impressive on edges. Here, check out some of the camera samples.
One of the significant attractions on the Xiaomi Redmi lineup smartphones is their tremendous battery life. The smartphones have battery packs, having the capacity on above 4000mAh, and no less this time too. Redmi Note 5 Pro is juiced up with a 4,000mAh battery, whereas the predecessor had a 4,100 mAh capacity. Even with the larger screen, dual camera and powerful hardware under the hood, the smartphone has managed to run more than 35 hours with average usage. In continuous video loop test, we did found the smartphone to be running up to an average of 15 hours 48 minutes, from 100% to 0% battery.
The smartphone neither supports Quick Charger, nor the travel charger adapter given along with the retail pack has the fast charging capability. It takes at least 2 hours to boost the smartphone battery from 0 to 100% with the 5V/2A/10W charger adapter. But practically, you can change the device with a quick charger adapter fastly (not recommended).
If you are looking for a budget-friendly midrange smartphone with a high performance, then you are good to go with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. If you are considering the camera smartphone, then are about to take the exact cup of tea, despite little disappointing facts on the dual lenses. You will get impressive battery life, along with the taller, wider display. Still, there are several other competitors in the same segment including the Honor 7X or Honor 9i.
As the Redmi Note 5 Pro is available in two different variants, one with 4GB RAM and the other with 6GB of RAM onboard. Both the options have 64GB of internal storage. I would prefer you to go for 4GB RAM variant, if you are short-budgeted. However, opting for the 6GB variant would not even make a big difference in the performance base, as the 4GB is vast enough for a smartphone in 2018. You can purchase the smartphone from Mi Homes, the Offline retail stores by Xiaomi, Official Mi Website or Flipkart, starting at Rs. 13,999 for 4GB, and 16,999 INR for 6GB versions.