Xiaomi has seen steady growth in the smartphone business year after year. This year, in particular, has been great for the Chinese startup with it moving to the top slot in India with 23.5 per cent of smartphone shipments which ties it with long-time market leader Samsung, according to IDC.
Last week, Xiaomi detailed plans to launch a phone that’s going to be the biggest surprise in the Indian smartphone industry. In its announcement on Thursday, Xiaomi announced the Redmi 5A in India which it likes to call as ‘Desh ka Smartphone’. The budget phone has been ‘Made in India’, and the base variant of the Redmi 5A sells for Rs 4,999.
Though it’s not much different from the company’s past phones in the budget segment (remember the Redmi 4A?), this time the price makes a big difference. Xiaomi says it will start shipping the device from December 7 through Flipkart, Mi.com/in, and the company’s own stores and preferred partners. I have had the Redmi 5A for a while now and here is my first impressions.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A first impressions: Design and display
The Redmi 5A doesn’t feel like a budget device. It has a plastic body that looks like metal, similar to the Redmi 4A. I have got the Redmi 5A in Gold colour option. The phone feel solid with no creaks like we often witness in an entry-level device. That makes the Redmi 5A feel good in your hand.
The back of the phone is plain with the Mi logo in the center, a speaker grill, and the camera and flash on the top-left. The phone’s layout is standard to say the least. The power and volume buttons are on the right, a dedicated microSD card slot on the left, microUSB port at the bottom 3.5mm jack and IR blaster at the top. Interestingly, it also features an IR blaster which is a kind of surprising given its price.
The Redmi 5A’s 5-inch screen has a good 1280×720 pixel resolution. The screen is bright and colorful. Images and text are perfectly viewable on the display screen. That’s more than enough for a phone in this price range.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A first impressions: Hardware and Software
Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chipset coupled with either 2GB RAM or 3GB RAM. The brief time I had the time to use the Redmi 5A is too short to pass a final judgement about the performance, but it seemed fairly smooth overall. Apps loaded quickly, a rarity in a budget phone. Redmi 5A has a 3,000mAh battery inside. The company is promising a solid performance, but we will tell you more on that later.
There’s 16GB of internal storage, which is sufficient in my opinion. But the phone is also available with 32GB storage. There is a microSD card slot too, supporting up to 128GB, so you’ll have plenty of storage to store videos, music and games. This phone also supports 4G LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi.
The phone runs MIUI 9, a custom version based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat. Yes, the user interface has been optimised — and that’s okay. I don’t see a huge difference between phones running a pure version of Android and those that come with a modified version. Based on my experience with Xiaomi smartphones, they mostly feel smoother and faster like smartphones with a stock Android.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A first impressions: Camera
Xiaomi Redmi 5A has a 13MP camera on the back and 5MP selfie camera on the front. You might be thinking the camera performance to be average on the Redmi 5A – after all, the phone only costs Rs 4999. In reality, the Redmi 5A’s 13MP camera is pretty good.
Based on my brief testing, I was able to get really nice pictures with decent colours and detail. The camera interface is simple and there’s no such learning curve. I really don’t expect much out of a budget phone, but the Redmi 5A’s camera surprised me. The 5MP front camera doesn’t disappoint either.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A first impressions: Early outlook
Xiaomi Redmi 5A is a follow up to the Redmi 4A, which has been one of the company’s best selling phones in the Indian market. It succeed because of its performance, and of course the price which made it accessible to so many users. With the Redmi 5A, Xiaomi will once again try to replicate the same formula. The Redmi 5A is arguably the phone that promises to be so much better than the JioPhone. If you have never used a smartphone then the Redmi 5A is a good phone for you to make the upgrade. We’ll have a detailed review of the Redmi 5A in a week or so.