Everybody knows that two of the world’s most important smartphone news appear every year at the end of February (Samsung) and September (iPhone). However, for most of the world, the new released flagship smartphones are just way too expensive. Which is why companies have also been working hard on the cheaper range models.
One of the most successful budget smartphone models is the Xiaomi Redmi Note series, which has now reached their 5th model. And even though the Redmi Note 5 has been available for quite some time, the global version was released only recently. And since I have previously owned the Redmi Note 3 and 4 as well, then it didn’t take me long to decide if I wanted the new 5 as well.
The smartphone comes in a pretty small cardboard box. Besides the phone, you also get a micro USB cable, a standard 5V / 2A wall adapter, SIM card tool and even a silicone case. Since this is a global version, I also received an English user manual.
The new Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera has got the same aluminum body as the previous versions. However, there are still two plastic areas at the bottom and top of the phone. These are for the antennas. I also really like where they have placed the fingerprint reader. Having it at the back of the phone makes it easier to use as that’s where your fingers will be most of the time anyways.
There are still a couple of new things as well in terms of the design. It has a completely new camera that’s been inspired by iPhone X. As in the camera lenses are now placed vertically and between them is an LED flash. The lenses also stick out of the back a little, which means that it’s not completely flat anymore.
In addition, the new Redmi Note 5 has a much smaller bezel than the previous models. It has an impressive 5.99 inch IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 2160×1980 pixels. What I’m the most happy about is that Xiaomi hasn’t given it a notch at the top. They have even added an LED flash light next to the front selfie camera.
The overall build quality is really impressive. It doesn’t flex at all, which means that it’s almost impossible to bend it. Nothing about it feels or looks like it would be low quality. I’m really happy with that. It’s great to see that budget smartphones aren’t built poorly anymore.
Ports & Slots
Unlike many other brands, Xiaomi has actually managed to keep the 3.5mm audio port. In addition, there is also an IR (infrared) sensor on top of the phone. This has pretty much become the trademark for the Redmi Note series. It’s also one of the features that makes me appreciate the Xiaomi brand. It’s just such a useful feature to have. For example it lets you replace almost any remote controller.
The phone has only got one speaker. It’s located at the bottom, right next to the charging port. The speaker is actually pretty powerful as it doesn’t have any problems playing music at a loud volume. And most impressively, the sound quality doesn’t drop either. It’s quite an upgrade from the Redmi Note 4.
As for charging, Xiaomi has remained loyal to the MicroUSB port. Yeah I know that it’s the year 2018 and USB-C is the new standard. But honestly, that doesn’t even bother me. I have way more MicroUSB cables laying around at home so I can use any of those. On the plus side, it does support Quick Charge 3.0. This is extremely good if you need to charge your phone quickly!
The smartphone does accept two Sim (micro) cards. However, you can also use one of the card slots to increase the memory with a MicroSD card as well. I really like this feature as it basically makes the slot two in one.
Hardware & Camera
The Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera has the Snapdragon 636 processor, which is a noticeable upgrade from the past years Snapdragon 625. It means that you don’t need to worry about lag while multitasking. Everything runs smoothly. Even all of the newest games should work with it as well. You can see that from the benchmarks. They received a 50% increase compared with the previous version.
It also comes with a completely new camera. Which is surprising as usually the lower end smartphones try to cut costs by going with a cheaper camera. But it seems that Xiaomi is trying to beat their competitors at every single feature. The back of the phone has two lenses. One of those is the main camera and the other one is used to measure depth. This creates an aperture mode where you can have a blurred background in portrait mode.
The specs of the main camera are also impressive: 12MP sensor with a pixel size 1.4 µm. The lenses have an aperture of f/1.9 and in addition there is a dualpixel autofocus system. Not to mention a digital image stabilizer for keeping your videos as smooth as possible. The manufacturer of the sensor is Samsung and according to the rumors, it’s the exact same sensor that was used in the Galaxy S7. The selfie camera is 13MP, pixel size is 1.12 µm, aperture f/2.0 and there’s also an LED flash on the front. It should improve the quality of your selfies in a dark room.
Because of this new camera set, the Redmi Note 5’s photos and videos obviously have a much better image quality than their previous versions. Especially when capturing in a bright environment. I’m also impressed by its autofocus as it works much better than before. Thanks to the powerful sensor, the images also look much better when taking photos in darker rooms as well. However, do pay in mind that this is somewhat of a lower end range phone. So obviously it won’t be as good as flagship models.
The device can record 4K resolution videos at 30 fps. However you’ll need to use the Opencamera app for that. For some reason the official camera app doesn’t support it. And of course I can’t ignore the fantastic image stabilization system that does an excellent work at keeping the footage stable and smooth.
What I like about Xiaomi is that they haven’t gone with the trend of making a phone few millimeters thinner by making the battery smaller. The Redmi Note 5 global version has a large capacity 4000 mAh battery. In addition it has quite the energy efficient processor, which I’ll cover more about below. All of that, plus the above mentioned Quick Charge 3.0, means that a mere 10 minute of charge time already gets you hours of battery life. According to the Gsmarena.com standardized battery test, the Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera managed to get 92 hours, compared to iPhone X 74h, iPhone 8+ 81h, Samsung Galaxy S9 78h and Galaxy S9+ 86h.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 global version comes with the Android 8.1. It has obviously been modified by Xiaomi and their version is called the MIUI 9.5. MIUI is known for being open for different modifications. In addition, Xiaomi is known for providing updates for older models as well. For example, the MIUI 9 version that came out in the beginning of 2018, was also available for the Xiaomi Mi 2, which came out in fall 2012.
The Redmi Note is Xiaomi’s most popular smartphone series. That is probably one of the reasons why they haven’t gone full crazy with it. On the contrary, they have kept it simple and just upgraded all the features and specifications compared to the past models. It’s really hard to criticize anything about it. Especially when you take a look at the price tag. Which is why the Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera is still the best smartphone in its price range!
Sven Von Fawkes is a USC journalism student who enjoys comparing various products on a gadget blog called Tenpire. He has previous experience from being a Product Manager at BestBuy.