Amidst the patriotic names of phones like Micromax’s Bharat series and Karbonn A40 Indian, Xiaomi has touted its Redmi 5A as a ‘smartphone of the country’. But the company’s meaning by this title is unclear and perhaps it can mean low price. Apart from this, the phone is made in India or it also promises strong battery life. But, the most important thing about this launch is that Xiaomi is offering a discount of Rs 1,000 on its lower-end model, after which the price of 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage variant of Redmi 5A comes down to Rs 4,999.
We are curious to know what exactly has changed in the new Redmi 5A and what are the benefits that customers will get in the new phone. Let us know in the review.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Look and Feel
If you’ve used an entry-level Android smartphone in the past year or two, there isn’t much to say about the looks of the Redmi 5A. It is made of plastic and the design is also simple. However, a slight metallic finish can be seen on the rear. Xiaomi says that the phone will be sold in Dark Grey, Gold and Rose Gold colours. But right now only two options are listed for the first sale. The front of our Gold Review unit is white. And we think we would have liked the dark gray that comes with the black front.
The Redmi 5A has a 5 inch screen but there is a lot of free space at the top and bottom of the screen. The phone is easy to use with one hand. The grip is good despite the 8.35mm thickness and the phone weighs 137 grams. Compared to Redmi 4A, the difference is very less. There is a difference of less than 1 millimeter in the length and width of both the variants.
There are capacitive navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen which are not backlit. But that’s what you can expect for this price. Xiaomi has, as usual, given a status indicator below the home button which turns on only when the phone is charging or else it seems to be missing completely.
Power and volume buttons are given on the right side of the phone and there are two trays on the left side of the phone which can be used for two nano-SIM cards in addition to a microSD card. There is an LED flash near the camera on the rear of the phone and the speaker grille of the phone is facing down on the rear. There’s a Micro-USB port on the bottom edge, but you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack on the top. A special feature is the IR ammeter given on the top edge of the phone. It can be used to control home appliance.
You’ll find a Micro-USB cable and charger in the box, but the headset isn’t as usual. The special thing is that it seems that the company is focusing more on Redmi branding. The box has Redmi branding on the front and back while the name and logo of Xiaomi is written in small letters.
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Specification and Software
It is a bit surprising that most of the specifications of the Redmi 5A are similar to the Redmi 4A. The same Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor is available in the phone which runs at 1.4 GHz. The 5-inch screen comes with 720×1280 pixels resolution. The phone has a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front camera. Apart from this, the phone has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio and GPS support. Apart from 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage, you get the option of 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage. There is nothing different when you compare both the phones.
The Redmi 5A packs a 3000mAh battery which is less than the 3120mAh one given in the Redmi 4A. The phone has a separate microSD card slot which is better than the hybrid dual-SIM slot given in the Redmi 4A. Nano SIM card can be used in place of micro SIM card in the new phone and the capacity of microSD card has been increased from 128 GB to 256 GB. The only difference is that both the phones have some better and some less.
Apart from the IR ammeter, there is no other special feature in the phone. Instead of a single device with features like fingerprint reader, front flash, big battery, secondary rear camera or 18:9 screen, Xiaomi continues to offer an all-rounder device at this price point.
But when it comes to software, some new things have come. Xiaomi Redmi 5A runs on Android 7.1.2 Nougat based custom MIUI 9. It is a single layer UI with no way to enable app drawer. And it’s not bad for a first time Android user. We noticed that there are some unnecessary animations on the icons on the homescreen. Apart from this, there is also an option to choose some themes. You can also download many more themes from the Themes app. Along with this, wallpapers, fonts and ringtones can also be downloaded. Right now they all seem to be free but Xiaomi may start charging money for these downloads in the future.
