Why the Redmi Note 5 is critical for the Redmi Note line identity

If you’re someone who is following Smartphone’s world closely like me, you’ve probably seen the confusing decision that Xiaomi has taken for its budget phablet, the Redmi Note 4. Yes, I am talking about the phone line that blew everyone’s mind with its third generation, Redmi Note 3. When it came out early 2016, it was able to go toe-to-toe with Qualcomm’s highest offering at the time, the Snapdragon 820, which wasn’t even widely available yet. This phone made everyone who spends the extra $400-500 for a flagship phone look insane. Because we could say that in terms of raw power, the Snapdragon 650s line isn’t too far off the Snapdragon 820.

Coming from such success, people were expecting Xiaomi to release an even better successor to the Redmi Note 3. Leaks were scattered online about the upcoming Redmi Note 4. I was expecting they will go the same route as before to release 2 different versions of Redmi Note 4 (that turned out to be true), one MediaTek version and one Snapdragon version. To be honest, I was not interested at all in the MediaTek version because, while they’re powerful, they’re also notorious for being battery hogger thanks to their outdated manufacturing process and more-cores-more-performance approach. Seriously, MediaTek, it’s 2017, get your shit together, please.

After the release of the MediaTek version in the mid 2016, I kept expecting them to release the Snapdragon version later in late 2016 or early 2017 just to see what kind of surprise Xiaomi can give this time. Months of waiting come to fruition in early 2017 with the release of the Snapdragon version. However, this release had everyone scratching their head (including me) because of the CPU choice Xiaomi made. The Redmi Note 4 has a slower CPU than its predecessor, the low-powered but extremely efficient Snapdragon 625. The CPU, while slightly newer, is so inferior in terms of raw performance compared to the Snapdragon 650. My reaction at the time was kind of mixed, I surely welcomed the battery life the Redmi Note 4 could bring but at the same time, it just doesn’t feel right for a successor to have a slower processor considering that the battery life of the Redmi Note 3 wasn’t terrible either.

One argument could be made that at the time, there was no newer processor offering available from Qualcomm that Xiaomi could use for its next Redmi Note iteration (considering that the Snapdragon 652 and 653 was basically the same as the 650) and Xiaomi was trying to add a different value to its next phone, the insane battery life. So, rather than releasing a phone that is basically the same as its predecessor, they tried a different CPU. Still, I find Xiaomi’s move to be weird.

Now, with the recently released Snapdragon 660 offering a sizable improvement of performance, I am hoping that Xiaomi will use this CPU for its next Redmi Note phone. Because the Snapdragon 660 is now also manufactured with the same 14nm FinFET technology that was used for manufacturing the Snapdragon 625, it was expected that the 660 will bring a huge battery life improvement over its 650s counterparts. I personally see the Redmi Note 5 as a critical release for the Redmi Note line identity. Here’s why.

Thanks to the popularity of Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, it is quite easy to divide current smartphone world into 4-tier category which is as follows for 2017:

  • High-End: Snapdragon 835
  • Upper-Middle: Snapdragon 660
  • Lower-Middle: Snapdragon 630
  • Low-End: Snapdragon 450

I think this release is the moment where Xiaomi will finally decide to which category this line will fall into since now both the Snapdragon 660 and 630 are fresh and available. There are also some other possibilities though, knowing Xiaomi, they’re used to releasing multiple variants of the same phone line in one go. Releasing a bunch of different variants sporting different CPU, battery size, and ROM size is completely possible. However, usually only one of those variants that becomes most popular simply because it’s the best in terms of overall package (see Redmi Note 3 Pro and Redmi 4 Prime).

Personally, I would love to see this year’s Redmi Note line to sport a Snapdragon 660 considering that chip is manufactured in 14nm process so battery life would be pretty good and the performance is top-notch. Having an amazing performer at the Redmi Note price point is our dream, isn’t it?

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