How do you take on the competition? There is more than one way to do it – you come out with a better product than your rival, or perhaps, you flood the market with as many phones as possible. Xiaomi is going for the latter. The company is simply pushing as many phones off its factory as it can. While it gives consumers more choice, it can also lead to internal competition among the company’s own products.
This is the kind of a situation we are in right now, and we are here to make a choice between the Xiaomi’s highly likeable Redmi Note 5 Pro, and its new younger sibling, the Mi A2 Lite (also known as the Redmi 6 Pro in China).
Before we get into the user experience, let’s see how the new phone stacks up against the proven performer on paper:
|Specifications||Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite||Redmi Note 5 Pro|
|Body||Aluminium body with plastic inserts||Aluminium body with plastic inserts|
|Display||5.84-inch IPS LCD, 1080p x 2280p, 19:9, 432 ppi||5.99-inch IPS LCD, 1080p x 2160p, 18:9, 403 ppi|
|Processor & RAM||Snapdragon 625, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, Adreno 506||Snapdragon 636, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, Adreno 509|
|Operating System||Android Oreo 8.1 (Android One)||Android Nougat 8.1 with MIUI 9.5|
|Camera||Dual camera 12 MP (f1.8) + 5 MP, PDAF. Front 5 MP||Dual camera 12 MP (f2.2) + 5 MP (f2.0), PDAF. Front 20 MP (f2.2)|
|Battery||4,000 mAH||4,000 mAh, QC 2.0|
|Price||India launch on August 8||Starts at Rs 14,999|
The Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite is, sort of, a mixed bag when it comes to specifications. On one hand, it has a less powerful processor and RAM combination, but on the other, it seems to have a small advantage in camera while in terms of OS and the battery, both phones are pretty much on par. It would be interesting to see how the Lite fairs against the Pro on various parameters in the actual usage.
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
This is interesting. The Mi A2 Lite and the Note 5 Pro are absolutely similar but also different, all at the same time.
Looking at both the phones from the back, it would be hard to determine which one is what. Right from the looks and the build quality, there is hardly anything to differentiate between the Lite and the Pro as far as the back is concerned. Both are made out of aluminium and get plastic antenna inserts at the top and the bottom. In our particular case though, we are lucky to have both in different colors – the pink one is the Mi A2 Lite, the gold one is the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
However, things change suddenly when the phones are rotated to reveal the front side. They are as different as they can be. The Mi A2 Lite comes with a notch making it appear trendy while the Pro has the, now old school, typical rectangular display with 18:9 aspect ratio. The Lite’s screen has the more modern 19:9 aspect ratio.
In-hand feel of both the phones is the same as well as the build quality and the overall fit-n-finish. However, the A2 Lite, due to its smaller overall body, is compact to hold and is easier for one-hand use (and provides better grip). The Note 5 Pro is a bit of a handful in this regard. But both are equally slippery. Honestly, it depends on personal preference which one a person would like more. If you hate the notch, you won’t like the Mi A2 Lite.
DISPLAY, SOFTWARE & USER INTERFACE
Display – Both have the IPS LCD display panel and deliver same Full HD+ resolution (the Mi A2 Lite has slightly higher pixels and the ppi), and both phones have the same Display settings. But, in a direct comparison, it would seem that the Redmi Note 5 Pro has better White Balance (or the color tone) with similar color/contrast settings. The Mi A2 Lite has a red-ish tone to its white balance. This nature of the Mi A2 Lite’s display is accentuated especially when looking at the two displays side by side.
Other than this, both phones are matched in terms of color saturation, vibrancy and detail. And yes, there’s the option to hide the notch in the A2 Lite and when this is done, it becomes tougher to differentiate between the two phones even more. Overall, we prefer the display of the Redmi Note 5 Pro a little more purely because of its more neutral white balance.
Software & UI – Here, the difference is larger. Both phones start on equal terms as they share the same Android Oreo 8.1 version, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro has the MIUI 9.5 on top. Whereas the Mi A2 Lite comes under the Android One program, which means, stock OS and more regular updates. In this regard, the Mi A2 has an advantage over the Note 5 Pro.
The UI of both the phones is different in terms of appearance, but not in a drastic manner. What’s instantly noticeable is that the icons in the Redmi Note 5 Pro are circle in shape while the ones in the Mi A2 Lite are square. However, the Settings menu, for example, has a similar look and feel in both the devices.
