- Solid Build Quality
- Improved Camera
- Impressive Battery Life
- Quick Charge 2.0 Supported
- No 6GB Variant in Malaysia
- Overexposed Shots w/ Front Camera
If there’s one brand that we know for its surreal offering for an affordable price tag – it’s Xiaomi. Their key goal has been and still is offering the best for an affordable price tag, be it entry, mid-range or flagship grade smartphones. With that said, they are popular in the mid-range segment with their Redmi Series. Few months back, they unveiled the Redmi Note 5 here in Malaysia and it had a very convincing hardware under the hood. This rises the question: Does the Redmi Note 5 still holds the key to the throne in being the best mid-range smartphone or not? It’s about time to find out in our Redmi Note 5 Review.
Design & Build Quality
The Redmi Note 5 shares a similar design cue with the Redmi Note 3. The 2.5D glass on the front slips into the plastic lip and on to the curved side of the phone all the way to the back. The Redmi Note 4 had more of a boxy shape to it which I am a huge fan of. But this one feels nicer and gives a better grip when you hold it in your hands.
The curve on the sides are a lot more seamless. The camera on the back has a bump with a chamfered finish around it – giving it a much more finer finish. So, is the fingerprint sensor – with that beautiful design. Sometimes, small things like this is what makes a design of a phone stand out. We received the black variant which is gorgeous with that stealthy shade.
Moving on to the build quality, the phone is constructed in both glass and aluminum – giving it a premium feel to it. The back of the phone has more of a softer texture compared to the Redmi Note 4. They improved their manufacturing process and made it finer I suppose. Gone are the days where Redmi phones are generally lighter – now it has some heft to it – which I like. The weight of the phone is evenly balanced and the chances of it toppling out of your hands would be very minimal – so that’s a great thing. The glass on the front of the device isn’t Corning Gorilla – which comes to the point, you might want to apply a film or a tempered glass to protect it from scuffs or scratches.
By the way, did anyone notice that the gold color Redmi Note 5 does not have a Gold color front bezel? 😛
Specification and Benchmark
Mi Malaysia announced two different variants for the Redmi Note 5. There’s one with a 3GB RAM|32GB Internal and the latter, 4GB RAM|64GB Internal which we received. Fret not as you can upgrade the capacity with the help of an SD Card. Other than that, the phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, a 14nm Octa Core Processor under the hood. This is the first phone to get this processor followed by companies like Asus and others who now has phones that powers the same processor.
Below you can find the benchmark test that we’ve performed on the phone. Do take note that the bench mark scores do not add up to day-to-day basis usage – but it does give you an assumption on how good it should perform – so that’s good.
On the front of the phone, it has a 5.99” FHD+ Display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The display is calibrated more towards a cooler tone. The 1080p display on this is sharp and there’s no visible pixel seen anywhere. It has a rounded off corner at both the edges to give more of a premium finish. Some would prefer having the extra pixels around the corner. As it’s in an 18:9 aspect ratio, the off screen buttons are gone and it’s been replaced with the on screen buttons. Now, if you think that it takes a bit of space, you can enable the gesture mode to navigate – which is definitely a huge plus and it works really well.
Other than that, the colors produced on the display looks good and it’s very sharp. The viewing angles are good and does not have any sort of discoloration. The brightness is good indoors but if you were to use it under the sunlight, the Sunlight Display feature gets turned on and it increases the contrast – making it a bit usable. The blacks aren’t really blacks but it shouldn’t bother you much because watching content via iflix or Netflix is pretty good enough.
We are using the 4GB RAM variant and out of that, we always have about 2.1GB RAM available and the other half takes up for the whole OS Process and sorts. On paper, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 looks like it should perform well considering the fact that it’s octa-core. The clock speed of the processor in the Redmi Note 5 is a bit low but it should work fine when you perform your day to day tasks. We tried three games on it to be specific – Need for Speed: No Limits, Asphalt 8 and Batman: The Telltale Series.
