A Visit to Mi Store @ VivoCity

The grand opening of Xiaomi’s new Mi Store at VivoCity took place this morning, but I was not able to be there due to NDP rehearsal. How can I miss the chance to visit the largest Mi Store yet on its big day? Thus, I headed there right after rehearsal ended.

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In case you couldn’t make it there too, here is a quick look at the new Mi Store at VivoCity. The store is located in a new section of VivoCity, which is accessible via an escalator near McDonald’s.

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Go up, turn left and you will see it. Inside, the VivoCity Mi Store isn’t too different from other Mi Stores and Mi Home we have seen. As always, the first few rows of long wooden tables are occupied by demo sets of Xiaomi’s latest phones.

You may have noticed the Mi Mix 2S poster at the back. That isn’t here yet, but will be coming very soon.

Moving to the middle row, you will find other Xiaomi products on display, including the Mi Action Camera 4K and Dash Cam. The most exciting product has to be the Mi Robot Vacuum and you can watch it in action as it follows the red lines on the table.

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As mentioned earlier, this is the largest Mi Store in Singapore yet and that is very apparent when you walk to the very last row, which consist of two shelves and an empty table with chairs. So much space in this new Mi Store!

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Like the Mi Store at Bedok Mall, some of the products here are export set, like the induction rice cooker below. These are not covered under warranty by Mi Singapore, so do check with the friendly staffs at the Mi Store about warranty.

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Moving on to the new stuff. If you have visited Mi Home Suntec recently, you may have noticed a wooden train toy set on display. This wooden toy set is now on sale at Mi Store Vivo City for S$99. A little costly, but the quality is very good from what I can see.

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Here is another new toy you can get at Mi Store Vivo City: the Mi Fidget Cube. Build it and play with it!

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Next, we have the 10000mAh Mi Power Bank 2S, which usually cost S$28.80, but you can get it at S$19.90 from today till 1st July. It is slightly taller than the 10000mAh Mi Power Bank, but it has a second USB port, so you can charge 2 devices at once. Sweet!

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Lastly, hidden among all the Mi earphones are these Earpods lookalike. They blend in so well with the other earphones many people I know did not notice they were there. These are Xiaomi’s new dual driver earphones, priced at S$29.90.

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VivoCity Mi Store is having promotions for some products, including phones at S$99 (25 sets only), until tomorrow. Looking for a robot vacuum to clean your house or a dash cam for your new car? Here is your chance to save some money!

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I bought one of the new products mentioned above and will be reviewing it here soon. Can you guess which Mi product it is? (Hint: The bag is not big enough for the wooden toy, so that is definitely not it. There is nothing to write about the fidget cube, so…)

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Congrats to Era International Network (EIN) on the grand opening of the VivoCity Mi Store!

One Year of 8K Guy!

Hi there!

On this day one year ago, I started writing tech gadget reviews as 8K Guy over at that8kguy.wixsite.com/home. It was a slow start and few people read my articles, but I continued to write at least once per week and soon after, it started to gain momentum.

It was during this time I got to attend my first smartphone launch event as media. It felt different from going to launch events as a fan; everyone was there to work, not to have fun and bond with others, so the atmosphere was a little intimidating.

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Nevertheless, it is an experience that I am grateful to have. After all, how many people can claim that they went for a launch event as a reporter? I had two reject two other launch events invitation due to NS, but very soon I will be able to attend them again.

Then, in November 2017, I shifted the blog over to 8kguy.com. The blog was doing well, but a lack of domain name was holding it back. Without one, I had difficulties asking for review units and launch events press invites, difficulties getting seen as “legit”.

The problem? Wix’s plans were way out of my budget. Knowing that I had to get a proper domain name sooner or later, I paid for a WordPress subscription and abandoned the wixsite. It was not an easy decision, but I believe it paid off.

Thanks to the support from smartphone manufacturers like Neffos, OPPO and Vivo, not forgetting Mi Singapore, I was also able to review 7 smartphones in merely 3 months – a ginormous leap from what I had done in the past few years.

