Xiaomi's Redmi series has been the epitome of perfection. Whether it is the Redmi phone series or Redmi Note smartphones, all devices feature a great design topped with superb performance. The latest entrant - Redmi 5 - follows the tradition.
Look and feel: Redmi 5 is a good looking device at an affordable price. By adopting the 18:9 aspect ratio for the display, Xiaomi has managed to incorporate a bigger display in a compact body. The smartphone has a 5.7-inch display yet it isn't uncomfortable to hold. Instead, the 7.7mm sleek body, with rounded edges at the rear, awards it a secure grip. Thanks to the ergonomic design, the Redmi 5 can be operated with one hand and this includes accessing hardware buttons (power button and volume key on the right panel), typing on the on-screen keyboard, accessing notifications and shortcuts from the top and more. The rear houses a single camera module, which is slightly raised and will attract scratches, and a fingerprint scanner, which is quick to unlock the phone. Other ports include an audio jack on the top, hybrid SIM Tray on the left panel and charging port along with speaker grills at the bottom.
Display: The 5.7-inch display offers good viewing angle and sunlight legibility. I used the display at full-brightness for streaming videos and was pretty much satisfied with the colour reproduction. There are a host of display settings to fiddle around with and I preferred to keep the display settings at cool colour with automatic contrast. If numbers and resolution matter to you, Redmi 5 has an HD+ and not a full HD display.
UI and Performance: Xiaomi phones come with a custom UI - there is no app drawer and all the apps are placed on multiple pages of the home-screen. Thankfully, all Google apps, by default, are clubbed under the Google folder, and utility apps such as recorder, clock, calculator and more under tools. Other than the default apps, Redmi 5 also comes with a set of Microsoft apps, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook Mail and Skype Lite. However, the highlight is the Mi Remote app that can be used to control air conditioners and appliances using the phone's IR blaster. Even the security app on this device offers a security scan, an option to boost speed, track battery usage and more. If you are an existing Redmi user, you will instantly feel at home. But if upgrading from a feature phone or switching to Redmi 5 from a different brand, you might take a couple of days to get the hang of the MiUi.
The Redmi 5 is a pretty decent performer, which can handle basic gaming and video streaming with ease. Even with multiple apps running in the background, the device worked just fine, without slowing down. Our review unit had 3GB of RAM and 32GB onboard storage (priced at Rs 8,999). Out of the 32GB internal storage, close to 23.5GB was user accessible, which is good enough for downloading apps and storing content. It also supports expandable memory.
Camera: Xiaomi has added a 12-megapixel camera at the rear, which comes with a host of options including tilt-shift, timer, straighten, panorama, manual and more to choose from. What I really like is the scene mode with options such as auto, portrait, landscape, sports, night, night portrait, beach, snow, sunset, fireworks, backlight and flowers. The camera is pretty quick in focusing on the subject or capturing an image. The images captured in natural light came out the best but the ones captured indoors had a little noise. But there was a lot of noise in low-light images. Redmi 5 stumbles in low-light photography. For selfie lovers, there is a 5-megapixel camera with smart beautification. Videos can be captured at full HD resolution; however, HD resolution has been selected by default.
Battery: Yet another plus point of the Redmi devices is the lasting battery backup and the Redmi 5 didn't disappoint. Unlike many flagship devices, where I end up carrying a charger/battery pack, the Redmi 5 offered me a hassle-free time. A full charge used to last me a day on heavy usage which includes a couple of hours of calling, constant push notifications for two email accounts and social networks, browsing, streaming video on YouTube amongst others. For the juice it offers, the 3300 mAh battery takes close to three hours to charge.
Verdict: Xiaomi has been offering something for everyone. While the Redmi 5A starts at Rs 5,999 and the Redmi Note 5 base variant retailing for Rs 9,999, the Redmi 5, with a starting price of Rs 7,999, creates an identity of its own. Not everyone can stretch their budget to buy the Redmi Note 5 and this is where the Redmi 5 fits in perfectly.