ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4p.m. - 7p.m.

SIT UP AND TAKE NOTE

Author
glennzb,
Section
Technology,
Publish Date
Thursday, 29 November 2018, 5:19a.m.

Recently, Xiaomi opened its first Mi Store in the Oceania region, right here in New Zealand.


There was a lot of publicity around the Mi Home electric scooter - which does look pretty amazing - and as a result they sold out almost straight away.


But the other big impact of Mi opening its bright orange doors at Sylvia Park is now we have access to a whole new range of phones...

 


The Redmi Note 5 is full of surprises, even for a phone junkie like me.


At first it's hard to know what to expect from the Note 5, especially since I haven't reviewed a Xiaomi-manufactured device before. Also available in a powder blue, the black version I have takes minimalist design almost to an extreme. From the matte-finish metal back cover to the reinforced shock-absorbing corners of the device, this phone is really black. Even the transparent case included in the box is tinted black. The Redmi Note 5 is almost the complete opposite of some of the gaudy, multicoloured devices we've seen on show throughout the year.


It's a solid piece of kit, quite weighty in the hand. Unusually, the seams, joins and edges are all slightly raised - almost as if to create a tactile experience that suggests industrial usability rather than something that'll slip out of your hand onto the floor.


The large, 5.99inch display seems even bigger than it is, due to sizable bezels top and bottom. The top bezel holds a speaker, the selfie camera and a selfie-light - the bottom one doesn't hold anything so I guess it's just for aesthetic balance.


The bottom edge of the Note 5 is the main physical clue about which part of the phone market it slots into; just the single downward-firing speaker, a real live, physical earphone jack (soon to be extinct I think) and most telling of all, a microUSB port - very old-fashioned at this end of 2018.


So it might not scream style and elegance, but once you fire the Note 5 up, functionality rules supreme. The Snapdragon 636 octacore processor, combined with a respectable 4GB of RAM really keeps this phone flying along with very few pauses, jumps or stutters.


As this was my first experience with the MIUI 9 operating system, I decided to jump in head first, get rid of the buttons off the display and learn the Redmi range of gestures. I actually found this to be very intuitive on the whole, my only real frustration coming when scrolling through photos; the go-back gesture is a swipe from the side of the screen - easily confused with a swipe to the next picture. It's a muscle memory thing, I guess.


Not every phone handles split screen functionality well, if it offers it at all. The Redmi Note 5 makes it easy. It's stable and the screen is certainly big enough to handle it. In fact, the screen is great for all kinds of content - browsing, video whatever.


The cameras were the other big surprise for me. A 15MP + 5MP dual camera on the back combined with a 13MP selfie-cam. No, theses won't win any photography awards up against the big brand flagships, but the low light performance was actually not too shabby - especially from the front-facing camera due to its own built-in selfie light. There are a good selection of beauty settings too, quite customisable compared to many other phones I've tried. I'm still not actually beautiful at the end of it, but a bit closer than usual.


Battery life is the hero feature of this phone. There aren't too many others around with a massive 4000mAh battery like this. Yes the charging cable is old-fashioned, but you'll get a couple of days use out of this phone easy.


At just $398.99, the Redmi Note 5 is priced at the lower end of the mid-range market, but it has the features and performance of a handset at the upper end of that same market. I think that makes it a very good buy.



Click here for more information and pricing on the Redmi Note 5.

ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4p.m. - 7p.m.