The Redmi Note 5 Pro is the first phone from the house of Xiaomi to enter India in 2018. Not just this, but it is also the first Redmi Phone to come with ‘Pro’ branding and a dual-camera.
The 4GB RAM variant Redmi Note 5 Pro is priced at Rs 13,999, which clashes with another popular smartphone from Xiaomi — the Mi A1.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro obviously has a newer hardware, but the camera prowess and stock Android experience of the Mi A1 makes it a worthy competitor. So let’s keep the phones side by side and see which trumps the other and in which department.
Design and build
If you consider first impressions, the front of the Redmi Note 5 Pro is enough to catch your attention, thanks to the new 5.9-inch display with 18:9 aspect ratio. Also, if you are more interested in flaunting the iPhone X like camera design, then that’s one of the reasons to go for it.
Logically, the Mi A1 has a better design and build. The edges of the Note 5 Pro and the Mi A1 are equally thick visibly, but that’s because Xiaomi has increased the curvature on the edges of the back panel. It might look thin but it is actually 0.8mm thicker than the Mi A1. This can be felt immediately as you hold it.
The longer screen size of the Redmi Note 5 Pro makes it slightly difficult to access all parts of the screen with one hand, where the Mi A1 feels better. So, if you ask which among the two can be held for a longer period comfortably – I would say the Mi A1 it is.
If you are allergic to bezels, which I guess many already are, the Mi A1 might not impress you. This does not mean the Redmi Note 5 Pro is void of bezels, it just has thinner bezels that also led to extinction of the physical navigation keys.
The Mi A1 is also slightly lighter than the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which adds up to the usability factor. Also, the camera protrusion on the Note 5 Pro makes the phone wobble when you place it on the back. This means that you need to slap a back cover on it.
So the Mi A1 is better in terms of comfort of usability but if you would like to carry a device that looks more 2018, then the Redmi Note 5 Pro is surely the one.
Performance and software
To make it fair for both, we compared the 4GB RAM variant of both the phones. While size of storage and RAM are alike, the SoC is a big differentiator. The Mi A1 runs the Snapdragon 625 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro runs Snapdragon 636.
During our test, the Mi A1 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro fared equally in basic tasks. But there’s no doubt that the Snapdragon 636 on the Redmi 5 Pro is a better performer when it comes to intensive usage. The difference is clearly visible in the camera, where the Mi A1 is slightly slow in capturing and processing images.
Opening and closing of apps is slightly faster on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Although it's hard to notice, it becomes more evident when there are tons of apps running in the background.
On the software front, the Mi A1 feels a lot neater and easy to use when compared to the MIUI 9. The Redmi Note 5 Pro despite being a newer phone still runs the older version on Android.
Ideally, the Mi A1 should feel smoother and faster but the processing prowess of the Redmi Note 5 Pro makes up for it.
Hands down, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a clear winner in this department. The resolution on both the phones is full HD, but the difference here is massive. The Mi A1 has a smaller 5.5-inch display, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a tall 5.9-inch display that stands out.
The display on the Note 5 Pro gives an immersive and a premium feel. It is a lot brighter than the Mi A1 and that makes it great for sunlight legibility. I used to find the Mi A1’s display better than many but when compared to the Note 5 Pro’s display, things changed.
The Mi A1 has a blue tint, which isn’t obvious until you put the Redmi Note 5 Pro by its side. The Mi A1 surely produces good colour tones, but the Note 5 Pro looks far too vivid in front of it.
Both the phones have a decent display for watching videos, gaming and reading. But if we have to choose one, the Redmi Note 5 Pro wins by a huge margin.
The Mi A1 comes packed with a 3080mAh battery and the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a 4000mAh cell. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a clear winner on paper, and in real life usage as well.
Below are some results of our battery test.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro
Video (20 minutes) – 2% drop
Browsing (20 minutes) – 2% drop
Gaming (15 minutes) – 2% drop
Xiaomi Mi A1
Video (20 minutes) – 4% drop
Browsing (20 minutes) – 4% drop
Gaming (15 minutes) – 3% drop
The Redmi Note 5 Pro lasts for more than 12 hours on single charge after basic usage. The Mi A1 on the other hand gives around 8 hours of backup after similar usage.
Both the phones boast of a dual camera setup, which on the Mi A1 is a telephoto + wide angle, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a monochrome secondary camera.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro produces punchier colours, but the Mi A1 has better dynamic range in the pictures. Both the phones are good when it comes to capturing details but the pictures from Mi A1 looked slightly sharper in daylight.
Also, the Mi A1 does a better bokeh than the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which suffers with the same uneven blurring issue.
Both the phones handle lighting very well, and for their price we can recommend any for their performance in good light.
The Mi A1 does click good pictures but the superior processor of the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes into play to speed up image processing. In short, the Note 5 Pro has it snappier.
In low light, the Redmi Note 5 Pro does way better job at handling light and the colours are well saturated. The Mi A1 definitely captures well-defined pictures but when the pictures are compared – the difference shows up.
You can compare the camera samples below.
The Mi A1 has a 10v amplifier which makes it sound a little better than the Redmi Note 5 Pro while using headphones.
Which one to buy?
Overall, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is undoubtedly a more powerful phone than the Mi A1. The phone also excels in the camera department except for the portraits, display is also more immersive, and it dominates the Mi A1 in terms of battery life as well.
So the only department where the Mi A1 stands out is the design and ease of usability. So, if you don't care about the software and the design much, then Redmi Note 5 Pro is what you need.