[Review] Xiaomi Redmi 5 – High Five Flyer

[Review] Xiaomi Redmi 5 – High Five Flyer

Since their inception Xiaomi has had an uncanny knack for creating phones that offer exceptional value and their latest Redmi 5 epitomises that as it comes in a variety of sub variants for all budgets. Our test unit, the Redmi 5 with 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage represents the most popular variant with a fair balance of specifications versus its price.

Out of the box, the Redmi 5 comes with a bare minimum of accessories. Beyond the obligatory two-pin 5V/2A USB charger and a USB cable, they have only provided a soft polycarbonate casing. They did however tack on a matte screen protector on the phone though the usual pair of headphones has been omitted this time around.

Externally, the Redmi 5 consists of a combination of plastic and aluminium that comes in a choice of three colours, black, gold and in the case of our test unit, a rather novel metallic blue shade that’s closer to a robin’s egg blue than the deeper azure finish favoured by other brands. The biggest draw to the phone is the front which is dominated by the huge 5.7-inch 18:9 aspect ratio display sheathed in 2.5D glass, framed by a narrow white plastic top and bottom bezel with the side bezels shaved down to about 2-3mm. The left side of the phone is bare save for a hybrid SIM card slot while the right has a power button and a volume rocker, both of which are finished in the same colour as the backplate.

The base of the phone comes with speaker grilles flanking a now quaint microUSB port which is increasingly seeing its age though it still does the job. The top of the phone sports a 3.5mm audio jack and an IR blaster.

The rear backplate is mostly hewn of aluminium and comes with a 12-MP camera and a fingerprint reader emplaced in the upper half of the backplate with the Mi logo emblazoned at the bottom. The top and bottom of the backplate are however made of plastic finished with subtle silver trim on the sides.
The overall build quality of the Redmi 5 is pretty good for what you pay for with a very wieldable heft and size that makes it suitable for one-handed use while the hard wearing finish repels fingerprints nicely. The quaint inclusion of the plastic bezels detract from the overall polish of the phone as well as the somewhat anachronous inclusion of a microUSB port though it’s understandable seeing its midrange aspirations.

Redmi 5 Specifications and Performance

The Redmi 5 comes in a variety of configurations that differ in terms of screen size, storage and RAM though what they have in common is that they are all powered by a Snapdragon 450 1.8GHz octacore processor built on the 14nm process paired with an Adreno 506 GPU which also powers the workhorse last-gen Snapdragon 625 processor. In the case of our test unit, it sports a mainline configuration  with 3GB RAM and 32GB of expandable storage.

Running the show on the phone is Android Nougat 7.1.2 overlaid with their MIUI 9.0 user interface overlay. The good thing with MIUI is that it’s highly customisable with the provision of a host of downloadable themes that enable you to tweak almost everything from your homescreen wallpaper down to what the lockscreen looks like.The Redmi 5 units sold in Malaysia are the global version so they come with Google Play installed.

MIUI includes quite a fair bit of bloatware preinstalled with varying degrees of utility though the interface is otherwise clutter free and easy to get about. Some apps proves rather useful like a QR scanner, a screen recording function as well as a Mi Drop app that lets you push and receive files directly from another compatible phone. One particular perk that many Xiaomi phones have is that they retain an IR blaster, which lets them remote control a host of home appliances with their Mi Remote app. You’re also able to get a ton of customisable themes though you have to sign in with a Mi account first. There’s also quite a bit of overlap as well with the phone sporting Chrome and Xiaomi’s own proprietary browser.

In synthetic benchmarks, the Redmi 5’s Snapdragon 450 SoC, which is optimised for power efficiency gave a decent showing. In Antutu benchmark, it offered a modest score of 69,859. In Geekbench, it offered a single core score of 717, a multicore score of 3,448 and a RenderScript score of 3,187. In PCMark, it snagged a score of 4,437 which marks it as a serviceable workhorse. In 3DMark’s Slingshot Extreme, it got an open GLScore of 433 and a score of 365 with Vulkan enabled.

Getting about is fast and zippy with the phone performing most day to day tasks in a suitably swift fashion. It was able to handle web browsing with half a dozen windows open, emails and Neflix without too much trouble. More intensive tasks like intensive gaming or a modicum of video work experienced marked loading times that spanned several minutes for resources to load.