While the blog has yet to recover the lost in views from the switch to WordPress, the number of people visiting it is growing steadily each month. Previously on the wixsite, it took a while for growth to climb, so I am not too worried about that now.

The 8K Guy Facebook page also crossed 100 likes recently. This would not have been possible without the support from everyone who read and shared my articles, so a huge thank you to all of you! If you haven’t already, you can do so here.

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The next month or two will be quite hectic for me, but once that is over, you can expect a leap in quality of the articles posted on 8kguy.com. I am considering making video for my reviews, to give this blog a boost in audience, but I will need time to sort that out.

The first year of 8K Guy was though and there were times I asked myself why I am doing this, but things are only going to get better as the audience count grows. Once again, I would like to thank everyone who supported and followed me throughout this journey.

Yours sincerely,

8K Guy

Redmi Note 5 Review

Two years ago, I wrote my first smartphone review, one about the Redmi Note 3 on Mi Community. Last year, I reviewed its successor, the Redmi Note 4. So lets keep up this  tradition and review the recently launched Redmi Note 5.

Huge thanks to ECS for loaning me this brand new review unit.


Summary – A Budget Phone with Great Cameras!

An improvement from the Redmi Note 4 in most aspects, especially in the camera department. Worth upgrading to.

Pros:

  • Affordable price tag
  • Clear case included
  • Beautiful 18:9 display with great viewing angles
  • Excellent performance for price
  • Rear cameras focus quickly with dual pixel autofocus
  • Insane low-light photos considering price
  • Selfie camera has plenty of details
  • Refined camera app
  • Bottom-firing speakers sound better than RMN4’s

Cons:

  • Camera protrudes even with case
  • Design getting stale
  • Battery life not as good as Redmi Note 4

Xiaomi’s Confusing Naming Scheme

Not the same as Redmi 5 Plus. Similar to Redmi Note 5 Pro, but with different set of cameras on the front and rear.

You may have noticed that I wrote a review about the Redmi 5 Plus, aka Redmi Note 5, a while ago, so why am I reviewing it again? The answer is: I am not. The device in today’s article is a different Redmi Note 5 and you can thank Xiaomi for that.

The device I reviewed earlier is known as the Redmi 5 Plus in Singapore, while India calls it the Redmi Note 5. Meanwhile, the one we will be taking a look at today is called Redmi Note 5 in Singapore, and Redmi Note 5 Pro in India. Confused?

My last point was only partially correct though, and that is a very common mistake. While the local Redmi Note 5 may look the same as the Redmi Note 5 Pro, they are different device. Don’t worry, even the official Xiaomi Lazada store got confused.

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While most of the specs are the same, the front and rear cameras used on the two variants are very different.

On paper, we are getting are the superior cameras, with larger pixels and greater aperture that theoretically result in better under low-light photos. Also, our variant has dual pixel autofocus, which is allows the camera to focus really quickly.


Pricing & Variants – Very Affordable

S$299 for 32/3GB, S$349 for 64/4GB.

The Redmi Note 5 comes in 2 storage/RAM configurations in Singapore. The 32/3GB version will cost you S$299 and is only available in black and gold. Meanwhile, the 64/4GB one goes for S$349 and comes in blue, black or gold.


Design – Getting Repetitive…

Design isn’t too different from previous generations, new 18:9 display and dual camera setup on the rear.

There honestly isn’t a lot to talk about the Redmi Note 5’s design. It is very similar to the Redmi 5 Plus, with the most noticeable difference being the dual rear cameras at the top left corner, which resembles the iPhone X’s dual rear cameras.

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But like I have repeated myself in the Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus review, this design is getting kind of stale at this point in time. While Xiaomi has tweaked the design slightly to improve its looks each year, it is still reminiscent of the Redmi Note 3.

On the front, we are getting an 18:9 5.99″ display, like on the Redmi 5 Plus. The front camera, flash and ambient light sensor position are mirror imaged though, the screen protector is slightly different for both devices. Just Xiaomi being Xiaomi.

