The Xiaomi Redmi 5 starts at Rs 7,999 for the 2GB/16GB variant and goes up to Rs 10,999 for the 4GB/64GB variant.
The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC.
Performance is impressive, but the camera and screen fall somewhat short of expectations.
The Xiaomi Redmi range of smartphones can be incredibly confusing at times. But the large list of phones achieves one thing: there’s a Xiaomi phone in practically every budget price point you can imagine. From Rs 5,999 to Rs 16,999, there are six Xiaomi phones with multiple variants of each, letting you buy a Xiaomi phone in increments of Rs 1,000 for nearly the entire price range. No matter how specific your budget, there’s a Xiaomi phone for you.
The latest launch that helps fill in those price gaps is the Xiaomi Redmi 5. With it, Xiaomi brings all of its affordable phones up to date, sporting current-generation specifications and features. Priced from Rs 7,999, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 is affordable, but offers a lot for your money. It’s available in three variants with prices going up to Rs 10,999, and is being touted as the ‘compact powerhouse’ by Xiaomi. We’ve reviewed the new phone, and here’s what we think.
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Design
One of the biggest USPs of this phone as pitched by Xiaomi is the fact that it’s a ‘compact powerhouse’. To be clear, it isn’t quite as compact as you may have expected. But to be fair, compactness isn’t quite the same today as it was even a couple of years ago. Phones are larger now, and people have gotten used to large slabs of phone as opposed to the easily pocketable devices of the past.
In this case, you get a phone that is noticeably smaller than most full-size devices. The device has a 5.7-inch HD+ IPS screen, but is more closely comparable to a classic device with a screen that’s a bit smaller than 5.5 inches. The phone comes with an 18:9 screen and trimmed-down bezels, allowing it to achieve the form factor. If you’re used to big screens, you won’t have to sacrifice that for the size advantage on the Redmi 5. However, it is an HD+ resolution screen, which isn’t quite as sharp as the one on the Redmi Note 5.
In all other ways, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 is as typical as you can expect from an affordable Xiaomi smartphone. It has the design and build that has been pioneered by the Chinese smartphone maker, with a metal back plate, fingerprint sensor at the rear, and Xiaomi’s classic touch of having an infra-red emitter at the top. What might be disappointing to some is the plastic fame of the phone; the metal is only on the rear plate while the sides of the phone are fused with the top and bottom antenna strips. While non-screen space is slim, it’s significantly more than what you’d typically expect from a modern tall-screen phone.
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Specifications and Performance
As is usually the case with Xiaomi, the Redmi 5 stands out when it comes to specifications. The phone is powered by the excellent Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, and is one of the few devices currently available to sport the chipset. What makes this chipset special is that it’s the first 400-series SoC from Qualcomm to be fabricated on the 14nm process. It is a high-performing chipset that can be considered almost on par with the current-generation Snapdragon 600-series options, apart from the obvious reduction in clock speed.
You get three variants with different RAM and internal storage configurations on the Xiaomi Redmi 5. The most affordable of these is the Rs 7,999 one, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. For Rs 8,999, you get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (our review unit), and at Rs 10,999 you get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. If you can stretch your budget that far, we’d always recommend the top variant. However, it’s worth noting that you could also get the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 for Rs 9,999, which has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, but the more capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC and a 6-inch full-HD+ screen.
Apart from that, you also get a 3,300mAh battery and a 10W charger in the box, with no support for fast charging. Unsurprisingly, but still disappointingly, Xiaomi has yet to update its 2018 range of phones to Android Oreo. The Xiaomi Redmi 5 comes with the latest version of MIUI 9 along with its features, but is stuck on Android Nougat at the core for the time being.
We ran a few benchmark tests on the Redmi 5 to compare how its 400-series chipset performs against other similarly priced devices. AnTuTu returned an impressive score of 69,570, while Geekbench 4 returned a single-core score of 765 and multi-core score of 3,492. Both of these results are positive, showing that the Xiaomi Redmi 5 matches up well with devices that usually cost a fair bit more. For the price, you’re getting the best possible performance you can expect. This is visible even in practical use of the phone; it’s smooth, easy to use and performs decently in most situations.
Battery life is impressive, particularly considering that it isn’t a large battery powering the phone. Thanks to MIUI 9’s frugal power consumption and the capabilities of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, battery life is excellent and far superior to what you’d expect from phones powered by older Snapdragon 400-series chipsets. It’s possible to get well over a day of battery life on a single charge, which could stretch significantly depending on whether your usage is modest or heavy on a particular day.
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Camera
While the dual-camera craze might be catching on strongly on phones priced above Rs 10,000, the more affordable price brackets still tend to go with single-camera setups. While some exceptions do exist (the InFocus Vision 3, for example), smartphone makers haven’t quite cracked the formula for getting two camera sensors into consumer hands at such a low price. The Xiaomi Redmi 5 therefore plays it safe with its 12-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. If you’re looking for a better front camera, Xiaomi also has the Redmi Y1 which sports a 16-megapixel front camera.
The rear camera has an aperture of f/2.2 and a pixel size of 1.25 microns, which indicates that it’s likely the same sensor as the one on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. While the image processing is a bit different thanks to the Snapdragon 450 SoC as opposed to the Snapdragon 625, results are fairly similar. You get decent shots in good light that are about on par with what you’d expect from a budget device. Brightness, composure and sharpness is decent. While the viewfinder might show you a strange, pixilated preview, the final shots are up to the mark. The same goes with pictures taken with the front camera – it’s workable, considering that this is a phone that costs Rs 7,999. Additionally, you do have the option to go full-screen with the viewfinder and shoot 18:9 aspect ratio images as well.
(Camera samples taken on the Xiaomi Redmi 5)
In low light and even relatively weaker lighting conditions, pictures naturally lose competence. Remember, this is an ordinary camera without any fancy capabilities and complex algorithms, so there won’t be very much beyond basic tweaking by the phone and SoC to fix images taken in less-than-ideal conditions. Videos and selfies are also of a certain basic capability. In conclusion, you’re getting pretty much what you’re paying for with the Xiaomi Redmi 5’s camera. No more, and no less.
The Xiaomi Redmi 5 isn’t special, and it isn’t quite as important to the company as even the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro. Instead, it’s there to fill in a blank and cater to a very specific price segment, which it does capably. You’re assured the classic reliability of Xiaomi when it comes to build, software, battery life and performance. And as is also the norm with Xiaomi, you’re particularly benefiting in the performance department, as Xiaomi has once again gone above and beyond expectations to offer capable specifications on the Redmi 5.
Priced from Rs 7,999 onwards, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 may not quite be the ‘compact powerhouse’ we had initially imagined, because it’s neither that compact nor is it that powerful. But leaving that marketing fluff aside, it’s a capable phone. If your budget is really specific, it’s worth considering and you won’t find anything better. If you can spare a few thousand rupees more, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro are better options in our opinion.