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Xiaomi Redmi 5A Review - The BEST Budget Phone Yet?

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According to Xiaomi, the new Redmi 5A is the best budget phone in the world right now. Is that claim correct? Is this the true budget phone to beat? Here's our full review!
Xiaomi Redmi 5A Review - The BEST Budget Phone Yet?
Xiaomi Redmi 5A review!

In case you missed our review part 1, the unboxing and first impressions, please check out the link provided below.


Display Quality

Good display
Good display

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A has a small 5-inch IPS screen with sharp enough HD resolution at 294 pixels per inch. It is as sharp as most budget phones found in this price range.

Bright and decent display!

The colors looks rich and vivid enough for the price. Just don't expect it to be as punchy as some higher-end phones with AMOLED display. Blacks and contrast are alright for the price. Viewing angles are okay as well.

We also like that it has one of the brighter screen at this price point. As a result, sunlight legibility is surprisingly acceptable considering that the Redmi 5A is just a budget Android smartphone.

In the display settings, Xiaomi allows the users to select automatic brightness mode, turn on or off the reading mode (bluelight filter), adjust the text size, double tap the screen to wake, and auto rotate the screen.

Upon checking, we also found out that this one has good enough 5 points of touch.

Audio Quality

Decent speaker quality
Decent speaker quality

At first, we were a bit disappointed that Xiaomi placed its speakers at the back. Why? The audio output will be blocked if you will put your phone in a flat surface while playing some tunes.

Fortunately, it has a small protrusion which avoids audio blockage when the phone is placed on its back. In addition, the speaker that Xiaomi included in this phone is actually considered as great for the price.

It can go quite loud and has some clean details. Just don't crank the volume all the way up to the max to avoid hearing hiss and distortion.

Good audio performance for the price!

For headphones, we liked that Xiaomi allowed us to play some 16-bit lossless audio files. Sound quality is surprisingly great which is more on the brighter side of the audio spectrum. It is mostly clear, clean, and well detailed. It can even drive some HiFi grade dual driver or triple driver earphones.

It is still not as full sounding as other smartphones with HiFi grade DACs, but for the price, we are not complaining.

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A is also did well for calls and casual recordings for the price.

Battery Life

Strong battery performance
Strong battery performance

GREAT! It only has 3,000mAh of battery inside, but its actual battery performance felt like the bigger battery powered smartphone.

It clocked 11 hours and 22 minutes in our PC Mark work battery life time. In comparison, the ZenFone Max Plus M1 with over 4,000mAh battery only recorded 11 hours and 30 minutes.

Great battery performance!

Moreover, actual battery performance is great. Even with heavy phone usage and LTE on all the time, the Redmi 5A can last up to 10 hours o a single charge.

Charging time is slow though. You will need at least 3 hours to fully charge the phone from 0 to 100 percent.

Note: Some reported that they were able to charge their units for as fast as 1 hour and 30 minutes. But, in our experience, charging time is slow.

Camera

13MP f/2.2 w/ PDAF and LED flash
13MP f/2.2 w/ PDAF and LED flash

At the back, the Redmi 5A has a 13MP snapper with f/2.2 aperture lens, PDAF focus, and single LED flash. 
Xiaomi claimed that among all the mainstream brands, it is the only one with a PDAF (phase detection autofocus) for faster and more accurate focus.
The camera modes
The camera modes

Moreover, it has a nice set of camera features which include HDR, panorama, different scenes, beautify, filters, and manual mode. The manual mode is far from complete though. It only has white balance and ISO (100 to 3200) adjustments.


Xiaomi also mentioned during their keynote that it has the "best" cameras for the price. For us, it is decent in performance. Shutter speed is average and focus speed is a bit faster than competition. Taking close-up photos is also possible in well-lit places.

Quality-wise, it can shoot well in daylight. It can capture plenty of details with minimal grain and close to accurate colors in daylight. However, HDR samples we got are grainier and oversharpened. 

It is inconsistent for indoor shots and it'll have a hard time in lowlight. There are times where it won't get the colors accurately too.

For the price, the camera performance is still considered as decent to good though. Use the flash for dim indoor and lowlight snaps.

