If you live outside the US, particularly in China or India, then you probably know the name Xiaomi. Xiaomi has quickly become one of the biggest smartphone and tech companies in the world, but their presence hasn’t quite been felt here in the States. That’s why this phone right here, the relatively new Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, is the first time I personally have had the opportunity to check out a Xiaomi product. This phone was graciously sent over to me for review by the folks over at Gearbest, and they continue to have some of the best deals on smartphones and all kinds of tech, so I highly recommend checking them out at the link in the video description if you’re looking for your next gadget. They even have this device for 10% off right now. And speaking of price, this phone definitely falls into the budget category at either $179 or $199 depending on some specs. So enough talking, let’s get into it here and see what this device is all about.
As far as the unboxing experience, you do get a couple of things included inside the package. But the first thing I’ll pull out is the phone itself, and just as a quick note, you can get either the Redmi 5 with a 5.7 inch display, or the Redmi 5 Plus like I have here with that larger 5.99 inch display and this device of course is in that soft gold color. You also get a nice clear flexible TPU case to protect your new phone which is always a nice addition. There’s a quick little instruction pamphlet with some general information, and down at the bottom of the box my version of this phone comes with a USA style wall plug for charging, a micro USB cable so no USB-C here unfortunately, and a metal SIM ejector tool for swapping out your SIM cards.
Redmi 5 2GB/16GB (GearBest Link)
Redmi 5 3GB/32GB (GearBest Link)
Peeling off the last couple of stickers and handling this device for the very first time, I was really impressed with just how nice everything felt. For a lot of you guys, this should come as know surprise because Xiaomi does make excellent hardware, but for less than $200 the aluminum and glass material, the weight of the phone, the look of everything, it all makes the Redmi 5 Plus look and feel very excellent.
So first things first, let’s talk about the display. Like I mentioned earlier, this is the Plus version of this device, so you get the larger 5.99 inch LCD display at an 18:9 aspect ratio which pretty much seems to be the norm nowadays. It’s a 2160 by 1080 display at 403 ppi, which is pretty standard on a budget device like this, Xiaomi isn’t doing anything over the top with the display here but even at that 1080p resolution, colors look very vibrant and natural, the screen can get plenty bright even in direct sunlight, and yes like every other 18:9 device when you’re watching movies or videos you’re going to get some letterboxing, but the slimmer bezels and tall display allow you to have a device that rocks a 77% screen to body ratio, so you have a lot of screen real estate to work with and no notch or wide bezels standing the way.
Unlike a lot of other companies who went with a glass sandwich design, Xiaomi stuck with an aluminum housing for the Redmi 5 line and I really think that’s a good choice. I personally prefer the look and feel of aluminum over glass, especially when it comes to durability of course, and yes that does make things a little slippery but even though this is a 6 inch device it’s still very easy to handle and can certainly be managed with one hand if you need to. On the side you’ll find power and volume buttons and up top you’ve got a headphone jack and IR blaster, a couple things that we don’t see on many new phones nowadays, and towards the bottom you’ve got the micro USB port, a single speaker and microphone. Up front of course there’s a front facing camera with front flash, and around back is a single lens, I’ll talk more about the cameras in a bit but you’ll also notice a rear finger print sensor as well. It should come as no surprise that the rear fingerprint sensor is not only in an excellent spot for reachability, but it’s also very quick and accurate
As far as the specs go, this device has some decent internals that offer a buttery smooth user experience but if you’re coming from something like the Redmi Note 4, you’ll notice that there isn’t too much of a change here. You get a snapdragon 625 octa core processor either 3GB of Ram with 32GB of storage or 4GB Of RAM with 64GB of storage depending on which model you go with, and a massive 4000mah battery which has yielded me more than a day’s use and over 5 hours of screen on time, so I was pretty inpressed as far as battery life is concerned. and those specs are more than enough for some graphics intensive gaming, I never had any issues with lag or overheating or crashing really, and also just General day to day tasks and unfortunately you’re left with Android 7.1.2 here, no Oreo in sight yet, but on the software side of things Xiaomi offers a really clean layout and very enjoyable user experience overall. It’s obviously not a stock android experience, but personally I don’t have a problem with the MIUI and I know that’s more a matter of personal taste.
there’s also expandable storage via an SD card or you can use 2 SIM cards at once if you need to do that, and as far as network compatibility here in the US, I was able to pop in my AT&T SIM card with no issues. Now there are technically 2 versions of this phone with slightly different network capabilities and advise you to do your research when it comes to your particularly carrier. Every carrier whether you’re in the US or any other county has different network requirements and capabilities, but just know that if you’re interested in checking out Xiaomi and you live in the US, network compatibility may not be an issue.
Last but not least we have the cameras and I’ll be honest I was skeptical here for a couple reasons. Budget phones just tend to have crappy cameras, that always seems to be where manufacturers cut corners, and a couple other Chinese brands I’ve tried in the past also were just not up to par in the camera department, but in the case of the Redmi 5, both the front and rear cameras are really pretty excellent. The rear is a single lens 12.0mp shooter with an f2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus, face detection, HDR, 4K video, you don’t get much stabilization unfortunately so video is shaky but the quality and colors and detail definitely exceed a lot of other budget devices I’ve checked out, and the 5 mp front camera shoot also some decent selfies even in some not so great light, so while a vast majority of other smartphones in this budget range and from other Chinese brands don’t have the best cameras, xiaomi’s offering here with the Redmi 5 Plus is really solid.
All in all, even though this was just my first Xiaomi device, I can definitely see why they’ve become such a popular brand. The value you get here with the Redmi 5 Plus is excellent overall, and really this probably the first budget device that I would say doesn’t have any sacrifices. The phone as a whole is a very complete package from start to finish and especially at under $200, it’s an instant buy for me, I would be more than happy with this device and I know a vast majority of people would too. I hope Xiaomi has the means and the interest to enter the market here in the US because they’d conquer the budget space at a bare minimum and I know they could go head to head with any other smartphone manufacturer for their flagship decided too.