Redmi Note 5 Pro is one of the likeable smartphones from Xiaomi. The handset was launched early this year and has been received quite well in the market since then. In fact, on the Xiaomi India website, the Redmi Note 5 Pro regularly goes out of stock. So, the demand for this phone has been pretty high and consistent for all these months.
We have been using the Redmi Note 5 Pro for quite some time now and have already compared it to a number of smartphones in its category. While the phone may not have been the absolute best in its segment, it remains a worthy purchase for a variety of reasons.
Redmi Note 5 Pro – Specifications
Processor & GPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor with Adreno 509
Display: 5.99-inch, IPS LCD, Full HD+ (1080 x 2160) resolution, 18:9 aspect ratio
Operating System: Android Nougat 7.1.1 with MIUI 9.2
Camera: Dual camera with 12 MP + 5 MP primary & secondary lenses with f2.2 & f2.0 aperture respectively, PDAF, HDR, Portrait mode. 20 MP front with f2.2 aperture.
Battery: 4,000 mAh battery with QC2.0 (fast charger not included in the phone retail package)
But if you are really thinking about getting it, perhaps you’d like to read this review first. Here, we have considered every aspect of the Redmi Note 5 Pro into what is good and not so good about it. So, onward with the positives first…
Design & Build Quality: Redmi Note 5 Pro is a well-built phone. It has an aluminium body with plastic inserts at the top and bottom sections (where the antenna lines reside). It is an overall good looking device and clearly feels substantial to hold, at the same time, it is slippery too. You wouldn’t want to run hard while holding the Redmi Note 5 Pro without a cover. Anyways, with any phone that feels slippery, one needs to make a conscious effort to have a firm grip on the handset. It is not a preferable aspect but nothing to fret over too much, we think. However, we do think that the company could have done away with those plastic inserts.
Personally, I do not like the white finish at the front surrounding the display. Apparently, this white finish is available in all (Blue, Gold, Rose Gold) but the black color (in which it is appropriately black). This white panel around the display gives the phone a plasticky feel robbing it off a little premium look which the backside is able to deliver. Secondly, because of the white surroundings, the bezels at all four sides are more obvious to the eye (especially when the screen is off).
Display is lively: Measuring at an immensely satisfying 5.99 inches, the IPS LCD panel throws Full HD+ resolution (1080p x 2160p). Generally, the color quality in terms of saturation and vibrancy is very good and overall, the display delivers colorful visuals. However, we would have liked a touch more sharpness. While we never expected complete color accuracy from an affordable handset like this, it is indeed impressive and doesn’t leave much to complain about unless one is willing to find flaws.
Performance is mostly satisfying: The Performance is what forms the biggest part of the user experience. The handset may look stunning and have a beautiful display, but if it doesn’t run good enough, everything else becomes ignorable over time. Thankfully, the Redmi Note 5 Pro delivers an overall satisfying performance especially in day-to-day tasking that most people usually spend their time doing. General navigation and transitions are smooth even though they are often accompanied by stutters. Thankfully, in our time with it so far, we haven’t seen it hung completely.
Gaming is a bit of a mixed bag, but we are generally content with the phone’s gaming performance. After all, it is a mid-range device and it is definitely not meant to smoothly run a number of demanding graphic-heavy titles especially the ones that are played online. So, be cautious while choosing what games to play on the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Decent Camera (in general): Camera is generally good and produces good images. But we would like to say that there is clear need of improvement as well. For example, HDR images in daylight are mostly indistinguishable from their non-HDR versions. There is virtually no difference in terms of detail between the HDR and non HDR images. Usually, the noticeable difference is in the color of the sky (in daytime). Interestingly, the night time HDR samples are darker than their non HDR versions, which is again strange since the HDR images are supposed to reveal detail out of the dark/shadowy areas. However, the details remain intact.
Below are a few camera samples:
Even with all its shortcomings, we are choosing to keep the camera in the positives since it overall produces good images with nice punchy colors that are close to being accurate.
Battery life is good: With a 4,000 mAh battery onboard, our expectations are pretty straightforward – that it should easily last more than a day as far as regular usage is concerned. And it does, the Redmi Note 5 Pro goes up to 1 and a half days unless you indulge in some heavy-duty tasking like playing graphic-heavy games for at least an hour or so, using the video camera and watching some videos.
Custom UI leads to lack of fast OS updates: Even today, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is running the Android Nougat 7.1.1 which is becoming (if it hasn’t already) outdated now. And there’s no info whatsoever when the Oreo will be hitting the Pro. Regular updates don’t matter to many people, at the same time, it matters to a whole lot (which includes me).
Secondly, personally, I am not a fan of custom UIs and the MIUI of Xiaomi doesn’t ring any different bells to me. And the custom UI is the biggest reason in the Redmi Note 5 Pro for the absence of the latest Android OS so far. In fact, this is the case with any Android smartphone with a company’s custom UI on top. In this scenario, it is completely up to the phone manufacturer itself when to release the OS update for its device(s).
Another disadvantage of not having the latest OS is the lack of newest security updates. While these may not be instantly noticeable while using the phone, they improve the OS stability in a number of ways.
Face Unlock feature is mostly a gimmick: Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a face unlock feature for added security. It is a fairly simple mechanism requiring the user to keep his/her eyes open (but not required to look at the front camera) in order to unlock the phone.
In my personal experience, I believe that such a simple Face unlock feature adds nothing at all to the security of the phone. In my regular usage, I have actually ended up accidentally unlocking the phone since I’m only required to keep my eyes open while I can be looking anywhere. For example, while traveling in my car, I just take out the phone from my pocket in order to put it somewhere else (because it feels uncomfortable in the pocket when I’m sitting), and if the phone’s front camera is anywhere near my eyes (within the short period of time of taking it out from my pocket and putting it somewhere else), the phone unlocks even when I didn’t intend to unlock it.
This happens regularly in different situations and it easily becomes irritating quite fast because then I have to lock it back. Interestingly, this can be a security concern in certain situations. I have actually turned-off the Face unlock feature to avoid this nuisance. So, unless it is a system as thorough as iPhone X’s Face ID (even that has its own critics), there’s no point in having a face unlock system just to increase the specifications list and only to be a gimmick.
Considering all aspects, we have to say that the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a fine smartphone in its segment and is a worthy purchase even with all its shortcomings and the recommended areas of improvements. No smartphone is perfect after all, well, not always!
The Redmi Note 5 Pro retails at a starting price of Rs 14,999 (for 4 GB RAM & 64 GB storage) while the 6 GB RAM variant is available at 16,999. In this lower mid-range segment, there are a number of worthy smartphones, with similar specs, like the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 (Rs 12,999), Nokia 6.1 (Rs 18,999), Honor 7X (Rs 12,999) and the Moto G6. All these are good devices and have certain positives and negatives against one another.
For example, Nokia 6.1 looks stunning with the copper inserts in its bodywork and it is also a Android One handset (which means fastest and regular OS updates from Google for 2 years at least). But the camera is not very inspiring and the screen to body aspect ratio is getting a bit outdated. Honor 7X has a stunning premium design but the performance is underwhelming. The latest Asus device, Zenfone Max Pro M1, is indeed the closest rival to the Redmi Note 5 Pro (read their comparison here) which comes with sturdy build, pure Android Oreo and good performance.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro, in the end, is a worthy competitor to all of these smartphones and can hold its own. With the future software updates, it should only get better.