Xiaomi broke all sales records last year with the Redmi Note 4, with the device enabling the brand to overtake Samsung and become the largest smartphone vendor in the country.
A year on, sales of the Redmi Note 4 continue to be brisk, and with its successor for 2018, Xiaomi is playing it safe. The Redmi Note 5 shares the same core as its predecessor, including a similar design and Snapdragon 625 chipset, but introduces an 18:9 display and a new camera sensor at the back. The best part about the device is the pricing, which at ₹9,999 is lower than the Redmi Note 4's launch price.
Although Xiaomi is labeling the phone as the Redmi Note 5 in India, the device debuted in China last December as the Redmi 5 Plus. Xiaomi's reason for rebranding the device for the Indian market is that the Redmi Note series has more brand recall in the country, with the Redmi lineup primarily catering to the entry-level segment.
Coming to the device itself, the main attraction with the Redmi Note 5 is the 5.99-inch 18:9 display at the front, which has a resolution of 2160x1080 (FHD+). The tall display means the bezels have shrunk considerably, with the hardware navigation buttons making way for on-screen keys. The design at the back, however, is virtually unchanged from the Redmi Note 4. You still get a metal back, with plastic antenna inserts at the top and bottom that have a metallic finish.
The internal hardware is also unchanged from last year, with the Redmi Note 5 featuring a Snapdragon 625. The phone will be sold in two variants — one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the other with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. We saw the same variants last year as well, but there's not going to be a 2GB option this time around.
The rear camera is now a 12MP sensor, with the module itself identical to that featured on the Mi A1. The rear camera has large 1.25um pixels, allowing for more light to pass through the sensor. As for the front, the 5MP camera is the same as last year, but it now comes with an LED flash module. The basics are all there — you get an IR blaster, and the 3.5mm jack is thankfully intact.
The battery has shrunk slightly, from 4100mAh to 4000mAh. It still charges over microUSB, which is a letdown seeing as how other devices in this segment — Xiaomi's own Mi Max 2 included — feature the newer USB-C standard. There's no fast charging either, with the bundled charger maxing out at 5V/2A. On the software side of things, the Redmi Note 5 is running the latest version of MIUI 9 atop Android 7.1.1 Nougat.
Clearly, not a lot has changed from the Redmi Note 4, and Xiaomi is touting the new display as the main differentiator. As the hardware is nearly unchanged, the pricing is also the same as last year, which should make the new device much more palatable to potential customers.
The Redmi Note 5 variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage will retail for ₹9,999, with the 4GB version offering 64GB of storage costing ₹11,999. The phone will go on sale exclusively on Flipkart starting later this month, and will also make its way to Mi Home stores across the country as well as Xiaomi's offline retail partners. Initial availability was a big problem with the Redmi Note 4, and that shouldn't be an issue with the Redmi Note 5.
For those looking for a bit more oomph, Xiaomi has also unveiled the Redmi Note 5 Pro in the country for ₹13,999. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has the same 18:9 panel and 4000mAh battery, but offers a 20MP front camera with LED flash, 12MP + 5MP dual rear cameras, and is the first phone to be powered by the Snapdragon 636 platform.
Eager to know more about Xiaomi's latest products? Be sure to take a look at our extended coverage:
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 review: The best just got better
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro preview: Possibly the best budget phone of 2018
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro vs. Redmi Note 5 vs. Redmi Note 4
- Xiaomi Mi TV 4 preview: The next big thing is here
What do you think of the Redmi Note 5? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.