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The Redmi Note 5 has the potential to rewrite the equilibrium in the middle-low segment of the market. Xiaomi has created a very good value to price device which will clash with devices that offer less. The perfect smartphone to quickly cut out a leading role in global markets.
Moreover, Xiaomi’s strategy was clear from the beginning. The Chinese company has focused mainly on the low and medium end of the market, two segments that have become key in the sector and are dominated by Samsung and Huawei in particular. Products such as The Redmi Note 5 have the task of introducing the brand to the masses, and then consolidate their presence through the entire ecosystem.
Construction and ergonomy
The first feeling when you hold in your hands the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is that of solidity. The body is made mostly of metal, with two poly-carbonate strips placed on the top and bottom of the back cover, that hide the various antennas. The 18:9 form factor helps with the grip.
The side frames are small but sufficiently wide to avoid accidental touches on the screen. The lower and upper edges on the front are significantly more pronounced, with the rounded corners of the display that create a pleasant visual effect. However, all in all, the design is quite anonymous and the feeling is still that of a mid-range device.
The physical buttons (power on and volume rocker) are well positioned and perfectly accessible and the same goes for the rear bio metric sensor. The dual-camera is protruding but the imbalance disappears with the silicone cover included in the package). However, considering the 5.99-inch screen, the Redmi Note 5 is difficult to use with one hand. The version we are trying out is the Black-color Pro, but you can also choose between the Gold and Lake Blue color variants.
Display and audio
Redmi Note 5 features a large 5.99-inch IPS LCD screen with Full-HD+ resolution (2,160×1,080 pixels), featuring a 18:9 shape ratio. It is an excellent panel with very high brightness and good visibility outdoors, thanks to the convincing oleo phobic treatment of the front glass.
Color rendering can be tweaked via software and you can choose between warm, normal or cold colors. The same goes for contrast, and in general the customizing options are many. As is easily understandable, such a large panel enhances certain areas of use, such as web browsing or multimedia content.
The screen is assisted by a single speaker located on the bottom side, which offers high volume but average quality. Given the particular focus on multimedia consumption I would have appreciated the presence of stereo audio, perhaps taking advantage of the headphone capsule.
Reception is good, connectivity is ample: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi ac dual-band, FM radio, infrared sensor, Dual-SIM support, GPS A-GLONASS BDS, 20 band (in global version), 3.5mm audio jack. Too bad for the absence of NFC and the presence of the micro-USB port instead of USB-C.
Our test version which is the Pro one is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 SoC, featuring an octa-core Kryo 260 1.8 GHZ CPU, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory (expandable via micro-SD). Graphics are powered by an Adreno 509 GPU.
It is a highly reliable hardware platform that delivers excellent performance in virtually all usage situations. It is very difficult to experience slow downs, even during gaming sessions, thanks to the excellent optimization that Xiaomi has now accustomed us to.
There is still a gap between this device and the top-of-the-range. You can see it clearly by putting a high-end device next to the Redmi Note 5. However, these are small things, which are hardly noticed in normal daily use. Moreover, it is no coincidence that the mid-range is continuing to gnaw market shares.
This device also has a high level of autonomy. The Redmi Note 5 Pro incorporates a 4,000mAh battery, with which it is possible to cover two full working days. With my use (mixed LTE and Wi-Fi, 2 push mail accounts, hundreds of social notifications and instant messaging apps, about 1 hour of phone calls) I managed to exceed 6 hours of screen time, and arrived pretty close to 7.
Redmi Note 5 Pro is among the few smartphones to ship with Android 8.1 Oreo, customized with the MIUI 9.5 on top. As you know, it is a user-specific interface that makes important changes to the stock experience. It is without a doubt one of Xiaomi’s strengths, around which the wide community that supports the brand has developed. But, as always in these cases, it is a highly subjective matter. I personally appreciate this interface, as I believe that the customization inserted by Xiaomi help complete the Android user experience (from the ability to clone apps to multi windows, just to give some examples).
There is also no doubt that MIUI offers excellent hardware optimization that enhances the performance of the smartphone, which makes a difference in the low and medium range devices.
On the back there is a dual camera with a 12MP main sensor and f/1.9 lens coupled to a second 5MP sensor with f/2.0 lens. This is used to make the most of the standard bokeh-effect. In general daytime performance is good, with an excellent level of detail and convincing color rendering. At night things change. There is a lot of noise and the absence of stabilization inevitably makes things worse. The 13MP front camera is very good and capable of achieving great selfies in portrait mode.
Videos are average, they can be recorded up to Full-HD resolution and enjoy electronic stabilization. There is also the ability to record video in both slow-motion and time-lapse.
Some competitors though can do better, such as the Huawei Mate 10 Lite.
The Redmi range is of strategic importance to Xiaomi. The Chinese company aims to dominate the low and medium end of the smartphone market in order to consolidate the brand outside China. This Note 5 Pro has all the cards in order to become a best-buy, representing the ideal device for those looking for a large display, good performance and excellent autonomy, without spending a boat load of cash.