Even a person living under a rock would by now know which is the number one smartphone company in the country. It is all over social media, traditional media, billboards… in short it is everywhere. Yes, we are talking about Xiaomi. The Chinese brand that stepped into the Indian smartphone market and successfully conquered it, in a matter of just about three years. And one of the most celebrated and successful devices by the company, which takes A LOT of credit for getting Xiaomi where it is today has to be the Redmi Note 4 – the phone that sold in millions, the phone that became a household name in the country and the phone that now has a successor.
Xiaomi has launched the Redmi Note 5 in India and as usual, there are a host of questions about what is new in the device. And well, what is not. So, here is a list of notable things that have and have not changed in the Redmi Note 5 as compared to its predecessor, the Redmi Note 4.
What has changed
Display: Here’s looking at you, 18:9
With the Mi Mix, Xiaomi introduced the almost bezel-less displays mania in the smartphone market and while everyone has pretty much introduced the thin bordered display phones literally in every segment, it looks like Xiaomi itself is coming to its own party, a little late. Well, better late than never. With the Note 5, Xiaomi has introduced its first mid segment 18:9 display and frankly at first glance, this really seems to be the only differentiating point between the Redmi Note 4 and the Redmi Note 5. It is the one thing that screams change: the tall, 5.99 inch (read six), 18:9 full HD+ display of the Note 5 because the Note 4 came with a 5.5-inch full HD, 16:9 ratio display. And because the display is 18:9, it is pretty obvious that the Note 5 had to shed some of its bezels as well. So, it comes with thinner bezels as compared to the chunky bezels front that the Redmi Note 4 had. Although we are not quite sure if we would call it “almost bezel-less”.
Size: standing tall (obviously)
This one stems from the point we made above. The Redmi Note 5 has a taller display as compared to the Redmi Note 4 and because the company has not really figured out a way to put more inches of display in a smaller (mid segment) frame yet, we end up with a taller phone. But it is not just the length that has changed but other measurements, too. The Redmi Note 4 measured 151 x 76 x 8.5 mm while the Redmi Note 5 measures 158.5 x 75.45 x 8.05 mm. So, while the device has had a bit of Complan to drink (get the joke), it toned itself a bit when it comes to width and thickness. But all the toning cannot keep the device from gaining a few extra grams. The Note 4 weighed 165 grams while the Note 5 weighs 180 grams. It also comes in different colors.
Cameras: cutting down on megapixels
In terms of cameras, it looks like the Note 5 has taken a step down in megapixel terms. The Note 4 came with a 13-megapixel camera but instead of improving the megapixel number as is the trend, Xiaomi has taken a route down south as the Note 5 comes with a 12-megapixel primary camera. And it is not just the megapixel count that has reduced. The Note 4’s primary camera came with f/2.0 aperture while the Note 5’s camera comes with a smaller f/2.2 aperture. That said, it comes with a 1.25 μm pixel sensor, which Xiaomi claims should improve camera performance, as it is up from the 1.12 μm pixels on the Redmi Note 4. In real life usage too, we observed that the Note 5 camera is faster, better and sharper. Not a lot has changed in the front camera department when it comes two phones, both come with a 5-megapixel selfie camera but the selfie camera on the Note 5 is accompanied by a LED flash which was not present in the Note 4.
Software: Nougat flavoured MIUI 9
The world has moved to Android Oreo but it looks Xiaomi does not want to move just yet. But this does not mean you will get the same old software you had on the Note 4. The Note 4 came with Android 6.0 and MIUI 8 while our new Note flag bearer comes with Android 7.1.1 along with the latest version of MIUI, MIUI 9. Since then, Note 4 has also been upgraded to MIUI 9, but with Android 7.0. Also, the Note 4 came with capacitive buttons on the chin but the Note 5 comes with on-screen buttons. That said, we are a little disappointed because we are still getting Android Nougat out of the box in this one.
Battery: taking a few mAh off
Generally, when a successor comes in the market, it comes with better specs, bigger numbers but this case is not completely true in case of the Redmi Note 5. The Note 4 came with a 4,100 mAh battery while the Note 5 comes with a 4,000 mAh battery. Yes, you read it right. The Note 5 comes with a slightly smaller battery. How does the Note 5 perform is to be revealed in our detailed review but on paper, it is definitely a step-down.
What has not changed
Design: same old
Apart from getting a taller display and teeny-tiny changes here and there, the new Redmi Note 5 is pretty much the same looking device as the Redmi Note 4. And by same, we mean, almost like a photocopy. The back of the device has the same camera, flash fingerprint placement, the same power/lock button, and the volume button locations. The same metal back with slightly lesser shiny antenna bands and the exact same placement of the speaker grilles, the micro USB port, and the 3.5mm audio jack. That’s a lot of similarities for a device that is supposed to be a successor.
Processor: and more of the same chips
One of the key areas which mostly differentiates a successor from its predecessor is the processor and the RAM. Unfortunately, that is not the story here. The Redmi Note 4 came with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor coupled with 2 GB/3 GB/ 4 GB variant with 16 GB/ 32 GB/ 64 GB internal storage and apart from dropping the 2 GB/16 GB variant of the smartphone, the Note 5 comes with the exact same numbers. Exactly the same. Disappointed much?
Connectivity: hooray, 3.5 mm lives for another device
Another area where Xiaomi has not really changed matters is connectivity. While we are happy that the company has kept the good old 3.5 mm jack (that many seem to be dropping now) and the infrared port, there might be some people who may get disappointed that the company is still sticking to micro USB port and has not already shifted to USB type C ports.
Better than the Redmi Note 4? Yes, but…
In sum, the Redmi Note 5 does make a few changes to its best selling predecessor, but truth be told, most of them begin and end with that display. Yes, on paper, it is a better option than the Redmi Note 4 and that is quite an achievement, but we think many people will be disappointed by the relatively unchanged spec sheet, especially in the processor department. For just how well all this works together, read our review.