Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 vs Mi A1: which SD625 phone should you buy?

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1

When Xiaomi launched its first Android One phone, the Mi A1 in India, we were overjoyed to see it. It was a match made in heaven. Combine Xiaomi’s value for money hardware with stock Android and you have the perfect budget phone. Not only that, Xiaomi managed to pull off a great camera performer as well with the Mi A1. Unsurprisingly, the handset got great feedback and reviews. Now, that the Redmi Note 5 has been launched, we’ll be comparing it to the Mi A1 and see which one comes out on top.

Also read: Redmi Note 5 vs Honor 9 Lite: two very close competitors

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: design and looks

Xiaomi Mi A1

We’ve said it earlier that the Redmi Note 5 isn’t much different from the Redmi Note 4 in terms of looks or even in hardware. The differences are at best minimal. Keeping that in mind, the Redmi Note 5 is a bit thicker than the Mi A1 and also heavier due to the bigger battery. However, the rear design of the Xiaomi Mi A1 looks awesome, especially with those antenna lines.

We wonder what keeps Xiaomi from doing the same with the Redmi Note series. Both the handsets share the same footprint more or less and are made up of metal. Hence, one-handed use or grip won’t be an issue with either of them. Both of them also come with Corning Gorilla glass protection. So in terms of build quality, it’s a pretty close match.

Redmi Note 5 (Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1)

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: display

This is where the two Xiaomi phones part ways. Since it launched in September last year, the Mi A1 still holds on to its dear bezels. In fact, the bezels are even beefier compared to other phones in its segment. Fast forward to today, and bezels have become an abomination to OEMs. Smartphone makers have waged an all-out war against them and decided to banish them only to realize it can’t be done completely.

The Redmi Note 5 comes with a so-called bezel-less 18:9 aspect ratio display. Now, I don’t have anything against bezels, or in favour of it. So, it’s up to you to choose. In terms of resolution, you’ll see the same IPS LCD panels. However, the Redmi Note 5 display will be bigger by 0.5-inches. If you just don’t want to miss that much of real estate, then the Redmi device is the way to go. Sunlight legibility of both devices can be considered average as they have similar brightness levels. Also, both the handsets come with a bit of display protection. 

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: performance

Both our competitors here come with the same Snapdragon 625 SoCs. Hence, performance will be basically the same with both the phones. However, the light weight of unadulterated stock Android keeps the Mi A1 buttery smooth at all times.

MiUI isn’t far behind but we would favour stock Android over it. Gaming is also a no-worry area for both the handsets. You can play graphics intensive games like Asphalt 8 without much frame drops and hiccups on both devices. It would be difficult to give anyone the upper hand simply based on the processor.

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: camera

This is an area which proves decisive for both phones. Xiaomi’s Mi A1 has been lauded for its good photography prowess because of the rear dual camera. It is essentially fitted with the camera module of the Mi 6. But it comes with a f/2.2 aperture. Also, it features 2x optical zoom and portrait mode. In good lighting conditions, the picture quality is great with good details and colour saturation. However, low light performance is not that good. The Pro mode of the Mi A1 is also great for its segment. No, it doesn’t have OIS, but that’s true for most phones in this price range. It can shoot 4K videos and has time-lapse and slow motion as well. The front 8MP camera of the Mi A1 is a different story though. It is mostly an average performer which gets the job done.

Redmi Note 5 vs Honor 9 Lite

The Redmi Note 5 camera, on the other hand, has improved marginally from its predecessor. There’s no dual camera setup here. Its a 12 MP shooter but has a bigger pixel size compared to the Redmi Note 4’s 13MP sensor. This allows for better low-light photos. We could even go as far to say that low-light photos of Redmi Note 5 might turn out better than the Mi A1. If you talk good lighting conditions than the Mi A1 definitely can have the upper hand. In low-light, there’s little to choose between the two.  

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: software

MIUI 9

It’s MiUI vs stock Android. This brings to mind the recent stock Android vs MiUI Twitter poll that Xiaomi conducted and lost. The company eventually deleted the poll. Well, we’re not doing polls here. But it’s your choice. Do note that Xiaomi’s Mi A1 stands to receive fast OS updates. It’s on Android Oreo for now, though it came after hiccups. While Redmi Note 5 still runs MiUI 9 based on Android Nougat. This boils down to personal taste obviously. Some will take MiUI 9 even with Android 7.0 rather than stock Android. Others consider it a cardinal sin to choose MiUI 9.

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: battery

Xiaomi’s Mi A1 is a very slim and lightweight device. But it also comes with a much smaller 3,000mAh battery. Compare it with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5’s 4,000mAh battery and we can see a lot of people preferring the Redmi device. Battery life is the prime deciding factor for many people. And rightly so, what use is your stock Android phone or dual camera if it doesn’t work? Neither of the two handsets comes with fast charging or USB Type-C. It’s clear that the Redmi Note 5 is a better device in this respect.

Xaiomi Mi A1

Redmi Note 5 vs Xiaomi Mi A1: Pricing

With both the phones going head to head here from Xiaomi, its like fighting fire with fire. Xiaomi has priced both the handsets very well. Making matters harder, the Xiaomi Mi A1 has received price cuts making it more affordable. The Mi A1 currently costs Rs 13,999. While the Redmi Note 5 costs Rs 9,999 for the 3GB variant and Rs 11,999 for the 4GB variant.

In this case, you need to take a look at your priorities. If you’re looking to do a lot of photography with your phone, or you hate MiUI, then the Mi A1 is for you. On the other hand, if you’re on a shoestring budget, and don’t care much about portrait modes and stock Android, then the Redmi Note 5 is your device.

Alos read: Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ leaks: price, colours, specifications, launch, and more

That’s our take though, what are your thoughts on the Xiaomi Mi A1? Is it still a better deal than the Redmi Note 5? Do share your precious thoughts in the comments below.  

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An Android enthusiast since I had a Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro. I love writing about the latest in smartphones. When not writing, I will be looking for something to devour, preferably, an all cheese Margherita Pizza. Playing football in the evening is a holy ritual, I never miss it. Oh, and I also like to loot and plunder small villages. In Clash of Clans