Xiaomi Redmi 5 Review: The Best Entry-Level Smartphone So Far

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Xiaomi has led the entry-level smartphone market from as long as its existence in India goes. I still remember when the Redmi 1s was launched in India; it had every essential feature for just Rs. 5,999. Although people were a bit sceptical at the time about buying it, as Xiaomi was a new, unknown brand to the Indian consumers. 

Later, Xiaomi launched the Redmi 2, Redmi 3, and Redmi 4, all of which were among the highest selling smartphones in India. I recall how crazy people went for the Redmi 4; its demand was so high that even I couldn’t get one in a flash sale. 

Now, Xiaomi has launched the Redmi 5 and looking at the specs, I speculated it would be another hit device from Xiaomi, but good hardware specifications don’t always mean that it would have a good overall smartphone. So does the Xiaomi Redmi 5 performs as good as its hardware sounds?  Here is what I think after using the device for two weeks.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Review: Display

The most significant upgrade Redmi 5 brings over its predecessor is the bezel-less display. Before the launch of the Redmi 5, I expected it to have a more powerful processor, and a larger battery, etc., but I never expected it to have a bezel-less display. Making a smartphone bezel-less increases the production cost, and I knew Xiaomi wouldn’t waste resources on such features, but Xiaomi somehow managed to include a bezel-less screen among the other upgrades; Kudos to Xiaomi for it.

The display is a 5.7-inch IPS LCD unit with HD+ resolution. The screen missies out on Corning Gorilla Glass protection, but during my usage, I didn’t feel the lack of it. I dropped the device accidentally a couple of times on hard surfaces, and that too directly on the screen, but the display didn’t break. Same goes for the scratch-resistance, the screen didn’t pick any scratch even after two weeks of usage. 

As for the quality of the display, it’s excellent. The first thing I noticed is how smooth the surface of the screen is; this usually isn’t the case with other entry-level smartphones. The second thing I noticed is that the display feels pasted on the surface, just like that on the mid-range and high-end smartphones. The viewing angles of the display are excellent, and so is the brightness level. The contrast ratio is excellent too, the colours just pop-out.

Though the display resolution is on par with the other devices in its price range, I found it to be inadequate. The icons in the notification bar appear pixelated, and the small-sized text while web browsing looks pixelated too. I hope Xiaomi will equip the future entry-level smartphones with a higher resolution display.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Review: Camera

The Xiaomi Redmi 5 has a 12MP primary camera with phase-detection autofocus, and a 5MP front-facing camera, both cameras also feature an LED flash.

In daylight, the images from the primary camera have just adequate amount of details. If you zoom-in the image, you can find that the images don’t capture the minute details, which is not surprising for a budget smartphone, but I expected better from the Redmi 5. The focusing is fast, but not accurate always; the camera sometimes gets confused, especially while capturing macro images, resulting in a blurry picture. On the positive side, the images have a very vibrant colour tone, giving the users a sense of quality.

While the daylight images are just fine, I am very much disappointed with the lowlight image quality. The lowlight images have tons and tons of noise, and there is a considerable lack of details, even for a budget smartphone. All you can see in the images are the subjects, that too with very fewer details; the background details are almost non-existent.

 

The videos are recorded at Full HD resolution; they have a smooth frame rate without any occasional frame drops. Unlike the images, the videos have a washed-out colour tone. The videos also lack detail, and their audio recording is not up to the mark either. Although that is the case with every entry-level smartphone, so I wouldn’t blame Xiaomi; you get what you pay.

Coming to the front-facing camera, it has a satisfactory image quality. The daylight selfies have a decent amount of details along with a vibrant colour tone. The lowlight selfies also turn out to be bright and detailed, thanks to the front-facing LED flash.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Review: Performance

It is surprising to see the Snapdragon 450 SoC in the Redmi 5, as it is usually seen in smartphones above Rs. 10,000. The Snapdragon 450 has eight CPU cores and Adreno 506 GPU; it is even capable of handling smartphones with Full HD displays. The Redmi 5 is available in 2GB and 3GB RAM variants, and the one we received from Xiaomi has 3GB of RAM. The device was running Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS with MIUI 9 when we got it for review. Later, the device received the MIUI 9.5 update. 

Opening apps and switching between the applications is fast and smooth; there are no stutters or frame drops either. For the price, it is the fastest smartphone I’ve used so far. The only issue I found is that all the apps get closed in the background when you try to open more than 10 to 12 apps, but I think it is a minor issue that can be fixed with a software update. The Redmi 5 also has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and it’s very fast, as fast as that of the iPhone.

Coming to the MIUI 9.5, what I liked the most about it is that it is tailored for Indian consumers. The device has Indian-oriented calendar, which shows all the Indian holidays. The messaging app has also been customised to filter out spam messages, and highlight the OTP codes in them. Even the remote control app has been tailored for Indian appliances. There is also dual-apps, app locker, reading mode, customisable themes, and Mi Cloud. All these small features and attention to details enhance the user experience a lot.

Overall, I am delighted with the performance of the Redmi 5, and no other smartphone in the same price range provides such a satisfactory user experience.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Review: Battery Life, Connectivity, and Audio Quality

The Xiaomi Redmi 5 has a great battery backup too. The device lasted a day and a half with approximately 8 hours of screen-on time. Even while using WiFi hotspot, the battery drain was very minimal. The battery capacity is just 3200mAh, but it still has an excellent performance. The device doesn’t has fast charging option, and I wouldn’t expect one for the price; it took 2 hours and 35 minutes for the device to charge from 0 to 100 percent.

The Redmi 5 comes with a hybrid SIM card slot, which means it can’t accommodate two SIM cards and a microSD card at once. Hence, opting for higher storage option would be a wise choice. The device also has microUSB port, 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, and an infrared port. 

The call quality and signal reception are fine; people on either side of the call were able to listen properly. The bottom firing loudspeaker is loud enough too; I was able to hear the ringtone even in the noisy Indian environment. However, the audio quality from the 3.5mm audio jack isn’t good. The tonal accuracy is way off, there is distortion in the highs, and the bass lacks punch. Even adjusting the equaliser didn’t make much of a difference, but hey, for the price I think the audio quality is acceptable.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Review: Verdict

The Xiaomi Redmi 5 faces competition from the Nokia 3, Samsung Galaxy J7 Nxt, Motorola Moto E4 Plus, Infocus Vision 3, and Xiaomi’s own Redmi Y1. Among all the competitors, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 has the best display, longest battery backup, and also the fastest and smoothest performance. The device lived up to the exception in every criteria except the lowlight performance from the primary camera. I think the lousy lowlight performance isn’t a deal-breaker as the device has many more things to offer. For the price, I think the Redmi 5 is the best smartphone one can buy if they can get their hands on one, that is. 

In the stores
Xiaomi Redmi 5 (32GB)
₹7,999
Go to Store

Xiaomi Redmi 5

Rs. 7,999
Xiaomi Redmi 5
8.1

Design & Build Quality

8/10

Display

8/10

Primary Camera

7/10

Secondary Camera

7/10

Performance

9/10

Software

9/10

Battery Life

9/10

Pros

  • Beautiful design and good build quality
  • Fastest performance for its price
  • MIUI has tons of features; feels refined too
  • Excellent battery backup
  • Decent cameras

Cons

  • Lowlight camera performance isn't satisfactory
  • Hybrid SIM card slot
  • Audio quality from headphone jack isn't good

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