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Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Vs Mi A1 : Who's best ??

By: TWINKLE VARSHNEY| TECH TALKS

After having successfully captured the under Rs 10,000 price segment in India, Xiaomi is going in for the kill, to capture the under Rs 20,000 price segment too. While the Mi A1 and the Mi Max 2 have become quite popular in that segment, Xiaomi was still in dire need of a flagship-grade offering, that could stand toe-to-toe with competition, more specifically the likes of Honor. Enter, the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro is everything that the doctor ordered for Xiaomi: it embraces the new industry trend of bezel-less design, its mighty powerful and efficient, it has outstanding camera credentials, and a massive 4,000mAh battery on the inside. But is it any better than the Mi A1? Yes.

Design and build quality

Boasting of a full-metal body and dual rear cameras, the Mi A1 would remind you of Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, especially from the behind. The same is true about the phone's front as well. Everything from the 2.5 D curved glass -- which is Corning's Gorilla Glass 3 for your reference -- on the front to the antenna lines placement on the back, screams the iPhone. The only visible difference is seen in the fingerprint scanner placement. As opposed to the iPhone 7 Plus that comes with a front-mounted fingerprint scanner, the Xiaomi Mi A1 sports one on the back. The Mi A1 further comes with physical capacitive keys on the front which are back-lit.
The Mi A1 may look remarkably like the iPhone 7 Plus, but, at least it looks good while at it. Also, it costs peanuts in comparison, so that's that. You'll have to dig a little deeper to understand its design philosophy though. The Mi A1, in fact, borrows heavily from Xiaomi's gentle giant, the Mi Max 2: you can call it a smaller Mi Max 2 if you may.
That's not to say that it's without its flaws though. The Mi A1 that takes great pride in its aesthetically pleasing curves can be tad slippery and unmanageable at times. The fingerprint scanner on the back, although it's mostly fast and accurate, could be better.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro, meanwhile, starts off right where the Redmi Note 4 left. Thats not to say that its a recycled Redmi Note 4 though. The Redmi Note 5 Pro brings in two major changes, that are fast becoming the new norm even among phones that don't necessarily cost a bomb. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is both bezel-less and comes with dual cameras on the rear. Interestingly, the dual camera system on-board the Redmi Note 5 Pro would remind you of Apples iPhone X. But then again, while the iPhone X costs close to a lakh, the Redmi Note 5 Pro, well, lets just say it wont burn a hole in your pocket.
Moving on, the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with an almost full-metal body -- with top and bottom ends being plastic with brushed metal finish -- curved 2.5D Corning Gorilla glass (unspecified) with rounded edges and polished antenna lines. Being longer and narrower than being wider means the Redmi Note 5 Pro fits easily into your hands, as against the Redmi Note 4 (and the Mi A1) which, owing to its sizeable width, was quite a handful. It's a little heavier but the extra weight adds some firm reassurance to the whole package. The Redmi Note 5 Pro, it seems like, can take a beating or two. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has an always-on fingerprint scanner on the back which is ridiculously fast (and accurate) and on-screen buttons/soft keys for navigation.
Winner: The Mi A1 is a looker, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro is sturdier.

Display


The Redmi Note 5 Pro brings bezel-less screens to the masses. This allows Xiaomi to increase the screen real estate without increasing the all-round footprint of the phone. The Redmi Note 5 Pro, to that effect, comes with a 5.99-inch 'full-screen' FHD+ display with a 2160x1080p resolution and 403ppi pixel density. Because Xiaomi has shaved off much of the bezels on the top and bottom and also on the sides, the Redmi Note 5 Pro feels much smaller than regular 6-inch phones. Also, it supports an unusual aspect ratio of 18:9, as against the more traditional 16:9.
The Mi A1, meanwhile, comes with a more traditional 5.5-inch Full-HD LTPS display that amounts to 1080x1920 pixels (403 ppi pixel density). The screen of the Mi A1 can get really bright, but, its colour reproduction does leave you asking for more.
The quality of the panel in the Redmi Note 5 Pro is quite good, its even better than the Mi A1. It handles -- and reproduces -- colours well. In fact, colours on-board the Redmi Note 5 Pro -- because of their slight affinity towards the warmer end of the spectrum -- look more pleasing to the eyes, than counterparts, and also there's an option to manually correct contrast and an in-built reading mode for comfortable night-time reading. Brightness levels are quite adequate too.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro

