The 18:9 screen is new, but the rest of the phone should be familiar to anyone that has used a Redmi Note 4.
Xiaomi unveiled the Redmi 5 Plus last month, bringing the 18:9 form factor to the budget segment. The Chinese manufacturer isn't the first to roll out a budget phone with minimal bezels, but the company is once again showing that it can absolutely dominate when it comes to the value proposition. The base variant of the Redmi 5 Plus retails for the equivalent of $150, making it an incredible bargain when you consider the hardware on offer.
The Redmi 5 Plus is currently limited to China, and as the phone made its debut just a month ago, the global ROM isn't available just yet. That means you can't get a version of the Redmi 5 Plus with Play Services installed out of the box. As such, it's too early to make a quantitative assessment of how the device fares in comparison to the likes of the Redmi Note 4 and other devices in this segment. I'll have more to share once the global ROM is available, but in the meantime, here's a quick look at what you get with the phone.
There's a 18:9 display up front
The highlight of the Redmi 5 Plus is the 5.99-inch 18:9 FHD+ (2160 x 1080) display. The 403PPI is a minor increase over the 401PPI sported by the 5.5-inch display of the Redmi Note 4, but because of the trimmed bezels at the top and bottom, the overall dimensions of the device aren't that much larger than the Redmi Note 4.
Xiaomi has been offering some of the best LCD panels in its phones for a few years now, and that thankfully hasn't changed with the Redmi 5 Plus. The screen is vibrant and easily legible under harsh sunlight, and MIUI offers plenty of customization options to tweak the color balance.
The internal hardware hasn't changed a lot
Xiaomi professed its affection for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 625 platform last year, so it's no wonder that the Redmi 5 Plus uses the same chipset. We'll likely see the introduction of the newer Snapdragon 630 chip in the Redmi Note 5 — due for a release in Q2 2018 if rumors are to be believed — but until that time the SD625 is leading the charge for Xiaomi.
When it comes to memory and storage, the Redmi 5 Plus is available in two variants — a base model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage that costs $150, and a variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for $195.
It looks like the Redmi Note 4 from the back
While the Redmi 5 Plus has a new screen with minimal bezels, the rest of the design hasn't changed much from the Redmi Note 4. In fact, the phone is a dead ringer for Xiaomi's best-selling device of 2017 from the back. The Redmi 5 Plus has the same accents running across at the back, and the layout of the camera is also identical.
The minor design change is that the accents at the back are no longer painted chrome, but instead mesh with the color of the phone.
You'll still have to deal with Micro-USB
If you were hoping to see the newer USB-C charging port making its way to the Redmi series, you're in for a long wait. Xiaomi started rolling out USB-C charging in its budget Mi phones last year, but it looks like it'll be a while before we see the same for the Redmi series.
Furthermore, Xiaomi hasn't rolled out fast charging yet, so you're limited to 5V/2A with the device.
It doesn't have Oreo ... yet
Xiaomi is yet to detail its Oreo update plans, and right now the only device in its portfolio that has received the Oreo update is the Android One-based Mi A1. The Chinese variant of the Redmi 5 Plus comes with MIUI 9 out of the box, and it's still based on Android 7.1 Nougat.
Xiaomi isn't known for rolling out quick platform updates, with the manufacturer instead focusing on adding value with its own MIUI skin. MIUI 9 does introduce a slew of new features, including a new image editor, a notification pane with bundled notifications, and native split screen mode, but it'll a lengthy wait before Oreo is available for the device.
We'll have to wait until the device is available outside of China to get a better idea of Xiaomi's update schedule.
The Redmi 5 Plus is to the Redmi Note 4 what the OnePlus 5T is to the OnePlus 5 — you get an 18:9 panel, but not a whole has changed aside from that. Xiaomi will be keen to solidify its standing in the Indian handset market, so it shouldn't be too long now before the phone makes its debut in the country.
In the meantime, what do you make of the Redmi 5 Plus?