Hands-On

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Hands-on: The new budget smartphone king?

The successor to the popular Redmi Note 4 doesn’t disappoint

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Xiaomi’s latest bang-for-buck phone is finally in my hands! Since its first appearance in India (as the Redmi Note 5 Pro), I immediately knew it would be a worthy successor to the Redmi Note 4 people loved. Without further ado, this is my hands-on with the Redmi Note 5.

As always, let’s get to know the phone’s physique first.

It has a 5.99-inch Full HD+ display in an 18:9 ratio

It’s crisp and vibrant plus it’s protected by Gorilla Glass

The selfie camera and earpiece are where they should be

The buttons for volume and power are on the right side

Just two buttons serving their functions

While the hybrid card slot is hiding on the left

Do you want a second SIM card or a microSD card? Choose!

The IR blaster and secondary microphone sit on top

Switching TV channels is something a Redmi phone can also do

The bottom is pretty busy with the audio port, microphone, micro-USB port, and loudspeaker

Xiaomi is not yet switching to USB-C for its budget devices

It’s got a basic Redmi look at the back with the fingerprint reader in the middle

The whole body is made of metal and plastic

The rear camera looks familiar, doesn’t it?

Copied from the iPhone X

What’s inside the Redmi Note 5?

As a budget phone from Xiaomi, the Redmi Note 5 doesn’t have crazy new features, but it does have everything you can ask out of a decent everyday smartphone. First of all, its display has an 18:9 ratio which is pretty much the staple nowadays and a crisp 403ppi pixel density. In terms of display quality, it’s not far behind from its more expensive counterparts. It’s still an LCD panel though, and not Super AMOLED like with Samsung phones.

The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor which is the same chipset found on the ZenFone 5 that retails for around US$ 400. My Redmi Note 5 review unit comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage which is being sold in China for CNY 1,399 or PhP 11,990 in the Philippines (roughly US$ 225 only). That’s almost half the price of the ZenFone 5!

Moving forward, the Redmi Note 5’s processing power makes it passable as a gaming phone. Choosing ultra-high graphics will render the game with low frame rates and appear laggy, but if you know how to hit the sweet spot (somewhere in between medium and high settings, depending on the game) you can enjoy your favorite titles with no issues. So far, I’ve been playing Asphalt Xtreme and PUBG: Mobile, and I haven’t encountered any major lag or overheating.

As for its cameras, there’s a dual rear camera setup composed of a 12-megapixel main shooter with an f/1.9 aperture and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor to assist in depth sensing. Since the phone has two rear cameras, it can shoot portraits with creamy bokeh. For selfies, it has a 13-megapixel front camera with built-in beautification mode and depth effect, as well.

The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box that’s skinned with MIUI 9.5. The latest version of Android and MIUI help with the phone’s lag-free operation. Despite being heavily skinned with Xiaomi’s custom UI, the Redmi Note 5 doesn’t stutter or freeze. I’ll see in the coming days how far the phone can go without slowing down.

Another feature of the Redmi Note 4 that the Redmi Note 5 inherits is the large battery capacity. It still has a sizeable 4000mAh battery sealed inside its body. Sadly, it charges through a micro-USB port and there’s no mention of Quick Charge support. I’ll be testing the phone’s battery life and charging times to let you guys know how it fares.

Pricing alone makes the Redmi Note 5 a viable option if you’re looking for a powerful phone that doesn’t cost much. But, of course, not all phones are created equal. I’ll be taking the Redmi Note 5 for a full spin in the coming days and I’ll share my full review.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Redmi 5A excels in sales, become top Android phone worldwide

Hands-On

Microsoft Surface family Hands-On

And it’s dual screen

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Our Microsoft Surface Family Hands-On features the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X.

We also take a quick look at the Surface Buds, Surface Neo and Surface Duo. The latter two foldable devices are coming in time for next year’s holiday season. The Surface Duo and Android-powered Windows phone with two displays hinged together in the middle.

Joining me in this video is my She Said, He Said Co-Host Nicole Scott.

