When it comes to entry and budget midrange phones, Xiaomi is a popular prime suspect for the masses. They have been strong online, but thanks to the rather aggressive offline availability notion they are pushing in recent months, they have been breaking records in India as per analysts. And Xiaomi is hungry for more and doing some “Desi” initiatives. We saw the launch of their local power banks and tease the “Desh Ka Smartphone” hinting at an affordable phone. And here it is, the Redmi 5A that was launched in China recently. After using it for a bit, here are our first impressions on what we feel about the Redmi 4A successor.

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In a world full of phones with fingerprint scanners, the Redmi 5A is denied of it, just like its predecessor. And this is understandable as Xiaomi is cutting the costs and keeping things minimum, and this what you would instantly notice. Speaking of instantly noticing, you would also see the 5A is hard to tell apart from the 4A. It’s the same 5-inch laminated HD display that packs around 296 pixels per inch. The phone is easy to hold and has a metallic finish to its body all around. The shoulder and chin have a considerable amount of bezels, the bottom of which holds a trio of capacitive buttons that are not backlit. On to the right is the power button and a pair of volume rockers – the latter being slightly raised that the former. The other side has a dual sim tray and a dedicated microSD slot, which again is a surprise. We saw Xiaomi do this with the recently launched Redmi Y1 and looks like the sensitivity to the Indian market is being taken care of here. Good one.

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On the top sits a 3.5mm audio jack and an IR blaster and a secondary microphone, while at the bottom there is a microUSB port and a primary microphone. The back has a camera and an LED flash at the top while the Mi branding and the speaker grille sit at the bottom portion. All of this weighing 137 grams, keeps the phone at a thickness of 8.4mm, with the back of the phone slightly curved at its edges to help grip the phone easily. The phone has a matte finish and won’t slip off easily but is a damn smudge magnet. This shows off more easily with the black variant.

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The innards of the phone seem to be unchanged from the Redmi 4A – a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core 425, 64-bit processor clocked at 1.4GHz. This also comes with the same Adreno 308 GPU accompanied by 2GB OF RAM 16GB of internal memory or 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. Both variants can take up to 128GB of additional memory via the dedicated microSD slot. Again an appreciable new thing we are seeing from Xiaomi in recent times. 3000 mAh of non-removable battery sits inside and Xiaomi claims this to have up to 8 days of standby time. One thing to note is that only the primary sim supports 4G while the secondary will support just 3G. The phone runs on MIUI 9 built off of Android Nougat 7.1 and comes with the typical slew of customisations we have come to see on Xiaomi phones. On the camera front, the primary shooter is a 13MP f/2.2 with PDAF ability. The front shooter is 5MP f/2.0 with smart and beautification modes.

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While almost all of the phone is the same as the Redmi 4A, the dedicated microSD slot is a welcome thing for someone who is really on a budget and wants to stick to 16GB variant and still use their SD cards. The front shooter sees a slight improvement with f/2.0 as against f/2.2 in 4A. With Gray, Gold and Rose gold as the options, Xiaomi seems to have covered the variants as on the paint jobs as well. For the price it is offered at, and going by how good the Redmi 4A itself was, we are curious to see how the MIUI 9 fares on the same hardware and also if the cameras have any additional improvements. Stay tuned while we take the phone through its paces and bring you the final review of the Redmi 5A. Initial impressions are the phone’s performance is identical to that of the 4A.

For now, the Desh Ka Smartphone will be a tough one to beat at its price. Xiaomi may prevail as a popular choice. At Rs 4,999, it’s very tough to argue anything against the Redmi 5A. Stay tuned for our detailed review.

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