They do not just sound alike. Even their products adhere to the same core “great specs at great prices” philosophy. They are sworn rivals in the Indian budget smartphone market, and rare is the month that passes without them tangling with each other. The Redmi-Realme rivalry has been one of the talking points of the Indian smartphone market.

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And things took on another dimension when Realme launched the Realme 5 a few days ago, just a day before the Xiaomi Mi A3 was launched. And while that rivalry did get its share of attention (check our comparison here), Xiaomi added another dimension to the battle by slashing the price of its own Redmi Note 7S to exactly the same level as that of the Realme 5. Both devices start at Rs 9,999 and lay claim to being the best smartphone you can get for under Rs 10,000. But which of these is the better option? Let’s find out:

Design: Classy vs eye-catching

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There is no denying that both the Realme 5 and the Redmi Note 7S are very good looking devices – and by some coincidence, we got blue editions of each – but each is likely to appeal to a very different kind of user. The Note 7S is an exact design clone of the Note 7 Pro, with glass front and back, rounded edges, while the Realme has a carbonate back but with the diamond etched pattern that is now widely identified with Realme. Both look very good indeed, but we think that the 7S looks just a little more classy, although the Realme 5 will undoubtedly get more attention.

The smaller display of the Redmi Note 7S, however, gives it a smaller frame – it is 159.2. mm long as against 164.4. mm of the Realme 5. Rather remarkably, however, the Realme 5 is not that much heavier than the Note 7S – 198 grams as against 186 grams. Its slightly more subtle finish and more compact frame, give the Note 7S the edge in this one, but we can see folk liking the slightly more blingy Realme too. This is a very close call. The Redmi Note 7S’ halving more color options (red, black, blue and white) as against two of the Realme 5 (blue and purple) also help its cause.

Winner: Redmi Note 7S (by a whisker)

Displays: Really a matter of HD, full or not

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It the looks department is a close-run affair, the display one is utterly one-sided. Yes, we love the 6.5-inch large display on the Realme 5, which in sheer size is bigger than the 6.3-inch one on the Note 7S. But what the Note concedes in inches, it more than recovers in pixels – the Note 7S’ display is a Full HD+ one, which puts it well ahead, and allows it to deliver much sharper graphics and text. There is only one winner here.

Winner: Redmi Note 7S (by a mile)

Processors: Successor Dragon meets Predecessor

When it comes to the processors, the battle between the two devices is an intriguing one. On paper, the force would appear to be with the Realme 5, which comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor, the successor of the Snapdragon 660, which powers the Redmi Note. 7S. However, the difference between the two in terms of sheer performance is not as wide as some had expected (and as will be discussed in “gaming” and “performance.”) Still, in pure tech terms, we are handing this one to the Realme 5. Markedly superior or not, the 665 is an update of the 660 and that gives it a clear tech edge.

Winner: Realme 5 (close call)

Memory and storage: Biting those gigabytes

When it comes to RAM and storage, both phones are very equally matched inasmuch both have 3 GB/ 32 GB and 4 GB/ 64 GB variants. The Realme 5, however, also has a 4 GB/ 128 GB variant. Both phones also come with support for microSD card storage unto 256 GB. But here again, the Realme 5 has a slight edge, as it comes with a dedicated microSD card slot, as compared to the Note 7S which has a hybrid SIM card slot.

Winner: Realme 5 (by a few Gigabytes)

Gaming: Does that extra 5 in the Snappy name count?

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This is perhaps the most interesting round of the contest. As we said earlier, we expected the Realme 5 to have a clear edge when it came to gaming, as it comes with a newer chip, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665, which is an improved version of the Snapdragon 660 on the Note 7S. However, in terms of performance in gaming, we could not really see too much of a difference in the two devices when it came to handling games like PUBG and Asphalt. Both can handle high-end games to an extent but lags and frame drops will creep in after a while. The larger display of the Realme 5 might suit some, but the full HD display of the Note 7S seemed sharper and brighter. Sound quality also seemed slightly better on the Note 7S. That said, the Note 7S did also heat up a little while gaming – something that did not happen with the Realme 5. We are calling this all square. And are surprised at doing so.

Winner: Tie

Performance: Neck and neck, never mind the names

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In terms of general performance, both phones again are very much neck and neck. We found neither having any issues while tackling multiple apps or running dozens of Chrome tabs. Yes, the larger display of the Realme 5 will make a difference to some but the higher resolution of the Note 7S more than makes up for this. We think the Note 7S handled calls slightly better and thanks to its slighter form factor is easier to handle. But all said and done, there is not much to separate the two devices here. Another tie here.

