Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi seems in no mood to slow down. Upbeat on the affordable mobile phone segment in India's price-conscious smartphone market, the company continues to bring value-for-money devices.
The latest is the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which made a global debut with its India launch on February 14. The smartphone has a modern design, powerful processor, iPhone X-inspired dual camera set-up, mammoth battery and price tags of Rs 13,999 and Rs 16,999 for the 64GB/4GB and 64G/6GB variants, respectively.
The Note 5 Pro does bring substantial upgrades to the predecessor, the Note 4. But does it stand true to company’s value-for-money pitch? Business Standard reviewed the Note 5 Pro to test its overall performance, and here are the observations:
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a mixed bag of good and no-so-good features. The smartphone sports a tall stance with narrow width due to its 18:9 aspect ratio screen. The front is covered with glass, curved from the sides, blending in the chassis seamlessly. The back, on the other hand, looks like a China-cloned version of iPhone X. Not that the Note 5 Pro has a glass built of iPhone X, but the dual-camera set-up placed vertically is too prominent and has striking resemblance to the iPhone X camera module – it does have a camera bump, too.
In terms of usability, the phone feels heavy but has better ergonomics, with its tall stance making it easy to hold and comfortable to carry in pocket or pouch. However, because of its ultra-wide display, the phone is difficult to operate using just one hand.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro sports a 5.99-inch fullHD+ screen in the 18:9 aspect ratio, covered with Gorilla Glass of an unspecified version. The screen, though an IPS unit, lacks both the maximum brightness levels and vividness. The Gorilla Glass on top of screen is reflective in nature and that hampers sunlight legibility.
On the positive side, the rounded corners of the screen look better than pointed edges, and the curved sides of the glass are easy to operate. There is no shift in colours when looked from angles and the slim side bezels leave enough space to hold the device without accidentally touching the screen area – something common in next-generation bezel-less smartphones.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro features a dual-camera set-up on the back. It uses a 12-megapixel sensor sourced from Sony in combination with a 5MP sensor sourced from Samsung together to deliver a more refined performance. Unlike the Mi A1, another of Xiaomi’s budget dual-camera devices, the secondary camera in the Note 5 Pro is not telephoto lens. Therefore, the 2x zooming capabilities are missing. On the positive side, the portrait mode is still there, powered by some sort of artificial intelligence. The portrait shots come out satisfactorily in all light conditions but not as clean as that in the Mi A1 under good day-light conditions.
On the front, there is a 20MP selfie camera assisted with LED flash. The front camera also features the portrait mode, which utilises company’s AI algorithms to create the bokeh effect for artificial blurs. The front camera is a performer in its segment.
Performance and Battery
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a first global device powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, which is an octa-core SoC built on 14 nanometre (NM) process. It boots Xiaomi’s Android Nougat-based MIUI 9 operating system, which offers a lot of scope for customisation.
The Note 5 Pro performs consistently with no sign of lag or stutter anywhere. The UI looks neat and the phone handles power-intensive apps without breaking sweat. The phone keeps the thermals in control while using power-intensive tasks for extended hours. It does get warm but not so much as to make phone unstable. Multitasking is enabled by default in MIUI 9 and it works well in the 5.99-inch screen estate. Call quality is satisfactory and network reception is top-notch.
Importantly, the phone continues to work for almost one full day. A 4,000 mAh battery in the Note 5 Pro is good 100 mAh less than Note 4, yet it manages to deliver almost the same on-battery time or even better. The phone takes more than one-and-a-half hours to replenish its battery from zero to 100 per cent. Multimedia playback, especially online video streaming apps, drains the battery much faster.
In 2017, the Redmi Note 4 had no real competitor to match its prowess in its price segment. However, the affordable smartphone game has turned a lot more interesting this year. The Note 5 Pro would face stiff competition from the Huawei Honor smartphones – Honor 7X, Honor 9 Lite and Honor 9i. The Honor-branded smartphones offer better design, an enhanced operating system and powerful innards than the Note 5 Pro.
At Rs 16,999 for the 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, the Redmi Note 5 Pro seems a little overpriced. The Redmi Note 5 Pro would have made more sense if it had been launched as the only successor to the Redmi Note 4 at the price of the Redmi Note 5. However, for Xiaomi enthusiasts, the phone has no downside and it is a performer that ticks almost all the right boxes.