Xiaomi just surpassed Samsung to become the top-selling smartphone brand in India. It is impressive considering that Samsung had the crown from last 6 years and toppled by Xiaomi who entered the Indian market just 3 years ago.
Xiaomi’s great value for money phones in the budget segment has helped them to gain market share at a rapid pace. The Redmi 4A, Redmi 4, Redmi Note 4 and Mi A1 were the top-selling smartphones in the under 7000, under 10000, under 12000 and under 15000 categories respectively. Xiaomi also claimed that they have sold 5 Million Redmi Note 4 devices which made it the top selling phone in India in 2017.
This year Xiaomi has launched the successor of Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Redmi Note 5 is not that impressive because only the display has received a significant update and rest of the internal hardware is same as Note 4. So In this review, we take a look at the Redmi Note 5 Pro which comes with a 5.99-inch Full HD+ display, a powerful chipset, dual back camera and a 20MP front camera with flash.
Inside the box:
Inside the box, you get the handset, a 5V 2A charger, a micro usb cable, a translucent case and a sim ejector tool. There’s not much special here except the free translucent case. This is probably the first-time Xiaomi has provided the case in the box. The case is soft and fits well. Initially, when a new smartphone is launched, cases become available only after few weeks so it is a good thing done by Xiaomi to provide with the phone.
We reviewed the 4GB and 64GB variant and on first boot, we got 2GB of Free RAM and around 52GB of free storage. A 1.6GB software update was waiting for us after first boot which adds face unlock feature. We will talk more on that later.
Design and Display:
On the front, you get a large 5.99-inch display of Full HD+ resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio. These full view/infinity displays have been a trend from 2017 and almost all new phones are coming with these displays.
Xiaomi has reduced the bezels on the top and bottom of the phone so even with a larger display, the size of Redmi Note 5 Pro is almost same as of Redmi Note 4. One-hand usage is still out of question though. The capacitive navigation keys from the bottom are gone and you get soft keys on the display.
The display is covered with 2.5D gorilla glass. The 2.5D glass gives the device a very premium look. Also, when the display is off it is almost black and merges with top and bottom bezels and phones look like a beautiful slab of glass. The display is sharp with good color reproduction and viewing angles. The brightness of the display is decent at 450 nits which means you will be able to use it properly even under direct sunlight. The touch is smooth and responsive and works well.
On the right side, you get power button and volume keys. Hybrid sim tray is on the left. On top, you get a secondary microphone and an IR blaster to control your home appliances. On the bottom, there is a Micro USB charging point and a 3.5 mm headphone jack (there’s always room for jack if you want to put one)
The design of the back is same as what we have seen on Redmi Note 4: matte finish and curved edges with fingerprint sensor in the middle. What has changed is the camera placement, which looks exactly like iPhone X. The phone is slippery because of the metal back so using a case would be a good choice. Plus the case will help to avoid scratches on the back camera lens which protrudes a bit.
Metal back and a big battery does make the device heavy and initially you might feel uncomfortable while holding it for a long time but you will get used to it in a couple of days.
Processor and Performance
The processor is one of the areas where Redmi Note 5 Pro has received a significant upgrade. The Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with Snapdragon 636 chipset which is an octa-core chipset with 4 performance Kryo cores and 4 power efficient cores. The max frequency at which the core can run at is 1.8GHz.
This is the first-time Qualcomm has used custom cores in the 600 series segment processor. Kryo cores have outperformed the ARM cores in the past and similar is the case here. The Snapdragon 636 is very similar to Snapdragon 660. The only difference is in the clock frequency 1.8GHz vs 2.2GHz and GPU which is Adreno 509 instead of 512.
If you would like to know more about Snapdragon 600 series then take a look at our comparison of Snapdragon 625 vs 626 vs 630 vs 660 vs 636
With Snapdragon 636 chipset we have 4GB of RAM which is enough for most users multitasking and gaming needs. If you want more then there is a 6GB RAM variant as well. The everyday performance is super smooth. The apps open up quickly and switching between multiple apps is a breeze. The Adreno 509 GPU handles the graphics well and there is no lag even while playing heavy games. We switched between 15-20 apps in our normal usage and there was no noticeable lag.
Thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 636 chipset, Redmi Note 5 Pro scores more than 110000 on Antutu benchmark which is around 70% higher than the score of Redmi Note 4(~65000)
Similar performance gains can be seen on Geekbench benchmark as well. On Geekbench, it scores 1329 in single core and 4859 in multi-core tests. These scores are close to Samsung S7 Edge scores which is a 2-year-old flagship.
Overall, the performance of the device is impressive with smooth multitasking and gaming. If you want more than you should go with the 6GB RAM variant which will be even better
Battery and Charging:
The Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a large 4000 mAh battery. Even though the display is massive 5.99 inches, the battery backup is really good, thanks to the MIUI’s battery management and efficient Snapdragon 636 chipset which is built on 14nm process technology.
