Xiaomi Redmi 5A Review: The Ultimate Budget Phone?

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We review the Redmi 5A!

Nothing says about a brand’s impact more than the demand for their products even after they’re officially gone. Despite their disappearance back in 2015, Xiaomi’s products were still widely available thanks to many grey market sellers that stepped up to take advantage of the insane demand.

Fast forward three years and the brand has finally returned in the Philippines, much to the delight of its fans. To celebrate their return, Xiaomi put up their Redmi 5A for sale in Lazada a few days ago, which quickly sold out necessitating several additional flash sales, with another sale happening on March 23. With a total price of just $85 during the flash sale (and a further price reduction of $6 if you use their e-wallet) the Redmi 5A is pretty much hyped as the best bang-for-the-buck pick under $96. But is it really?

Xiaomi Redmi 5A specs
  • 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 Quad-Core Processor
  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage, expandable up to 128GB via microSD
  • 5.0-inch HD IPS display
  • 13.0-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera and LED flash
  • 5.0-megapixel, f/2.0 front camera
  • Dual-SIM, 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS, IR Blaster
  • Android Nougat with MIUI 9
  • 3000mAh battery

Pedestrian design won’t impress you

Much like most budget phones, the Redmi 5A is constructed mostly out of plastic. It’s not surprising that Xiaomi opted to go the plastic route for their budget phone. Don’t get us wrong, the phone doesn’t feel cheap, but after using metal backed phones, the change is a little jarring.

The Redmi 5A has curved sides and rounded corners, with the 13-megapixel main camera tucked on the upper left side of the phone, flanked by a single LED flash. Battery is non-removable unfortunately, though users are given two SIM slots and microSD expansion so they no longer have to choose between an extra SIM or more storage.

There’s a 3.5mm jack on top plus a USB port on the bottom. Being a traditional budget phone, the Redmi 5A has a big ol’ chin at the bottom of the display where Android navigation keys sit.

Display is good enough

The Redmi 5A has a 5-inch HD IPS display that’s fairly OK for the price. It has good viewing angles and overall color reproduction. We can’t find a fault on the display on the Redmi 5A do we find it better than its peers – it’s OK, but not amazing.

Hardware is hard to beat for the price

As pedestrian and unremarkable the outside of the phone is, it’s what inside that really sets the Redmi 5A apart from the competition. Beating inside it is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 processor, paired with an Adreno 308 GPU and 2GB of RAM, as well as 16GB of storage.

While the SD425 isn’t a screamer by any stretch of the imagination, it’s way better than the standard chipset fare that’s usually utilized by manufacturers in the same price range. We’ve seen phones that are double the Redmi 5A’s price utilize the chipset, so its presence in the phone is nothing short of astounding. There will be limitations of course – multitasking is a bit poor with just 2GB of RAM and you’ll really have to watch what you download with 16GB of storage. Gaming on the phone will be limited by the chipset and the storage – you’ll be able to play Android games like the recently released PUBG for mobile, but it’ll be on low settings for sure.

Xiaomi also included an IR emitter on the top of the phone which allows you to use it with compatible devices. A nifty extra to be sure.

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Camera isn’t too great, but acceptable

The camera setup on the Redmi 5A is pretty straightforward – a single 13-megapixel f/2.2 snapper takes care of regular shots while a front-facing 5-megapixel f/2.0 shooter takes care of selfies. No additional cameras for artificial bokeh, no other gimmicks.

So, are the photos good? Well, they’re OK, especially for the price – images are decently crisp and there’s good detail in photos, but all of that go down the drain once the light starts to fade. Just like most budget phones the Redmi 5A suffers a lot when there’s not a lot of light around which is to be expected at this price point.

Power-efficient chipset will last you a day and then some

The 3000mAh battery combined with the relatively power-efficient SD425 chipset is a great combination on the Redmi 5A. We averaged around a day’s worth of battery on a single charge with enough left over for the next day. The only annoying part of the Redmi 5A is the fact that it doesn’t have fast charging, and you’ll be twiddling your thumbs for around 2 hours waiting for the phone to fully charge from 10%.

Verdict: It’s the budget phone to beat

With powerful hardware, decent camera and display the Redmi 5A is really hard to beat on pure value alone. Like we said in our unboxing, the phone uses a chipset that is utilized by other smartphones that have almost double the price of the Redmi 5A, which also sometimes have worse specs in comparison.

It’s hard to argue then that looking at purely at the value for money standpoint, the Redmi 5A is superior in every way to its competitors. And while we’ve refrained from recommending Xiaomi devices in the past because there was no local warranty available, that’s no longer the case.

(unbox.ph, https://goo.gl/tWh2Ms)

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