One was launched earlier this year, and one has just arrived. One runs stock Android. The other runs MIUI. One is a bestseller. The other is likely to be one. They both remarkably similar when it comes to appearance and are offsprings of the same parent. And are not even priced too distant from each other.
But which of the Redmi Note 5 Pro or the Mi A2 is the device for you? We attempt to find out:
Looks: Sia-Mi-se Twins?
Perhaps in no department is the battle between these two devices so close. For, right from the 5.99-inch 18:9 aspect ratio display to the jutting out vertical capsule like dual camera unit on the back, the Mi A2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro seem to spring from the same design roots. Even the proportions are strikingly similar – just a millimetre separates their lengths (the A2 is a smidgeon longer at 158.7 mm), they are both of the same width (75.4 mm) and it is only in the thinness department that the two feel very distinct, with the Note 5 Pro being slightly plumper at 8.05 mm as compared to the 7.3 mm of the Mi A2. The Mi A2 is also lighter at 168 grams as compared to the 181 of the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Mi A2 looks a lot more svelte and also does not have antenna bands like the Redmi Note 5 Pro does. We are handing this one to the Mi A2 for its slightly slighter (pun intended) frame. But take it from us, there is not too much between these two when it comes to design. They are both relatively smart devices, but neither will stop traffic. That said, neither is likely to be purchased for its looks. Read on to find out more.
Winner: Mi A2
Hardware: Chip in or bet on battery?
This is so much a matter of priority. Yes, the Mi A2 might boast a more powerful processor – Snapdragon 660 (as compared to Snapdragon 636 on the Redmi Note 5 Pro) and much better cameras (12 and 20 megapixel rear cameras with f/1.75 aperture as compared to 12 and 5 megapixels with f/2.2 aperture) – but the Redmi Note 5 Pro matches its RAM and storage combination (4 GB/ 64 GB), has a bigger battery (4000 mAh as against 3000 mAh) and also throws two mainstream elements that the MI A2 lacks into the mix – a 3.5 mm audio jack and expandable memory. Both phones have largely similar 5.99-inch full HD+ displays and connectivity options (4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, Infra Red, Bluetooth), although the Mi A2 does sport a USB Type C port as opposed to a more conventional micro USB port on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. In terms of sheer spec weight carried by the processor and the cameras, we would incline towards the Mi A2, but we can see a segment that values bigger batteries and expandable memory leaning towards the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Winner: Mi A2
Software: Comfort in its own skin?
On the surface, and in a number of tech books, this would be an absolute cakewalk. After all, the Mi A2 has stock Android and is part of the Android One initiative, because of which it not only comes with Android 8.1 out of the box but is also assured of not just an update to Android Pie but also regular updates for two years. On the other hand, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has only now got Android Oreo, and there is no real talk of its getting Android P. Seems a cakewalk, right? Well, not quite. And the factor in there is MIUI, Xiaomi’s interface, which throws a total spanner in the works by simply being more feature rich at the time of writing. You can remove the navigation bar and have a gesture-based interface; a better face unlock feature and also have features like Second Space, which allow users to have two instances of the same app on the phone, letting you use different logins. There are also a number of other features that MIUI brings to the phone experience that one cannot find in the stock Android on the Mi A2, although Xiaomi has preloaded the Mi Remote and Mi Drop apps on it and also tweaked the camera app. Yes, the geek brigade will love the purity of Android on the Mi A2, but in terms of sheer functionality, we cannot deny that the Redmi Note 5 Pro seems better to use right now – face unlock, second space and those gestures make a difference. We do not doubt that Android Pie will make a difference to the Mi A2, but until then, we are calling this a tie.
Camera: There is a new camera beast in Mi town?
This is an interesting one because both devices were actually marketed for their camera muscle – the Redmi Note 5 Pro was marketed as “India’s Camera Beast”, while the Mi A2 has been called the “Picture Perfect Camera.” The Note 5 Pro has a 12 megapixel and 5-megapixel rear camera combination, and a 20-megapixel front-facing camera. On the other hand, the Mi A2 comes with a 12 and 20-megapixel rear camera combination and a 20-megapixel front-facing shooter. Significantly, while the main camera on the Note 5 Pro comes with a f/2.2 aperture, both the rear cameras on the Mi A2 come with a large f/1.75 aperture. There are also more AI smarts for better depth of field/bokeh shots on the Mi A2. And frankly, the difference is telling. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a decent snapper, but the Mi A2 is pretty much the best in its class (sub Rs. 20000) at the time of writing. Images clicked by the Mi A2 consistently had better detail and colors, and portrait mode was quite brilliant. And while we did point out in our review that the Mi A2 was not exactly a path breaker in low light, it pretty much totally outclasses the Redmi Note 5 Pro in this department. The Note 5 Pro cannot claim to be a camera beast anymore.
