Xiaomi is stronger than ever right now. This is all thanks to their strong portfolio and their initiative to move their business forward by trying to penetrate emerging markets, in a more serious way this time around.
With that, the company is set to break boundaries again with the new Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. And to avoid confusion, the one we are taking a look today is the “AI Dual Camera” a.k.a the Global variant. For some reason, the Redmi Note 5 has different names, with different configurations, in different countries.
Today, we’ll see if Xiaomi still has it. It is really important for the company to make Redmi Note 5 to be successful as, like I said earlier, they are pushing to enter more and more markets. So, let’s go ahead and check it out.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Specs
- Android 8.1 Oreo, MIUI 9.5
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby (hybrid)
- 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS Corning Gorilla Glass display, 2160 x 1080 resolution, ~439ppi
- 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor
- Adreno 509 GPU
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
- 13-megapixel front camera, LED flash
- 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear cameras, PDAF, f/2.2, dual-tone flash
- Fingerprint scanner
- 4G LTE, VoLTE
- WiFi, WiFi hotspot
- GPS, A-GPS
- Dimensions: 158.6 x 75.4 x 8.1mm
- Weight: 181g
- Colors: Black, Blue, Gold, Rose Gold
- 4,000mAh battery, 5V/2A charging support
Design and Build Quality
Just like before, Xiaomi smartphones are really built for the power-users and consumers who want the best possible specs for the least possible price. While they might have met the requirements on that field (more on that later), Xiaomi might have missed hitting the spot in the design department.
It looks like we can’t really have it all as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, as you can see in our product shots, is not the most appealing device when it comes to looks. Although this topic is actually a subjective manner as some people might find it actually appealing. But I’m pretty sure the majority of you would agree that this device looks kind of “awkward” in some way.
The Redmi Note 5 inherits the design language of Xiaomi’s older devices. The front looks okay as there’s not a lot going on in it. However, the back really has this awkward design, which is probably caused by the way dual cameras were put up.
The two sensors look kind of out of place. It would have looked better if they are oriented differently. Or if the vertical lines on the top and the bottom were removed. This would have made it look the back more seamless and cleaner, but those vertical lines actually work as wireless antennas, so we’ll just have to deal with it.
But other than the design, the build of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 feels really sturdy and well-made. The device is constructed in metal, which is not only durable by itself but also feels premium in the hand. However, due to its large 6-inch screen and the said metal construction, it’s not the most comfortable thing to hold. The device is 158mm tall, 75mm wide, and it weighs 185g.
Speaking of the display, we have the said 5.99-inch IPS FHD+ screen on the front. It sports the trendy 18:9 aspect ratio, which means that it has ultra-thin side bezels, though the chin looks a bit thicker than what I would prefer. They could have added the physical navigation buttons here, but instead, they opted for on-screen ones.
Moving on, top bezel is just large enough to house the earpiece, a 13-megapixel selfie camera with flash, and all the necessary sensors.
The left side has the SIM Tray. Disappointingly, it’s a hybrid which means you can either have two SIM cards slotted in, or sacrifice the other one for a microSD card for storage expansion.
On the other side, there’s the lock/power switch just below the volume controls. The buttons feel very tactile when pressed and they don’t wobble, although some people with smaller hands might find a hard time reaching the volume controls. But if you’re purchasing a device this huge, you should already know what you’re putting yourself in to.
Moving on, at the top we have the IR blaster and the noise-canceling microphone. At the bottom, we have the primary built-in microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro USB port, and the loudspeakers.
The tech enthusiast in me is saying that Xiaomi should already completely move to the use of USB Type-C. However, I do understand that most people, especially Xiaomi’s target market, will still prefer the micro USB implementation as they possibly have a lot of spare cables lying around.
See also: Xiaomi Redmi 5A Review
On the back, we have the said dual cameras trapped in an iPhone X-like orientation with the LED flash at the middle. Other than the slight annoyance in the design, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 also has a serious case of camera bump.
It’s almost as thick as the one on the iPhone X. Some people might find it irritating, but I doubt that most people would even notice.
Overall, it’s pretty clear that the design is not Xiaomi’s first priority on the Redmi Note 5. However, I still got to hand it to them for creating a sturdy and really well-made smartphone for the price.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 comes with a 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS screen, 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~439ppi, and is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass. That’s pretty much a standard affair for a screen at this price.
It goes without saying that the display is really large. It has enough screen real-estate so you can play games comfortably. You can use the on-screen controls without blocking too much detail from the display. It’s also perfect for watching videos and reading texts while surfing the web.
The screen quality itself is pretty much the same as with most IPS-equipped smartphones. It has decent and plain colors — not overly saturated. Although the contrast is definitely not the best, but still acceptable.
Screen brightness is also good which makes outdoor visibility still okay despite the bright sunlight. I didn’t encounter any issues with the viewing angles as well as it can serve the content in any angle.