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On the top we have an IR blaster for remote control and a microphone. Meanwhile, at the the bottom, you will find the single speaker grill, micro USB port, another microphone, as well as the headphone jack. Very similar to the Redmi 5 Plus.

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The rear cameras protrudes quite a bit even with the included case, so I place it down with screen facing the table most of the time. Annoying, but if it is required for the superb camera, which I will cover in a short while, the compromise is worth it.


Display – 18:9, Like Most of 2018’s Budget Phones

Similar to Redmi 5 Plus. Enable full screen gestures to make full use of the 18:9 display.

Redmi Note 5 uses an 18:9 5.99″ FHD+ IPS LCD panel, like the Redmi 5 Plus, but they are not the same panel, with colors appearing deeper on the Redmi Note 5. Redmi Note 5’s display is slightly on the cool side and viewing angles are excellent.

By default, the Redmi Note 5 uses on-screen navigation buttons. If you find that a waste of screen estate, you can enable full-screen gestures, which hides the on-screen navigation bar and uses iPhone X-like gestures for navigation instead.

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A flaw with this full screen gestures though is that you are no longer able to access one-handed mode.


Performance – New Snapdragon 636 Processor!

Very powerful processor for the price.

Powered by the Snapdragon 636 processor, the Redmi Note 5 is the most powerful Redmi device til date, scoring 1320 single-core and 4845 multi-core in Geekbench 4.0 and a whopping 117495 in AnTuTu benchmarks. Not bad for a S$349 device.

But benchmarks do not always reflect the true performance of a device, as seen from my Neffos N1 review. So how well does the Redmi Note 5 perform in real life? Very well actually.

Scrolling through MIUI is as smooth as ever, browsing social media is a very pleasant experience and light games run without issues. Even in graphic intensive games like PUBG and 王者荣耀, the Redmi Note 5 runs smoothly with little to no stutter.


Rear Camera – Is This Really a S$349 Device?!!!

Takes very impressive low-light photos for a budget phone, focuses really quickly due to dual pixel autofocus.

There are two reasons to get the Redmi Note 5 over the more affordable Redmi 5 Plus and one of them is the gaming performance, as seen earlier. The other is camera performance. On the rear, Redmi Note 5 is equipped with a pair of cameras.

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The main camera is 12MP with f/1.9 aperture, with pixel size of 1.4μm. Theoretically, this makes the Redmi Note 5’s rear camera a beast under low light. It also has dual pixel autofocus, which allows it to focus really quickly on subjects.

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In fact, it focuses so fast that you do not even see the circle icon that shows it trying to hunt for focus in the app. You can compare it to the Redmi 5, shown below. So much faster.

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Here are some photos taken with the Redmi Note 5’s rear camera. With good lighting, the Redmi Note 5 takes beautiful images with accurate colors. But this is what we have come to expect from most phones, even budget ones under S$200.

Moving to low lighting conditions though, this is when things get unbelievable. Photos turn out a tad bit over saturated, but are well focused, with plenty of details and the sky actually looks black, not overexposed like on similarly priced devices.

However, that does not mean that the Redmi Note 5’s rear camera can compete with modern flagship device’s camera under low light. At night, the Redmi Note 5 still struggles with moving objects, especially smaller ones like this flower.

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Meanwhile, its 5MP secondary camera is used mainly for depth sensing, allowing for beautiful bokeh photos, like the ones you see below. It is not perfect at detecting edges though, especially when it gets dark or when the subject is to complex.

While the Redmi Note 5’s rear camera setup is still no fight for modern day flagship devices, it is leaps and bounds better than what we have ever seen on any budget device.

As for videos, the Redmi Note 5 can record up to 1080p. There is electronic image stabilization and it does quite a good job, though I have seen better. Like with photos, the Redmi Note 5 focuses really fast in videos, so they look very good.

At night though, you will see a lot of noise and a lot of details are lost, but colors still look good. I would say that the video is just barely usable. Hence, if you need to record videos at night, you might still want to pay more for flagship devices.