Performance and battery life

The Redmi Note 5 Pro marks the global debut of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 636 processor. The Snapdragon 636 is notable for bringing Qualcomm's Kryo 260 CPU cores into the Snapdragon 63X range, bringing more raw CPU power into the mid-range segment. The Kryo 260 CPU inside the Snapdragon 636 can deliver roughly 40 per cent more power than the Snapdragon 630 inside phones like the Moto X4, according to Qualcomm. Additionally, the Snapdragon 636 also crams in a bumped up Adreno 509 GPU that gives it a 10 per cent performance boost over the Adreno 508 inside the Snapdragon 630, Qualcomm adds. Based on a 14nm finfet manufacturing process, the Snapdragon 636 is quite efficient too: in addition to bringing a faster X12 LTE modem and support for LPDDR4 RAM among other improvements.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro, more specifically, is powered by a 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor clubbed with up to 6GB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage which is further expandable by up to 128GB via a hybrid micro-SD card slot. Not only does the Redmi Note 5 Pro ace synthetic benchmark scores with flying colours, it's also quite the beast in real world usage. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the most powerful and the most power efficient phone in its price category. Period.
The Redmi Note Note 5 Pro, courtesy the Adreno 509 GPU, also excels at graphical intensive tasks like gaming, although you're likely to have some frame rate issues at maxed out settings during extended playback. Good thing is, it runs as cool as a cucumber, while at it 9 out of 10 times. Even while charging.
Not just raw power and thermal efficiency, the Snapdragon 636 brings improved battery scores too and the Redmi Note 5 Pro already houses a mammoth 4,000mAh battery inside. The battery, as a result, will just not die on this one. While users with a more generalized usage pattern will get at least two days out of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, even hardcore users should get close to one and a half days with ease. Sadly, it comes with a micro-USB 2.0 port and no fast charging -- when the Snapdragon 636 can support Quick Charge 4.0 -- which feels archaic in 2018. Just so you know, it takes up to two and a half hours to fully charge the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Not to mention, micro-USB 2.0 means, slower (and only one way) data syncing as well.
The Mi A1, meanwhile, is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clubbed with Adreno 506 GPU, 4 gigs of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which is further expandable by up to 128GB via a hybrid micro-SD card slot. While it works, and it works quite well, its no match for the next-generation Snapdragon 636 thats inside the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Even more so for power users.
The same is true about battery life as well. The 3,080mAh battery inside the Mi A1 should easily get most users through a full working day without any hiccups: extreme usage scenarios got us close to 11 hours on the Mi A1 which is a fairly respectable score, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro is just so much more better.
One positive highlight of the Mi A1 though, is that it charges over USB Type-C -- which is a first for any budget-orientated offering from Xiaomi -- and post the recent Android Oreo update, the Mi A1 also supports fast charging. Xiaomi doesnt bundle a fast charger in the box along with the Mi A1, so youll have to invest in one separately if youre looking to make use of the feature.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro

