In my Redmi Note 3 and Redmi Note 4 reviews, I praised them for their excellent bang-for-the-buck, offering superb performance and experience at a very low price. Now that another year has passed, we are getting a new generation of Redmi devices.
But this year, I will not be reviewing the Redmi Note 5, aka Redmi 5 Plus. Instead, we will be taking a look at the Redmi 5, its smaller and less powerful, but more affordable sibling. The Redmi 5 goes for S$179 (2/16GB) and S$219 (3/32GB) in Singapore.
Unboxing – Clear Case Now Included!
The Redmi 5 comes in a striking Mi-orange box about the size of the Redmi Note 4’s, but thicker. Isn’t the Redmi 5 a smaller phone? Why is the packaging thicker? Unlike Redmi devices from the past, the Redmi 5 comes with a clear case in the box. Sweet!
Other than that, you are getting the usual stuff: an instruction manual, SIM removal tool, charging cable and wall adapter.
First Impression – Refreshing, But is It Really Better?
Display & Form Factor
The most significant update to the Redmi 5 is without a doubt the new 18:9 display. With it, you get more space vertically compared to its predecessor, the Redmi 4X. According to Xiaomi, this will allow for more room in games, web browsing and apps.
But that also make it a taller phone, so using it one-handed is not as convenient as before. The height of the Redmi 5 is comparable to that of the Redmi Note 4. Thankfully, MIUI has a one-handed mode, which can be enabled in the settings.
Xiaomi is using an on-screen navigation bar on the Redmi 5, so for most apps, you are actually getting just a tiny bit more screen real estate than before. I would have preferred a navigation bar on the lower chin instead, like on previous devices.
The rear of the phone will look very familiar to Redmi Note 3 and 4 users, but it is a considerable improvement if you are coming from the Redmi 4X. The camera lens is slightly protruding, but this should not be a concern if you have a case.
Front & Rear Camera
Let’s talk more about the rear camera. It is still 12MP, but each individual pixel has been bumped up in size, theoretically taking in more light and producing better photos. Unlike the Redmi 5 Plus, the Redmi 5 only has a single LED flash on the rear.
Take a look at the photos below. The ones on the left are taken with the Redmi Note 4, while those on the right are taken with the new Redmi 5. Which is better in your opinion?
More sample shots will be provided in my full review. Moving on to the 5MP front camera, Xiaomi added a single LED light, located beside the ambient light sensor. But even with the flash light, selfies turn out decent at most under artificial/low lighting.
The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is as quick as ever and setting up requires just a few seconds. An IR blaster is located at the top of the device, so is a headphone jack. The Redmi 5 comes in three color options: gold, black and a beautiful new blue color.
One thing that really disappointed me on the Redmi 5 was the Micro USB port. While not many budget phones have USB Type-C yet, I was expecting Xiaomi to be the one that pushes for it. We may have to wait another year or two to retire Micro USB.
From my image comparing the size of the Redmi 5 and the Redmi Note 4 on top, you may have noticed that the Redmi 5 has certification markings on the back, which was absent on the Redmi Note 4. Would have been nice if it wasn’t there, but not a big deal.
With many manufacturers using the 18:9 display as an excuse to hike price, I am really glad that Mi Singapore maintained last year’s pricing for the Redmi 5. I am looking forward to testing in the next couple of weeks, especially the rear camera.
Do you have any questions regarding the Redmi 5 or 5 Plus? Comment below and I will try to address them on my Redmi 5 review. Would you also like to see a review on the Redmi 5 Plus? If you are, also leave a comment and I will try to borrow one.