If you want, you can bring a quick toggle to the Notification Center. For this, it is given in the option in the Settings app. There is also a second space user profile for privacy, the option to set gesture shortcuts and do additional things through Android navigation buttons. The phone also has dual app function through which you can run two accounts simultaneously for an app. App access can be limited through AppLock. The phone does not have a fingerprint sensor, so you will have to use the unlock pattern.
Xiaomi has pre-installed Microsoft Office apps like Skype Lite, Amazon Shopping, WPS Office and UC News in the phone. Other Xiaomi features on the phone include Mi Apps App Store, Mi Store for Xiaomi products, Mi Community Forum app, Mi Drop (Apple AirDrop-like clone) and several custom apps instead of the default Android app.
xiaomi redmi 5a performance
As entry-level phones are on the rise, Xiaomi is able to strike a better balance between price and performance. The Redmi 5A is a capable device for everyday tasks such as web browsing, social apps and messaging. We were also able to play graphics games from the phone, although the performance was not very good. We had a slight problem with the phone when we did heavy tests or played games. Everything else works fine in the phone but the situation gets worse when the second space feature is enabled.
Talking about benchmarks, the device scored well. Our test unit was with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage. That is, the variant with more RAM will definitely improve the performance of the phone further.
The screen of the phone is quite sharp and even small text looks good. Viewing angles are good and brightness is good enough for outdoor use. However, the colors do not come through and there is a slight dullness during videos and games. Although there is a speaker grille all over the rear panel, the sound actually comes out of one place. The audio in the phone is a bit weak and the sound cracks badly at high volumes.
Swiping right on the Redmi 5A’s lockscreen will show you a menu with shortcuts to the Mi Remote app and Mi Home. The Remote app is basic and the process of controlling home appliances will take you a while. The phone has the IR profile for Indian TV, set-top box and AC brands as well as private-label store brands. Unlike some other low-cost phones, third party apps can also use the IR ammeter. You can use the Mi Home app to control popular air purifiers like Xiaomi devices with Wi-Fi enabled.
The cameras of the Redmi 5A are average, but once again we have to strike a balance between our expectations from this low-end phone. There is not much detailing in the pictures. Objects often have blurry edges and textures that are not very well reproduced. We noticed that the colors are very light and this happens even when viewing pictures on the phone’s screen. We managed to get some great close-up shots but the shots from the far end are not good. The quality of pictures gets very poor at night and we failed to capture anything that did not have artificial light. The autofocus works fast in the day time in the phone. Video recording can be up to 1080 pixels, but we found the clip to be very gimmicky.
Beautification is implemented by default in the front camera of the phone, and the faces tend to look very artificial. The phone has a Pro Beauty Mode and a Smart Beauty Mode. The Pro mode gives you the slim and skin sliders, while the Smart mode tries to identify your age and gender. Disabling these makes it clear that the front camera is very weak.
The camera app is very common and you have to double-tap to go to the menu from the default mode. But in many modes you will not get the menu.
Xiaomi heaped praise on the battery life of the Redmi 5A, calling it part of the ‘Desh Ka Smartphone’. And we are happy that with normal usage, the battery life of the phone remained 20 percent even after running for a full day. The phone’s battery lasted for 11 hours and 9 minutes in our HD video loop test, which impresses.
Xiaomi impressed us this time too with its low-cost device. However, there is nothing new or different in the Redmi 5A from the Redmi 4A. If you manage to buy 2GB RAM/16GB storage under the launch offer for Rs 4,999, you won’t regret it. And even with the regular retail price of Rs 5,999, you won’t find many options that can challenge this phone. This is a great phone for first time smartphone users. The camera quality of the phone is a major drawback and you will have to spend a little more if the camera is a must for you.
The price of 32 GB variant is Rs 6,999 and this deal is a little less attractive. There are many more options in this price and you will get bigger screen, fingerprint sensor apart from more RAM and storage in this price. It is worth noting that Redmi 4 (Review) and Redmi Y1 Lite themselves are in this list. And instead we would suggest waiting for the launch of the more powerful Redmi 5.