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Hands-On

Realme 5 Hands-On: A phone that you can rely on

Power in a budget

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When Realme unveiled the Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro, one can’t just walk away and not look at this beautiful duo. However, the Realme 5 stands out compared to its pro version, with its shiny and bigger build.

Even though I dislike tall and bigger smartphones, I gave the Realme 5 a try. Let’s see what this phone has to offer.

The Realme 5 has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen…

… and a dewdrop notch

On its bottom are its speaker grilles, a micro USB port, and a headphone jack

Found on the right side is its power button…

… while the left side contains the volume keys and the card tray

It has a plastic build designed with diamond cuts…

… and a quad-camera setup along with a dedicated fingerprint scanner

Premium-looking for its price

Realme follows the recent approach of every smartphone makers: Design an affordable phone to something premium-looking. Thanks to its well-thought design, the Realme 5 doesn’t look like a cheap, budget phone.

While its body is made of plastic, Realme made this affordable smartphone premium through its Gorilla Glass 3 at the front and adding splash resistance all over its body. Additionally, it comes in two cool gradient colors (like any other smartphones in 2019): Crystal Blue and Crystal Purple.

Its front has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a 20:9 ratio and 720p resolution. For a massive smartphone, its resolution is a little bit low, causing icons to blur a little.

Enjoy longer playtime

The Realme 5 didn’t disappoint in terms of power and performance. For me, this is where this phone shines apart from its shiny design. Sporting a Snapdragon 665 processor and carrying a 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, this phone lets you play your favorite mobile games decently, such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Don’t worry about running out of juice, though! Packed with 5000mAh battery, this phone can last throughout the day, even if you’re a power user or a non-stop gamer.

Recently, I went on a hike and while there are occasional photo-taking sessions, the Realme 5 didn’t suck up a lot of its battery throughout the day. It even lasted the next day, and can definitely last longer if it’s just on standby.

Light, clean, and easy to look at

Realme 5 runs Color OS 6 based on Android 9 Pie, and is planning to upgrade it to Android 10. Similar to Realme X, its icons looks cleaner and lighter, making it pretty easy to look at. However, it isn’t that speedy when it comes to navigating, scrolling, and switching between apps.

But thanks to its user interface with a lighter feel, you won’t even notice the speed difference compared to your previous phones. It will just make you feel it’s fast enough to get the job done.

Easier and prettier selfies

Sitting inside the notch is a 13-megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens. Other options include a portrait mode, a panorama mode, and a time-lapse mode. For those who want to add an extra flair, there are built-in filters to choose from. If beauty is your concern, say no more. The camera has a lot of enhancement options like smoothing, nose trimming, face thinning, and eye enlargement.

Additionally, taking a selfie is pretty easy. You can opt between using the regular capture button, through the volume keys, through timer, fingerprint, touch, or even hand gesture.

Picture-perfect memories

On the flip side, its rear cameras are equipped with a 12-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 2-megapixel dedicated macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

For a budget smartphone, my eyes and heart are happy with the photos. It’s not that detailed, but it’s rich in colors and highly vibrant despite a gloomy weather. It’s even better when there’s a substantial amount of natural light.

Its ultra-wide angle photos are suitable for online consumption. It lets you create dramatic shots and add perspective on your photos.

Through AI scene recognition, the Realme 5’s cameras automatically detect the settings for a certain scene. If it’s dim or during at night, it automatically activates HDR and brightens up the processed photo. Noise levels are pretty low, and it’s a big improvement for Realme.

There are more camera modes available apart from photo, portrait, video, and ultrawide, such as nightscape, panorama, expert, time-lapse, slo-mo, and ultra macro. Overall, the Realme 5 has decent cameras that are suitable for sharing on social media. Its ability to capture true colors and vivid scenes guarantees you don’t need a lot of editing apps to enhance and process your photos, you can now share it as is.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Realme provides excellent value on its smartphones, especially in the Realme 5. What it lacks in display, screen resolution, and user interface, it compensates in power, performance, and cameras. With this kind of offering, it’s hard not to consider and give this phone a try.

For its price, the Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need. Its 3GB RAM/64GB storage variant costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) while its 4GB RAM/128GB storage variant is priced at PhP 9,990 (US$ 192).

