Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series is back with the Redmi Note 5 being unveiled in the Indian market for a starting price of Rs 9,999. However, Redmi Note 5 is not the only device that the company is introducing; a new Redmi Note 5 Pro smartphone and the Mi LED TV 4 in 55-inches size with the company’s own PatchWall OS are also launching in India.
The new Redmi Note 5 (Review) has big shoes to fill and from what we’ve seen, it manages to do so pretty well. Xiaomi has also launched a more powerful model with a better camera, and it’s called the Redmi Note 5 Pro. This is the first phone to debut Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 636 mobile platform, which supports full-HD+ displays and features Qualcomm’s own custom Kryo CPU cores. While all of this sounds great on paper, the big question is whether it’s worth the premium over the standard Redmi Note 5. Let’s find out.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro design and build
Redmi Note 5 Pro sticks with metal unibody design that has become common on Xiaomi phones, but this time there is a big change. The display is 5.99-inches, but with an 18:9 aspect ratio and the buttons are now in-screen and not on the bottom bezel as was the case with the previous phones. This is not entirely a bezel-less display and you can see them on the sides, though they are very thin. On the top, there’s also the 20MP selfie camera with a flash along with IR blaster.
The fingerprint sensor remains at the back and this one still has a hybrid dual-SIM slot. Xiaomi has not gone for a dedicated dual SIM and microSD slot like we saw in the Redmi Y1 series. The dual rear camera is tucked away on one corner of the phone and it juts out quite prominently. The rear camera specification is 12MP+5MP for the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The volume and power buttons are on the right of the phone, and are slightly out of reach when you’re holding the phone normally, but feel solid. Up top, there’s an IR emitter just like on previous Redmi Note smartphones. At the bottom of the phone, we have a 3.5mm headphone socket, microphone, Micro-USB port, and a speaker grille. Once again, It’s a bit disappointing to not have a Type-C port. Considering that this is the ‘Pro’ model, we would have appreciated the newer connector. On the left, we have a hybrid dual-SIM slot which can accommodate two Nano-SIMs or a microSD card (up to 128GB) in the second slot.
The metal back reminds us a lot of the Redmi Note 4, with its matte finish and slightly tapering edges. The fingerprint sensor lines up comfortably against your finger when you hold the phone, and authentication is quick. The camera bump is very noticeable, and let’s face it, its design has been, shall we say, “heavily inspired” by the iPhone X (Review). Even the arrangement is the same, with the two camera sensors flanking the dual-LED flash. The bump also means that this phone rests at an awkward angle when you place it on a flat surface. The back is otherwise plain, save for a printed Mi logo towards the bottom.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro specifications and features
Xiaomi is hailing the Redmi Note 5 Pro as the spiritual successor to the Redmi Note 3 (Review), which is true from a performance standpoint. The Redmi Note 3 raised the bar for performance at the Rs. 15,000 price level, and the Redmi Note 5 raises it once again. This is the first phone to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 mobile platform, which was announced last October. This is only the second SoC outside the Qualcomm’s flagship 800 series to feature the company’s own custom Kryo CPU cores. We have a total of eight Kryo 260 cores which can run at a maximum clock speed of 1.8GHz and are split into two clusters of four ‘performance’ cores and four ‘efficiency’ cores. Just like the Snapdragon 630 SoC on the Moto X4 (Review), this one is fabricated using the smaller 14nm process, but with a slightly faster Adreno 509 GPU.
Qualcomm says this new GPU should offer better gaming performance compared to the Adreno 508 in the Snapdragon 630. Our review unit came running a beta build of Xiaomi’s MIUI software, on which most benchmarks didn’t run, in order to prevent leaks before launch. However, we did manage to run AnTuTu, which gave us a score of 85,838 points, and PCMark Work 2.0, which gave us a score of 5,619. This is a performance jump of around 10 precent on average compared to the Snapdragon 625 SoC used by the Redmi Note 5.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Performance, Specifications, Software and Battery
In terms of specifications, Redmi Note 5 Pro will have a 6GB RAM variant this time, though I have the 4GB RAM one for review. The smartphone runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, which Xiaomi says comes with Kyro micro-architecture, which has previously been limited to the Snapdragon 800 series. The 800 series is usually seen on flagship phones. On Antutu, the Redmi Note 5 Pro scores around 100,000 plus for us, which is impressive for phone priced at under Rs 17,000. On the PCMark Battery test, Redmi Note 5 Pro last around 12 hours, which is expected given this has a huge battery on board.
Redmi Note 5 Pro has not given any cause for complaints in daily performance, though I am yet to play some graphics heavy games on this. When it came to video consumption, browsing multiple tabs on Chrome, the Redmi Note 5 Pro performed smoothly. Also it takes around 2 hours plus to get it to a full 100 per cent from under 20 per cent, which is not bad.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro performance, camera and battery life
We tested the 4GB RAM variant of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which performed very well with day-to-day usage. The screen does attract some fingerprints but we found the rest of the body to be quite resilient to smudges and dirt. Call reception is good and the speaker is loud enough for alerts and some media playback. The phone also runs pretty cool, and even with gaming, it only gets a bit warm. Heavy camera usage doesn’t make it overheat, which is very good.
Read Also: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4A
For media playback, Xiaomi offers its own music and video app, which is frankly not needed when you have Google’s suite of media players preinstalled and more feature-rich options such as MX Player available for free. High-bitrate videos played just fine, and this phone can even handle 4K playback. There’s a system-wide audio enhancement feature for headphones, which can be activated from the Settings app. Audio quality through headphones is good, and you can toggle between presets tuned to Xiaomi’s various headphones, or set your own.
Xiaomi says the cameras are one of the big highlights of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, and in our experience, they were pretty good. At the back of the phone, there’s a primary 12-megapixel camera with 1.25-micron pixels on its sensor and a f/2.2 aperture, while the second 5-megapixel camera is only used for sensing depth for the Portrait Mode effect. This works decently well for human subjects but the edge detection isn’t always accurate for other objects.
I have used the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s camera and I would say the Portrait mode is impressive when I’m considering the price. Is it perfect? No. The colors are definitely not as bright in some instances, I felt. In fact in my mind I kept comparing it to Mi A1’s rear camera which is fast and has an edge over this. Redmi Note 5 Pro’s camera could do with a few software tweaks to improve the performance.
However, if you like a lively and customizable user experience and a pair of extremely capable of cameras, then the Redmi Note 5 Pro makes sense as a better buy. It delivers on all those fronts that makes a casual user happy.