The first Xiaomi Redmi Note was originally launched back in 2014, offering the usual VFM package in a larger screen. Sales were not great, as the market was full from new Notes that tried to take a piece of the pie that Samsung’s Galaxy Note hype had offered. Redmi Note 3 was a step to the correct direction, as it offered a medium category processor – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 – and a metal body, which made the model noticeable by the crowd. Next year Xiaomi charged the field with an upgrade and won the battle. Redmi Note 4 became an instant sensation in the low-end category breaking record by record in China, India and elsewhere. In a difficult time for Xiaomi, where Oppo and Vivo conquered the Chinese market with offline stores and premium middle category handsets, Redmi Note 4 singlehandedly saved the company.
The device followed on the successful Note 3 example with two chipsets. A Mediatek for China on August 2016 and a Qualcomm for India mainly on January 2017. A month later a new version was launched. The Redmi Note 4X dropped a bit the material quality and updated the camera and battery experience. People just loved it. 4X had European band support, sneaking in with online sales in Xiaomi fans as a solid VFM smartphone. Then Xiaomi started to enter foreign markets officially. For example in Greece, Xiaomi entered the country in September 2017 with two main products, Redmi 4A and Redmi Note 4X. In under six months it climbed fifth in smartphone sales in the country, with more products becoming available to the market.
And thus Redmi Note 4 and its variants became the “Note” standard in the low-middle budget segment.
It is not easy to be a standard in a product category. To start with, the product becomes the target of all marketing and new product launch attacks. All companies either large ones like Samsung, Huawei, BBK or smaller ones, with a good brand name like Meizu, Moto, Asus, Nokia or a not so much known brand, like Oukitel, Doogee, etc, want a percentage of the marked dominated by Redmi Note 4. And they do their best to succeed in that, offering great prices, software or hardware, some of them making almost no money at all for a product sale. Xiaomi has to defend by keeping the software as refreshed as possible and by creating a worthy replacement. A single issue in the replacement of a great headset can be disastrous hurting the brand’s fame and income. With this in mind Xiaomi launched Redmi 5 Plus. There are rumors for a Redmi Note 5 with double cameras and Snapdragon 660 but until they become a solid product 5 Plus is considered by most the 2018 Redmi Note model. With this in mind we are reviewing the full view 5.99-inch display having the 2017 18:9 trend.
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus – Technical Characteristics
- Software: MIUI 9.2.3 over Android 7.1
- CPU: Snapdragon 625
- GPU: Adreno 506 GPU
- ROM: 32GB, Expandable via microSD up to 128GB
- RAM: 3GB RAM
- Display: 5.99-inch Full HD+, 18:9
- Camera: 5MP selfie-cam και 12MP main shooter
- Networks: 2G: GSM B2/B3/B5/B8, CDMA2000/1X BC0, 3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8, TD-SCDMA B34/B39 4G: FDD-LTE B1/B3/B5/B7/B8, TD-LTE B34/B38/B39/B40/B41
- SIM: 2 Χ Nano SIM Cards, Dual standby
- Bluetooth: 4.2
- Battery: 4000 mAh
- Extras: GPS w/ A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
- Dimension: 158.5mm x 75.45mm x 8.05mm
- Weight: 180 grams
The sample arrived in a beautiful red-white carton box. Apart from the brand name, there’s also a sticker outside that presents information about the product. The package offers:
- 1 X Redmi 5 Plus
- 1 X USB cable
- 1 X SIM tray pin
- 1 X display protector film
- 1 X silicone case
- 1 X manual in Chinese
- 1 X charger
There is nothing extra here. As with most of the companies, selling a mobile in this price range offers very low profits and most tend to sell extras than offering them for free. The mobile arrived with an Asian charger and Banggood offered a European adaptor for free inside the postal box.
The first look is eye catching! Great design, beautiful slim body! Xiaomi offers 4 colors: black, gold, pink-gold and light blue. The sample in my hands is the gold one, with gold back panel and white slim bezels in the front. I am not a fan of gold and I would go for the light blue version but people around me liked the combination. Gold offers a taste of luxury and many want to hold a luxurious -yet cheap- device in their hands.
The dimensions are 158.5mm x 75.45mm x 8.05mm that resembles the size of a 5.5-inch smartphone, with 180 grams weight. Next to my daily driver, a Xiaomi Mi A1, it is only a bit taller and looks like it came from the future.
The front panel is dominated by an impressive 6-inch screen. The 5.99-inch, to be exact, display is an IPS LCD product, out from the company’s own display line. Xiaomi has a lot of experience in these kind of displays and the results are as good they can get for this price range. Being full view with 18:9 ratio, it is like holding a bright bar in your hands. The ratio and the bezel-less design were the hype of 2017 after Mi Mix launched in Q4 2016, and it took some time for Xiaomi to produce a cheaper model. At least the result is worthy of our wait.
