Xiaomi Redmi 5A review: The truly affordable Android phone raises the bar
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When it comes to budget smartphones around Rs5,000 there are very few good options for buyers. Xiaomi Redmi 4A, launched in April 2017, stood out due to its good display and steady performance. Now the Chinese phonemaker has come with its successor, Redmi 5A. It starts at Rs5,999 for the 2GB RAM+16GB storage variant, but the first five lakh units of the will be available at Rs4,999. The slightly more powerful 3GB+32GB variant will cost Rs6,999. The first round of sales on Amazon.in and Mi.com starts from 7 December 2017.
Here are the seven critical elements that you need to know about the new Xiaomi Redmi 5A before you decide to spend on one:
■ Like most of the recent Xiaomi smartphones, the Redmi 5A has a metal body. It is a refreshing change from phones with plastic exterior which still dominate the segment. The physical buttons are made of metal too, but feel a bit stiff. The closest competitor to it in terms of looks is another Xiaomi smartphone, the Redmi 4, which starts at Rs6,999.
■The Redmi 5A weighs just 137g, which is impressive for this screen size, and would fit comfortably into small hands due to its compact size. The other good news is that the phone has dedicated microSD slot, so you can use the two nano SIM trays and the microSD card side by side. Most unibody smartphones have hybrid SIM trays which club microSD slot on one of the SIM trays.
■ There is no finger-print sensor on the Xiaomi Redmi 5A, which means one will have to type the password or draw the pattern to unlock the phone. Finger print sensor is no longer unusual in sub Rs5,000 smartphones. The likes of Karbonn K9 Kavach (Rs4,749) and Reach Allure Secure (Rs4,999) have it. Also, we don’t like the position of the speaker on the Redmi 5A. It is placed on the back which suppressed sound when you are holding the phone in hand or placed on the bed.
■The Redmi 5A has a good looking display with resolution of 1,280x720p, which makes it a better bet than rivals, many of which still offer resolution of 800x480p at most. Texts in webpages look crisp enough for casual reading, while colours in videos and games look slightly oversaturated, but not the point where it would hurt your eyes. At this price point, most screens look washed out, unrealistic and suffer from visibility issues from add angles. That is not the case with the Redmi 5A.
■ Xiaomi hasn’t used a new processor in the Redmi 5A. It runs on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor, clocking at 1.4GHz, that was seen in the predecessor. It is clubbed with 2GB RAM in the 16GB variant and 3GB RAM in the 32GB variant. This is not a very powerful processor but has proved to adequate for casual users with limited requirements. We would still recommend the 3GB variant as the MIUI is a resource intensive user interface and can get sluggish if there are many apps open in the background. Gaming is not its strong point. We noticed frame drops with games such as Shadow Fight 3.
■ This is the first smartphone in India to offer Xiaomi’s new MIUI 9 interface out of the box. It runs on top of Android 7.1.2 (Nougat). It is a bit disappointing to see a new smartphone being launched with an older version of Android, but Xiaomi has never been the early adopters of the latest version of Android. Some of the promised features of MIUI 9 such as the App Vault is still not available, though.
■ The camera quality in most budget smartphones is abysmal. The Redmi 5A’s 13-megapixel snapper is slightly better placed. It lacks the detail that a mid range smartphone camera can muster, but impresses with its clarity and colours in well-lit conditions. Also, it offers plenty of options for users to play around with such as the Beautify, Tilt shift, audio in photo and timer modes.