It’s only last year that smartphones with minimal bezels became mainstream thanks to the adoption of the design by industry leaders Samsung and Apple, but this largely remained a feature for the high-end market. Even though the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 — launched along with the Redmi Note 5 Pro — is not the first device to bring this trending 18:9 design to the budget segment, it’s only among a few handsets that offer this beautiful display screen at a very affordable price. But is that all the Redmi Note 5 has to offer?
When we have seen some of the best budget phones of ours lives already in the likes of Honor 9 Lite, Honor 7X, etc. then it begs the questions whether should you buy the Redmi Note 5, or not? And the reasons behind that.
Reasons to buy Redmi Note 5
After spending some time with China’s Redmi 5 Plus, which is what Xiaomi has rebranded to the Redmi Note 5 for India and the rest of the world, we have quite a number of reasons to believe the Redmi Note 5 should be your next buy, but we’ll give you the best five.
It’s another one from the impressive Redmi series
Xiaomi has a wide range of phones, but you got to love the Redmi series. This is where you can test the company’s waters without feeling a pinch. The Redmi Note 4 remains to be the OEM’s best-selling phone from 2017 – because it offered a solid build, powerful enough specs, big battery and an unbelievable price tag compared to the competition.
Given all the success of the Redmi series, you have little to doubt about the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. Sporting a premium-looking design, the Redmi Note 5 rocks the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor mated with memory options of either 3GB/32GB or 4GB/64GB, same as the Redmi Note 4.
However, considering that you get this raw power for just INR 9,999 (INR 11,999 for the high-end variant), you’ll definitely be getting one of the best deals on the market.
Decent specs – and camera – for the price
Speaking of the best deals, the overall package you’ll be getting in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is without a doubt one of the best value for money. While it may be facing tough competition from the likes of Huawei Honor 9 Lite, Honor 7X or even the soon-to-be-announced Moto G6, the Redmi Note 5 beats them all when it comes to value for money. You get a solid build, a great screen, adequate performance, a superb battery life and a good camera at a bargain.
Speaking of a good camera, the 12MP unit that is accompanied by f/2.2 aperture, PDAF and dual-tone LED flash delivers great photography. However, like any other budget phone, low-light performance isn’t the most admirable, but it’ll get the job done.
There’s a huge 18:9 display on the front
As noted before, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is among the few devices you can find in the budget segment rocking the new 18:9 display design. Although the screen size is huge at 5.99 inches, the phone’s footprint is great and at full HD+ resolution, you’ll be getting one of the best-quality display screens at this price.
The bezels are still there, but they are just about the right size, which makes the phone 158.5mm tall, however, the rear panel remains largely the same as the Redmi Note 4, which might put off some buyers.
The Redmi Note 5 has a huge 4000mAh battery unit and even though a small downgrade from the 4100mAh unit used in the Redmi Note 4, it’s still big enough to outshine the rest of the competition. If you are worried about how long this huge unit will take to fill up, the phone comes equipped with support for fast battery charging technology. On the downside, you still get the old microUSB port for charging and data transfer, but at just INR 9,999, this is something you can live with.
Guaranteed Oreo upgrade
Xiaomi is among the few OEMs that have gotten their devices to Android 7.1.2 Nougat. Interestingly, the Chinese variant boots up MIUI 9 atop Android 7.1.2 Nougat, but the Note 5 has MIUI 9.2 atop Android 7.1.1 out of the box. Despite running an old OS out of the box, you can be sure that the Redmi Note 5 will be upgraded to Android Oreo, although you may have to wait until somewhere in Q2 or Q3 2018.
Recently, most devices in the midrange segment receive at least one software update. The Redmi 4 and Redmi Note 4 got the Nougat update a little late, but looking at the huge steps Xiaomi is making with its software, including going the Android One way with the Mi A1, it shouldn’t take long to upgrade the Redmi Note 5 to Oreo.
Reasons not to buy Redmi Note 5
Like any other product, the Redmi Note 5 is not perfect. On top of the five reasons we believe you should buy the phone, we also have a couple or more spoilers.
Redmi Note 4
The new Redmi Note 5 is simply a Redmi Note 4 dressed in a new 18:9 body with a bigger 5.99-inch screen and upgraded Android 7.1 Nougat. Of course, there are some tweaks to the camera as well, but not significant enough to make the Redmi Note 5 the ultimate upgrade over the Note 4.
If you own a Redmi Note 4, you’d be better off sticking with the phone rather than “upgrade” to the Redmi Note 5. Alternatively, the Redmi Note 5 Pro would be a great place to start from, that is, if you want a true upgrade over the Note 4. If, however, you are looking to join the ever-growing Redmi family for the first time and you have to choose between the Note 4 and Note 5, the later is definitely the go-to option.
But since the price of the Note 4 is set to drop even further now that the Note 5 is here, you might as well grab the former and save yourself a few dollars.
The design is still not convincing
Although the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 has a modern-looking 18:9 display with minimal bezels, the back panel looks like it came from three years ago. Don’t get me wrong. The Note 5 still looks great, but what’s the point of having an upgrade when you stick to the same design for three years? If anything, it’s boring and it was about time Xiaomi refreshed it – like it did with the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
From our side of the table, the Redmi Note 4 should have been the last to feature this design, but since we don’t make the rules, we’ll have to learn to deal with it. And one way is by simply not buying the Redmi Note 5. But which phone should you buy?
Honor 9 Lite
When compared to the Honor 9 Lite, the Redmi Note 5 has got some catching up to do. Whether it’s the build, the looks, the performance, camera or even the software, the Honor 9 Lite has the upper hand. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay an extra INR 1,000 to grab the Honor phone, which is well worth it, if you ask me.
To get a better picture of this argument, check out our head-to-head comparison of the Redmi Note 5 vs Honor 9 Lite. And you also have the HTC Desire 12 budget phone coming up, which is another exciting option really, even though details about the device are pretty scarce right now.
Meanwhile, feel like chipping in with your thoughts? See you in the comments section.