REVIEW: Xiaomi Redmi Note 5
After an impressive Irish launch in partnership with Three Ireland earlier this month, Xiaomi have entered the market with a slew of handsets and devices. Having already reviewed their e-scooter, we’ve also got our handsets on their entry level handset available now to Irish consumers.
So, the question is, does it show that Xiaomi is off to a good start or does it fall flat on its face? Continue reading our review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 to see how it fares.
First impressions wise, the Redmi Note 5 is a well built device, given its price point of just €149. Coming in a semi-gloss black metal finish, the Note 5 definitely looks the part, considering its Xiaomi’s entry level handset.
The front of the device is unmistakably Xiaomi and while it is a little plain, I have to say I am a fan. It sports a tall 5.99″ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio which is nice to see in such an affordable handset.
I’m also really glad that Xiaomi hasn’t jumped on the notch bandwagon because I personally like the balanced “forehead” and “chin”. It definitely would be even nicer if Xiaomi had gone and fitted those two spots with front-facing stereo speakers. Other than that, the front of the device just houses the speaker, 13MP selfie camera, selfie flash and sensors.
As for the rear, you’re probably going to be bored of hearing this by now but the Redmi Note 5 takes cues from the iPhone X, especially when it comes to the dual camera placement. Putting that little fact aside, the slightly curved back and edges of the aluminium body make the Redmi Note 5 a joy to hold albeit being a little slippery, which is why the bundled ultra-slim case is a much welcomed addition. Located right smack in the middle of the rear is the fingerprint sensor and that’s about it.
The standard features are located around the familiar spots – extremely clicky and tactile volume rocker and power button on the right; hybrid SIM tray on the left; IR blaster and noise cancelling mic on the top and finally a micro USB port flanked by the 3.5mm headphone jack and single down-firing speaker.
Overall, there’s really not much to complain about the design of the Redmi Note 5 except for a few things. It’s comfortable to hold and feels extremely sturdy but is just a tad slippery. It only has a single speaker but it’s loud and produces very clear sound with minimal distortion. My main gripe, why is this still using a micro USB port and not a USB Type-C port, Xiaomi?
One of the major selling points for the Redmi Note 5 is the fact that it is powered by the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 1.8GHz octa-core CPU which also boasts enhanced battery efficiency and the Adreno 509 GPU is said to be able to run MOST of the latest games.
Speaking of battery life, the Redmi Note 5 comes with a sizeable 4,000mAh battery, which trumps most of the flagships we have in the market today.
In terms of display, Xiaomi has fitted this smartphone with a 5.99″ IPS LCD display with a Full HD+ 2160×1080 resolution. The display doesn’t disappoint as it produces accurate and vibrant colours and pictures retain an incredible amount of detail. The brightness can also be cranked up immensely so using it under direct sunlight is a non-issue. I also found text to be very crisp and clear with no bleeding whatsoever.
When it comes to software on Xiaomi devices, you may or may not know that Xiaomi’s MIUI is a skin that is heavily influenced by iOS as it doesn’t have an app drawer but does have the extreme customisability and versatility that Android offers. It definitely takes some getting use to but it’s fine after a while.
The new MIUI 9.5 comes a bunch of new features and one worth mentioning is how you can remove the software buttons and go full-on gesture mode. |This also takes a bit of getting used to but it is actually quite intuitive.
With this mode enabled, you swipe from the bottom up to go to the home screen; do that same gesture but hold it for a few seconds to open the recent apps screen and swipe from the left or right edge to go back when you’re in apps.
Multi-tasking was a breeze as I was able to very easily go back and forth from one app to another. I could even edit photos on Snapseed while streaming music on Spotify with no issues. There were times where I even watched videos and was chatting on WhatsApp using the split screen feature and even that was no problem for the device.
The cherry on top is that the battery life of the Redmi Note 5 is superb. My daily routine usually sees me unplugging my phone at about 8am and calling it a day at 12am. My usage varies day to day and on days where I’d barely touch the phone, I’d still have more than 50% of juice left.. On a particularly less busy day, I even saw myself with about 60% of battery left. However, on very busy days, where I used Bluetooth, streamed music frequently and took a lot of calls on the phone, I still had about 28% of battery by the end of the day.
Last but not least, Xiaomi have also fitted the Redmi Note 5 with a dual camera setup, which is in line with the current trends. On this device, we get a combination of a 12MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture and a 5MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture. The second sensor is used to create that bokeh (blurred background) effect.
When it comes to the Note 5’s camera offering, the setup is really quite good for a device in this price segment. It’s fast to focus and is able to take beautiful shots with accurate colours and details especially in good lighting conditions.
One little gripe I do have though is, when HDR turned on, it can sometimes cause photos to get very overexposed and colours were literally washed out quite severely so use HDR with caution.
Unfortunately, In low light, the pictures produced are a mixed bag. Sometimes they turn out very nicely while other times they come out grainy and blurry. This is due to a few reasons, the first being the 1.4 micron pixel size on the main sensor, which enables it to absorb more light and the dual-pixel autofocus system that helps it to focus on subjects faster. The lack of optical image stabilisation on the other hand, makes it easy for photos to appear blur especially if you have shaky hands or moving subjects.
The front 13MP selfie shooter also performs adequately. Similar to most devices in this price range, it’s recommended that you take your selfies in well-lit conditions to get selfies with good colours and details. Even though it features a selfie flash, it can sometimes make photos get a little overexposed.
Without a doubt, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is great starting point for Xiaomi smartphones in Ireland. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat especially for users who are looking for a fairly inexpensive device that performs close to flagship levels.
For the price you pay, the Redmi Note 5 is really quite a package as it checks just about every box that would satisfy most users today. Yes, some compromises had to be made but they don’t really detract any thing from the device as a whole.