Xiaomi's aggressive approach towards the Indian market continues with the Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro smartphones. While the former is a small upgrade to the popular Redmi Note 4, the latter is touted as the spiritual successor to the two-year-old Redmi Note 3. The Note 5 Pro is the world's first smartphone to make use of the Snapdragon 636 Mobile Platform, and it comes with custom Kryo 260 CPU. The usage of custom CPU means the Snapdragon 636 SoC can deliver exceptional performance, keeping the power efficiency in check.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro features excellent hardware on paper- the trendy 18:9 display, powerful processor, up to 6 gigs of RAM, dual camera setup, 20MP selfie camera and a beefy battery to keep the device running for more than a day. And to make the deal more attractive, Xiaomi's aggressive pricing comes into effect. The Redmi Note 5 Pro's 4GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 13,999, and the 6GB RAM variant costs Rs 16,999.
I have used the regular 4GB of RAM variant of the Note 5 Pro for more than 72 hours as of this writing. And here are my impressions of the same.
Design and Display
If you've used the Redmi Note 4 or any other Xiaomi's budget smartphone released in 2017, then don't be worried as the Redmi Note 5 Pro offers the same in-hand feel. Except the fact that it feels a bit bigger, thanks to the larger 5.99-inch 18:9 display. One thing which made headlines when the Note 5 Pro launched was the dual rear camera arrangement. Yes, it resembles the Apple iPhone X's setup, but Xiaomi has copied a good thing here, and there isn't much to complain about. However, the implementation isn't perfect, and for me, the design looks incomplete. In fact, the Redmi Note 5's rear design feels much better than that of the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Nevertheless, the phone feels excellent in hand, and the fingerprint scanner placement remains unchanged at the back. Like earlier Xiaomi devices, the scanner on the Note 5 Pro is fast and accurate without any issues whatsoever. At the top, there's IR Blaster, and at the bottom, we get a micro USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack and speaker grille. Xiaomi's decision to go with a micro USB port in 2018 will not be appreciated, but let's hope that Xiaomi's upcoming budget smartphones will at least come with Type-C port.
The display on the front, which is a 5.99-inch Full HD+ panel is simply the best in this price bracket. Also, Xiaomi used on-screen navigation keys on both the Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro smartphones, which is understandable.
Hardware, Battery and Software
The Redmi Note 5 Pro has the best hardware under Rs 15,000. The Snapdragon 636 SoC is paired with 4GB/6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. There's a hybrid card slot for storage expansion. Graphics in the smartphone are taken care by Adreno 509 GPU. The Note 5 Pro is quick in opening all the apps, games and even the battery life is excellent too. I have charged the device only once since the time I started using it. And the screen-on time is over seven hours as you can see in the image below. But, I will test out the phone extensively over the next week to give a final verdict on the product. Numbers wise, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a 4000mAh battery.
Charging time from zero to 100% is something we tested out as there are some reports on the web stating that the phone has support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0. But we noticed that the charging time is pretty much similar while using the bundled charger and a QC 2.0 charger. Also, the sad part is the phone heats up a lot while charging with a QC charger.
The software side of things, we get the same MIUI 9 out of the box running on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. My unit is running on December 2017 security patch, which again is a letdown. Xiaomi should have released the phone with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, considering the fact that Honor released Honor 9 Lite with Oreo-based EMUI 8.0 out of the box. But this is Xiaomi we've been witnessing for years now, so no surprises here.
Well, I would like to conclude this piece on a high note. The Redmi Note 5 Pro, as Xiaomi claims is a camera beast. The Note 5 Pro has a 12MP primary camera with f/2.2 aperture and a secondary 5MP sensor to capture depth information in the images. It offers a Portrait mode too.
The phone captures excellent images in bright light conditions, and the Portrait implementation is possibly the best one I have seen on any smartphone in this price range. Images came out with a good amount of details and colours. The Portrait images are excellent too. To solve the video woes, Xiaomi has thrown in Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) support allowing users to capture shake-less footage.
Then there's the 20MP front-facing camera with Portrait mode. Forget all the Oppo and Vivo selfie-centric smartphones, the Note 5 Pro offers the best selfie camera under Rs 20,000.
On the whole, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a new king in the mid-range segment from the leading smartphone brand. However, the phone too comes with some letdowns- the usage of micro USB port in 2018 is a debatable one, lack of fast charging and the phone boots Android Nougat where every brand is releasing phones with latest Oreo out of the box. But the phone has more positives than negatives. The device will be up for the first sale on February 22, and sadly, only the 4GB RAM variant of the Note 5 Pro will be available in the sale. Xiaomi says the 6GB RAM variant will be available very soon in the market. If you're looking for a smartphone under Rs 15,000, get the Redmi Note 5 Pro without looking for any other alternative. Full review of the Note 5 Pro will be up very soon, stay tuned for that.