The Xiaomi Redmi 5A is priced from Rs 5,999 for the 2GB RAM/16GB storage variant.
The phone features small changes over the Redmi 4A.
The Redmi 5A has a dedicated microSD slot, along with two SIM slots.
Smartphone makers in India may employ all kinds of product and marketing strategies to win over customers, and different brands have enjoyed different kinds of success based on how they take on the market. While Samsung can credit its success to a strong dealership network, years of presence and manufacturing in India before ‘Make in India’ became a fashionable statement, Oppo and Vivo have used brute force visibility and high dealer commissions to achieve a similar level of success. Then, there’s Xiaomi.
Present in India since 2014, Xiaomi has achieved a lot in the three years since it set up operations in India. All of it has culminated in the Chinese smartphone maker becoming the leading smartphone vendor in the top 50 cities of India, thereby narrowing the gap on traditional market leader Samsung. And there’s been a unique strategy behind this success – affordability and value for money.
Despite having a much smaller offline network than the competition, Xiaomi has managed to overcome the challenges of running an online-first sales model in India to become the runaway leader in the online segment. As more and more people grow comfortable with buying online, they turn to brands like Xiaomi for the sheer value on offer.
Today, we’re reviewing Xiaomi’s most affordable product in India – something that Xiaomi calls the ‘desh ka smartphone’. The Xiaomi Redmi 5A is the follow-up to the Redmi 4A that was launched earlier this year. Not much has changed, but the small changes will help in keeping the phone current. Thanks to its price tag of Rs 5,999, it’s aimed squarely at the masses; it’s the company’s most affordable device available today. Find out if it’s a good bet in our review.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Design and Specifications
If you aren’t considering Xiaomi’s high-end offerings, the rest of the product range has a tendency to look, well, the same. There’s a certain uniformity to the design language of Xiaomi’s budget phones, and it shows even in the Redmi 5A. With a plastic unibody design, distinct front and compact feel, the Xiaomi Redmi 5A looks undeniably Xiaomi. Fortunately, it doesn’t feel too cheap; the company has struck the right balance between price and build quality. While the Redmi 4A sports a more square look, the Redmi 5A goes with gentle curves at the edges.
The layout is fairly standard, with the micro-USB port at the bottom, 3.5mm jack and IR emitter at the top, SIM and microSD trays on the left side, and power and volume buttons on the right. Xiaomi is one of the few manufacturers that continues to offer IM emitters on its phones, and even the affordable Redmi 5A gets this niche but useful feature. Additionally, the company has taken user feedback and gone with a non-hybrid SIM tray design. There are separate slots for a microSD card and both SIMs, therefore not forcing users to have to forego one or the other.
The phone has a 5-inch HD IPS LCD screen, which is decent enough considering the price of the device. There is no fingerprint sensor, which is forgivable considering that the technology behind fingerprint scanning on smartphones is still perhaps a bit too expensive for smartphones in this price range. You also get a 5W charger in the box to charge the phone’s 3,000mAh battery.
The specifications of the Xiaomi Redmi 5A are very similar to those of the Xiaomi Redmi 4A, with the phone running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC, along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. There is also a higher variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which is priced at Rs 6,999. The chipset is popular on budget smartphones, but is over a year old now. You do of course have the basics in place, including 4G connectivity with VoLTE support, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP support and FM radio.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Software and Performance
A notable change in the specification sheet comes in the software. The Xiaomi Redmi 5A runs Android 7.1.2 out-of-the-box with MIUI 9 on top. The newest iteration of Xiaomi’s homegrown user interface is cleaner, more efficient and better laid out than MIUI 8. There’s no official word on when the Redmi 5A will receive Android Oreo, but it is likely to see the update in the coming months.
On the Redmi 5A, you get the expected set of features and apps, including Mi Drop, Security, Mi Remote and the Google Suite pre-installed. You’ll also find WPS Office, Amazon Shopping, UC News and the Microsoft suite of productivity apps on the device, although the latter lot can be uninstalled. If you’re familiar with MIUI, you’ll find it to be as efficient and comfortable as always. Unique touches include the security app, which lets you set passcodes on individual apps, set up dual apps or a second space on the device, block SMS senders and more.
With the same SoC as that on the Xiaomi Redmi 4A, the Redmi 5A has similar performance as well. Multi-tasking isn’t quite as good thanks to just 2GB of RAM, and frame drops too can be expected considering the limited graphical capability of the device. Additionally, 16GB of storage is very little today, and beyond a handful of key apps and some media, you won’t be able to store too much on the device. However, the price of the Redmi 5A should be kept in mind, and considering that, you’re getting a decent level of performance. The Redmi 5A is good for basic use, and won’t let you down if your usage is simple enough.
Battery life on the Xiaomi Redmi 5A is also predictably similar to that on the Redmi 4A. Charging is a bit slow and once again, it might have made sense to include at least a 7.5W charger. With the low power usage of the Snapdragon 425 and the frugal HD screen, you can easily get a full day’s use out of the smartphone before needing to charge.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Camera
The Xiaomi Redmi 5A sports a 13-megapixel primary camera and 5-megapixel secondary camera. The rear camera supports video recording at up to 1080p at 30fps, while the front camera supports 720p video. It isn’t the best-specified camera you can get and indeed the recently launched Xiaomi Redmi Y1 might be a better bet if you want better selfies.
(Camera samples shot on the Xiaomi Redmi 5A)
The phone does take acceptable shots in good light, while low-light images tend to suffer a bit of wash-out. Video recording is also basic at best. Once again, with the price of the Redmi 5A in mind, it’s hard to complain about the quality of the camera and images. You will get an acceptable level of quality in most cases, and single-tone LED flash at the back will certainly help you get a little more visibility in low light conditions.
The Xiaomi Redmi 5A is priced aggressively at Rs 5,999, and with the current discount scheme for the first five million buyers bringing the effective price down to Rs 4,999. It’s clearly a mass-market product, aimed at bringing first-time users, low-income buyers and people looking to upgrade from a feature phone to the Xiaomi family. What you get for not a lot of money is a capable beginner smartphone that ticks all the boxes and offers a reliable smartphone experience.
It’s thanks to products like this that Xiaomi has enjoyed all of this success. The Redmi 5A is pure value-for-money and represents the very philosophy that has made Xiaomi the successful enterprise it is today. And at its effective price of Rs 4,999, there’s simply no better smartphone you can buy for this kind of money.