The Mi Max 2 boasts of a giant 6.4-inch display whereas the Note 5 Pro houses a beastly chipset and AI-assisted cameras.
If you are in the market for a value-for-money smartphone, nothing beats Xiaomi’s smartphones, especially their Redmi series of devices. All Redmi branded smartphones sell like hotcakes throughout the year and the latest one to join the league, the Redmi Note 5 Pro, is a culmination of some of the best smartphone technologies on offer at an unbeatable price. In our full review of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, we considered it as one of the best smartphones one can get for the price it sells — Rs 13,999 for the base 4GB/64GB variant.
However, Xiaomi’s premium Mi series of smartphones are known to offer certain flagship-grade features for midrange prices. The Mi Max 2 — their only offering in the phablet segment, now retails for Rs 13,999 for the 4GB/32GB variant. The smartphone was launched last year with the most of the internals of the Redmi Note 4, and a giant 5300mAh battery. It does seem impressive even in early 2018, but does it stand any chance against the newest member of the Redmi series? Let’s find out.
Most Xiaomi smartphones exhibit the best build quality and designs across various price points. The new Redmi Note 5 Pro is no exception to this Xiaomi ritual — there’s an all-glass surface up front with a taller form factor (thanks to the 18:9 display) and a metal-plastic combo to the rear (there are plastic ends on top and bottom to conceal the antenna). The rear is pretty reminiscent of the Apple iPhone X — courtesy the iPhone X-inspired vertically stacked dual camera setup, which is a positive point for those looking to show-off. Xiaomi claims that they have worked on the corners of the body to make the phone absorb shocks and protect the display from shattering.
The Mi Max 2, on the other hand, is HUGE. With a massive 6.4-inch display surrounded by thick bezels, the Max 2 is a considerably big phone, which is bad news for those with smaller palms or those who prefer an easy access to the edges of their phone’s display. Unlike the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Mi Max 2 is an all-metal fair at the rear, with iPhone 7-inspired antenna lines tucked on the top and bottom edges. Since the Mi Max 2 is only available in black, the antenna lines gel well with the rear, giving a cleaner look.
Since the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a new device, it easily takes the title of the winner here with its modern aesthetics and practical dimensions. However, the Mi Max 2 also impresses with a remarkable build quality and if its humoungous size is a no-bother for you, then you shouldn’t be complaining about the giant.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro
There’s no doubt the Mi Max 2 exists for catering to people who value this parameter over everything else. The massive 6.4-inch display shoves aside the Note 5 Pro’s 5.99-inch display in terms of the capability to provide an immersive experience. Whether you are reading chats on WhatsApp or binge-watching on YouTube or catching up on a live cricket match on Hotstar, the Mi Max 2’s display felt a more comfortable option over the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s. The display renders images with balanced colours and good levels of brightness.
This doesn’t mean that the display on the Note 5 Pro is inferior — you get to experience equally good colour reproduction, adequate brightness levels and wide viewing angles. However, the 18:9 aspect ratio hasn’t been adopted by content creators yet, which means most YouTube videos will accompany black bars on either side (you can zoom in the video slightly to eradicate them, but end up cropping the top and bottom).
Winner: Mi Max 2
The Redmi Note 5 Pro brings in a brand new 14nm Snapdragon 636 chipset with eight custom Kryo 260 cores clocked at 1.8GHz, four of which are based on ARM’s Cortex A72 performance focused cores and the rest are based on Cortex A53. Coupled with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, the setup is a recipe made for performance enthusiasts on a budget. With MIUI 9.2 based on Android 7.1, the phone manages stress without breaking a sweat. Whether you throw resource-hogging games or social media apps, the Note 5 Pro keeps on demanding for more. You also get to experience Snapdragon X12 LTE modem, which helps with faster download speeds of up to 600Mbps.
The Mi Max 2 is based on last year’s popular Snapdragon 625 chipset, which consists of eight Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2GHz. With 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the Mi Max 2 doesn’t go out of breath in managing daily stress — you won’t encounter lags while juggling between apps or browsing through YouTube. It also manages to host heavy gaming titles pretty decently, but not as good as the Note 5 Pro’s SD636 (there are occasional frame drops). This also runs on MIUI 9.2 based on Android Nougat 7.1, which means you get most of the features that are offered on the Note 5 Pro.
However, the Note 5 Pro boasts Face Unlock — a feature that has just started arriving on budget phones. Therefore, the Note 5 Pro undoubtedly walks away with more points than the Mi Max 2. That said, the Mi Max 2 still has enough firepower to keep the show going on.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro
Xiaomi marks the Note 5 Pro as a ‘camera beast’, which is evident from its eyes. There’s a 12MP + 5MP rear setup that is efficient at taking pictures that exhibit a good dynamic range as well as adequate details. The portrait shots are positively capable of distinguishing the subject from the background in the bokeh mode. There’s a drop in sharpness in low light, but it still remains usable. The front 20MP sensor, accompanied by an LED flash, partners with AI features to take impressive bokeh selfies — they look natural, unlike some of its rivals. Check the full review for sample shots.
The Mi Max 2 isn’t meant to be a camera-focused phone but still keeps the ball rolling with appreciable photo quality from its 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2. It may not be able to take bokeh shots, but the pictures hold impressive natural colours and sharpness in daylight conditions. However, it underperforms in low-lighting conditions as well as indoors — there's a lot of noise captured in the images. The 5MP selfie camera also gives nothing special to write about. Check the full review for sample shots.
If a good camera is one of your primary requirements, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a better choice.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro
The Note 5 Pro has got a big 4000mAh battery, which managed to back us up for close to two days with moderate usage scenarios, such as browsing, casual gaming sessions, calls and texting, and casual ‘selfie-ing’. However, the Mi Max 2 brushes aside the Note 5 Pro with its gigantic 5300mAh battery, which gave us a little more backup than the Note 5 Pro’s figure with extensive screen time. Add to that the presence of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 and the Mi Max 2 emerges as a clear preference for those whom battery life is of prime importance, despite having a bigger display and a comparatively older chipset.
Winner: Mi Max 2
Overall winner: Redmi Note 5 Pro
There’s no doubt that the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a better all-rounder — it sports a performance-oriented chipset, a pair of appreciable cameras (especially the AI-assisted selfie cameras) and a good build quality. It may lose out to the Mi Max 2 when it comes to battery life and viewing experience, but it doesn’t disappoint in these parameters at all. In fact, the Note 5 Pro can be considered a benchmark for current midrange smartphones on a budget. That said, the Mi Max 2 is still a commendable choice when viewing experience and battery life are the things that matter most to you.
(Also published on Deccan Chronicle)