Winner: Mi A2
Gaming and multitasking: Wanna go to the PUB (G) or stay casual
The Mi A2 is again pretty much the boss in this department. Whether it was PUBG, Hitman: Sniper or Asphalt: Legends, gaming just seemed discernibly smoother on the Mi A2. We are not saying it was bad on the Redmi Note 5 Pro, but just that the Mi A2 seemed to be that bit smoother and less laggy. In casual gaming – simple word puzzles, Candy Crush Saga and the like, the difference between the two devices is not as obvious, but bring on the heavy duty gaming machinery, and the Mi A2 pulls ahead. To be fair, both devices seem to be equally at home when it comes to running multiple apps. We had no performance issues at all when it came to switching between social networks, messaging apps and websites. But yes, the winner here is the Mi A2. Incidentally, the Mi A2 also scores over the Redmi Note 5 Pro when it comes to audio – neither phone has stereo speakers, but the Mi A2 just is a whole lot better on headphones and even over that single speaker.
Winner: Mi A2
Battery: We are talking of days, not hours
If the camera saw the Mi A2 putting its lookalike to the sword, the latter returns the compliment with interest when it comes to battery. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has a much bigger battery (4000 mAh) as compared to the Mi A2 (3000 mAh), and the difference is note merely statistical. Even in actual usage, we found yourselves getting a day and a half of usage easily out of the Note 5 Pro, while with the A2 we really seldom stretched beyond a day. This is an absolute batter(y)ing.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro
General performance: Dem normal usage things
This is where it gets a little slippery. The two devices handle routine tasks very well indeed. There is absolutely nothing to separate the two when it comes to tasks like browsing the Web, social networking, messaging, mail and the like. In terms of call handling too, there is not much separating the two – neither is exceptional (Xiaomi does lag behind Honor and Nokia in that department), but both do a decent job. Audio quality is slightly better on the Mi A2, but that is counterbalanced by the markedly better battery life on the Note 5 Pro. Then there is the little matter of UI – the geek brigade will love the “open and pure” interface on the Mi A2 with little to no bloatware, but more mainstream users will love the bells and whistles that MIUI adds to the phone experience. We are calling this a tie.
Verdict: A 2 or a Note Pro, Mi people?
The Redmi Note 5 Pro starts at Rs 14,999 for the 4 GB/ 64 GB edition, while the Mi A2 is available at Rs 16,999 for a similar variant. Interestingly, the 6 GB/ 64 GB variant of the Redmi Note 5 Pro costs Rs 16,999. Considering how closely matched they are (even though the A2 wins four of the seven rounds, the battle is close – barring the camera – and two rounds finish even, and Note 5 Pro holds its own in the battery segment), this would on paper, seem to make the Note 5 Pro the better proposition. However, the fact remains that the Mi A2 comes with its own benefits – a better processor, perhaps the best set of cameras in the sub-Rs 20,000 segment and of course, the little matter of assured Android updates. On the other hand, the Redmi Note 5 Pro support squad will point to more traditional strengths like battery life and the 3.5 mm audio jack. In sum, if you are looking for a great camera, lean towards high-end gaming and value Android updates (and a stock Android UI), then perhaps the Mi A2 is your phone. If on the other hand, you are looking for a workhorse device that will keep ticking for the longest time on a single charge and are not really crazy about photography or high-end gaming, and are not the type that loses sleep over phone UIs and updates (as long as the phone works), then the Redmi Note 5 Pro is more likely to be your phone-y cup of tea.
The Note 5 Pro and the Mi A2 are definitely Sia-Mi-se twins, but do not those similar faces fool you – one has geek blood running in its circuits, while the other has a more mainstream mien. Both are among the best for their own audiences. Choose wisely, and you are unlikely to be disappointed.