The beloved budget Redmi has returned to make history again, but this time its got the looks.
Xiaomi has always enticed the Indian market with its spec-trendy smartphones and gadgets at a price no one can argue about. Xiaomi’s previous budget flagship — the Redmi 4 was the king of the budget segment a year ago, and now it's aiming to break the market with the ₹7999 Redmi 5 (₹9999 for the 4GB+64GB). We got a chance to give the 3GB+32GB variant the Stuff Treatment. Curious to know how it fared? Let's find out.
Design: Slim, trim and prime
Do not underestimate the Redmi 5, it may have a reasonable price tag, but it still looks gorgeous. All thanks to its all-metal body and 18:9 (1440 x 720 pixels) 5.7in display with a 75% screen-to-body-ratio and 282ppi density.
The Redmi 5 display feels smooth and bright. Scrolling through the web or social feed won't give your thumbs any cramps, thanks to the 2.5d curved glass on the edge. The 720p resolution is standard for a phone like this. Using Netflix and YouTube is entertaining in the wide 18:9 screen ratio.
From afar, this may seem like a premium flagship phone, something like the Google Pixel 2 XL. But don't be fooled too easily, gadgeteer, it's the thinnest Redmi yet with a 7.7mm figure. Does it have the coveted zero figure? Ahem.
The phone has no physical buttons in the front, with the home button being replaced with on-screen tactile buttons. On the side, there are the volume and power buttons. On the bottom edge of the phone there are two dual speakers with a Micro USB charging slot, but it's a bummer that there isn't the USB Type-C connector yet.
The top has an IR blaster which is mainly used for remote functionality using the Mi Remote app. And phew, the headphone jack remains a faithful constant.
The rear has a single camera which doesn't protrude out, an LED flash underneath and a rightly placed fingerprint scanner.
Overall, for the price, this mid-range flagship packs in great detail and supreme quality. Less is more? Yes, sir.
Performance and battery: Bring it on
The Redmi 5 variant we got to test out was the model with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage (expandable to 128GB). Overall, the Redmi 5 comes in three variants: 2GB+16GB, 3GB+32GB, 4GB+64GB. The Redmi 5 is one of the few smartphones to house Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 450 chip. That’s what really makes all the difference, trust us.
Even though the phone comes under the 'budget’ category, this one surely out performs this category. Games like Cafe Racer, Score Match, and Battle Text run smoothly. The phone doesn't stutter or heat up with usual usage of apps, games, widgets and other background processes.
The 3300mAh battery goes the distance and doesn't fail to impress. True story: the phone can easily last you 16 full hours with background apps, camera usage, social media, music streaming, YouTube and other usual day-to-day stuff. No sweat, no heat. Once drained to zero, it doesn't take too long to charge, just about an hour or so. Fact: This review was written on the Redmi 5. Don’t stop reading yet, there's another reason why this phone seems so good to be true. What is it? The MIUI 9. Looks like you'll have to read more, you geek.
Software and UI: Easy, peasy lemon squeezy
Initially, the MIUI wasn't all that great. Nothing is great at the beginning, not even you. Unless you're Stephen Hawkings. Coming back to the point, the new MIUI has brought along a few changes to the user interface that make this smartphone easy, fun and simple all at the same time.
It's the little things that matter when it comes to software design. Firstly, the icons — Xiaomi's stock theme options come with two: Default and Limitless. We preferred using the Limitless option because we're Bradley Cooper fans. No, you silly. It's because of the cute rounded icons. Trust us when we say you'll like them too.
Secondly, the software is light and speedy. Although, it's got its own system bloatware and all that, it doesn't feel heavy or unnecessary. Downloaded applications hardly lag, multitasking is in order and split-screen works fine too (does anyone even use that?). There are a few good signature apps like Mi Cloud for extra cloud-based storage, Mi Remote (used for set-up boxes, AC, fans and the Mi TV), Mi Community for news, updates and user forums and the Mi Drop for sending/receiving files, something like Apple’s AirDrop? Yes.