Rear Camera Samples

Decent daylight photo
Decent daylight photo
Grainy and cartoonish HDR shot
Grainy and cartoonish HDR shot
Good looking indoor well-lit close-up photo
Good looking indoor well-lit close-up photo
It strugged in this macro shot (soft in detail)
It strugged in this macro shot (soft in detail)
Good colors, but not that detailed
Good colors, but not that detailed
Loss of colors and details
Loss of colors and details
Blurry and grainy in lowlight
Blurry and grainy in lowlight
Good flash quality
Good flash quality

For selfies, it has a 5MP f/2.0 sensor that has an auto face beauty mode or manual face beauty mode and several filters. The camera software can also detect your age. However, it has no autofocus, HDR, and LED or screen flash.

In terms of quality, the output is surprisingly great for daylight shots. It is well detailed and has accurate colors. The face beauty mode is also quite good and won't over beautify you on up to level 3 mode. It won't perform that great in lowlight though.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie with Anjie of TeknoGadyet
Detailed indoor selfie with face beauty
Detailed indoor selfie with face beauty
Lowlight selfie camera sample
Lowlight selfie camera sample

The Redmi 5A can shoot up to FHD or 1080p in quality at the back and in front. It can shoot videos with identical colors from the main and selfie cameras of this phone, but expect its focus to be slower. Both are also very shaky in quality if you do not have steady hands.

Video Samples


Performance

High benchmark scores for the price
High benchmark scores for the price

The Redmi 5A is equipped with Qualcomm's entry-level chipset, the 64-bit Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz. It is paired with Adreno 308 GPU, 2GB RAM, and 16GB of expandable storage.

Pretty good overall performance!

The speed of this phone is considered as decent to good for the price. We also like that it has at least 2GB of RAM for basic Android multitasking. Running Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other light applications is breeze. But, don't even think of trying to open too many apps to avoid hiccups. For us the 16GB storage is a bit smaller than our liking. But fortunately, Xiaomi this device has an expandable storage for your other files.
It can't run NBA 2K18 even in all low settings properly
It can't run NBA 2K18 even in all low settings properly

Light to casual gaming is also possible. It can run Asphalt 8 and other 3D games. However, NBA 2K18 kept on crashing with the Redmi 5A even on all low settings. Also, do not expect it to run the demanding games without lag.

Thermal management is alright and it is usually at around 31 to 32 degrees. It could get warm up to 38 degrees when playing games while the 4G LTE data is on.
MIUI skin
MIUI skin

Software-wise, the Redmi 5A is equipped with the much hyped Nougat based MIUI 9.2 skin (Global ROM) out of the box. It is obviously iOS inspired with no app drawer at all. It is neat looking and has minimal bloats.
Security and Mi Remote apps
Security and Mi Remote apps

Those bloatwares include some Microsoft apps, Google apps, social media apps, and some Mi apps. Unfortunately, most of the less useful Mi apps like the MIUI Forum and Mi Store can't be uninstalled.
Dual apps and Mi Drop
Dual apps and Mi Drop

We liked its Mi Drop (speedy file transfer app), Mi Remote (remote control app that's using the IR Blaster), and the Security app (phone optimization) though. It also has a dual app mode that allows you to use two Facebook account or other apps simultaneously.

As expected, the rest of the telephony experience is refined. It has strong enough signal reception and 4G LTE connectivity. Its WiFi and Bluetooth are also working, the IR Blaster remote control mode is usable, and it has nice GPS connection.

However, it has no fingerprint scanner for a more convenient way of unlocking your phone and gyroscope sensor for VR.

Pros - Decent performance, good battery life, IR Blaster, good speaker quality, affordable price
Cons - No glass protection, no fingerprint scanner, no gyroscope sensor, uninstallable bloats

Verdict

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A is far from perfect and it has some noticable weaknesses, but for the low asking price of just PHP 4,590, it is one of the best in the local market right now.

For us, it has the specs and actual performance that can compete with the other bang per buck phones in its class. It can even go toe to toe with some of the slightly pricier offerings from the mainstream brands.

It is not a game changer, but no one can deny that the Redmi 5A is one of the must consider budget phones today.

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4
Audio - 4
Battery - 4.75
Camera - 4
Performance - 4

Average - 4.125 / 5
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