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Xiaomi has finally made available their newest Redmi Note offering here in the Philippines, the Redmi Note 5. Successor to the fan-favorite Redmi Note 4/4X, here’s our thoughts about what is dubbed as the next god-phone by Xiaomi fans.

This phone is also known as the Redmi Note 5 Pro in other countries, but let’s just call it Redmi Note 5 (2018).

Design Impressions

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Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 design is likely to be similar to its predecessor, and although that’s not a negative point, we’d love to see Xiaomi staying to that principle as there are no deal-breakers at all when it comes to the design of the Redmi Note 5, considering its price and features.

The back finish seems to be a combination of aluminum alloy as well as polycarbonate material, resulting to a matte-like finish which you can see above.

On the other hand, the front houses the 18:9 aspect ratio, 5.99-inch IPS screen with Full HD+ resolution (2160 x 1080), which is probably one of the first things you’ve notice at first glance. This doesn’t have the notch, but the bezels up top and chins might be an eyesore for some people (can’t believe this is actually true). I’d prefer these on black rather than white.

Since it uses an IPS panel, it has great viewing angles. It may not be the brightest, but our impressions yielded good results which makes it suitable for content consumption and even gaming.

It also has other features which helps to enhance the viewing experience, such as Automatic Contrast and color temperature settings.

The phone’s body is slim enough to be able to grasp by your hand easily, despite it having a 4000mAh battery. The right side has the volume rocker and power buttons, while on the left side is the dual, hybrid SIM slot (which is a dealbreaker, sadly). There’s the secondary microphone as well as an IR blaster up top, and on the bottom are the 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone hole, microUSB port and loudspeaker grilles. It would be nice to see a USB-C here, though.

We’ve also tested out the fingerprint scanner. Its placement is ideal for most users, where you can reach it easily using your index or middle finger, just like on the ZenFone Max Pro M1. It’s not that fast unlike the others, but it does the job well.

Upon playing with the phone for some time, we’ve realize that it doesn’t have Face Unlock, which we hope that should be implemented on the next software update.


Performance and Software

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While almost every single phone in the mid-range line nowadays come under Google’s Android One program, Xiaomi stays on their own flavor of Android Oreo 8.1, which is the popular MIUI (version 9.5). It comes with a lot of bloatware (pre-installed apps) which you might use or not, and it is a global ROM, meaning that it comes with Google Apps such as Play Store, YouTube and Gmail.

Considerably the most heavily-skinned Android flavor out there, the performance seems to be hindered and reduced due to the processing of skins. It’s been a long time for me since I last used a phone with MIUI installed, and there’s a lot of new features that I’ve seen. It will take time for someone to be familiar with this phone, especially if you’re coming from an almost stock version of Android.

However, the apps we tested performed well, probably due to its combination of Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 as well as 4GB of RAM. We’ll know more once we got ourselves a proper review unit for further evaluation.


Camera

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The dual rear cameras on the Redmi Note 5 consists of a 12MP + 5MP configuration. And while they boast regular features such as HDR, Panorama and Manual Mode, there’s also the portrait mode which got our interest. Here’s a sample of the rear camera on portrait mode, where both lenses on the rear are expected to work on.

Portrait Mode Sample Shot 1
Portrait Mode Sample Shot 1
Portrait Mode Sample Shot 2
Portrait Mode Sample Shot 2

Interesting, because the 5MP sensor apparently seems to be used, along with its AI capabilities, for blurring the background very well and popping your subject out. As you can see on the samples above, the edges are appropriately blurred, however, we’ll check this out further once we got a review unit for full review.

Unfortunately, we failed to obtain our sample shots on the front camera. It has the same features like the rear camera but with the addition of Gender and Age mode (which seems to be a little bit creepy, imo).


Specifications and Features

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ModelXiaomi Redmi Note 5 (2018) / Redmi Note 5 Pro
Display5.99-inch Full HD+ 18:9 display (1080 x 2160 resolution), 403ppi, 77.4% screen-to-body ratio
CPU/SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 636 Octa-core @1.8 GHz
GPUAdreno 509
RAM3GB / 4GB / 6GB
ROM/Storage32GB / 64GB, up to 256GB using microSD card (SIM 2)
Rear Cameras12MP (f/1.9, 1.4 μm) + 5MP (f/2.0, 1.12 μm)
AI-enabled features, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR, dual-pixel phase detection autofocus, LED flash
Front Camera20 MP (f/2.2, 1/2.8", 1µm), LED flash, 1080p
Battery4000mAh (non-removable)
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
microUSB 2.0
Network Bands4G/LTE, 3G (HSDPA), 2G (GSM)
SIM SlotDual SIM (nano, hybrid slot)
SensorsFingerprint scanner (rear), GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, IR Blaster
OS/SoftwareAndroid 8.1 Oreo
(MIUI 9.5)
Dimensions & WeightSize: 158.6 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm (6.24 x 2.97 x 0.32 in)
Weight: 181 g (6.38 oz)
ColorsBlack, Champagne Gold, Rose Gold, Lake Blue
Protection / IP RatingCorning Gorilla Glass (unspecified)
Other FeaturesTBA

Conclusion

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The specs are really compelling and considering the price, this could be the best bang-for-the-buck midrange smartphone in the market right now. 

Xiaomi has really put up their name in the midrange category with their Redmi Note series, and now, its successor to the fan-favorite Redmi Note 4/4X would be really interesting. We just hope that Xiaomi would stop naming their devices confusingly as it is on other countries.

As usual, it seems that Xiaomi targets the mid-range market in all aspects this time, from camera, to features, to battery life and performance. The specs are really compelling and considering the price, this could be the best bang-for-the-buck midrange smartphone in the market right now.

We’ll just have to wait for us to obtain our review unit and we’re really excited to see how this phone fares out against the competition. Stay tuned for that!


Pricing & Availability

The Redmi Note 5 retails for PhP11,990 for the 4GB / 64GB variant and is currently available on Xiaomi’s official store in Trinoma and SM Megamall physically as well as online in their official stores in Lazada and Shopee.

Unfortunately, there’s no word whether the 6GB / 64GB variant is going to be available here in the country.