Selfie Camera – Bokeh on Selfies!

Finally getting bokeh selfies on a Redmi device!

On the front of the Redmi Note 5 we have a 13MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture. Pictures turn out pretty good for a S$349 device, with plenty of details but colors tend to be a little washed out, like most smartphone selfie cameras I have used.

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What is a selfie camera without Beautify? On the Redmi Note 5, AI is used to determine the best beauty profile. This results in selfies that hides most of your facial imperfections, yet without the “unnatural” look that haunts previous versions of Beautify.

Also, through the use of AI, Xiaomi brings portrait mode to the front camera. The edge detection is pretty commendable considering that there is no secondary camera. But it has difficulties detecting small objects, like earphone cables.

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Audio – An Improvement Over Its Predecessor

Audio from headphone jack sounds great, bottom-firing speaker is a huge improvement from the Redmi Note 4.

Listening with my JBL Synchros S300i headphones, I compared the Redmi Note 5’s headphone jack output to the Redmi 5’s. Redmi Note 5 had less emphasis on bass while the highs it produced had less distortion compared to the Redmi 5.

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I found listening to Redmi 5 to be more lively and magical, while the Redmi Note 5 sounded more natural. Despite their differences, I will say that both sound very good when you put them against other phones in the same price range.

As for the bottom-firing speakers, both can get quite loud, but clarity is quite a bit better on the Redmi 5. But compared to Redmi Note 4’s bottom-firing speaker, the Redmi Note 5’s is just so much cleaner and louder. Big improvements.


Battery Life – 1.5 Days of Regular Usage

Very long endurance, though not as long as its predecessor.

When the Redmi Note 3 launched, its huge 4000mAh battery made it an endurance beast. Then, with a less power hungry processor and a slightly larger 4100mAh battery, the Redmi Note 4 had even better battery life than its predecessor.

Then, Xiaomi went back to a 4000mAh battery on the Redmi Note 5. The Redmi 5 Plus that I reviewed earlier also had a 4000mAh battery, but its endurance wasn’t as impressive as I had hope. So how is the endurance of the Redmi Note 5?

Unfortunately, not as good as the Redmi Note 4. I only had time to conduct a single light to moderate usage test and on a single charge, the Redmi Note 5 lasted for 2 full days with 5h sot.

  • Total time 1d 14h 33min
  • Screen-on time 5h
  • 1h 3min 王者荣耀
  • 40min Soul Knights
  • 45min Facebook
  • 53min music
  • >2h hotspot

Most people will spend more time on their phone than I did during the test, so on regular usage, the Redmi Note 5 should last about 1.5 days, similar to the Redmi 5 Plus. It is very good for a smartphone, but Redmi Note 4’s battery life was better.


Software – New Camera App Layout

MIUI stays mostly untouched, except for new camera app.

Redmi Note 5 runs MIUI 9.5 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. Xiaomi likes to keep the software experience universal across their device, so the features you will find here is mostly the same as what you would find on other Xiaomi devices.

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One notable change though is the camera app. Instead of a menu for the different modes, you now get to switch between modes with a swipe, like on iOS. Xiaomi also replaced the old color filters with new ones, while removing all the effect filters.

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MIUI is very feature-packed, yet it doesn’t feel too bloated. All of the features in MIUI are very well implemented and only features that will add convenience, like currency converter, are included in MIUI. No gimmicky features, minimal bloatware.


Conclusion – Camera Phone on Budget!

If you are on a tight budget and need a phone with good camera, the Redmi Note 5 is your best option right now.

In recent years, budget devices are getting so good that you can find ones that perform exceptionally well in various aspects: build quality (Neffos N1), performance (Redmi Note 3) and battery life (Redmi Note 4). But camera wasn’t one of them.

Until now. As one of the costliest part of a smartphone, camera is often the factor that separates budget devices from premium devices. Redmi Note 5 is trying to change that and while its camera is still not up there yet, it is very close.