Games like Hitman Sniper took a good minute or two to load and popular offerings like Player Unknown BattleGrounds were only playable at low settings. You can still eke out a gaming experience on the phone but it’s likely not going to be a great one. Gaming aside, it’s still a very serviceable workhorse and gets most of the stuff you need done without undue trouble.

The display is relatively bright with modest detail on account of the large expanse of the screen and the modest 282ppi. Screen brightness is pretty good on the whole and it offers decent viewability even under direct sunlight though colours seem somewhat muted.

This can be addressed by tweaking the screen display settings though you can’t adjust RGB levels or finetune it beyond three broad settings. It does offer a Bluelight mode to make it easier to read text at night though. On the bright side, the HD+ resolution means that there’s less pixels to crunch for the processor which impacts in a positive fashion on battery life.

Unfortunately, the mono speaker at the base of the phone is underwhelming at best. While it offers reasonable clarity, it isn’t very loud so if you want to listen to something detailed; you’ll need a pair of earbuds for that and it’s something you’ll have to go out of pocket for as the Redmi 5 doesn’t provide them out of the box.

Redmi 5 Camera performance

Xiaomi’s Redmi 5 comes with a single rear-mounted 12-MP camera that integrates an f/2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus, large 1.25 µmpixels and an LED flash. It lacks optical image stabilisation though it does have a HDR mode which helps somewhat to salvage shots taken under backlit or high-contrast shadowed conditions. The front sports an 5-MP that also offers a dedicated LED flash.

The user interface for the camera is relatively spartan with a smattering of the usual modes  like panorama, beautify, night mode and the like though its manual mode remains sparse with minimal options to tinker with bar ISO and white balance. You do however get over a dozen filters to play with. On auto mode, you’re stuck with the bare basics in that you can turn HDR mode on or off (there’s no auto) and tweak the flash to set it on auto, on or off.

As expected for a camera in its price range, the Redmi 5’s rear camera delivers good snaps under well lit conditions with reasonable clarity, moderately accurate colours and good dynamic range. Shots taken in dimly lit conditions exhibit quite a bit of softness and grain, making them underwhelming in nature which is understandable seeing the lack of OIS and the f/2.2 aperture though you can ameliorate this somewhat with the built-in flash for up-close work. You can also use an external light source like another phone for larger subjects slightly farther out though scenery shots can’t benefit from this trick.

The front camera fares somewhat poorer though you can still eke out a viewable selfie under bright, daylit conditions. It also has a slew of beautification modes as well as the modest trick of being able to predict your age based on your selfie. It’s an amusing party trick though it’s far from accurate after testing it with several subjects.

As it stands, the cameras on the Redmi 5 do the job. They won’t make the images you take stellar by any means but they are more than sufficient for the usual social media posts on Instagram, Facebook and the like.

Redmi 5 price, battery life and conclusion

The Redmi 5 comes with a smaller 3,300mAh battery compared to its predecessor the Redmi 4 though the efficient nature of the Snapdragon 450 processor more than makes up for the shortfall in battery size.

With screen brightness set on auto and an average workload that consisted of several minutes of phones calls, all-day use of Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram, a couple of YouTube videos as well as light gaming on Clash Royale for a few minutes, the phone was easily able to last the whole day with more than enough juice to last the return commute home and a bit extra too in the bargain. A judicious charge will still be prudent for the next day though.

While it doesn’t excel in any one particular area, the Redmi 5 with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage is a competently made and affordable budget phone. For the price of entry, you get a large 18:9 aspect ratio display, fair performance and good battery life with sturdy build quality. If you’re on a tight budget and are looking for an affordable blower, you can’t go wrong with this.

What we liked Bright and vibrant display, great build quality, good bang for the buck, free casing, good battery life
What we didn’t Display isn’t very sharp, not waterproof, doesn’t use USB Type C port, no headphones
We say The Xiaomi Redmi 5 offers good value as in throws in a huge Fullview display as well as a modest performance ideal for casual users without costing an arm and a leg.

Price RM679
Display 5.7-inch IPS LCD, 1,440 x 720 pixels, 282ppi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 1.8GHz
OS Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Camera 12-MP w/ f/2.2, PDAF and LED flash (rear) / 5-MP (front)
Battery 3,300mAh
Size/Weight 151.8 x 72.8 x 7.7 mm / 157g
*Review unit courtesy of Xiaomi Malaysia

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