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February 14, 2018

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro preview: Possibly the best budget phone of 2018

by John_A

Yes, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is that good.

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Xiaomi played it safe with the Redmi Note 5, offering the same chipset and a design aesthetic that’s similar to the Redmi Note 4. Instead, the manufacturer is rolling out the Redmi Note 5 Pro for those looking to upgrade from last year’s device.

The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the first device to be powered by the Snapdragon 636. Xiaomi says that it worked closely with Qualcomm over the development of the chipset, leading to a noticeable uptick in performance over the Snapdragon 625-powered Redmi Note 5. The phone also features a dual rear camera setup, as well as a 20MP front camera with an LED flash module.

Xiaomi is touting software tuning as a key feature as a key differentiator for the front camera, with the Redmi Note 5 Pro also relying on artificial intelligence to automatically tweak settings based on your environment.

As for the design, the one major change from the Redmi Note 5 is the dual camera sensor at the back. Otherwise, the rest of the design is identical to the standard Redmi Note 5, which is in turn similar to that of the Redmi Note 4. The Redmi Note 4 itself was based on the Redmi Note 3, so we’re now looking at a third year of the same design, and it’s starting to look stale.

I’m not a big fan of the design of the rear camera module either. It looks like something that was bolted on at the last minute, and doesn’t really co-exist with the rest of the phone’s visual aesthetic.

Then there’s the fact that the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a Micro-USB charging port, which means you lose out on fast charging. With the device aimed at an enthusiast segment, it would’ve made more sense for Xiaomi to roll out USB-C and fast charging, even if that meant increasing the cost of the phone by a few thousand rupees.

What the Redmi Note 5 Pro does get right is the display — it is the same 18:9 panel as the standard Redmi Note 5, and it’s one of the best displays in this segment. The Snapdragon 636 chipset — which brings Qualcomm’s custom Kryo cores to the mid-range segment — is also a step up from what we’ve seen in this category over the course of the last year.

I’ll get into detailed benchmarks and the performance side of things in my review, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro manages to hit a score of 113,000 on AnTuTu without breaking a sweat. For context, the Redmi Note 5 with its Snapdragon 625 chipset is in the vicinity of 78,000. Synthetic benchmarks aren’t a true indicator of a device’s performance, but in the five days I’ve used the phone, it didn’t lag or slow down.

The Redmi Note 5 Pro has all the ingredients to be a budget powerhouse.

The Redmi Note 5 Pro is very well equipped elsewhere too — you can pick up a model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory, and you get a 4000mAh battery that easily lasts a day and a half on a full charge. There’s also an IR blaster at the top, a 3.5mm jack, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1.

Xiaomi is touting the camera capabilities of the phone, saying that the camera is the best it introduced in this segment. The 5MP shooter augments the primary sensor well, and does a decent job of adding depth to images. For what it costs, it is pretty great, and sets the bar high for other budget phones. And for videos, you get EIS.

The manufacturer is also stating that the front 20MP shooter is the best selfie camera in the budget segment, going so far as to say that it is as good as the front camera on the Pixel 2 XL. I’ll be putting those claims to the test in a post later this week, but for now, here’s a first look at the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s rear camera:

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The Redmi Note 5 Pro misses out in a few areas — Xiaomi should have differentiated the product more with a revised design and included USB-C along with fast charging — but as an overall package, it is one of the best options available today.

The phone is going up for sale starting later this month, with the 4GB option with 64GB of storage for ₹13,999, and the 6GB variant with 64GB of storage for ₹16,999. The model with 4GB of RAM is available at launch, with the 6GB model going on sale at a later date.

Interested in knowing more about today’s launches? Read our extended coverage:

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 review: The best just got better
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro vs. Redmi Note 5 vs. Redmi Note 4
  • Xiaomi Mi TV 4 preview: The next big thing is here

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