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Today’s world is a selfie-centric world. Most if not all of us love taking selfies and wefies and sharing them with our friends and loved ones – and the devices that enable us to do so have also gained and continue to gain significant popularity as a result.

More and more brands are beginning to offer devices with powerful front-facing cameras. In some cases, these cameras are even more powerful than their phones’ main or rear-facing cameras.

With the Redmi Note 5A Prime, Mi has jumped on the selfie-smartphone bandwagon in a big way. This phone’s key feature is a 16MP front camera that’s augmented with a dedicated front LED flash – and yes, this does happen to be one of those phones whose front snappers outpower their ‘main’ snappers. More on which in a little bit.

Join us as we pore over the Redmi Note 5A Prime!

Honest and sturdy

One of the things we like best about the Redmi Note 5A Prime is that it comes across as honest. It’s a far cry from other phones that have upmarket pretensions (but don’t live up to them once they’re put through their paces).

The Note 5A Prime is a good, relatively simple, and quite sturdy phone that, yes, does live up to the image it projects, and then some.

Give the phone a spin for the first time and you’ll start to understand what we mean. It sports a simple plastic body that’s got a slight metallic finish for added style – but, that being said, it’s still a unibody phone that appears to have been assembled to high standards and tight tolerances. Color choices are equally modest; it’s your choice of either gray or gold.

Nothing rattles or creaks, even if the phone is squeezed hard. This says quite a bit about the high standards of Mi and how well this phone was made. It has a satisfyingly sturdy feel, from its gently rounded corners to its nicely curved edges, that makes it quite nice to hold and use. Moreover, the phone is pretty light, weighing in at just 153 grams, which helps it sit in the hand quite well.

Looks-wise, to be perfectly honest, the Note 5A Prime looks so much like other Android midrangers – most especially other Mi smartphones like the Redmi 4X – that you might be forgiven for mistaking it for another such phone or vice versa.

Like many of those phones, it also has something of a substantial ‘forehead’ and ‘chin’ (bezels), but given that this is a bargain phone, perhaps these can be overlooked. At any rate the ‘chin’ plays host to the phone’s capacitive navigation keys (take note that these keys are not backlit – you’ll need to learn how to operate them in the dark).

Lastly, let’s take a super quick peek at the screen. It’s a 5.5-inch screen (HD resolution, IPS LCD technology) that’s nice and bright in most situations, albeit a little washed out in broad daylight.

Camera utopia

Another of the things we love best about the Redmi Note 5A Prime is its growing reputation for being a good selfie phone.

The Note 5A Prime boasts a 13MP main camera with a f/2.2 aperture – it comes, among other things, with what’s called Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), an image processing technology that combines two different images when you snap a photo to create the best image possible.

This tech confers the ability to take more than decent shots with the main snapper, resulting in pictures with good color accuracy – that is, in daylight and/or other well-lit situations. In darker and more challenging conditions, the camera begins to struggle (tip: try activating the LED flash for instant picture improvements. That being said, the further away the subject, the less effective the flash).

Users can also activate a manual mode, allowing them to tweak, for instance, the ISO and white balance settings of the camera, a boon for those who want to improve their pictures that much more.

But of course the real story begins when you give the Note 5A Prime’s 16MP front-facing camera a try. Said camera has a f/2.0 aperture and a “soft” LED flash for taking really nice selfies. (Diffused or “soft” light makes one’s complexion look softly radiant, and blurs shadows to make one’s complexion look more even too. It’s the sort of light used by professional photographers in a studio.)

Consequently, the camera is no less than excellent for selfies, resulting in nicely detailed shots that look immediately ready for posting on social media. Images taken by this camera in good natural light really shine – and selfies and wefies taken using the “soft” flash look really attractive.

It also must be said that the 16MP camera is also challenged somewhat by low light situations, akin to the 5A Prime’s main snapper. When the flash is activated, selfies and wefies get that much better, but the resulting pictures are also a tiny bit grainier. Nonetheless, we’re quite happy with the selfies and wefies we took with this phone.

A quick couple words now about what powers the Note 5A Prime – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM. The phone comes with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, and has Mi’s MIUI 8.5 layered atop it.

This combination along with the phone’s 3080mAh battery provided us with enough juice to get through most of a workday without recharging.

That being said, a particularly heavy photo shoot session resulted in the battery being drained much faster than usual – you may need to have a charging solution handy if you want to avoid your Note 5A Prime from being drained.

The verdict

If you’re up for a selfie phone, you owe it to yourself to give the Mi Redmi Note 5A Prime a whirl.

We found it to be a phone well worthy of a place in the firmament of modern “selfie phones” thanks to its excellent selfie-focused features.

But that being said this is also a good “honest” and straightforward device thanks to its good design and more than decent feature set.



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