Xiaomi expanded its Redmi Note portfolio by two for the first time, adding two new devices to its bestselling range. The two phones, the Redmi Note 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro are targeted at different audiences and represent two different sides to the Redmi Note story.
Redmi Note 5: one small step for Mi, not a giant leap for Notekind!
Let us begin with the Redmi Note 5, which literally steps into the shoes of the VERY successful Redmi Note 4. As remarked in our story that details the changes between the Note 5 and its predecessor, the Redmi Note 5 (which is actually a rebranded Redmi 5 Plus, as launched in China), the Note 5 sticks largely to what worked for the Note 4. It is a successful formula, but one that might disappoint those who were expecting a major spec overhaul.
For, while the Redmi Note 5 does change perhaps the most visible aspect of any smartphone – the display, which it bumps up to 5.99 inches, and a full HD plus resolution – a large portion of it remains largely unchanged. The processor remains the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, the 3/32 and 4/64 RAM/storage combinations are still in place, as are most connectivity options (including a micro USB port), and even the design, barring the slightly taller frame (blame that display) seems largely similar to the Note 4 in general terms. Indeed, the eagle-eyed (we are!) would even notice that the battery has shrunk a little from 4100 mAh to 4000 mAh.
All of which places the Redmi Note 5 as a kind of mid-path refresh to its predecessor – we would even go to the extent of calling it a sort of Redmi Note 4 Plus. This is not to run it down as the Redmi Note 4 was a staggering success, and at its price, the Redmi Note 5 is likely to be very good value for the money it charges, but well, it seems a slightly underwhelming refresh to what was an iconic product. We reckon it is a good device for anyone wanting to dip their toes in the Redmi world.
Redmi Note 5 Pro: definitely more Note-able, camera wise
Which brings us to the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which is definitely the more noticeable of the two devices. Note, not least because of the dual camera set up on the back, which has led to comparisons (not favourable, alas) with the flagship of a certain Cupertino company which Xiaomi has been accused of being ‘inspired by’ many times. While it boasts a similar 5.99 inch 18:9 aspect ratio display as the Note 5, the Pro is differentiated sharply from that worthy by its cameras and processor. It is the first device in the world to come with a Qualcomm 636 processor, which is supposed to be a significant move up from the 625 seen on the Note 5.
And then there are the cameras. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the second Xiaomi device in the mid-segment to come with dual cameras – a 12.0-megapixel and 5.0-megapixel affair – after the Mi A1 (which had dual 12.0-megapixel shooters), and also features a whopping 20.0-megapixel selfie camera, which is the biggest in megapixel terms seen on a Xiaomi device in India. The attempt here clearly is to get into the cameraphone part of the mid-segment, a zone into which Honor has been making significant inroads (with the likes of the 9 Lite and 6x). Of course, just how much it succeeds is revealed in our review.
The rest of the spec sheet and even the design (those jutting out double shooters on the back notwithstanding) remains largely similar to the Note 5. The big battery (4000 mAh) is in place as is Android 7.1.1 under MIUI 9., and rather surprisingly, so is the micro USB port, which many are now considering a relic.
Which of the two is yours?
So, which of the new Redmi Note 5 devices is the one for you? The answer depends on performance and our reviews of the two will help you out in that regard. But broadly speaking, we think that the Redmi Note 5 is a great device for anyone wanting a steady performer with an 18:9 aspect display on a relatively tight budget. Those wanting to venture a bit further, especially in the camera department, would go for the Redmi Note 5 Pro. We will simplify it: if you are looking to upgrade from a Redmi Note 4, the Note 5 Pro is the more viable option.