The Redmi Note 5 Pro Review; Does It Deserve The ‘Pro’ Badge?
Xiaomi's Redmi Note 5 Pro is the big brother to Redmi Note 5 and it is powered by a more powerful Snapdragon 636 which made its global debut in this smartphone.
The year 2017 was very important for Xiaomi in India. It was the year the Redmi Note 4 became the best-selling smartphone in India ever and Xiaomi managed to pip Samsung to become the no.1 smartphone seller, albeit for one quarter. It was also the year Xiaomi reiterated its commitment towards the Indian market by opening one more manufacturing plant in India.
The Redmi Note 5 is a smartphone that almost didn’t make it, but here it is. It debuted in India on February 14 along with the Mi TV 4 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Note 5 Pro was an eagerly awaited smartphone, but nobody was sure it would see the light of the day. But launch it did! India is the first country in the world to receive the Note 5 and the Note 5 Pro. The Snapdragon 636 also made its global debut in the Note 5 Pro.
With these new releases, Xioami has made it clear that India is an important market for them. The Note 5 pro is one of the first smartphones in the note series to feature the 18:9 display. It is also the first Xiaomi smartphone to get the face unlock feature. With so many firsts to its name, the Note 5 Pro is carrying a lot of expectations.
Does it deliver on those expectations? That’s the million dollar question, one which bears a carefully researched and comprehensive answer. So let’s dive deep and dig out the answers.
Sturdy Build Quality
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a solid smartphone. Like the Note 4, it features a metal body with plastic tabs at the top and the bottom to let the signals pass through. It is slightly disappointing. A metal unibody, like the Mi Max 2, would have made the phone more durable and made it stand out more. It is not a deal-breaker though. These plastic tabs are smaller than the ones on the Redmi Note 4.
The design is not radically different from its predecessor. Of course, there are changes, but the overall look hasn’t changed much. The biggest change at the back is the dual camera cluster. It stands out, especially on the lighter colours and sticks out of the phone.
It seems Xiaomi has taken a step back with this design decision. It looks exactly like the one on the iPhone X and seems like an after-thought rather than an integral part of the design. It also makes the phone sit awkwardly on the desk when it is set down.
The fingerprint scanner on the back is at its usual place. It is fast, well-placed and easy to reach. Xiaomi also claims to have reinforced the corners of the Note 5 Pro as they are some of the most vulnerable points in case of a fall. We had no way of testing this without damaging the phone in some way, so we’ll just have to take Xiaomi’s word for it.
Up front, the biggest change is the display, which now sports the 18:9 aspect ratio and rounded corners. And the absence of capacitive navigation buttons, which are now moved on to the screen. The selfie camera now has a selfie light, both of which sit above the display along with the proximity and ambient light sensors.
The micro USB port, speaker grille, the primary microphone and the 3.5mm audio jack sit on the bottom edge of the phone. The infrared blaster, a Xiaomi smartphones staple, sits on the top edge.
Overall the body is rounded and pleasant to hold. With the narrower 18:9 aspect ratio of the display, it sits much easier in the hand.
Redmi Note 5 Pro: Detailed Specifications
Here’s a detailed look at the specifications and what makes the Note 5 Pro tick.
|158.6 mm x 75.4 mm x 8.05 mm (H x W X D)
|FDD LTE Bands: 1/3/5
TDD-LTE Bands: 40/41 (120MHz)
|Hybrid Dual SIM; Nano SIMs; Dual Standby
|4 GB RAM + 64 GB Storage; 6 GB RAM + 64 GB Storage
|Expandable Storage Up To 128GB
|5.99 inch Full HD+ IPS LCD Display; 2160 x 1080 Pixels; 403 PPI; 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass; 18:9 Aspect Ratio; 77.4% Screen-to-Body Ratio; 84% NTSC Color Gamut; Sunlight Mode; Night Mode, Reading Mode; Standard Mode; Colour Temperature Adjustment
|MIUI 9 based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat
|Qualcomm SDM636 Snapdragon 636
CPU: Octa-core 1.8 GHz Kryo 260
GPU: Adreno 509
|4,000 mAh, Li-Po; Non-Removable Battery; QuickCharge 2.0; 5V/2A
|Primary Camera:Primary Sensor: 12.0 Megapixel; f/2.2 Aperture; 1.25 µm Pixels; 27.22 mm.