With heavy usage, you can expect 1-day battery backup, with the medium usage you can expect 1.5 days of battery backup and with low usage, the Note 5 Pro will last for 2 days on a single charge.
We got a backup of 1.5 days in our initial tests. The usage was medium to heavy. Here's a list of things we did:
- Installing more than 100 apps
- Antutu and Geekbench Benchmarks
- Navigation with Google Maps for 2.5 hours
- Music playback on earphones with Jiomusic for 3-4 hours
- Social networking apps and Emails
- Camera usage of around 1 hour for clicking 50-70 pictures
The phone lasted for 1 day 15 hours in total with more than 8 hours of screen on time. These are excellent numbers for a phone with a 6-inch Full HD+ display.
Here are the charts showing screen on time, temperature and CPU usage.
Let’s talk about charging now.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a 5V, 2 amps charger in the box. We were hoping that maybe this time, Xiaomi will provide a fast charger but that didn’t happen. Right now the phone does not support fast charging so even if you have a fast charger, it won’t really make a difference. We charged our phone with a fast charger and the Xiaomi charger and with both chargers it took around 2 hours to go from 15% to 100%. So for 0 to 100%, you can expect a charging time of around 2 hours 20 minutes.
Here’s a charging table for Redmi Note 5 Pro. It charges at about 1% per minute till 90% and then slows down to 0.3% per minute.
So from 15% to 100%, it took 114 minutes.
2 hours charging time is still decent. We were really disappointed with Honor phones because they take around 3 hours for a full charge even when they have smaller batteries. We mailed Honor to know the reason but we didn’t get a response.
Still, it would be great if Xiaomi enables fast charging with a software update. Snapdragon 636 does support fast charging so it should not be an issue. If you are thinking about overheating, then there is no need to worry. Even with heavy multitasking and gaming and while charging, the temperature never crossed 40 degrees. It does get warm while charging which is normal and not a problem because you won’t be using your phone.
Sound and Face Unlock:
Redmi series phones always had average speakers but things have changed with Redmi Note 5 Pro. The speaker at the bottom of the device is surprisingly very loud and clear. While using google maps navigation in my car, I always had to keep the volume at 100% but with Redmi Note 5 Pro, I lowered it to around 50% while driving.
The sound output from the bottom 3.5 mm jack is decent but not great. However, you can improve the sound output by using the equalizer and switching on sound enhancer. See snapshots below if you don’t know how to enable it. If you don’t have Mi earphones, just try all of them one by one and choose the best one for your earphones.
And now let’s talk about face unlock. Face unlock is not something new but smartphone manufacturers have started adding this feature after it came in iPhone X last year. The Redmi Note 5 Pro does not have dedicated hardware like iPhone X for face unlocking. It just uses the front camera to do all the hard work.
Till now the face unlock has been working great. It unlocks the phone in less than a second in most cases. It works great even if you have just taken the phone out of your pocket and you are looking at it. Lifting the phone to face level to unlock it can be very irritating. Face unlock has drastically reduced the fingerprint usage. We rarely found ourselves using the fingerprint sensor.
One annoying thing with the fast face unlock is that you can’t take a look at the lock screen notifications because as soon as you click the power button to turn on the screen, the face unlock unlocks the phone and then you have to drag notifications from the top.
Software: MIUI 9
The Redmi Note 5 Pro does not come with Android Oreo out of the box which is little disappointing. Right now it is running on MIUI 9 which is a custom skin based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat. We don't have any problem with custom ROMs as long as they are snappy and battery efficient. MIUI gets both of the things right. The overall software experience is fluid with almost no lag at all. MIUI is very aggressive in battery optimizations as well. Plus, you get a lot of useful customizations like 3 finger screenshot, double tap to light up the display, single hand mode, and few others. If you are interested more in MIUI then take a look at our article on MIUI 9 Tips and Tricks.
One thing we don't like about the custom skins is their app icons and missing app drawer. MIUI wallpapers aren't that great either. But that's not really a big problem because you can install a launcher, new set of icons and a nice wallpaper.
Here's how MIUI home screen looked on our Redmi Note 5 Pro:
Here's how it looks after changing the launcher, icons, and wallpapers:
We are using Nova launcher with Pixel icons and the wallpaper is from OnePlus 5T. Here are the links if you want to try them on your phone:
Camera Review: Surprisingly Good
The camera performance of Redmi series smartphones has been disappointing till now. The Redmi Note 3 had a terrible camera. The color reproduction wasn't good, images were not sharp. The Redmi Note 4 camera was an improved one but still average at best. Pictures looked fine overall but it fails to capture the details.
The front and back camera on the latest Redmi Note 5 are surprisingly good. This is the best camera phone in the Redmi Series till date.
