Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Quick Review
Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 5 Pro in India today. The company also introduced Redmi Note 4’s successor the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 alongside. The smartphones are the first from the Chinese OEM’s inventory in India to flaunt 18:9 display. That’s not all, the bigger sibling of the new Redmi Note series feature vertically stacked dual rear cameras.
Xiaomi has announced two variants of the Redmi Note 5 Pro- 4GB RAM/64GB storage and 6GB RAM/64GB storage. The handset tags a price starting at Rs 13,999 for the 4GB RAM model and Rs 16,999 for the 6GB RAM version. The new Redmi smartphone will be available for purchase via Xiaomi’s official website mi.com and e-commerce platform, Flipkart from 22nd Feb.
The mid-range Redmi Note 5 Pro has a longish form factor with an elongated display. The key selling points of the device are of course its 18:9 screen and dual camera arrangement on the back side. While many are claiming that the phone has near-bezel less display our naked eyes found it hard to believe. More on that later.
We’ve had the device for a few hours to play with and without fuddling much, we would like to share a few points that we observed while using the all-new Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro features a 5.99-inch full HD+ (2160 x 1080 pixels) IPS LCD display with a 18:9 aspect ratio, runs Android Nougat OS, sports 12MP + 5MP dual rear camera and a 20MP front camera with LED flash. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 mobile platform with 8 Kyro 260 cores clocked at 1.8GHz and Adreno 509 graphics.
Our test unit had 4GB RAM and 64GB onboard storage that can be increased up to 256GB using microSD card. The phone supports 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 and packs a 4000mAh battery.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Display
As mentioned, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro sports a 5.99-inch IPS LCD display with 2160×1080 pixel stretched across the tall panel. The display has 450-nit brightness and a colour contrast ratio of 1500:1. The 18:9 display is quite good for media consumption and with full HD+ resolution its adds a better viewing experience. The display is bright and the colours of icons on the new Redmi Note handset look quite vibrant. The colour accuracy is also good and texts were found to be sharp.
However, sunlight legibility was not that great when we tried reading content directly under the bright light. Even in low light, the phone took some time to adjust the brightness level with the scenario. Further, the display is a tad bit reflective and it has 2.5D glass instead of Corning Gorilla Glass for protection against scratches. But the viewing angles on the Redmi Note 5 Pro are decent enough to watch movies and stream videos in a group.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Design & Build
While many have professed the device to be near bezel-less, that’s not exactly the case. There are big chunks on top and bottom of the front panel. The top part justifies the thick bezels which are perforated for sensors, earpiece and LED flash. But even though it has a chin (bigger than the top part), the device uses on-screen navigation buttons. It could have been easily trimmed down by a few millimetres at least. Further, one can clearly see visible black borders around the edges of the display.
Keeping the cavil aside, Xiaomi really did a neat job overhauling the design on the new Redmi Note 5 series. The new Redmi Note device features an aluminium body with the front built out of glass. The dual cameras are arranged vertically with antenna bands running on top and bottom of the back side. Now, where have I seen this camera layout before? If my memory serves me right, it was on this lesser known device called Apple iPhone X. As for the front, it appears to be identical to Vivo V7 or the Oppo F5 Plus. Imitation is the best form of flattery, they say!
That being said the Redmi Note 5 Pro offers a comfortable grip and you can easily hold it with one hand. Just don’t try reaching the top of the screen with your thumb. Use the other hand, unless you have huge palms and long fingers. I even had a problem reaching the volume keys which are located slightly above the usual position. Long story short, this phone is a tad too big to operate with a single hand all the time.
The build quality is decent but a mobile case would save it from a few stubs if you are prone to dropping phones quite often. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has speaker grill at the base which means the sound won’t get muffled even when you place it on its back. However, the device has a micro-USB port for charging which is a bit of a letdown in times of type-C ports.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Camera
Like the Xiaomi Mi A1, the new Redmi Note 5 Pro features dual rear cameras. However, the sensors are stacked vertically instead of being aligned horizontally as in the former. The Redmi Note 5 Pro combines 12MP+5MP cameras with f/2.2 aperture and f/2.0 aperture respectively. The sensors are made by Sony and Samsung respectively. The camera app offers real-time filters, HDR mode, Panorama mode, Manual mode etc. The manual only gives access to tweak ISO and white balance.
It also has portrait mode which we found to be just about ok compared to a few devices that we tested in the recent past. We clicked some outdoor shots that showed decent colour reproduction, but the Portrait mode couldn’t add much of an effect even when the focus was locked on the subject. The usual shots without the bokeh effect appeared quite decent with good details. We will dig deeper when we get to spend more time with the device.
Up front, the Redmi Note 5 Pro sports a 20MP Sony IMX376 sensor with LED selfie-light. The front sensor pairs with Beauty 4.0 AI algorithm and offer several filters to enhance the skin texture. The camera app provides two modes- Beauty and Advanced to remove blemish and adjust the skin tone. Like any other beauty mode, the feature adds an artificial toning to the face. But you now get an LED flash that will save your face from getting grey under poor lighting.
Xiaomi also claimed in their launch address that the front camera is capable of portrait mode but we couldn’t get it to work yet. Every time we would enable Portrait mode on the front camera, it would switch to the rear camera. It remains to be explored further. The image processing of both the front and rear cameras was found to be good in our initial tests. However, we would like to hold our verdict on the camera performance till we are done with the in-depth review.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Camera Samples
Redmi Note 5 Pro Software & UI
The Redmi Note 5 Pro runs on MIUI 9 based on Android Nougat OS. We were a bit perplexed as Xiaomi did not go with Oreo straight on the new Redmi Note 5 series given that the Mi A1 Android One handset flaunts Google latest Android Oreo OS. Some of the features are still prevalent from the previous iteration. There’s the Quick Ball, second space and one-handed mode as well. Xiaomi has added button and gesture shortcuts on its new device and a Wallpaper carousel that will show new wallpapers on the Lock screen.
The UI on the new Redmi Note device looks neat with a few bloatware that you can uninstall. Besides the list of Google apps, it also includes Microsoft suite. The themes app bundles a host of themes and wallpapers that you can choose from and change the appearance.
In our few hours spent with the Redmi Note 5 Pro, we were quite impressed with some of the aspects, for instance, the display quality and the clean UI. The black border that we saw on the Redmi Note 4 has now caught the new Redmi Pro version. With the face of the smartphone being white it is clearly visible. If you can look past that cosmetic blip, the colour reproduction is good and you would love to stream content on the elongated display in landscape orientation. The rear cameras on the Redmi Note 5 Pro produce good images in bright light, however the Portrait mode still needs some improvement. The UI is neat like we said but users will have to wait to taste the latest Android OS version until Xiaomi rolls out Oreo-based version of its custom MIUI ROM.