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If you are currently using a Redmi Note 4, should you get a Redmi Note 5? Yes! Unlike moving from a Redmi Note 3 to Note 4, the improvements brought by the Redmi Note 5 is pretty drastic and it is better than its predecessor in almost every way.

OPPO R15 Unboxing

For years, OPPO’s R series was known for its premium metal design, superb selfie camera and VOOC fast charging. But this year, OPPO is changing things up a bit, opting for a glass back on the R15 and R15 Pro, with a metal frame around the devices.

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Is OPPO R15 the R11s successor we were waiting for? Is it worth S$749? With a new competitor in town, will OPPO be able to hold onto its crown in the premium mid-range smartphone market? All of this will be answered in my full review.

But before I spend two weeks testing the R15, here is my unboxing and first impression of the all new OPPO R15.


Unboxing – Very OPPO, As Usual

If you have unboxed an OPPO R series device from the past 3-4 years, you already know what to expect in the box of the R15. As usual, we get a clear case inside the box. A screen protector has also been pre-applied on the front and back of the device.

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Below the device, you will find 3 other accessories: VOOC fast charging Micro USB cable and wall adapter, plus a pair of earphones. These are no ordinary cable or quick charge wall adapter – you will need them in order to fast charge the R15.

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As always, the VOOC cable is coiled up really nicely, held in place by 2 clips. This shows OPPO’s attention to details and is something many smartphone manufacturers should learn. It is small things like this that gives users a great first impression.


First Impression – Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Design

As mentioned earlier, the R15 has a glass back unlike its recent predecessors, which all boasts beautifully crafted metal bodies. It is hard to deny that the R15 isn’t beautiful from the rear, with an eye-catching purple gradient design. (Also available in red)

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But the move to glass comes with compromises. Glass adds bulk to the device and without curves on the side, the OPPO R15 feels thick compared to its predecessors. If OPPO had followed what Vivo did with the X21, the R15 would feel a lot nicer.

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Next, the front of the device looks just like almost every other smartphone of this price range in 2018; It has a notch on top, with tiny bezels on the side and a short bottom chin.

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If I had replaced the image above with one of the Vivo X21, I believe most people would not even notice that it isn’t an R15.

Rear Cameras

Both the R11 and R11s had a dual camera setup on its rear, so it isn’t surprising that the R15 has it too. The primary camera houses a 16MP IMX519 sensor, which is supposedly better than the R11 and R11’s IMX398 under low light due to larger pixels.

Meanwhile, the secondary camera is unfortunately now a 5MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture, used mainly for depth sensing. I wish OPPO had used the same secondary camera as on the costlier R15 Pro, which is 20MP with an f/1.7 aperture.

You will understand why I say that once you read my full review, but meanwhile, here are some photos taken with the OPPO R15’s rear camera. Some of them are taken on portrait mode, which adds bokeh effect and color filters.

For portrait mode, you get automatically zoomed in, so subjects appear nearer than they actually are, thus you don’t have to get too close to your subject. However, I do notice that the R15 has some difficulties focusing on near objects on portrait mode.

Front Camera

On the front of the R15 we have a single 20MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture. Yes, the resolution is very high for a front-facing camera, but what really caught my attention is its ability to reproduce colors that are more accurate than most other phones.

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Most phones I have used recently tend to produce images that are a little washed out, which is very noticeable when you have a dark background. Hence, the R15’s selfie camera could potentially be one of the best you can get right now.

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Like the rear cameras, the selfie camera on the R15 is capable of taking bokeh photos. Despite not having a secondary camera for depth sensing, the results of the bokeh seems to be really impressive, with very accurate edge detection. Nice!

One of OPPO’s most popular selfie feature is AI Beautify and through AI, the R15 selects the best beautification profile for you. It works really well, as you can see in the 2 images above. You can hardly see the pimples I got from going outfield 2 days ago.