Secondary Sensor: 5.0 Megapixel; f/2.0 Aperture; 1.12 µm Pixels; 27.22 mm.
Single Tone Flash; PDAF; Enhanced Low-Light Photography; HDR Adjustments; Panorama Burst Mode; Face recognition; Geo-Tagging; Touch Focus.
Video: 1080p at 30fps.
Sensor: 20.0 Megapixel; f/2.2 Aperture; 1.0 µm Pixels.
Beautify 4.0; Selfie-Light; Selfie Timer; Face Recognition
Video: 1080p at 30fps; 720p at 30fps.
|Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; 2.4 / 5 GHz; WiFi Direct, Wi-Fi Display; Hotspot; Bluetooth V5.0; Bluetooth HID; A2DP; LE; A-GPS; GLONASS; BeiDou; MicroUSB 2.0, Infrared Port; FM Radio
|Fingerprint Sensor, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor.
|Dual Graphene Sheets, 3.5mm Audio Jack.
|1.19 W/kg (head); 0.33 W/kg (body).
The Note 5 Pro is one of the first Note series devices to get the 18:9 display. The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 was the first Xiaomi smartphone to sport the new aspect ratio display. Xiaomi has managed to fit a 5.99-inch display in a body that is narrower and thinner and only 7.6mm taller than the Note 4. The Note 4 has a 5.5-inch display.
The IPS LCD panel on the Note 5 Pro is a bright and saturated display which is pleasant to look at. Sunlight legibility is not a problem as the display is easily viewable outdoors with the ‘Sunlight Mode’. The 5.99-inch full HD+ display has a screen resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of 403 PPI. The 77.4% screen-to-body ratio, while not jaw-dropping, is respectable for a phone which costs Rs 16,999/-.
The display has good viewing angles and very little colour-shift occurs at extreme angles. While the display is ‘only’ Full HD+, the text and images look crisp and sharp. The colours are vibrant but not excessively so. It has an ambient light sensor which works well to crank up the brightness when it senses direct sunlight to make the display viewable even in bright sunlight. The ‘Night Mode’ works well to cut out the blue light and ease the stress on eyes in near darkness. ‘Reading Mode’ warms up the tone of the display to enable long, stress-free reading sessions.
The display has rounded corners which can be seen in other Xiaomi phones like the Mi MIX2, the Y1, Y1 Lite and now the Note 5 and Note 5 Pro. We think Xiaomi will follow this design element for all the displays in their future smartphones. The display is protected by a 2.5D curved glass. It is not clear whether this is a Gorilla Glass as it doesn’t mention so anywhere on Xiaomi’s website. It makes for an excellent in-hand feel makes the phone a joy to use in daily life.
All-in-all, the display of the Redmi Note 5 Pro doesn’t disappoint. It is a bright, crisp and colourful display which is at par with the price range.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the first Redmi Note to have a set of dual cameras. It sports a combination of a 12-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor which captures depth information. They work together to deliver accurate colours and a pleasing Bokeh effect in the ‘Portrait Mode’. The selfie camera is a 20-megapixel monster which brings its own selfie light to make your selfies brighter.
The cameras of the Redmi Note 5 Pro perform well in their price range. Low-light photos are noisy but usable. The portrait effect works well in certain situations where the background of the subject is not too complicated. Photos are a bit washed out under extremely bright sunlight.
The camera manages to capture a good amount of details and colours are rendered nicely. The selfie camera captures good images in daylight as well as artificial light. But the photos shot under artificial light lack the punch in colours. The portrait mode on the selfie camera works well to blur the background and make the subject stand out.