On the back, there is a dual rear camera with a Sony sensor of 12MP resolution and f2.2 aperture and a Samsung 5MP sensor with f2.0 aperture. These 2 lenses on the back are stacked vertically, similar to something seen in iPhone X.
Let's take a look at the camera shots taken on Redmi Note 5 Pro.
As you can see, the pictures are bright and vivid with plenty of details. The color reproduction is also good.
Here's an outdoor shot in bright sunlight conditions.
Again, the camera has performed well with plenty of details.
Let's see how the portrait mode performs.
Here's a normal picture with portrait mode turned off:
and here's the one with portrait mode turned on.
We really liked the bokeh effect. The edge detection was decent and the picture looks great overall.
Here's one more image with bokeh effect:
Here's a camera sample in low light conditions:
Here's a sample under very low light conditions without flash and with flash.
And here's the same shot with flash turned on:
The flash was really bright and the camera was able to capture the color and details properly.
So those were some pictures from the back camera. We hope you got an idea about the camera performance of Redmi Note 5 Pro. Now, we take a look at its front selfie camera.
On the Front Camera, we have a special selfie-focused Sony IMX376 sensor, with a resolution of 20MP and f2.0 aperture. It is a great camera for selfies lovers. There is flash on the front side so low light selfies also look decent. Do note that the front camera is capable of taking portrait mode selfies as well with bokeh effect.
Here's a selfie without portrait mode turned on:
and this one is portrait mode turned on
Overall, We are impressed with the camera performance of Redmi Note 5. The pictures looked great with vivid colors and a good amount of details. The portrait mode on both front and back camera works well. If you are looking for a camera phone under 15000 then this is probably one of the best in Indian market right now.
Edit: Is the dual camera on Redmi Note 5 Pro a dummy or fake?
We have got this question from a lot of our users. Looks like someone is spreading fake news on blogs/youtube/Whatsapp that the upper camera on the back of Redmi Note 5 Pro is fake and it doesn't work. We would like to clear this confusion. We have tested the dual camera and the upper camera is not fake. It is a depth sensor and is useful for portrait mode pictures with bokeh effect. It does not impact normal pictures. So if you cover the upper camera, you can take normal pictures, the camera will work fine. But, if you cover the upper camera and take portrait mode pictures, you won't get bokeh /blur effect in your pictures.
Pros and Cons of Redmi Note 5 Pro:
- Gorgeous Display
- Great Camera Quality
- Excellent Battery Backup
- No lag while multi-tasking and gaming.
- Fast and Accurate Face unlock
- No fast charging
- Hybrid Sim Slot
Redmi Note 5 Pro: The Best Smartphone Under 15000 Ever?
If you are asking whether Note 5 Pro is the best smartphone under 15000 then our answer is a resounding yes. We haven’t seen a better smartphone than Redmi Note 5 Pro in under 15000 price segment. It ticks all the right boxes and offers excellent value for money.
The design is a bit boring but the build is solid and the display is gorgeous with decent brightness, good colors and viewing angles. The Snapdragon 636 packs a ton of power and takes the experience of a budget/mid-range smartphone to the next level. The multitasking is smooth and the phone doesn’t appear to struggle even with multiple apps in the background. The chip remains cool and there are no heating issues.
The performance in all is much better than other under 15k devices like the Redmi Note 4, Mi A1, Honor 9 Lite and Honor 7X. The software and UI are something we are not a fan of. It does have some useful customizations like dual apps and UI can be changed by installing a launcher like Nova so the software isn’t really a deal breaker.
We, at Suggest Phone, think that Redmi Note 5 Pro is a powerful and great value for money device. We think it will be a super hit in the Indian market and might break records set by Redmi Note 4 if Xiaomi manages to provide sufficient supply. Xiaomi claimed that they sold 3 lacs Note 5 and Note 5 Pro devices in less than 3 minutes which is a staggering number. Our estimate is that only 10% means 30000 of them were Note 5 Pro devices. So, Xiaomi needs to ramp up the supply of the Pro version.
The Redmi Note 5 4GB variant is available at 13999. The 6GB variant will come later at 16999. In first 2 sales, it was available in only 2 colors. Now onwards, it will be available in all 4 colors: Black, Blue, Gold, Rose Gold. If you are thinking which one is the best color of Redmi Note 5 Pro then our choice would be the black one. Color is a personal preference and all colors look great. So check them out on Flipkart, here's the link to Redmi Note 5 Pro on Flipkart.
In the first sale, it was sold out in less than 15 seconds on Flipkart. We were lucky and fast enough to get one. To buy one like we did, save your card details, save your address and start refreshing the product page at 11:58 am. Sometimes it comes in stock a minute before and you might find it sold out if you reach the product page at 12:00 noon.
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