Camera


The Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a dual camera system on the rear consisting of one 12-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture and another 5-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture. Both are RGB. While the primary sensor has a 1.25um size to capture more light, the secondary sensor assists in portrait shots or photos with shallow depth of field. The set-up is different from the one on-board Xiaomi's Mi A1 where the secondary sensor -- in addition to assisting in portrait shots -- is also a telephoto lens. The dual camera system, in the Redmi Note 5 Pro, further comes with phase detection autofocus and a dual-LED (dual-tone) flash. There's EIS for videos but videos are capped to 1080p at 30fps.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro, if I were to sum it up in a sentence, is the best camera phone in its price category, unless you're looking specifically for a portrait camera. In that case, the Mi A, should be your go-to device. For everything else, the Redmi Note 5 Pro, hits every other phone -- including the Mi A1 -- out of the ball park.
The phone captures some good-looking photos in good light with good amount of detail and mostly spot-on (if a little oversaturated) colours. Dynamic range is mostly spot on too. What really sets the Redmi Note 5 Pro apart from other phones in its price category -- and past Redmi Note phones -- are its blazing fast focus locking and shutter speed. The same is true about photos taken in tricky light situations. If that wasn't enough, the Redmi Note 5 Pro camera also manages to pack quite a punch in low light. Although there's noise associated with these photos, the amount of detail captured in some of them easily surpasses expectations. Photos taken in such situations also manage to hold on to colours quite well. As for portrait shots, well, I've seen better from Xiaomi. But then, the Redmi Note 5 Pro, is capable, if not downright amazing in this regard.
On the front, the Redmi Note 5 Pro, sports a 20-megapixel camera with LED flash. It's quite good too, and manages to capture enough detail in selfies with colours that are mostly true to source. The front camera, on-board the Redmi Note 5 Pro, is also capable of shooting portraits, although portrait mode courtesy the front cam, is software-based. It's a hit or miss, but again, it's nice to have the option available. Moreover, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is also set to get face unlock by the end of March 2018, Xiaomi has announced.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro

Software

It's a little disappointing that the Redmi Note 5 Pro still runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat (based MIUI 9) out-of-the-box. MIUI 9 has a ton of features on top of Android, according to Xiaomi. It's as fast and functional as stock Android too, it adds. The MIUI 9 update, in addition to Xiaomi's custom built features, brings back key Android nuggets like split-screen multitasking and Google Assistant, something that was missing in the previous iteration, as well. But then again, it's based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat and that can be a problem for Xiaomi. That can be a problem for any OEM for that matter.
The Mi A1, meanwhile is an Android One phone that runs stock Android 7.1.2 Nougat out-of-the-box and is now upgradable to Android Oreo. Xiaomi (and Google), in fact, have gone so far as to say that the Mi A1 will also be getting Android P -- or whatever Google decides to call the Android O successor -- when it launches later this year.
Now I am not saying that MIUI is lacking but the reason why it sticks out like a soar thumb, in the case of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, is because Xiaomi is claiming nothing short of the best smartphone experience on it, and the software experience on it, is far from it. Then there are phones like the Honor 9 Lite, that cost less and ship with Android Oreo.
Winner: Mi A1

So which one should you buy?

The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a fabulous phone. In fact, it's so good, it's challenging my loyalties for the Android One-backed Mi A1. It's got a great build, a gorgeous bezel-less display, blazing fast performance, gobbles of RAM and storage, fantastic cameras, and outstanding battery life. It's certainly not perfect. Its archaic software and micro-USB port are perhaps its biggest shortcomings. It could have done with a hint of originality in design as well. It could have done with dedicated slots for dual-SIM and micro-SD too. But here's the thing: there's no such thing as a perfect smartphone. Even more, in the particular price category, that we're dealing with here. It's safe to say that in that price category, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the best smartphone that you can buy.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro starts at Rs 13,999 for the base 4GB RAM and 64GB storage version while the top-end version with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage will be available for buying for Rs 16,999.
If however, software is your thing, and you're picky about latest updates, the Mi A1 is the phone to buy. The Mi A1 is essentially a Xiaomi phone running stock Android and to cut short the chase here: it flies like no other phone at its price point. It looks quite good while at it too, and can boast of good battery life with support for fast charging. It may not have the best cameras in the world, at its price, but, it's safe to say that the Mi A1 offers the best dual camera implementation on a mid-level budget phone right now. The Mi A1, for your reference, is now available for Rs 13,999.

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