The loudspeaker delivers decent performance on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. It has loud volume, which might be too much for private listening when maxed out, but is only ample enough when listened with a group of friends.
The quality is good. The low-end or bass is audible, although it sounds a bit muffled. But the treble and mids are imposing enough to compensate. Overall, its performance does exceed my expectations.
On the other hand, listening to music through headphones is also good. It has decent volume, unlike other Android devices that we have tested. It also has different sound enhancer in the settings, with different profiles depending on various Xiaomi headphones.
I found the Mi Earbuds profile to work well with most headphones. I did try it with my Apple Earpods and it did deliver good volume with clean bass and treble.
Performance and Hardware
As expected, Xiaomi equipped the Redmi Note 5 with the best possible hardware you can get for the price. This device comes with a 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, Adreno 509 GPU, and 64GB of internal storage that can go up to 256GB.
With that, using the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 on a daily feels really satisfying. The performance is smooth and seamless. I can’t remember a time where it stuttered or showed any significant lags. But that’s not to say that the processor didn’t struggle on some occasions, but those scenarios are so rare that I didn’t even bother.
It goes without saying that Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 can handle any tasks you throw at it. Using basic apps like Facebook and Instagram, browsing the web through Google Chrome, taking pictures, and watching videos on YouTube was a breeze.
The Snapdragon 636 can also handle almost any game available in the Google Play store. I tested one of my most favorite games, PUBG Mobile, and it was unsurprisingly playable with smooth frame rates. The Style textures were set to “Realistic” while the graphics were on “Smooth” and it ran without problems.
And since PUBG Mobile is one of the most demanding games in the mobile industry today, we can only imagine how the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 performs in other modest games. We also tried NBA 2K18, Need for Speed, Asphalt 8 and it all performed very well.
In addition, the 4GB RAM lets you switch between apps seamlessly. It might also be the reason behind its fast loading times and more.
Obviously, if you’re all about performance, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 should be one of the top choices.
Benchmark test results
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 comes with a fingerprint scanner at the back. It is sitting slightly higher in the middle, which makes it easy for people with bigger hands to reach it. But then again, users with smaller hands might struggle.
The fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate. And by this point in time, we shouldn’t be already doubting its performance.
Speaking of the latest features, Xiaomi should have already figured out how to implement the Face Unlock feature in the Redmi Note 5. I have seen reports of the feature working on other Xiaomi devices, but the option is still not available on the Redmi Note 5 — or at least in this global version.
Other than the physical security measures, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is also well-protected in the software side. The device has a “Find My Device” function, which is handy when your device goes missing or it gets stolen.
Since it runs on the latest version of Android, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 comes with Google Play Protect, which monitors your apps’ activities in a possible privacy breach. For privacy freaks out there, the device also has data encryption, and it will only encrypt the device using your lock screen password.
Software and Interface
As stated earlier, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is running on the latest version of Android. What we have here is the Android 8.1 Oreo with a taste of MIUI 9.5 on top.
The Xiaomi MIUI interface has a lot of similarities with Apple’s iOS. But that has been going on for the longest time now so we’ll just cut Xiaomi some slack.
With that said, the interface of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 looks clean and minimalistic. The lock screen has nothing but the time on top, and your notifications in the middle in case you have one.
The control center and the notifications tab can be summoned in a typical fashion, by swiping down. While I’m fine to have the notifications on top, I do think that Xiaomi should have followed the other manufacturers by having the control center at the bottom.
For a device this large, reaching all the way up to turn on the WiFi or switch on the flashlight might be a bit tasking. Hopefully, Xiaomi realizes this in the next update. After all, Apple already moved theirs so it’s just a matter of time before Xiaomi follows suit.
On the bright side, I did like the dynamic theme of the control center of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. Meanwhile, the background on top changes depending on the time or weather.
Xiaomi also kept the search button on the menu settings, unlike what other companies did on their own interfaces. This allows you to easily find the right settings without having to dig in.
The interface also didn’t come with bloated and redundant software which means there’s only one camera, album, or browser app., w
Overall, I like how the MIUI interface has developed. Usually, we do prefer smartphones with a stock Android look, but considering how streamlined and efficient the new version is, we are okay with it.
Xiaomi tried to nail everything in the Redmi Note 5. Although they were limited to max out everything because of the price tag, they were still able to do a decent job, even in the camera department. What we are dealing here is a 13-megapixel shooter on the front and a 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual cameras on the back.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 doesn’t have the best cameras around, but it sure is one of the most capable shooters in its price range. The 12-megapixel sensor in the back produces images with decent colors, though they might appear slightly washed out if you’re really that picky.
If you’re a professional photographer of some sort, you might also find the contrast a bit disappointing. But to the normal eye, and for someone who knows what they are getting for the price, it will suffice. On the upside, the sharpness and dynamic range are really good.