One feature we really liked is the option to time the silent mode for however long/short you want. It’s really handy when you’re heading for a tiny meeting or snoozing off to bed at night. Oh, did we forget to mention the new quick reply option? No? You can quickly reply to texts from the notification drop down, no need to go to the app and reply. It’s 2018, remember? We’ll be looking forward to the MIUI 9.5 update which is coming out in sometime but for now, this one's neat.
Overall, they've improved and tweaked the unnecessary bits and come around to something everyone can easily use and have fun with.
Camera: Focus in, focus out
The Redmi 5 boasts of a single 12MP sensor with a 26mm f/2.2 lens at the rear with an LED flash under it, and a 1.25µm pixel sensor that takes in more light for greater low-light photos. The camera has an HDR mode for shooting photos with better colour accuracy and less noise, a Manual mode to please the shutterbug pros and beauty tricks for fancier, more blushy photos.
What about the people who love taking selfies? There's a 5MP front shooter with an LED flash. It's got ‘fair beauty’ tricks up its sleeve, the credit of which goes to the Beautify 3.0. The selfies turn out to be average when taken on the main camera, but if you take a selfie on Snapchat (if you still use it), don’t expect a reply.
In our opinion, the picture quality is great when compared to its immediate competition. Shooting still photos with normal lighting is pretty good. The color accuracy and detail is admirable. Doing photo close-ups (Macro) gives a satisfying bokeh effect, much better than what others in this budget bracket can deliver. The HDR mode is manual, there is no auto detection, but we can’t expect too much, can we?
Let’s talk about the new 1.25µm big pixel sensor, shall we? The Redmi loves the dark, so the HHT option to shoot low-light/night photography is fairly decent. We suggest you always keep that mode for lesser noise and grain while clicking in dark scenarios.
Fancy shooting your afternoon vlog? It can take satisfactory HD videos and a time-lapse to feed your boring Instagram page. Don’t expect your videos to turn out shake-less or super-crisp, this is a budget phone, my friend. But what you can expect is decent footage which is just good enough to share on social media and WhatsApp groups.
Overall, the Redmi 5 has great shooting qualities. This is a noteworthy competitor when compared to other smartphones in the sub-₹10k category.
The budget competition
The financial year is ending, but the cut-throat competition between brands to make the best, be the best and do the best won't ever stop. Ever. Budget smartphones are one of the raging topics of discussions in India. Everyone wants the best phone, but no one has the money to pay the price. That’s why brands like Xiaomi, Honor, Vivo, Oppo, and others try their best to give the mass the best for a buck lesser than what premium brands like Sony, HTC, Google or Apple have to offer. And that’s why India is the 2nd largest smartphone market in the world. Hint, hint.
The Redmi 5 should be the bait to go for the under ₹10k bracket. There's also the Nokia 5, Galaxy J7, Honor 9 Lite, Moto E4 Plus and the Micromax Canvas Infinity or the HTC Desire 12 (TBA) in the similar spec range. If your budget permits you to go a little higher, try considering the Redmi 5 Plus or the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Verdict: Too good to be true
When a smartphone’s starts at ₹7999, your inner gut feeling tells you to be skeptical about the fact that it might not do you good. You're completely human to think that, trust us. That’s not the case with Xiaomi’s Redmi 5 though.
Xiaomi's marketing game in the Indian market has always been on point. And it's not a gimmick. Some say its phones aren't at the standard they expect, but have you thought of the fact that they charge you much lesser than what others in the same price category do?
The Redmi 5 is a smartphone with an almost bezel-free body, a satisfying 5.7in 18:9 display, exceptional hardware quality, a snappy processor with multiple expandable memory options, a decent front and back shooter full of tricks and a price you can’t say no to.
The compact powerhouse Redmi 5 stands up true as a warrior, ready to fight the budget chaos. Bag this if you’re looking for something cheap in the pocket, simple and sexy. For ₹7999-₹9999 who wouldn't think twice? We know we wouldn't.