Xiaomi Redmi 5A review: Hail the new king of the budget smartphone segment

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China-based smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi is enjoying some success in the price-conscious Indian smartphone market, thanks mainly to its affordable smartphone segment, where the company has a stronger hold than competitors.

Xiaomi’s latest offering, the Redmi 5A, is another budget device that comes with best-in-class features and specifications. But it is the subsidized launch price of Rs 4,999 for the first 5 million units – against the current price of Rs 5,999 – that makes the phone a lot more special.

Business Standard reviewed the Redmi 5A to test its overall performance. Here are our observations:

Design

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A sees no radical change in design over predecessor Redmi 4A. The front side of the device is dominated by a 5-inch HD display covered with flat glass. There is no additional layer to protect the screen from unwanted scratches or to survive accidental falls, so users would like to use high-quality tempered glass to protect the screen.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A

There are three capacitive navigation keys below the display that work like a charm. The earpiece and sensors find their spot along with the front camera at the huge bezel on the top. The ejectable dual-sim tray and dedicated memory card expansion slot are placed at the left side of the device, and both require a pin for ejection. The volume rockers and the power button are placed on the right side.

The 3.5mm headphone jack, along with an infrared blaster and secondary microphone, is placed at the top. The bottom is covered with a micro-USB port and the primary microphone.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A

The rear is rather bland, with the primary camera being placed at the top left along with the LED flash. There is no fingerprint scanner, so the back feels a lot emptier. The speaker is mounted on the lower back, which might cause some trouble to people who like to put their phones on a flat surface.

Overall, the device feels light and comfortable in the pocket and in hand. You do not need both your hands to operate it.

Display

The Redmi 5A sports a 5-inch HD display (1280 x 720 pixels) that offers 296 PPI. For a budget smartphone, the HD resolution suffices for keeping things without putting strain on the processor and battery. The display is bright, sharp and remains visible under direct sunlight. It offers a satisfactory contrast and saturation under all light conditions.

software

The Redmi 5A boots the Android 7.1.2 Nougat skinned under MIUI 9. Coming to the pros of the software, the MIUI 9 has a host of new features that might be of interest to MIUI users. The user interface looks more clean and polished than previous versions of the skin. More than cosmetic ones, the new skin offers utility-based features like dual apps, quick ball, single-hand mode, child lock and scrolling screenshot. With MIUI 9, the phone supports multitasking capabilities as well.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A

As for the cons, the phone should have been launched with the Android Oreo-based MIUI 9. However, with a focus on app performance and overall UI speed, the Nougat-based theme does not disappoint much.

Performance

The Redmi 5A is powered by an energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor. Though not a powerhouse, it provides enough to operate the device without any glitch or lag. The HD screen keeps less strain on the processor and the highly optimized MIUI operating system enhances the performance without a processor overkill.

Powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, the energy-efficient processor, coupled with a blazing fast MIUI operating system, helps phone achieve good on-battery time of more than a day.

Camera

The Redmi 5A features a 13-megapixel rear camera assisted with phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and LED flash. The camera is not a major improvement over its predecessor, its performance is also on similar lines. In daylight, the camera works optimally to shoot images with satisfactory details, sharpness and contrast. But in low-light conditions of the performance is sub-par. However, you might like to overlook it given the smartphone’s entry-level price tag.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A

There is a 5MP selfie camera on the front that supports the beautify mode. The selfie camera also requires steady hands to click good selfies. In daylight, the camera works well but the quality erodes during low-light conditions.

Verdict

The Redmi 5A is a smartphone with a perfect screen size and resolution. At a price of Rs 5,999 for base model (without subsidies), the phone is worth every penny and it is certainly the most responsive smartphone in its category.