The camera app itself of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 isn’t the fastest of all. But unless you’re trying to shoot fast-paced subjects or spur-of-the-moment type of scenarios, then you’ll pretty much be satisfied with its speed.
The cameras also have average low-light performance. Of course, the images taken wouldn’t be as good as the ones taken during daylight, but still, they don’t look garbage and can still be shared online.
The secondary 5-megapixel rear camera does its job decently. For as long as the foreground doesn’t have complicated edges, it can isolate it from the background really well providing a believable shallow depth-of-field effect. The effect might miss a few details on the edges, but it’s hardly noticeable unless you really zoom in and examine it.
Now, let’s move on to the 13-megapixel selfie camera. Just like the ones on the back, the front-facing shooter can also take good, but not the best pictures.
Without the beautification effects and what not, the images taken on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 looks sharp and well-lit — some of the key aspects that make a great selfie. The contrast might be on the downside, but that’s how most front cameras perform anyway.
Speaking of the beauty mode, this feature has 5 different levels which you can adjust depending on how many filters you want to use. You can also go “extra” by going with the Advanced mode. This lets you adjust your face’s slenderness, eyes size, skin tone, and smoothness.
The front camera also has its own Portrait Mode feature. And just like the one on the back, it does a decent job of isolating the subject from the background for as long as the foreground doesn’t have complex edges.
To sum it up, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 clearly has a capable set of cameras, making this department one of the biggest strengths of this device.
This is the part where most people might overlook or wouldn’t even bother to care at all. But still, Xiaomi made sure that the Redmi Note 5 has a good set of connectivity features.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is equipped with WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, and a slew of GPS antennas. These are pretty much all the connectivity specs that you can expect from a dated smartphone. However, what’s not latest here is its microUSB port.
Most devices today have now adopted the USB Type-C implementation. Although Xiaomi’s move to keep the microUSB port is actually good for most people who still have a lot of spare microUSB cables around.
Also, Xiaomi kept the IR Blaster on top of the device. Not everyone might use it, but if you’re one of those who want a single device to control almost all of your appliances at home — this thing might come in handy.
If you’re still not convinced about how good the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is, wait until you hear about its battery life.
This handset comes with a huge 4,000mAh battery capacity. For a comparison, most of the competing devices in its league only come with 3,000mAh to 3,500mAh battery.
As per my testing, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 did deliver outstanding performance. It had a screen-on time of 13 hours and 16 minutes on PCMark’s battery test (WiFi off, display and volume set to 50%). In contrast, the Vivo V9 only scored 9 hours and 15 minutes while the OPPO F7 managed to get a score of 11 hours and 7 minutes.
That result also reflected in a real-world scenario. In my usage, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 was able to last me for one and a half to two days. I use my phone mostly for browsing through Facebook and Instagram feeds, taking pictures, and sending and receiving texts.
But if you’re more of a heavy user, then expect to reach for the charger every night. Something that you’d also get from other devices, but with lighter use.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is a sweet addition to the company’s killer portfolio. There’s no doubt that Xiaomi hasn’t lost its magic after all these years. And a clear evidence to that is the Redmi Note 5.
It might not have all the bells and whistles, but it surely delivered everything you might expect from a budget-friendly, performance smartphone.
Other than the awkward design and chunky build, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 seems to have ticked all the checkboxes for a great smartphone. And to sum up this entire review, let’s list all the great things about it.
For a refresher, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 has a large and sharp display. The screen is the perfect stage for this device to showcase all its power and capabilities.
And speaking of power, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chipset on this handset delivers exemplary performance. It’s fast, reliable, and just overall powerful. If you came from a flagship smartphone, and for some reason, you’d like to pick up a cheaper device, then you’d just feel right at home with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5’s performance.
The device also comes with a great set of cameras, which is one of the most important parts of today’s modern day smartphones, as most of the things we share online are pictures and videos.
And of course, you can’t use those features for long if the battery is a downer. Thankfully, it is not the case with this device. The 4,000mAh battery capacity of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is perfect for casual users, busy people, or if you’re into hard-core gaming.
To finally wrap it up, I can confidently say that I can recommend this phone to everyone. It has great features for the price tag that it’s asking — making it a great smartphone for those who are shopping in the midrange category.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Video Review
Pricing and availability of XIaomi Redmi Note 5
At the time of writing, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 retails for a price of Php11,990, which is an unbelievable price for what it offers. Especially when you also consider all the other devices that it’s going up against in the market.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is officially available in authorized Mi stores in TriNoma and SM Megamall. For those who want to order online, it’s also available for purchase in Shopee and Lazada with cash on delivery option. Check out the listing here.
- Great performance
- Capable cameras
- Long battery life
- Awkward design
- Headphone output volume could be better