Additionally, there’s a cheaper, Lazada Exclusive Model with a 3GB RAM/32GB storage for only PhP 6,990 (US$ 134). The Realme 5 is available nationwide starting October 4.

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Huawei Nova 5T: Flagship-like midranger

Stylish and powerful

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What happens when you put flagship-level processor and cameras in an expressive-looking package — you get the Huawei Nova 5T.

From the moment of its launch, the Nova 5T knew what it wants to be. It’s a smartphone that can more than get the job done and look good while doing it.

Flagship phone in a midranger’s body

The Huawei Nova 5T looks extremely good on paper. Powering the device is the Kirin 980 processor. It’s the same processor found on Huawei’s early 2019 flagship — the P30 Pro. That alone says a lot but it doesn’t end there.

You also get 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. These are insane numbers for a flagship smartphone, let alone one that’s priced in the midrange category (PhP 18,990).

Not just good on paper

Putting the phone through the paces, we quickly realized that it’s more than just the numbers. The Huawei Nova 5T flat out delivers a smooth performance you might forget you didn’t pay an extraordinary amount to get it.

We used the P30 Pro for a while and there’s little to no difference in performance. Whether you’re using your phone to answer a pile of emails or by scrutinizing every single one of your crush’s social media posts, the Nova 5T is up for the task.

You probably enjoy a fair amount of Netflix and YouTube sessions. The 6.3-inch IPS LCD display provides you with a good enough screen to enjoy your favorite shows whether you’re watching at home or outdoors.

Naturally, this phone can game. It’s more than enough to get you that MVP on Mobile Legends and can easily power you through PUBG mobile for that chicken dinner. And with a 3750mAh battery, you have more than enough juice to get you through a busy day.

Cameras that let you shine

The phone is equipped with four cameras: a 48MP wide angle shooter, 16MP ultra wide angle, 2MP dedicated macro camera, and 2MP depth sensor.

Huawei has made a name for itself in the mobile photography segment. The Nova 5T also delivers in this category. We’re fans of the ultra wide angle, it’s just too bad we haven’t had the chance to use it on a more scenic view prior to this hands-on.

The triple cameras are great for providing different perspectives. And the depth sensor does exactly what it’s supposed to do.

 

 

In front, situated at the top left area of the display is the punch hole, 32MP front-facing camera. You also get an adjustable beauty mode and portrait levels to help take your selfies to the next level.

The camera also has some other fun features you might enjoy playing with like Light Painting, Time-lapse, and Slow-mo. Here are other samples:

A flashy design

The Nova 5T is also all about expressing yourself. We’ve covered the idea behind the branding, and whether it’s your cup of tea or not, you can’t deny that this look is truly Huawei.

It mirrors the self-identity approach that it believes is paramount to its intended market. It looks great but does more than enough heavy lifting to power your day.

Adding the fingerprint scanner to the power button instead of putting it under the display is also an underrated touch. The fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate, and is at a comfortable position whether the phone is facing up or down on a table.

We’re excited to get EMUI 10

EMUI 9 already has a lot going for it. The extra things it provides are quite thoughtful. For instance, despite it still being based on Android 9 Pie, EMUI 9 implements fullscreen gestures that’s close to Android 10. Of course, this wouldn’t matter much to you if you’re the navigation bar type of person.

There’s also other helpful little quirks like swiping down with three fingers or knocking on the display to capture a screenshot.

Which is why we’re excited for the phone to get EMUI 10. It’s a faster, cleaner, and smoother version of EMUI and should help enhance the experience of using the Nova 5T.

Moving over to the phone is also quite easy thanks to Huawei’s Clone Phone app. It’s perhaps one of the most convenient ways to move from one phone to another.

Is the Huawei Nova 5T your GadgetMatch?

When we think about smartphones that offer the “best bang for your buck,” they usually don’t look like this. And probably don’t perform as well as the Nova 5T does.

In a way, the Huawei Nova 5T breaks expectations on so many fronts. That’s what sets it apart from other phones in this category.

To be able to harness this much power, at a reasonable price, and with an expressive look — we’re not sure how Huawei pulled it off, but we’re very glad that they did.


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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