By: Rohan Pal, The Mobile Indian, New Delhi
Last updated : February 15, 2018 10:22 am
But will it be able to cross the high bar set by the Redmi Note 4 and become 2018's flagbearer for Xiaomi?
Older version of Android
Average low-light camera
After many leaks and rumours spread over weeks, Xiaomi has finally launched its next-generation of smartphones under its Redmi Note series in India. The Redmi Note 5 Pro cis priced at Rs 13,999 for the 4GB RAM variant, while the 6GB RAM option is priced at Rs 16,999.
Though the Redmi Note 5 is a modest update to the Redmi Note 4, it is the Redmi Note 5 Pro that is finally available to consumers in India. The phone comes with a simple mandate: Xiaomi wants to defend the title of ‘No. 1 smartphone brand in India’. A title that had the Redmi Note 4 as its biggest contributor. A mantle the firm would love to see the Redmi Note 5 Pro take up. We tested the device to check just how well prepared the handset is for this challenge.
The first thing you notice about the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is the new 18:9 display. The company has finally caught up with the latest trend here, which removes one glaring miss in its existing portfolio. The phone comes with a 5.99-inch Full HD+ display with a screen resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and 2.5D curved glass. Adding further to the shifts from the tried and tested, the redmi Note 5 Pro screen sees the introduction of on-screen navigation.
The display is one of the finest we have seen in this price range and the colours themselves are accurate. The company promises a colour contrast ratio of 1500:1 and maximum brightness of 450-nits, which translate into a decent output. This also means that black levels are deep and the viewing angles are great as well. However, on the downside, you will notice a slight bluish tint in the display, especially, when viewed from extreme left or right. The outdoor visibility is good, though the screen is a bit reflective in nature. When compared to Honor 7X , the display on the Redmi Note 5 can be found to be slightly on the cooler side.
While the phone does a good job in the display department, the design didn’t impress to a certain extent. Though it comes with a metal unibody and it is sleek with 8.05 mm thickness, but not as sleek as Honor 7X or Honor 9i. The front comes with some noticeable top and bottom bezels, which stands out pointedly, especially in white. Xiaomi could have learnt from its competitor Honor when designing this smartphone. The Honor 7X bears almost a similar screen size, but still, the brand was able to keep the top and bottom bezels minimal. That said, the device is comfortable to hold you will need to shuffle a bit in order to reach volume controls or top corners of the display. For fans of the fingerprint sensor at the back of the phone, there is good news, as the sensor at the back is easy enough to reach. For fans of the front fingerprint sensor, read on to find redemption in other features.
Coming to the performance, this is where it gets a good lead from the rest of the competition. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor along with Adreno 509 GPU. We got the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant for review and it safe to say that this is probably the fastest smartphone from Xiaomi, especially, at this price range. The phone simply does not give up when you put it under pressure. The phone runs most daily usage tasks smoothly, and multi-tasking is glitch free as well.
On the gaming front, the phone handles most of the casual games like Vertigo Racing, The Walking Zombie: Dead City, Chameleon Run like a piece of cake, while graphics-intense games ran without significant lag. Furthermore, we didn’t face any noticeable overheating issue on this device. Thanks to the dual pyrolytic sheets, twice the number on the Redmi 4 which leads to a 1 degree reduction in temperature.
On the battery front, the Redmi Note 5 delivers well, as we have come to expect from this series. It comes with a 4000mAh battery, which easily lasts a day and more under normal usage. Under power usage, it comfortably lasts more than half a day. However, the battery does take a noticeable amount of time to be fully-charged, making us wonder about the possibilities had this come with a USB Type-C port.
If the battery is good, the camera is certainly a crowd pleaser in this one.
The company has made some major improvements in the camera department. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the first smartphone under Redmi series that comes loaded with a dual-camera setup. The phone features 12-megapixel primary lens with 1.25-micron pixel and f/2.2 aperture along with a 5-megapixel secondary sensor with 1.12-micron pixel and f/2.0 aperture. For the front, there is a 20-megapixel camera with Sony IMX376 sensor, LED flash and Beautify 4.0. Previously, the company has been criticized for its camera performance and it seems that the brand has finally made a serious effort to make camera driven customers smile.
The smartphone does quite a decent job in daylight conditions with pictures coming out crisp and clear. The colour is close to the source and we quite liked the bokeh effect in this one. We took some portrait shots of different subjects and found out that most of the time, the phone was able to highlight the subject without superficially blurring out the background (which many many smartphones are guilty of). However, under low light conditions, despite the higher aperture, there is still room for improvement, and the camera will also need to handle glares more effectively.
The front camera, on the other hand, does a pretty good job. The selfies clicked under good lighting conditions were sharp and real. The brand has also introduced bokeh effect for selfies as well and in our testing, it does a good job in most of the cases. The camera is able to recognize the object clearly and highlights it with ease, though in indoor conditions, it is not able to properly outlines the subject. Also, the selfie flash helps a little in clicking the photos in ultra-low light conditions.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 comes loaded with MIUI 9, which is based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. This is where the company lags behind its competitions by missing the Android Oreo update . At a time when brands like Honor are offering Android Oreo on their latest smartphones, the decision to stick with Android 7.1.1 Nougat is perplexing, to say the least. Coming to the user interface, the MIUI 9 is now lighter and smoother as compared to its predecessors. The brand claims that with MIUI 9 you get tons of improvements under the hood including better RAM management, faster performance and improved doze mode.
The user interface frankly comes with iOS-like design and it would have been better if the company could have added an option for app drawer. The transitions are smooth and there is a Quick Card panel on the leftmost side that shows recent apps, notes, weather and more. You have an option to disable or customize it.
The new MIUI 9 now support split screen, which can be accessed when you open recent menu app. Then there is Security app, which scans for malware, manages blacklist, restrict data usage, helps in battery optimization and free up some RAM and clears trash. Apart from this, you Second Space, dual apps, quick ball for some easy shortcuts, gesture controls and more.
However, there are some flaws as well. First of all, the MIUI 9 still comes with lots of bloatware apps. Secondly, there is no option of app scaling on this device, which is a benefit for 18:9 displays. This means that you get black space above and below the app, which spoils the whole mood. This is particularly noticeable when you are playing games. Thirdly, during our review period, we found out that even on the fresh handset, crashes can happen. Lastly, accessing information from the notification panel or replying to messages by swiping down with two fingers is a pain. The lines are broken and it is not as simple to do that as compared to other smartphones. Further, the phone takes a lot of time for the first boot and be prepared for a setup time of ten minutes.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro does come with solid specifications and it goes in the performance department. The display looks good, but lack of app scaling option leaves the black screen. The camera does a good job in most cases and the bokeh effect surely looks good. The battery is impressive and the user interface is lighter. The user interface does have a fair share of drawbacks and it is not one of the gorgeous-looking smartphone available in the market. To conclude, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro turns out to be a pretty interesting device if you are a ready bear with its negatives.
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