I have been playing around with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A for around 2 weeks now and I’m not really impressed with it. There are 2 models of the Note 5A, the normal one and the Pro model. The main differences between the 2 are the addition of the fingerprint sensor, bigger storage / RAM, and better processor. At the extra cost of about SGD$40, it makes sense to top up for the Pro model at SGD$219.
Design and Build Quality
Nothing much can be said about the design, it looks worse than the other Redmi Note variants. The sides look kind of outdated and I’m really not a fan of it. The whole body looks like metal but in fact it’s made of plastic. It’s a puzzling choice as their Redmi Note 4 series cost nearly the same but has metal body all round. On the bright side, the phone feels solid and sturdy.
The speaker at the bottom sounds really loud and is more than adequate for multimedia consumption. The fingerprint sensor is available on the Pro model and works just as well as its siblings.
The Redmi Note 5A also comes with the usual features like the headphone jack, IR blaster for controlling home devices and LED lights with no option to change colours.
Hardware and Display
The 5.5 inch display size is great but the 720p resolution isn’t as sharp if you look closely. 1080p would be a better choice for such a display size. One complaint is that even with the brightness set to maximum outdoors, it’s still readable but still not as bright as other displays I have used.
The buttons in front are not back lit but some customizations can still be done at the settings like long press behaviour.
For the Pro model, it’s available in 2 configurations, 64GB / 4GB RAM or 32GB / 3GB RAM. For the 32GB model there is around 23GB free from the box. As usual USB OTG is supported.
What I like about their budget series is the support for dual SIM and micro SD card at the same time (show 128GB). It should be the norm for all their phones.
Dual SIM is also supported and only one SIM can be LTE at any one time.
Software and Performance
The Pro version has the Snapdragon 435 along with Adreno 505 and it’s targeted at the lower range market. I can say that the performance is fine with normal use, although the UI will stutter once in a while when opening apps.
Running Asphalt 8 was great but Zombie survival lags even at the beginning of the game. This phone might not be for someone who runs intensive games on their device and the phone does get a little warm when gaming. Benchmarks for Antutu and Geekbench isn’t that great as well for this lower end chipset.
Multitasking with 3GB was great and no problems with day to day operations like calls, watching videos and surfing the net. WiFi and 4G speed are adequate but the WiFi AC is missing on the Redmi Note 5A.
Now the phone is running Android 7.1.2 with MIUI 8.5 but there isn’t any Google Apps. Use the backup method as with the Mi 6 and Mi Note 3, the link will be in the description below.
As far as I know, mostly their MIUI in different phones are similar in features, so head on to another video link to check out software features for the Redmi Note 5A after this video. And hopefully MIUI 9 will be released soon so we can check out the new features together.
Again for the record, the lag at the settings page is still there. Xiaomi, please fix.
Now for the battery, 3080mAh seems like a fair size for a 5.5 inch screen. It can last a full day, thanks to the 720p display which might take a little less power compared to a 1080p display. Screen on time is around 4 – 7 hours depending on usage. For my use, phone is unplugged for around 12 hours and will have about 10 – 25% battery left end of the day. It seems lesser than what I experienced on other Xiaomi phones.
There isn’t any Quick Charge and that’s to be expected but the charger is rated 5V/2A that helps a little. It takes roughly around 2 – 3 hours to charge from 0 – 100%.
If you want to try pushing the battery more, the battery saver mode is there but it turns off sync and such to prolong the battery life.
Talking about the camera, there is a 12MP back facing shooter and a 16MP front camera with the usual camera modes, filters and a dedicated HDR toggle.
I felt that I didn’t really had much fun with this camera as with other Xiaomi phones. Photos in daylight are a little dull to me and it takes longer to focus as well. Night shots are pretty grainy in both HDR and HHT and it also has difficulty focusing quickly.
Macro shots was a little disappointing, I couldn’t get close enough to get a clear shot and I needed to take multiple times to get it right. Digital zoom was fine but don’t expect it to be clear.
Video recording is adequate with the max resolution at 1080p but without OIS, it’s bound to be shaky. And there is only Time-Lapse mode.
Front facing selfies is fine during daytime but it can sometimes get overexposed and night shots tend to be a little grainy as well.
In short, I didn’t really enjoy my time with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A and it fails to perform in my honest opinion. Not that this phone has no good points but simply the cons overshadow the pros. If you are considering this phone, give it a second thought. With a pricetag of SGD219, it’s more worth to get the Redmi Note 4 series for a more superior package.