NFS and Asphalt did utilize the 18:9 aspect completely fine. Both the game did give out more of a mid tier quality when it comes to gaming and the graphics are scaled to low to medium by auto. The game is indeed playable but if you are expecting it to run with a maxed out settings, chances are – it might run into some sort of hiccup. The Batman Telltale Series doesn’t utilize the screen completely, instead it plays the game in the 16:9 aspect ratio. There is a bit of stutter when there is an animation and sometimes delay in voice, but the game is still playable. During games, the phone does get a bit warm and it’s noticeable.
Battery & Charging
The Redmi Note 5 has a 4000mAh lithium-ion polymer battery – which powers the phone. As usual, I did a test where I used the phone heavily. During my moderate to heavy usage time, the lasted for 13 hours 32 minute and gave me about 4 hours 52 minutes of Screen on Time. Under lighter use where I didn’t even connect it to the charger until the next day, it lasted for 1 day and 5 hours with 11% battery left and a screen on time usage of 4 hours 48 minutes.
This is possibly the second best phone we have tried to have a phenomenal battery life in a whole. You might be wondering, charging the phone can be tricky – right? Well, the good news is – the phone does have Quick Charge 2.0 enabled – in that case, you can get your phone battery from 0 to 45 in about 30-35 minutes – which is pretty good. If you’re getting this phone purely for it’s amazing battery life, you did a good job in choosing this phone.
Front Facing Camera
On the front of the phone, it has a 13MP shooter with an aperture of f/2.0. This is a step up as well, because the previous Note has had only 5MP Front Facing camera. Previously with Xiaomi cameras in general, works really well – with the exposure and sorts. The selfie pictures turns out with good quality but the problem is when it detects my skin tone, the whole exposure gets blown out of proportion. So, most of the time I had to shift the focus to a different spot to get a good image. Fix this Xiaomi.
Rear Facing Camera
The key feature or the aspect where Xiaomi is emphasizing is – it’s the Rear facing camera. It comes with a dual camera configuration. The primary sensor is a 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.9 and the secondary sensor is a 5MP lens with an aperture of f/2.0. Instead of a dual tone flash, they have went for a single tone flash – which I personally think is a step down from it’s predecessor.
Let’s talk more on the camera. The dynamic range on this camera is impressive. The colors it captures is a lot close to the real colors that we see with our bare eyes. Sometimes the reds are a bit too overexposed. The whole exposure and white balance is handled really well, followed by the details are sharp and it isn’t blurry. Under low light, the pictures do look a bit to the noisy side of it but it has improved compared to its predecessor. The colors do get a bit dull when you shoot objects or space in low light but toggling the HDR on will solve the problem by providing punchy and vibrant colors all around.
UI & OS
The Redmi Note 5 runs Android 8.1 out of the box but on top of that, it runs their very own custom UI, MIUI. The MIUI 9 fixes a lot of problems the previous MIUI had – such as app launch and much more. The MIUI 9 retains most of the good features like Twin App, Second Space where you can have two different profiles and protect your work from personal life and much more. The application loads up pretty quick and I have to say – this is impressive. I personally have used Xiaomi Phones as my daily driver for quite some time and using this sure does give me a clear picture in terms of improvement.
Yes, it’s a custom UI where it doesn’t have any app drawer – but you can side load your preferred launcher to get that out of the way. It does take a bit of space but compared to all the other UI I’ve used – especially from the Chinese manufacturers – MIUI probably has the best and it’s completely baked inside and out.
That’s the Redmi Note 5 Review. Looking at how far the Redmi Note series has made it’s progress sure is interesting. Other than that, the one let down for me would be the secondary camera – the depth sensor. I wish it had a similar or a same setup as the Mi A1, which is still one great smartphone Xiaomi has offered till date. It’s not like I have to depend on the secondary sensor all the time with the Redmi Note 5. The camera in general is nice and definitely a huge improvement. For the price tag, RM 999 for the 4GB Variant is not too shabby.
We at The Adventures of Vesper recommend the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 – as a good option for the Budget Mid-Range Smartphone. If you want more performance, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro would a good option to consider. You can click here to read our final take on that. 😊