Xiaomi's Redmi Note phones, for their great design, performance, camera, battery and mostly, competitive price, have been the best-selling smartphones in sub-Rs 15,000 category. The company has launched two new successors to the Redmi Note 4 - Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro, of which the latter comes with a better processor and a dual-camera.
First things first
While the Redmi Note 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro share the same design language, the innards differ. The Redmi Note 5 continues to run on Snapdragon 625 processor but has an improved single camera and more RAM. The base variant priced at Rs 9,999 comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, whereas the one priced at Rs 11,999 has 4GB of RAM with 64GB internal storage. On the other hand, the Redmi Note 5 Pro features a dual camera at the rear, Qualcomm 636 processor and 64GB of internal storage. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is also available in two variants - 4GB of RAM or 6GB of RAM, priced at Rs 13,999 and Rs 16,999, respectively.
The premium look and feel is the core DNA of Redmi Note devices, which is topped with a bigger screen to look at. Both, the Redmi Note5 and Redmi Note5Pro, have a metal casing with a 5.99-inch display at the front, yet at 180 and 181 grams, respectively, are comfortable to hold.
The screen with 2160x1080 pixels resolution looks rich and colourful, has wide viewing angles and good sunlight legibility. 'Automatic contrast' has been turned on by default, and you can switch to 'increased contrast' or 'standard contrast' from the display setting. The navigation keys (home, back and multitasking) are on the screen. The power and volume controls are on the right, SIM tray on the left, IR blaster on the top and microUSB charging port on the bottom panel.
The Redmi Note5 houses the 3.5mm port on the top and speaker grills at the bottom panel. The camera along with flash and fingerprint scanner at the rear are all placed in a line.
The placement of 3.5mm jack has been moved to the bottom panel on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The vertical camera has been placed towards the left, with fingerprint scanner towards the centre. The Redmi Note 5 Pro also has Face Unlock feature, which works well, but is not as secure as Apple's FaceID and the phone can be unlocked using a photograph as well.
UI and Performance
The Redmi Note devices run on MIUI 9, which is a customized Android ROM developed by the company. Unlike stock Android, there isn't any app tray. All the apps are placed on the home screen. Other than the regular Google apps including Play Store, there is also a Mi Apps store for downloading apps. The 'Security' app helps in optimizing the performance and gives access to data usage, blocklist, dual apps and more. Amongst the host of pre-installed apps, the Mi Remote is our favourite, as using the IR blaster on the top, the phone turns into a universal remote control that can be used for TV, air-conditioner and more. Swiping towards right from lock screen gives instant access to Mi Home, Mi Remote and flashlight.
On the performance front, both the Redmi Note devices managed to impress us. Although running on different processors (mentioned in the starting), both the phones feel at par while launching apps, browsing the web, streaming videos and more. However, the Redmi Note 5 Pro felt a better device for gaming, especially when we tested keeping them side-by-side. We would also like to highlight that our Redmi Note 5 review unit had 4GB RAM with 64GB onboard storage, of which 51.15GB was user accessible. Even the Redmi Note 5 Pro unit we received for review had 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage, and 52.39GB was accessible. If you care about the benchmarks, the Redmi Note 5 scored 77091 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro scored 112729 on Antutu Benchmark.
The 12-megapixel sensor at the rear of Redmi Note 5 is quick to focus and snap images. The images captured in the well-lit environment are sharp and offers a great amount of details. The low-light photography has been improved over the Redmi Note 4 but images still have visible noise. The camera UI continues to be the same - with manual mode, panorama, scene, beautify and more.
However, the dual camera (12-megapixel and 5-megapixel) on the Redmi Note 5 Pro is just stellar. While capturing images in the portrait mode, the camera software gets a little iffy but it constantly captured some great images with depth effect. Even if the subject is far, it manages to detect the subject and blurs the background. Even the edge detection is pretty impressive. Using artificial algorithms, the 20-megapixel front camera also captures selfies with depth effect. The camera UI is different from that on the Redmi Note 5, as one can instantly toggle between short video, video, photo, portrait, square, panorama and manual mode, instantly. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has got one of the best dual cameras in its price category. Xiaomi has given importance to little things. For instance, the small icon for turning auto-rotate on/off comes really handy while browsing/editing images in the gallery.
Both, the Redmi Note 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro come with 4000mAh battery, which can last anywhere between a day and a half, depending upon the usage. We ended up clicking a lot more images with the Redmi Note 5 Pro (thanks to the awesome dual camera) and it easily lasted a day with still 30 per cent charge left.
Both, the Redmi Note 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro, are great value-for-money devices. If your budget is under Rs 10,000, the Redmi Note 5 is the best money can buy. But if you can spend more, consider Redmi Note5Pro, even if it is the 4GB RAM variant for Rs 13,999. If you are a Redmi Note 3 or Redmi Note 4 user, upgrading to Redmi Note 5 Pro would make more sense. While the Redmi Note 5 is the new best smartphone under Rs 10,000, the Redmi Note 5 Pro wins hands-down in sub-Rs 20,000 segment.