Winner: Tie again

Cameras: Numbers clash with megapixels

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If the gaming battle between the two phones was the most interesting of this contest, the one between their cameras comes a very close second. Each device brings its own strengths to the camera front – the Realme 5 has a quad-camera set up with a 12-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, a 2-megapixel portrait sensor, and a 2-megapixel macro sensor.

As against this, the Note 7S brings two cameras to the battle, but one of them is a 48-megapixel one, although it is not a Sony IMX586 as seen on the Redmi Note 7 Pro, and is a Samsung sensor, along with a 5-megapixel depth sensor. You would think the megapixels would load the contest significantly in favor of the Note 7S but the 12-megapixel main sensor of the Realme 5 is no pushover.

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Both cameras took some stunning shots, and although we got slightly better detail and colors on the Note 7S, the Realme’s camera worked significantly faster. As we said in our review, the ultra-wide and macro lenses are actually a bit of a let down for the Realme phone – the former is not great on detail and the latter often has focussing issues. The 13-megapixel cameras of both also pretty much match each other, although we think the Redmi device was just a little less aggressive when it came to smoothening and beautification. We are giving this round to the Redmi Note 7S, but this is as close as the design one – we can see people being swayed by the Realme too.

Winner: Redmi Note 7S (closer than expected, though)

Battery: Hey, big, meet bigger

This is a contest of two phones with really big batteries. And after three rounds in which performance did not seem to quite follow numbers, here it very thoroughly does just that. The Redmi Note 7S has a large 4000 mAh battery which can see off about a day and a half of normal use, but it gets totally overshadowed by the Realme 5’s much larger 5000 mAh battery, which can easily see off two days of usage, aided in part we are sure by the relatively low-resolution display. Yes, the Note 7S’ battery comes with support for Quick Charge and has a USB Type C port as compared to the micro USB port on the Realme 5, but the phone does not come with a fast charger and that kind of neutralizes the Redmi’s advantage. This is a straight win for the Realme.

Winner: Realme 5 (mAh rules)

Software: A matter of ad sense

Which takes us to the software. Where we see an intriguing battle. Both phones run Android Pie (9) out of the box but there the similarity ends. Whereas the Redmi Note 7S comes with Xiaomi’s MIUI interface on top of Android, the Realme 5 comes with Color OS. Which one works better? It really is a matter of choice and opinion, but speaking for ourselves, we tend to prefer the MIUI interface which seems more user friendly and better organised (and supported) at the time of writing, although some users do complain about the number of ads that accompany it (they can be turned off, though, but that does not make them any more tolerable). That could change with the arrival of Realme OS which many say will be close to stock Android, but right now, we think Redmi is winning the software battle.

Winner: Redmi Note 7S

Price: Squaring off

Both phones start at the same price of Rs 9,999 for the 3 GB/ 32 GB edition. But then the Realme 5 gets a clear edge, with its 4 GB/ 64 GB variant coming for Rs 10,999, while the same variant for the Redmi Note 7S is priced at Rs 11,999. At that price, you can get a Realme 5 4 GB/ 128 GB variant. In simple price terms, the Realme takes this one.

Winner: Realme 5

Verdict: Me or Mi? The Red One wins!

So which of these two comes up with the crown of the best phone below Rs 10,000. In pure statistical terms, this is as close as it can be with each phone winning four rounds, and two being tied. And even some of the wins have been very close, such as the Note 7S taking the design honors and the Realme winning in processors. Truth be told, there is very little separating the two. If we had to pick a winner, however, we would go with the Redmi Note 7S, whose camera and full HD display give it a clear edge over the Realme 5, which falls behind in these crucial areas (although not too far in the camera department), even though it does score on price (narrowly) and on battery (more clearly).

But perhaps the biggest reason for the Redmi Note 7S’ very narrow victory is the fact that the newer processor on the Realme 5 is unable to make the sort of difference many of us expected it would – both phones tied on gaming and general performance, rounds which logically should have gone the Realme way if the Snapdragon 665 had really outpaced the 660 as expected. It doesn’t. Which is why the battle of Me and Mi has a winner.

Want a smartphone for less than Rs 10,000? Go for the Redmi Note 7S.

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