While buying a smartphone you are spoilt for choices. While there are many good ones, there are also a few let downs among them. So, which smartphone should you buy that won’t cost much? When choosing for a smartphone that is cheap yet powerful, one single brand just stands out – Xiaomi (Redmi is a sub-brand of Xiaomi). They are known to provide low-cost smartphones that just feel premium in nearly all aspects. So it is wiser to buy from them. Currently, the best value is given by the Xiaomi Mi A2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
XIAOMI MI A2 vs REDMI NOTE 5 PRO
When looking for a budget smartphone, these are your best value. Both of these are respectfully powerful, feature a premium design and get your work done. The Xiaomi Mi A2 costs Rs. 16,999 while the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes at Rs. 14,999. So let’s see if you should spend the extra Rs. 2000 or is that amount well saved.
The Mi A2 wins in this sector, but only by a small margin. It is powered by a 2.2 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 660 SoC with Adreno 540 GPU. Redmi Note 5 Pro, on the other hand, is powered by a 1.8 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 636 SoC with Adreno 509 GPU. There is also the inclusion of a Kryo 260 semi-custom CPU in the Redmi Note 5 Pro. What’s interesting is that the Kryo 260 features a Cortex-A73 core along with Cortex-A53 from ARM and you probably didn’t know this, but Cortex-A73 is present in the more powerful Kryo 280 in Snapdragon 835. As for the RAM, both the devices are available in 4 GB and 6 GB RAM variants. As for the storage options go, both are available with 64 GB on-board storage that is further expandable with a microSD card.
Their isn’t much difference between the two processors but the 660 is slightly more efficient in battery management and usage. The Snapdragon 660 also supports faster RAM speed at 1866 MHz (as compared to the 636’s 1333 MHz). However, the Snapdragon 636 processor is very capable as well. The Mi A2 does get a bit warm with moderate usage, a drawback you’ll have to deal with if you’re using a powerful processor made for mid-level smartphones.
The main difference in performance comes when you do some graphics-intensive tasks like photo/video editing or playing games. The Adreno 540 is clocked at a far superior speed (710 MHz) and also has the latest 10 nm technology. So to say simply, it provides higher performance while being more efficient. Redmi Note 5 is also powerful but there are rare hiccups here and there.
The Mi A2 also leads in single-core performance whereas the Redmi Note 5 Pro dominates multi-core performance, thanks to the Cortex-A73.
As far as the battery goes, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a gigantic 4000 mAh battery while the Mi A2 has just 3000 mAh. But that doesn’t mean that the Mi A2 won’t last long – stock Android is a lot more efficient than MIUI and so the battery will last a day. However, having extra 1000 mAh is really beneficial and the Note 5 Pro’s battery will easily last more than a day.
The Mi A2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with the same 5.99″ IPS LCD display which has a resolution of 2160 x 1080p, giving it a pixel density of 403 PPI and a modern aspect ratio of 18:9 or 2:1, if you know simple maths.
The displays have rounded corners and well, the bezels are noticeable. But that’s just something you have to deal with if you buy a smartphone in this price range. The display itself is sharp and colour reproduction is on the warmer side. This, however, is easier on the eye. The viewing angles are also good. Although the screen brightness is doable, it becomes difficult to read under sunlight.
The Mi A2 has a 12 MP primary camera with f/1.25 aperture (Sony IMX486) with a 20 MP secondary camera having f/1.75 aperture (Sony IMX376).
Redmi Note 5 Pro also has a dual-camera setup – 12 MP (Sony IMX486) primary and 5 MP (Samsung) secondary. The apertures are f/1.25 and f/1.75 respectively.
Both of them feature a 20 MP front-facing camera. They capture loads of detail and thankfully the beautify mode has a subtle effect and does not overdo the effect to give a washed out look.
Mi A2 certainly has a better secondary camera and it shows when you click pictures in low light mode. It preserves respectable amount of quality whereas the Redmi Note 5 Pro chugs out noisy pictures under low light. None if these cameras are optically stabilised but they do have Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) which seems pretty good. OIS would have been better though. Colour and white balance are accurate and pictures turn out great under normal lighting conditions in both the devices. The HDR quality is really good too. As for portrait shots, I’d say that edge detection works fine in most cases and is rarely gimmicky.
Video recording is much better in the Mi A2. Unlike the Redmi Note 5 Pro, it is capable of shooting 4k videos. This is a pretty big difference. There seems to be no reason for the Note 5 Pro to skip 4k recording as smartphones with less powerful processors are able to record in 4k. The lack of OIS can be seen while recording a video with Mi A2 as well as the Note 5 Pro. The videos are full of details and the colour accuracy very good.
To sum it up, both the devices produce crisp outputs with nice details and fine HDR. The lack of 4k recording with the Redmi Note 5 is disappointing though.
This is where the main difference lies between the two smartphones. Despite being from the same company, they feature completely different software inside. This is due to the fact that the Mi A2 features Android One. This is a programme by Google which encourages manufacturers to make cheap smartphones that run on stock Android. On contrast to the Mi A2 running on stock Android, the Redmi Note 5 Pro runs on Android with MIUI skin. Which phone you’ll buy will largely be decided on this – Do you want stock Android or can you do with MIUI skin?
Out of the box, the Mi A2 runs on Android Oreo 8.1 and the Note 5 Pro on Android Nougat 7.1 with MIUI 9. For some tech enthusiasts, stock Android is the holy grail. It promises fast updates, smooth and crispy performance and efficiency.
For most other people, MIUI won’t be half as bad. Rather, it’ll not affect their usage by much. Xiaomi has put some heavy customisations but it is functional above all. MIUI does consume quite a bit of RAM, but with 4 GB of RAM, it won’t pose to be a problem for your day-to-day tasks. Xiaomi provides custom apps with MIUI that let you tweak your system a bit more than what stock Android allows you to. But you can always get a launcher to make heavy customisations. This is where MIUI will affect you. The launcher would need a bit more RAM so that your customised system runs smoothly. But when MIUI is consuming RAM on top of what the launcher would need, you are going to have some problems.
In this affordable price tag, it’s hard to expect premium build quality. But, surprisingly both the phones deliver in this segment. Both of them boast a metal unibody design with slightly curved edges at the back that makes it comfortable to hold in the hands. Xiaomi has also preserved the IR blaster. There’s a huge camera bump at the back that makes it quite a bit of an awkward addition to the sleek design. The Mi A2 has also done away with the 3.5 mm headphone jack while the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a malfunctioning one. Another difference in design is that the placement of the camera module – in the Mi A2 it is situated exactly at the top-left corner while in the Redmi Note 5 Pro, it is quite below the top-left corner.
What’s worse about the design, despite its premium build quality, is that it pretends to be an iPhone. It’s good for some people but Xiaomi has straight up slapped the iPhone X design on its hardware.
WHICH SMARTPHONE SHOULD YOU BUY?
Now, that you know everything about the Mi A2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro, you should decide which smartphone meets your needs.
The Mi A2 offers more performance with the Snapdragon 660 camera capability with a dual 12 + 20 MP setup that allows you to shoot 4k. You’re also getting stock Android with 2 years of guaranteed updates. So I would say that the extra Rs. 2000 you’ll have to pay for this device is totally worth it!
The Redmi Note 5 pro is quite capable too, but the inferior camera without 4k video recording is a deal breaker for me.