The overall camera package of the Redmi Note 5 Pro is impressive for what it offers
MIUI 9: Still On Android 7 Nougat
This is one of the better aspects of a Xiaomi smartphone. All Xiaomi smartphones, except the Mi A1, run on Xiaomi’s MIUI custom ROM. It provides a uniform user experience across all its devices with the same set of customisations and features except when restricted by hardware limitations. Xiaomi has adopted this approach from Apple and it is not necessarily a bad thing.
The Note 5 Pro runs the latest version of MIUI 9. The latest version of the MIUI is much more optimised. There are new icon animations which are activated after quitting an app. These do not work for all app icons as of now. Some notable ones which do work are the Phone Dialler Facebook and Instagram.
Xiaomi’s ‘App Vault’ is a collection of your favourite apps as well as some handy shortcuts like taking notes, booking a cab and even making digital payments. It resides in the left-most homescreen and is a handy tool to have.
MIUI is optimized to run smoothly on almost all of Xiaomi’s smartphones regardless of specifications. The Snapdragon 636 is a significant upgrade over the Snapdragon 625 which has been Xiaomi’s favourite so far, to the extent of using the same processor in the ‘regular’ Note 5.
This version of the MIUI 9 is still based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat. We feel that the Note 5 Pro should have launched with Android Oreo on board. The Note 5 Pro and most of the other Xiaomi smartphones are slated to receive the Oreo update sometime in the next quarter.
This is a smooth-performing smartphone. The latest Snapdragon 636 processor is paired with an Adreno 509 GPU which is a step up from its predecessor’s Adreno 506. All mid-range Xiaomi smartphones are smooth performers and the Note 5 Pro is no exception. It is available in two configurations;
- 4GB RAM + 64GB Storage
- 6GB RAM + 64GB Storage
We have the 4GB RAM version and it does not disappoint in terms of day-to-day usage. The performance is smooth and lag-free. It runs most casual games quite smoothly. But some of the larger, graphics-heavy games do stutter. It runs on a mid-range processor after all.
Though the bezels are minimal, they are comfortable enough to hold while gaming. But it suffers from a classic gaming problem. Since the speaker is located on the bottom edge, it is easy to cover it while gaming. It happened to us and when it happens, it muffles the speaker quite a bit.
The infrared sensor works as it is expected to and supports quite a large number of devices available in India. The fingerprint sensor at the back is fast, accurate and quite easy to reach. It unlocked the phone for us every single time during our review.
Also, for the first time ever a Xiaomi smartphone has the ‘Face Unlock’ feature. This is perhaps one of the highlight features of the Note 5 Pro, even more than the dual cameras. But, it is MIA on our review unit. We were informed that it will receive the feature via a future software update. So we are not able to test its speed and accuracy as of writing this review. We hope the feature makes it to production handsets when they ship out.
The Note 5 supports QuickCharge 2.0. The 4,000mAh battery managed to last a day and a half with a slightly heavy usage. Mileage will vary from user to user, but this sums up the average battery life of the Note 5 Pro which is excellent.
The Note 5 Pro supports VoLTE and all Indian 4G bands. We used the Note 5 with a Jio SIM around Pune. The calling and data performance was solid with no unexpected drops in the network signal. It held on to the signal quite well, even in areas with a patchy network. The Note 5 Pro doesn’t disappoint and makes for an extremely usable smartphone.
There is no question of whether Xiaomi smartphones offer good value for money. That is almost a given with any of the smartphones currently available, which also includes the latest offering, the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Note 5 Pro is a powerful smartphone in its price range. The 6GB model even more so. But the 4GB model is no slouch in the performance department either. Day-to-day usage is smooth and there are no lags. Of course, this might change once the phone gets a little older. But so do all smartphones.
We can whole-heartedly recommend the Note 5 Pro based on our use and experience. The cameras impress too! Especially the 20-megapixel selfie camera which comes with its own selfie light and a portrait mode. The battery life is stellar. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a good, solid smartphone which offers excellent value for your money.
So to sum it up, The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a dependable smartphone with a good camera, excellent battery and sturdy build quality. Now the question is, do you think 16,999/- is a fair price to pay for the Note 5 Pro, given all its features and specifications? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.