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Pitting the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 against its beefier sibling – the Mi 5

|April 2 2016 |Xiaomi, Mobile, Comparisons

"Despite the price difference, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has quite a lot in common with the premium Mi 5. Here's how they stack up"

In the brief span of a month, Xiaomi has launched two phones back-to-back within the country. On one hand we have the Redmi Note 3, which raises the bar for all budget devices out there. And on the other hand is the affordable flagship Mi 5, which comes in with a stellar processor humming under the hood.


While the brand has priced the two phones such that they fall in different brackets, one can’t help but draw comparisons, given that the Mi duo share a few similarities on the spec sheet. So let’s jump right ahead and compare the two devices from the brand, and see how they stand against each other.

The dittos

Both the Redmi Note 3 (unboxing | FAQs) and Mi 5 (unboxing) come with near similar displays – while the M i5’s IPS LCD panel has a size of 5.15-inches, the Note 3 has a screen real estate of 5.5-inches. Both of them come with the same resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.

In the imaging department too, the siblings share the same numbers on the spec sheet – with the rear shooters having a resolution of 16MP and aperture length of f/2.0. The front camera on the Mi 5 has a resolution of 4MP, while the secondary snapper on the Note 3 has a resolution of 5MP.

Both the phones come with dedicated fingerprint sensors – albeit positioned differently - and an IR blaster on board. Other similar features include quick charging, active noise cancellation and the same skin of MIUI 7.0 layered over stock Android.

Where the Mi 5 shines

Dig deeper into both the devices, and you’ll find that the phones share vastly different innards. The Redmi Note 3 has a very formidable Snapdragon 650 under its hood – which has four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz and two Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. The GPU is Adreno 510, and memory capabilities include 2GB/16GB or 3GB/32GB RAM/ROM combinations.

But the Mi5’s entrails do most of the talking in this duel, with the flagship coming with a top of the line Snapdragon 820 processor clocked at 1.8GHz and an Adreno 530 GPU. To put things in perspective, only a handful of devices share the same processor, all of them being flagships from leading OEMsThe memory capabilities are somewhat disappointing for our taste, and expectations of a flagship, with 3GB of RAM and only 32GB of storage, at least in India.

An additional bonus comes in the form of the main snapper on the Mi 5 being able to capture 4K videos, while the Redmi Note 3 can only shoot videos with a resolution of up to 1080p. And the Mi 5 also features four-axis optical image stabilisation, a top of the line Sony IMX298 sensor for the rear snapper and an Ultrapixel front camera to boot, thereby ensuring that the camera game is strong with the flagship.

And finally, there’s the operating system running the show. The Redmi Note 3 runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, while the Mi 5 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow right out of the box.

The beefed up processor, coupled with the future-proof Type-C reversible connector port and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 makes the Mi 5 a truly powerful device.

Where the Note 3 proves its mettle

Call us old fashioned, but we still appreciate expandable storage on a phone. While the Indian variant of the Mi 5 comes with a healthy 32GB of onboard storage, it would still make anyone envious of the microSD card slot (in the guise of a secondary SIM slot) that comes with the Redmi Note 3. We’d really have liked to see this feature on the Mi 5 too, truth be told.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3_5

But the Note 3 packs its most powerful punch in matters where it might count the most for any smartphone user – the battery department. On paper, the Redmi Note 3 packs a beefier 4,050mAh battery, when compared with the 3,000mAh one on the Mi 5. Then again, the Mi 5 comes with Android Marshmallow that has the Doze battery saving feature inbuilt, so ultimately it boils down to personal usage, a factor that will be clearer in our in depth review of the Mi 5.

Moreover, the Note 3 does have a more practical approach with the fingerprint sensor placement. Placing it at the back of the phone does open up new avenues for functionalities: including a shutter button for selfies and payment authentication in the near future. The Mi 5's fingerprint sensor is placed at the front, thereby restricting any other features which might be incorporated.

Are we saying that the Mi 5 is flawed? In some small ways, yes. The Note 3 coasts ahead when the minor flaws of the Mi 5 come into the picture.

Before the verdict…

Before we actually come to who’s the winner in this duel, let’s go over the pricing for the two phones once again.

The Redmi Note 3 is priced at Rs 9,998 for the 2GB/16GB variant, while the 3GB/32GB variant would set the buyer back by Rs. 11,998.

The 3GB/32GB version of the Mi 5 was announced in the country, and it was priced at Rs. 24,999/-, which definitely puts it in a price bracket well out of the reach of a mid-ranger.

So now that the pricing is out of the way, what would be the decisive factor for proclaiming the winner?

And the winner is…

The one factor which we didn’t point out in the comparison above – was the design.

The Note 3 has a metallic body with a matte finish, which does admittedly set it ahead of the competition within its price bracket. Plus, the company’s packed a bulky battery into a lightweight frame, which again speaks well about the design.

However, the Mi 5 is in a league of its own, and shares aesthetic similarities with the likes of the best devices from Samsung. Its glossy back 3D curved glass panel, compact bezels and handy form factor scream oh-so-classy, and the Mi 5 exudes a level of elegance and chic which even the Note 3 would tip its hat to.

Long story short, the Mi 5 is the clear winner when it comes to a more robust, yet exquisitely designed smartphone. And this is obvious, since the company marketed the Mi 5 as its flagship device, the one that forthcoming devices would be inspired from. Be it in overall specifications, processing prowess and features to offer – the Mi 5 comfortably takes the edge over the Note 3.

Having said that, the Redmi Note 3 is no laughable matter and is a worthy contender to much beefier devices out there. It might not win the duel against the Mi 5, but it did put up a good fight on the spec sheet, and is undoubtedly a clear winner if the budget was constrained. 

For an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons, do go over our Redmi Note 3 review, and stay tuned for the Mi 5 review.

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