Software

OPPO R15 runs on ColorOS 5.0. Having experienced Color OS for multiple generations, I must say that it has gotten a lot better over the years, with the latest version 5.0 feeling the most refined in terms of design and implementation of features.

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If you ask me right now: In what way is the OPPO R15 better than the similarly priced Vivo X21? I can confidently reply that ColorOS is just much more polished than FunTouch OS. In fact, I might even go as far as saying that it feels nicer than MIUI.

I will go into more details in my full review.


Conclusion – Promising, But What About the R15 Pro?

For now, the OPPO R15 looks very promising. But when you take a look at its sibling, the R15 Pro, which only costs S$150 more, you will wonder why the difference between both devices is so huge. Is there any reason to get the R15 then?

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Unlike the R15 Pro, R15 does not have NFC or ingress protection, and is powered by MediaTek’s Helio P60 processor instead of Snapdragon 660. Also, as mentioned earlier, it uses an inferior 5MP f/2.2 secondary rear camera, vs 20MP f/1.7 on the R15 Pro.

I will try to get my hands on a R15 Pro review unit in the next few weeks. But for now, I will be working on my OPPO R15 and Redmi Note 5 review, both coming very soon, so stay tuned!

Redmi Note 5 Unboxing & First Impression + Experiential Event

Yesterday, Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 5 in Singapore, available in two storage configurations: S$299 for the 32/3GB version and S$349 for the 64/4G version. Wait a minute, haven’t we reviewed the Redmi 5 Plus aka Redmi Note 5?

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Thank Xiaomi’s confusing naming scheme for that. The local Redmi 5 Plus is known as the Redmi Note 5 in India. Meanwhile, the local Redmi Note 5, which is the device we will be taking a look at today, is called the Redmi Note 5 Pro in India.

I attended the experiential event today and got to understand the Redmi Note 5 better. At the same time, I was able to borrow a review unit to test out over the next week, so I will be unboxing the device in this article as well. Two articles in one!

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Unboxing – Another Orange Box

Perhaps to save money on packaging design, all of Xiaomi’s recent Redmi devices come in an orange box, with the device name stated on the front. Pulling off the lid, you will find a clear case and right below it is the Redmi Note 5.

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At the bottom of the box, you will find a wall adapter, a Micro USB cable, the SIM removal tool, as well as a user manual. Would have been nice if a screen protector was included.

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First Impression – The Real Redmi Note 5!

Design

The Redmi Note 5 is very similar to the Redmi 5 Plus in terms of design, with the main differences being the rear camera position (due to the new dual camera setup), as well as the position of the camera, flash and ambient light sensor on the front.

So my impression of this design is the same as my verdict for the Redmi 5 Plus’s design, at least for now: too similar to the Redmi Note 3 and 4, getting a little stale. It is not a bad design, but reusing it for more than 2 years is just being lazy.

Rear Cameras

One thing that differentiates the Redmi Note 5 from the Redmi 5 Plus is the pair of cameras on the rear. This is the first time we are seeing a dual camera setup on a Redmi device.

The main camera comes with a 12MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture. It uses dual-pixel auto focus, which previously could only be found on much costlier flagship and premium mid-range device. This allows it to focus extremely quickly.

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The secondary 5MP camera is used for depth sensing and it works with AI edge detection to take bokeh images in portrait mode. I didn’t have anyone to test it on after unboxing, so here is a photo of durian ice-cream with biscuits in portrait mode.

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In the past, Redmi devices struggled to take photos in the dark, but that may not be the case anymore. The Redmi Note 5’s main 12MP camera has large 1.4µm pixels, which allows more light to enter, theoretically resulting in better low-light photos.

The photo below was taken with the Redmi Note 5 at night. I had taken a photo of the same artwork in my Redmi Note 4 review and there was a ton of noise, even though the sun had not completely set yet. The improvement is just unbelievable.

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That said, there are limitations to this camera at night. It is unable to focus on objects moving at night, resulting in blur. From what I have seen, it has the potential to compete with some S$700 devices, but I wouldn’t compare it to modern flagships.