This is possibly the make or break deal for both the smartphones – Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Mi A2 Lite. The newer phone, Mi A2 Lite, with its Snapdragon 625 processor and 3 GB RAM is supposed to struggle a little against the Snapdragon 636 with 4 GB RAM in the Redmi Note 5 Pro. And it does when performing certain actions.
For example, the apps launch quicker on the Note 5 Pro while they are slower to do the same by half a second or so on the Mi A2 Lite. Secondly, the Mi A2 Lite has a tendency to refresh the apps more often when they remain open in the background for some time. Also, in apps like Facebook, we noticed that the Redmi Note 5 Pro loads the page slightly faster than its newer and younger sibling. But in all these activities, the Mi A2 Lite doesn’t feel too bad on its own even when it stutters a bit more than the Note 5 Pro.
Gaming – Coming to gaming, again, both phones are very close. We didn’t really expect the Redmi Note 5 Pro to leave the Mi A2 Lite in the dust, of course, given that the differences in specifications are not drastic. At the same time, we also didn’t expect them to be on par either.
However, our experience, so far, tells us that both the phones are evenly matched in gaming as well. For example, take a popular car racing game like the Asphalt 8, both phones cope up with the framerate equally well along with similar levels of momentary lags on regular basis. Also, in-game menu navigation is equally stutter-filled on both the handsets, and it can be irritating.
While both the phones appear to be evenly matched in terms of the GPU performance, the difference lies in the loading times. The Note 5 Pro due to its better chipset/RAM loads the levels quicker compared to the A2 Lite. The difference is anywhere between 1 to 3 seconds which is good enough in favor of the Pro!
In daylight camera samples, the cameras are very close in terms of detail and color reproduction. For instance, in one picture the Pro might seem better, but in the other, the Mi A2 Lite seems to have a slight advantage. Still, we believe that the Pro has a hair-touch advantage over the detail. Also, what is clearer is that the Pro controls the overexposure of the sky/clouds better especially in non-HDR or normal images.
DAYLIGHT HDR IMAGES
Regarding the HDR versions, the observations are the same as in the case of the non-HDR images. Both phones are on par with color reproduction and detail. At the same time, the Pro continues to have the slight advantage in terms of Exposure.
Coming to the Portraits, the competition remains tight between the two cameras as they both deliver similar depth and blur effect. But the Redmi Note 5 Pro produces a little higher color saturation making the overall picture appear ever so slightly livelier.
Similarities continue between the two cameras in this department as well. While the Mi A2 Lite produces slightly higher detail from the t-shirt, it also turns the face slightly red. Otherwise, both are quite similar.
This is an area where both the phones are absolutely evenly matched at least on paper. The 4,000 mAh battery should deliver similar runtime and drain performance in Lite and the Pro given that the screens and the resolution is more or less the same. But the Redmi Note 5 Pro seems to have an overall advantage here.
The Pro can go up to 2 days (1 and a half days is the safer bet) in normal use while skipping tasks like heavy camera use, video watching, prolonged music playback to absolutely minimal. In this situation, the Mi A2 Lite lives up to 1 and a half days at max. When it comes to battery drain, both are not very different from one another. For example, in 30 minutes of continuous gaming, the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Mi A2 Lite, both phones used up exactly 11% battery. Of course, these kinds of figures and consistency could change with time.
It is quite an interesting situation between the two phones from Xiaomi – they look indistinguishable from the back, but the Mi A2 Lite is trendier from the front due to its notch. But as far as the overall display quality is concerned, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has more neutral White Balance while the color quality in terms of saturation and vibrancy is equal from both the displays. In fact, because the A2 Lite’s display is slightly smaller with higher ppi, it can given an impression of being sharper especially while watching images.
Then, the performance in regular use as well as in gaming shows that Lite up to Pro’s performance, but the Pro takes the lead when it comes to app loading times, refresh rate, game loading times and the level loading times. In terms of battery too, the Pro has an advantage in terms of better battery management. The Mi A2 Lite also suffers from momentary lags or stutters quite regularly.
In terms of camera, again, both cameras are very close in terms of detail and color production, but we feel that the Mi A2 Lite produces very slightly better selfies.
Overall, we believe that a person will be happier with the Redmi Note 5 Pro because of its generally better performance. However, the Mi A2 Lite will receive regular and faster updates from Google because of it being an Android One phone. At the same time, with better processor and RAM, the Redmi Note 5 Pro should continue to perform better in future as well.