Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 review: A masterclass in budget phone-making

Posted:  May 31, 2018   By:    14 comments   


Intro

I think, if you’ve been reading our site, you already know that Xiaomi’s really good at making cheap phones. Yes, they do make some solid flagship devices for incredibly attractive prices, but I’ve always found that they’re at their best in the affordable mid range segment.

Best phone under RM1,000? For me — for as long as I’ve been writing tech — the answer was always Redmi Note. This year, their champion in this increasingly competitive segment of the market is called the Redmi Note 5 and I’m here to help you find out if it’s still the one true king.

It may seem obvious, but I will still say that Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 is the best Redmi Note handset the company has made so far. And I say that not only because it is an improvement over its predecessor, but also because it exceeds the conventional expectations for a smartphone refresh.

If we’re talking about a by-the-books update in the Redmi Note line I usually turn to the Redmi Note 4. Yes, it was a serviceable update, but I didn’t think it did much to raise the bar.

This latest Redmi Note device changes that, and I still find it quite hard to believe you can get such a capable smartphone for less than RM1,000.

At least, I would if Xiaomi didn’t have a killer competitor on the horizon.


Android, Mobile Devices, Mobile OS, Opinion, Product review, Xiaomi
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14 Comments for Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 review: A masterclass in budget phone-making

Max

2018 and still no 4G+ network available for this phone in Malaysia.. how pity..

hooleah

I still see a lot of articles mention: "It's all well and good, but would be great if it was stock Android".

I definitely see the appeal of stock Android in the sense of getting the latest versions and updates/patches, but after using my wife's Xiaomi A1, I must confess I strongly prefer MIUI (talking about the newer versions). There are simply so many slick enhancements, both serious productivity stuff as well as pure candy built-in. Of course the counterargument is that most if not all can be installed into stock Android, but in addition to the effort to source the correct app, some just don't work as well when not an integral part of the OS.

Case in point:

– call recording – not only can it do it, but you can set if it's limited to some numbers or to any unknown number
– decent phone & contacts app, wayyy better than stock
– alarm clock – when disabling, it will ask you if you want the upcoming alarm off (eg. on a public holiday), or all future alarms
– QR code scanning as part of the camera app
– document & business card scanner with OCR
– programmable functions for the buttons on long-press, including turning off the screen

… and the list goes on.

    Khaldun

    MIUI is good till the got the update bundle with bugs that destroy the phone potential. Then come the headache.

Stock Android > all

No usb type c and the heavily skinned UI is a big deterrence for some. Will wait for the mi 6x to come with android one instead (mi a1's successor).

Hope fully it's released sometime soon.

lokman

face unlock only enabled when set the region to india for now,and don’t forget to set the time zone after that,not sure why face unlock not enabled as defaut for all region

Pip

When in a typical workflow of Insta, FB, Twitter, Browser, Spotify — the memory management within Android wasn't up to par. Often times camera or other apps will just hang.
Went back to my aging iPhone SE

Sir

I still prefer stock Android over Miui. Hopefully they consider releasing Redmi note phone with Android One some day.

    ryan

    I agree with this statement. I was deciding whether to buy mi A1 (Stock Android) or Redmi Note 5, and in the end it was the battery factor and Snapdragon 636 that made decide to buy the latter despite both were the same price at that time at mi store. The mi A1's stock android is just snappy and smooth. Oh if only its battery is 4000 mAh…I would have bought it over Note 5. Keeping my fingers crossed that the next Redmi Note series they will use stock android and remain notch free. Notches are so annoying and unnecessary.

Galaza

“My biggest gripe with it is that it doesn’t work well with polarised sunglasses”

… seriusly? Please go back to school or google it first… Are you 10 or what?

    U-sir

    Writer running low on ideas trying complain on non-issue. Also, why always say “camera not comparable to flagships, but great for sub 1k”? Please actually name another phone from the same price segment to compare for God’s sake. That’s just lazy review.

      Gregory

      Xiaomi advertised their camera as dual flagship and they even compare with ipx and Samsung s9. That’s why the author compare it with flagships duh…

    Iskandar Suhaimi

    I'm not sure about the author, but you for sure need to go back to school and learn some manners.

kayQay

Great review. For me, MIUI is better than stock android in term of functionality but sluggish performance is a headache sometimes. Especially camera app, always tend to slow down. Btw, my vote still goes to the redmi note 5 compared to the other smartphones with rm1200 price range.

1. long lasting battery

2. acceptable camera quality

3. 5.99 inch screen

4. very good loudspeaker

5. able to play latest hd games smoothly

6. quick charge 3.0 supported ( 0 – 100% in 1 and a half hour )

A Redmi Note user

I have no major problem using Redmi Note 5 for the past 3 months. So far my experience has been good if using wi-fi connections. The only problem I encounter is when using mobile data (lousy umobile), otherwise if using wi-fi it feels snappy and very responsive. I'm not crazy about selfies or mobile games, use it mainly for WhatsApp office chat, mailing work related stuff, youtube and Facebook. When buying mid-range or budget phones, you have to bear in mind the short-comings of the phones under this category :- mainly the camera and sound/speaker. With that in mind, then you would not be that disappointed.