For videos, the Redmi Note 5 has EIS for stabilization, so videos should turn out better. Sadly, it is only able to record up to 1080p videos on the rear camera. (Already have some recordings, but I am saving it for the full review. Stay tuned for that!)

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Front Camera

Front cameras on past Redmi devices are admittedly not very good, even on the recent Redmi 5 and 5 Plus. But with the Redmi Note 5, Xiaomi opted for a 13MP sensor. How does it perform?

Like the rear camera, the front camera is also capable of bokeh, called depth effect. Since it doesn’t have a secondary depth sensor though, the bokeh is created purely by AI edge detection. From my few minutes of testing it, it did a great job.

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But what isn’t so great is the color reproduction. Images taken with the selfie camera on the Redmi Note 5 seems to be a little pale, though a little bit of editing might do the trick.

What is a selfie camera without beautify? On the Redmi Note 5, Beautify got smarter with AI, just like we have seen last year on the OPPO R11s. The image on top that I used to demonstrate portrait mode was taken with Beautify enabled.

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Performance

Redmi Note 5 is the first device to be powered by the Snapdragon 636, with 8 Kyro 260 cores. I have never used a device with it before so I do not know what to expect from it, but I will be putting it through thorough testing in my full review.

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Battery

Like the Redmi 5 Plus, the Redmi Note 5 has a 4000mAh non-removable battery. In my review, the Redmi 5 Plus didn’t do as well as its predecessors, so I hope the Redmi Note 5 will do better. Will the new processor be more efficient?

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Experiential Event – Claw Machine!

From 1st June to 3rd June 2018, spend more than S$99 at Mi Home Suntec City and you will get a chance at the claw machine! Attractive prizes are to be won, including power banks, VR headsets, smart watches and even an electric scooter!

You can also get free cotton candy too! No spending is required, but why not get yourself some really affordable Mi gadgets? The 5000mAh Mi Power Bank is going at only S$9.90!


Conclusion – Another Year, Another Redmi Note

When I tested the Redmi 5 Plus a while back, I wasn’t very impressed as it didn’t offer a lot of improvements. With the new dual rear camera setup and a better processor, is the Redmi Note 5 the Redmi Note 4 successor we have been waiting for?

Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 Review

Xiaomi is known for making affordable products that look and feel good, and the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 is no exception. Despite only costing S$29.90, it looks better than most speakers in its price range. Should you get one?

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Design – Clean & Premium

With a metal frame all around the sides and very smooth matte plastic on the front and back, you will have a hard time guessing that this Bluetooth speaker can be yours at just under S$30.

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There are only 3 buttons on the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2: the power and volume buttons, all located on the top of the speaker. The power button also doubles as a play/pause button.

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On the bottom of the speaker, you will find a pair of rubber strips that do a decent job at providing grip so your speaker doesn’t slide around or off a table. On the back, you will find the Micro USB charging port, as well as an AUX-in port.

The width of the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 is only as long as the height of a Redmi 5, so is easily pocketable. Overall, I really like how simple yet classy the device looks. My only complain would be its matte white plastic, which gets dirty really easily.


Pairing & Controls – Easy to Use

You can turn on the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 by holding on the power button. The notification LED, hidden behind the speaker grill, will flash red and blue, indicating ready to pair. Now, pair it on your phone like any other Bluetooth speaker.

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Once paired and connected, the notification light will turn solid blue and you will hear a long beep. To disconnect from the current device and play from another device, double tap the power button. To turn the speaker off, hold the power button.

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Alternatively, you can connect the speaker to your music device via a 3.5mm audio cable. It still requires the speaker to be powered on, but this might save your device some battery.

Whether you are using an iOS and some Android devices, the volume buttons on the Basic 2 can control your phone’s volume directly. Ironically, it is unable to control MIUI’s volume slider directly and uses a separate volume setting instead.

Holding the volume down buttons minimizes the volume instantly, while holding the volume up button will bring it up to max gradually. Nice touch. I do wish there was a way to skip or go to previous track using the speaker though.


