The Redmi Note 5: Familiar newcomer

Mala Bharghava | Updated on: Feb 21, 2018
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The economy flagship doesn’t come with major changes but has some updates that make it the recommended buy for those on a shoestring budget

For a good while after the Chinese tech company entered India, no one even knew how to pronounce Xiaomi. Well, look at it now, a virtual household name and the one name that instantly comes to mind when considering a good, solid smartphone for a reasonable price. There is no end to low-priced phones everywhere you look but nothing has quite carved out its place in the Indian market like the Redmi series.

The Redmi Note 5 has now arrived and if all else stays equal, looks set to take up where the Note 4 left off. It doesn’t come with too much of a difference though. Most noticeably, it still works on the Snapdragon 625 that the Note 4 did. But Xiaomi says the performance of that processor is stable and satisfactory all around, so why change it.

But it isn’t as if there are no changes. The most noticeable, if we’re looking at that, is that the screen has been brought up to current 18:9 standards — something Xiaomi itself started in 2016. Thinner bezels frame a pretty good display and slightly curved glass wraps into the rounded sides and corners to give the device that look of quality that Xiaomi has become known for. The back is all metal and available in black, gold, rose gold and an exciting blue. The smartphone is as well-built as it ever was, solid, a little taller and narrower and a tad heavier. One thing the Redmis are not is fragile. Another thing the Redmis are not is slow in performance. Not on Android Oreo yet, the Note 5 runs on Nougat 7.1.2 and is satisfactorily free of lag and stutter. Anyone who isn’t deliberately torturing that phone should be just fine with gaming, videos, the camera, and browsing or switching apps. The specs have been upgraded with the base model (there are variants) starting with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage and 4 GB RAM with 64 GB storage. The battery is a 4,000 mAh and should easily last the day. The fingerprint sensor at the back is still very fast, unlocking with that signature ping that I rather like and keep playing with.

The Note 5 also runs on Xiaomi’s MIUI 9.2 and I have to admit to have become a little disenchanted with all that heavy customisation. More than once techies have wished the phone was just based on Android as Google meant it to be. But then, smartphones would be more alike than they already are.

The Redmi Note 5’s primary camera is a 12 MP shooter with an f/2.2 aperture and bigger pixels meant to let in more light indoors, but shots can still be blurred and sharp details are lost. In good light, the camera does a pretty good job with colours, even capturing some that I’ve found notoriously difficult for most cameras. Macros are also good where others struggle when a subject is too close. In dim light, colours turn murky and depressing though. I wouldn’t go by photos of a light source, because that’s not what shows how it’s faring. The 5 MP front camera is well, average, in a word.

Overall, this phone is still a major value-for-money buy. Not an upgrade for someone who has the Redmi Note 4, but for first timers to the series or those with older phones, the Note 5 is a good one to consider. It does have competition though, especially from Huawei right now with its Honor 9 Lite. Step up the budget a bit and you need to consider the Note 5 Pro for ₹13,999 and ₹16 ,999.

Price: ₹9,999 (3 GB & 32 GB) and ₹11,999 (4 GB & 64 GB)

Pros: Sturdy as ever, more options with variants, great battery life and standby time, solid  performance, even better price for what one is getting Cons: Those expecting big  changes wont find them, no NFC, no Android Oreo for now, a little heavy

Published on February 21, 2018

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