After a week of teasing, Xiaomi will finally be releasing the Redmi Note 5 later today. And while we still don’t know how much it’ll be, it likely won’t matter: Xiaomi’s phones have always had a near fanatical following because of their commitment in selling phones that punch well above their weight price-wise. The Redmi Note 5 is no exception: expected to retail under 15K, the new phone has all the hallmarks of a best seller: efficient processor, good cameras and more importantly, aggressive pricing.
So to not to confuse yourself, the Redmi Note 5 that we’re reviewing is the global version of the phone known as the Redmi Note 5 Pro in India, which has upgraded cameras and Android Oreo out of the box.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 5.99-inch Full HD+ IPS display
- 64GB expandable storage, via microSD (up to 128GB)
- 12-megapixel f/1.9 and 5-megapixel f/2.0 rear cameras with PDAF, LED Flash, and EIS
- 13-megapixel front camera with LED Flash
- 4G LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth
- GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS, Fingerprint scanner
- Android Nougat with MIUI 9. 5
- 4000mAh battery
Aluminum body bucks the all-glass trend, but we don’t mind
While most newer mid-range phones nowadays sport glass backs, the Redmi Note 5 bucks the trend by using an aluminum unibody. While some think that aluminum bodies is so 2017, we actually prefer them over glass since they’re tougher, harder to scratch and can go without having to use a silicone case (though one is provided in the package).
Despite bucking one trend, the Redmi Note 5 succumbs to another one: vertically stacked camera modules that protrude a few mm off of the body. This makes the phone not lie flat on the ground, and exposes the glass on the dual camera modules to unnecessary scratches if placed on an iffy surface.
The back of the phone also hosts the fingerprint scanner as well. The buttons are all on the right side, with the hybrid SIM card tray on the left side. On top is the IR blaster, with the USB port (sorry, no USB Type-C here!) 3.5mm jack and speaker grille all on the bottom.
Overall the phone feels extremely well built, and feels like it’ll take a couple of drops without any problems.
18:9 display, and look ma no notch!
18:9 phones are fast becoming the norm especially for pricier mid-range models, and the Redmi Note 5 is no exception. The device has a 5.99-inch full HD+ IPS display in front, with minimal bezels on the sides, bottom and top. Notch haters can breath easy since the phone doesn’t have a notch at the top.
As far as actual display performance goes, the Redmi Note 5 delivers. Colors are pretty good for its expected price range, and viewing angles are wide and generous. Display settings can be tweaked in MIUI if you feel the need to do that.
Hot hardware for the mid-range
The Redmi Note 5 comes with Qualcomm’s latest processor: the Snapdragon 636. It’s the same processor that we’ve seen in other mid-range phones like ASUS’ ZenFone 5. It’s a move that’s par for the course for Xiaomi: offer the same hardware that other manufacturers offer at a much cheaper price point, and watch the masses rejoice.
Qualcomm’s mid-range offering is capable of handling most tasks without any issue – a statement that’s also applicable to mobile gaming as well. It’s not surprising since the SD636 is a slightly under-clocked version of the SD660, which has the equivalent power of top-end devices of previous years.
Our review unit sports 64GB storage and 4GB of RAM and we’re not sure yet if Xiaomi will offer better specs for the PH market – we’ll update this article if there’s any changes.
Android Oreo plus MIUI 9.5 on-board
Just like Xiaomi’s other phones, the Redmi Note 5 runs Android Oreo with their own interpretation of Android, dubbed MIUI which is on version 9.5 on the device that we reviewed.
Thanks to the SD636 processor, MIUI ran without a hitch, though you’re still not getting an app drawer. There’s a facial unlock feature if you’re not keen on using the fingerprint scanner.
Camera is good for the price, but don’t expect miracles
The Redmi Note 5 gets an improved 12-megapixel main camera with a f/1.9 lens plus a 5-megapixel secondary lens with a f/2.0 aperture. That’s an improvement over the Indian version of the device, which should mean better camera performance in low-light.
Before we get to the photos taken by the phone, it’s important to note that we ran into a delayed shutter issue with the phone early in our review process, which resulted in nasty 1-3 second lag when taking photos. It eventually went away on its own, but for full disclosure, we have to tell you guys about it. Now, on to photos.
The improved camera gets better shots indoors compared to a model that only has an f/2.2 lens, though it’s not amazing, per se. There’s detail loss on the image of the flower that we took, though overall the camera performed pretty well considering its price range.
Long battery life, but lack of fast charging is agonizing
The Redmi Note 5 has pretty large battery considering its size. The 4000mAh power pack should keep you going for a while, and we constantly enjoyed around a day and a half of use before having to plug back into a charger.
Once you do plug into a charger though, you’re in for an agonizing wait: the phone doesn’t come with a fast charger, and that big battery pack takes a while to fill once you drain it. Expect to wait around for around two hours for a full charge on the Redmi Note 5.
Verdict: it’s an insanely value-packed phone
The Redmi Note 5 isn’t perfect, no matter what Xiaomi diehards tell you: image quality from its dual-cameras are good but aren’t amazing, and that charging time is pretty slow for a device of its caliber. But if we’re honest, those are mostly nitpicking in an overall solid phone. Big battery means it’ll take a while before you completely drain it, a notchless display is heaven sent for the notch haters plus the addition of the SD 636 chipset means the phone is capable of demolishing any and all apps with ease.
Xiaomi priced the Redmi Note 5 at Php 11,990/$229, making it the cheapest phone with the Snapdragon 636 chipset in the Philippines today. The phone will be available in both Lazada and the Authorized Mi Store on May 15.