Sound Quality – Very Good for Its Price

The Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 is loud enough to fill a large room with music. Despite only having speaker grills on the front, audio is still very audible from the back – just a little less shiok.

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The sound it produces is also pretty good, with great balance and relatively good level of details. Bass is also respectable for a portable speaker. You can find something better if you pay more, but for a S$30 Bluetooth speaker, I am very satisfied.

Compared to the original Mi Bluetooth Speaker from years ago, the Basic 2’s produces sounds that is richer and more natural. Bass is noticeably deeper and vocals sound warmer and clearer.

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Battery Life – Exceeding Expectations

Xiaomi claims that the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 is capable of up to 10hrs of battery life. From my testing, under varying volume levels (between 40-100%), I was able to achieve over 12hrs of continuous music playback via Bluetooth. Sweet!

When the battery has about 5-10 minutes of charge remaining, the device will constantly beep to inform you about it. One thing annoying is that it does it even while you are charging and still using it. (Not sure if it is safe to do so though…)

To conserve battery, the Basic 2 will automatically switch off after 10 minutes of inactivity, even if it is connected to your device.


Microphone – There is One Built In?!!!

The Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 is a great way to listen to phone calls. But wouldn’t it be great if you can talk into the speaker directly? That was what the designers at Xiaomi thought, so they included a microphone in the Basic 2.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to record any audio with it due to the lack of support for Bluetooth microphone recording on Android and iOS. But testing it with my home phone, the microphone on the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 is of decent quality.


Conclusion – Worth Every Penny!

Like most of Xiaomi’s device, the Mi Bluetooth Speaker Basic 2 offers excellent build quality and performance at a very affordable pricing. It looks modern, sounds pretty good and has excellent battery life. At under S$30, what more can we ask for?

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A Visit to Mi Store @ Bedok Mall

In October 2016, Xiaomi opened their first store in Singapore, Mi Home @ Suntec City. Since then, many more Xiaomi stores popped up around Singapore, including the new Bedok Mall authorized Mi Store, which officially opened today.

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Couldn’t make it to the grand opening of the Mi Store today? No need to worry. In this article, we will be taking a quick look around the Bedok Mall Mi Store and take a look at some of the new products that can be found at there.

The Mi Store is located in Basement 1 of Bedok mall, in front of Hot Tomato Express. (Speaking of Hot Tomato Express, influencers and Mi Fan Club members were given a treat there. The chicken wings were juicy and tender. Yummy!)

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If you were at the Bedok Mall this morning, you may have notice the super long queue outside of Mi Store. Why is everyone queuing? To celebrate its grand opening, Mi Store Bedok Mall has some amazing deals for customers, including S$99 phones.

At 11:30AM, the celebration commenced with cutting of ribbons and lion dance performance. After the first customer (who queued outside since 8AM) made her purchase, the Mi Store opened its doors to everyone else waiting outside.

Time to explore the new Mi Store! Xiaomi’s most popular products are here: Mi and Redmi smartphones, Mi power banks, Mi Headphones, as well as the Mi Band 2.

There are also products that were previously unavailable in Singapore, like Mi Notebook Pro, Mi Laser Projector and Mi Induction Rice Cooker. Note that some of these are export sets, so do ask Mi Store about warranty before purchasing.

The Bedok Mi Store also sells some pretty bizarre stuff you would never expect from Xiaomi, like towels, sunglasses and umbrella. There is also a Lego Mindstorms-like robot, which looks super cool and is very affordable at only S$129.

But perhaps the most exciting product in the Mi Store is the one hidden at a corner, behind a pillar, sitting in large cardboard boxes: the 43″ Mi TV. There were no display sets of the TV in the store and even the price tag was nowhere to be seen…

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While the things here are costlier than they are in China (due to shipping, rental, etc…), I really appreciate the fact that Xiaomi is bringing more and more products into Singapore.

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Congrats to Mi Singapore and Era International Network on the opening of the new Mi Store at Bedok Mall!