Side bezels are very slim. The bezel below the screen is slim without a physical button but what’s even slimmer, is the bezel over the display. You can find there a LED flash, the proximity sensor, the speaker and the selfie-cam. The corners are round properly for a good look around the display. The panel has a 2.5D glass over it that curves in the sides.
Due to a cup sides design in the back, the back panel intrudes the sides leaving no feeling of different parts in the touch. In the right side of the slim side aluminum frame there is a volume rocker and the power/lock button. Their quality is great as they don’t move or rattle when we use the smartphone or during an accidental touch. In the left side of the frame you can see the SIM tray.
At the top you can find a 3.5 audio jack, a noise cancellation microphone and an IR blaster. The audio jack is surely a plus. The SIM tray can hold two nanoSIM cards or one nanoSIM plus an SDcard with capacity up to 128GB. At the bottom you will see two speaker grids, one of which is used as a speaker and one as a microphone. Between them you will see a micro-USB port – which is disappointing I guess.
The back panel is made from the same material as the frame. Well not all of it as it keeps the Redmi Note 4 design with the top and bottom part made from plastic. This is another anachronism along with the microUSB – maybe the company didn’t wasn’t to alter its manufacturing line a lot. Who knows… In the top of the metal part you will see the camera, exactly below it the two-tone LED flash and just around there, a fingerprint scanner. In order to keep it slim, the camera lens is protruding from the body. The Mi logo is located on the lower part. The back panel is made with the same exceptional material assembly found in the front one. Its texture is good to hold on plus there is no fingerprint oil kept on ever after a daylong use.
With the supplied silicon case you can protect the back panel from scratches and the lens glass from bumping around. If you want extra protection you will have to buy a more durable / resilient case. The protective film on top of the glass is really good during everyday use. Its texture protects it from fingerprints but it’s a bit matte so you don’t get 100% of the colors or the details. You might want to buy a different type of protective glass / film if you want something even better. I don’t have an issue with these kind of films and I prefer them than cleaning the display 4-5 times a day.
The whole feeling is of a phone that has a much, much, higher price. Excellent assembly, texture, feel of weight and appearance! It is one of the best made and beautiful smartphones I’ve had in my hands this year – in this price range of course.
The display is the main selling point and the main difference from Note 4. It is 5.99-inch in size and supports Full HD+ (2160 x 1080) resolution with 403 ppi. The 18:9 support and the brightness of 450 nits transforms the smartphone in a long bright bar. The viewing angles are good for a TFT display. Colors are bright but you need to uncover the protective film a bit to admire them properly. NTSC color gamut is at 84%. Multi touch works properly. On top of the panel there’s a 2.D Gorilla Glass for protection. Outside in the midday sun the display is bright enough for anyone to read without shading it. In the night there is a software add-on called Night Light that filters blue light and dims it enough to make night reading enjoyable. In general, Xiaomi produced an excellent TFT panel for this category and price.
As far as hardware is concerned, Xiaomi disappoints with a two year old model. Probably stocked after Redmi Note 4 / Mi 5X / Mi A1 success, Snapdragon 625 finds its way in Redmi 5 Plus. There are 8 Cortex A-53 cores that run up to 2.0GHz. This is an old chipset with amazing energy consumption and two years later it comes with an ever cheaper price too. I wanted to see this phone packing a Snapdragon 635 SoC, but cost in this category and profit margins voted over the trusty 625. Graphics are handled by an Adreno 506 GPU that has no issue to handle any game as we have seen during the last year. Benchmark results are at the same level with other 625 SoC equipped smartphones, a bit better than my Oreo running Xiaomi Mi A1. The chipset is not modern but it’s as good as it gets for the price-range. As for the battery consumption? Well… we will talk about it later!
The sample I reviewed comes with 3GB RAM / 32GB ROM. RAM is ok and storage can be expanded with a micro-SD card for people that do not want to use the cloud. The SDcard fits the second position in the SIM tray.
GPS is almost instant. Snapdragon 625 and the battery are exceptional for navigation usage. The smartphone supports GPS / A-GPS, GLONASS and Beidou. There is no NFC support. The rest of the sensors are the same as in Redmi Note 4.
The sound is clear and calls are great. Sound coming out from the device from the single speaker is not the best but it’s loud enough to hear in another room and clear without hissing. The formats supported are MP4, M4V, MKV, XVID, WAV, AAC, MP3, AMR, FLAC and APE. It supports H.265 / HEVC, H.264 and MPEG4 as a media player. The large display is great for media consumption. My Xiaomi Pistons used the provided audio jack. The resulting sound is clear also without hissing or distortion.
Fingerprint sensors are something Xiaomi knows how to do properly. That is the third smartphone from the company I had during this last 6 months and the functionality is perfect. The phone unlocks – wakes up with the first touch on the sensor.
