Three days with the Xiaomi Redmi 5

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If you look at the current smartphone market in India, Xiaomi is constantly dominant in the sub 20K segment, thanks to their expansive smartphone portfolio. This is not an opinion - the company, as per IDC, almost tripled its shipments year-on-year and doubled quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2017. It overtook Samsung to become the top smartphone maker with 23.5 percent market share.

Following the same approach, Xiaomi moved strategically by dropping the Redmi Note series in time and launching the new Note 5 Pro variant, making it the only phone running Snapdragon 636 in the country. Riding that momentum, the company followed up with the new Redmi 5 budget smartphone. 

At its price, the Redmi 5 is the only phone running the Snapdragon 450. Yes, the same chipset found on Vivo V7 and V7 Plus, which cost more than 16k. But, we aren't here to talk about them, instead, we have shared our three day experience with the new Redmi 5 smartphone.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 outer build

Xiaomi Redmi 5 outer build

Design and build

While the whole industry was busy replicating Apple’s design elements, Xiaomi launched some seriously good-looking phones like the Mi Mix 2 and Mi 6 last year. 

But unfortunately, that's not the case with Redmi line-up. Although the design on the Redmi 5 doesn’t look like a cheaper replica of its flagship, but it still fails excite us. 

Many might say Redmi 5 has a good design and build quality for that price, which is true, but it doesn’t differentiate it from the norm that’s being followed from last two years. 

While the design elements are similar but there some minor alterations. The phone is taller, wider, heavier and sleeker than its predecessor, the Redmi 4. The back looks a lot like the Redmi Note 5, where the camera's baked right above the fingerprint sensor and not the top left corner like the Redmi 4.

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3.5mm headphone jack

3.5mm headphone jack

Top view

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Power and volume buttons

Power and volume buttons

Side view

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Charging point, mic and speakers

Charging point, mic and speakers

Bottom view

Design and build

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Rear camera and fingerprint sensor

Rear camera and fingerprint sensor

Rear view

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Overall rear look

Overall rear look

Rear view

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Display and screen with on-screen navigation

Display and screen with on-screen navigation

Front view

From the front, the phone looks exactly like the Note 5, which means more screen space and less bezels. As a result, the physical navigation keys have been removed. 

Like previous Redmi phones, it has rounded corners, a flat back and curved sides. However, the curves aren’t as well pronounced as we have seen in the past. 

The metal back feels sturdy, in fact, it feels like a thick and tall slab of metal. Despite its bigger form factor, the phone feels easy to use and fits well in the palm.

You can easily differentiate between the Redmi 5 and its predecessor, but it is tougher to differentiate from the Note 5.

Redmi 5 display and screen

Redmi 5 display and screen

Display

The Redmi 5 packs a 5.7-inch IPS display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and 720p resolution. 

The Redmi 5 does not retain the smaller display size, but it still has a excellent HD+ panel like its predecessor. Colours look vibrant, but it’s visibly dim compared to other displays. Sunlight visibility remains sub-optimal, but auto-brightness makes up for it. Overall, it’s a colourful display with cool colour tones, wide colour gamut and decent viewing angles.

For those who like playing games and consuming media on their phones, this is one of the best displays found on a phone at this price point.

Redmi 5 camera

Redmi 5 camera

Camera

The Redmi 5 has the same rear camera as the Redmi Note 5 on paper. It has a same 12MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture and PDAF. 

When we tested it out, the results were quite impressive for its price. Pictures clicked in day light look clear and have enough sharpness, but the dynamic range isn’t up to the standards of the Redmi Note 5. 

There were two camera issues that we spotted, first, the uneven exposure under bright sunlight and other, is the stability. You need to have a steady pair of hands to get a clear shot, especially when the HDR mode is on. 

The autofocus is quick, there’s zero shutter lag and it takes no time to process images. But in low light, the quality of pictures degrade. There’s visible noise in the pictures and even the well defined shots lack detail in some cases. 

Front camera is a 5MP shooter with LED flashlight. The day-light selfies look good, but they aren’t as sharp as they look on the phone’s display. 

These results are from a quick camera test, so expect a more detailed camera test with our final verdict in the full review. 

Redmi 5 performance

Redmi 5 performance

Performance

The Redmi 5 runs on a Snapdragon 450 chipset and comes in three RAM variants— 2GB/3GB/4GB. We're currently using the 3GB variant with 32GB of inbuilt storage. 

Like most freshly out-of-the-box smartphones, the Redmi 5 showed us no signs of slowing down, initially. 

Even on the third day, basic operations like opening/closing apps, making calls, switching between windows, browsing, watching videos was smooth, so we decided to load it with some graphic intensive games. 

We installed the new mobile version of Tekken and Modern Combat FPS to test the device's gaming performance. Surprisingly, the phone didn't struggle to run either of the games. 

During gameplay, Tekken felt fluid, there was no visible latency or frame-drops. The only part where we spotted tiny hiccup was when it was switching between the fight and the story. But it's not a enough of a deal to hue and cry about. 

Even with the Modern Combat 5, the online multiplayer experience is praiseworthy, but it did struggle after a certain amount of time. For the first 15 minutes, there was no sign of lag or heating, but eventually, we could feel slight heat around the camera.

Since the device is still new, we reserve our final verdict about the performance, but the phone's performance has impressed us in the given time.

Battery

While Redmi phones are known for their exceptional battery life, the new iteration has lost a huge portion of its juice this time. It has a 3300mAh battery in comparison to the 4000mAh on the Redmi 4.

We expected a relatively shorter battery backup on the Redmi 5 compared to previous Redmi phones. During the usage, the phone could easily last a whole day with basic usage. Even for an aggressive user, 6-7 hours of battery backup is the least you can expect.

Who is it for?

Because of its price, the phone is a good option for those looking for a reliable phone under Rs 10,000. It does everything that a mid-range phone can do at less than half of its cost.

Also, users interested in the Redmi Note 5, who also need a compact phone, can buy the Redmi 5 to have a similar experience at a lesser price. 

Should you buy it?

Since there are three variants at different price points, so a lot depends on how much you are willing to spend. The 3GB/32GB variant looks like a good option for those who have a fixed budget and want a phone that can sail through basic tasks.

If your budget is not restricted, then buying a Redmi Note 5 3GB/32GB variant for Rs 9,999 would be the best choice. It offers a larger battery, bigger display, more powerful chipset and a slightly better camera for an extra Rs 1000.