Redmi 5 Plus is one of the first Xiaomi devices that comes with MIUI 9 pre-installed. MIUI Global 9.2 Stable is listed as the exact version over Android 7.1.2 Nougat. We can see the Nougat updates in the UI like split screen functionality, and also countless characteristics of the most popular Android skin. The sum of them offers an excellent user experience as we have seen earlier in the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review.
My favorite MIUI 9 new functionalities are Dual Apps (2 accounts per single application), Second Space (password protected alternate UI with its own apps) and Quick Ball (a ui ball with a set of actions programmed by the user).
My Mi A1 runs Oreo since the beginning of January. Using Redmi 5 Plus is as fast and I did not find any speed issues in applications or navigation either. Xiaomi really surpassed itself with the 9th version of her custom Android skin.
Let’s not get carried away however. Snapdragon 626 is still a medium category chipset. I tried split screen with youtube and browsing and while everything worked ok, the heat in the back panel was noticeable. I did another test with more than 40 tabs open in Chrome. Heat again. Mi Mix 2 with its flagship chipset Snapdragon 835 has no heat and i tried both split screen and multi-tabs in Chrome. So Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus is fast, can handle multitasking easily, can play games and do whatever you want, but don’t expect flagship behaviour. I am very happy with I have seen considering the category and pricing. For daily usage this is an excellent smartphone.
The device packs a 4000 mA battery. Combined with Snapdragon 625 and the typical customisation by Xiaomi reached an astonishing 13-14 hours of screen time. Redmi Note 4X has a similar SOT – a bit longer – with a 5.5-inch screen!
If you are commuting, traveling or working outside and you need a large battery phone that is not chubby, stop looking for it. Go buy Redmi 5 Plus now!
The Achilles heel of the Chinese OEM is the camera. For the first time in seven years Xiaomi managed to present a proper camera with the Mi Note 3. I was curious to see whether that magic in software applied to its other devices. (surely not in my Mi A1…)
In the back of the Redmi 5 Plus there’s a 12 MP shooter of a local chinese brand that tries to raise the standards of Redmi Note 4. It has an f/2.2 aperture and PDAF (phase detection autofocus).
In good lighting conditions the result is good with clear colors, good saturation and a bit of noise in the corners. All details are visible. In bad light conditions noise is everywhere and details are lost in the background. That is typical for the price range and the brand. I was hoping for a miracle that never came. The device is a bit better than the Redmi Note 4 but just a bit.
Due to the single lens there is not Portrait or Bokeh effect. I am happy Xiaomi does not add the hideous software “bokeh” effect applied by other brands. The speed of the shooter is excellent even with the flash on.
The selfie cam is a 5MP shooter probably from the same local chinese brand. The results are good, there is no distortion or flickering. It comes with a Smart Beauty functionality for anyone who likes editing.
The camera application is as simple as it can gets.
Video recording can do 4K 30fps and has similar behaviour to the Camera. That is ok in good lighting and mediocre in bad light. There is no stabilisation. The recorded sound is not the best thing you can hear.
I am complaining because I wanted Redmi 5 Plus to excel in the Camera department. It clearly does not. This is not a camera phone. This is a VFM phone that has to be as good as possible in all of its parts. If you are looking for a camera phone then Mi Note 3 is the winner but comes at a much higher cost. If you are looking for a smartphone that can take “ok” pictures and videos with a reasonable budget, Redmi 5 Plus can do the job.
The handset has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G, and 4G LTE. It supports 2 SIMs with Dual LTE, Dual Standby. You can choose from the software wich one of the two SIMs will run on LTE. It supports the bands: 2G: GSM B2/B3/B5/B8 3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8 and 4G: FDD-LTE B1/B3/B5/B7/B8. It can connect through WiFi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.2 wirelessly without an issue. It can be used as a WiFi hotspot and it can use data tethering to present its display in a smart TV.
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus is the improvement of Redmi Note 4. It kept the same chipset and upgraded a bit the camera part. If you already have Note 4 don’t go for the replacement. If you want a VFM, 6 inch, full-view 18:9 display smartphone, with an excellent battery duration, go for it. MIUI 9 is great. The design and material assembly and overall quality are top for the category and raise the standards once again.
Don’t forget that there are the aforementioned rumors of an upcoming Redmi Note 5 that will pack a Snapdragon 635 chipset and it will be 70-80$ more expensive. Mi 5X and Mi A1 are mature now and have a middle class quality and double cameras in the back in about the same price the rumored Note 5 might have. Meizu 6 Note is another smartphone worth of your attention with better camera and sound but it’s not bezel-less or full-view / 18:9.
Redmi 5 Plus is already selling fast in India and China. My opinion is that it will do the same in the rest of the markets continuing the best-selling tradition of the series.
You can find the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus available at Banggood. 🙂