Xiaomi is no stranger to the budget segment of smartphones, its latest stab at the sub-Rs. 12,000 price point is the Redmi 5. It’s available in three variants — Rs. 7,999 for the Redmi 5 with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; Rs. 8,999 with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage; and Rs. 10,999 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Each Redmi 5 version has an 18:9 display with HD+ resolution (720x1440) and is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC. This makes it one of the cheaper smartphone ranges to sport this SoC. It’s no surprise then that Xiaomi touts the Redmi 5’s gaming prowess, promising an enhanced gaming experience thanks to the SoC. We spent some quality time with the Redmi 5 3GB RAM variant to find out if it does live up to the hype for anyone looking to game on the go.
In order to do this, we picked our favourite games that are graphically intensive such as PUBG Mobile, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Asphalt 8, and Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade. If you are wondering why stuff like Candy Crush Saga is missing, it’s because most budget handsets have now evolved to the point where most of them will run them fine anyway. The objective here is to see if the Redmi 5 can be a decent budget mobile gaming option.
First up was PUBG Mobile. The surprise launch of this much anticipated entry in the battle royale genre is not as feature packed as Fortnite, the other popular game in the genre that recently made its journey from the big screen to the small, but since Epic Games’ newest is iOS-only for now, PUBG will have to do. Despite defaulting to the Low preset, PUBG Mobile was fun to play. Granted it doesn’t look as impressive in terms of foliage, environments, weapon models, and vehicles as it does on higher specced devices, but it maintains a solid frame rate even in demanding scenarios like grenade explosions galore and driving in vehicles. Even the demanding opening segment of each match that had us parachute into battle ran smooth enough.
Visually, PUBG Mobile appeared clean on the Redmi 5 with no muddy textures or excessively blurry edges, which made the entire experience rather enjoyable. The Redmi 5 didn’t go beyond feeling mildly warm after two matches spanning over 30 minutes.
Next on the list was Asphalt 8. Firing up Gameloft’s acclaimed mobile racing game saw it run on its highest graphics preset at default. Given the level of detail on Asphalt 8’s cars, its varied environments, and generous light and rain effects, we expected the Redmi 5 to run it like a PowerPoint slide. The reality was anything but. Both Asphalt 8’s sunny Nevada track as well as its rainy take on Tokyo ran brilliantly on the Redmi 5. In terms of looks, there was nothing out of place making it easy on the eyes. The fluid frame rate ensured crashing into opponents as well as performing stunts and last minute turns were a cinch. In terms of thermals, the Redmi 5 barely broke a sweat.
After this, we tried out Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. This classic open-world crime drama graced iOS and Android in 2013. And much like our time with the game on the Samsung Galaxy S8, it suffered from some hiccups. Launching it for the first time saw it sporting a weird aspect ratio with a portion of the screen blacked out. To fix this, we had to go into the Redmi 5’s Settings and toggle off screen buttons using the Hide soft buttons option in the Button and gesture shortcuts section. With that out of the way, we tried to play the game again. This time, we were met with a couple of crashes. No surprise since the game hasn’t been updated since 2015 and it is likely not using the latest APIs, so it’s probably not fair to blame the Redmi 5 for these issues.
Nonetheless, we tried a third time and it seemed to work just fine. Being one of the earliest Android games to allow users to customise graphics options, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas on the Redmi 5 had its Visual Effects set to Medium with its Shadows switched off and Car Reflections at Low. With these settings, roaming through the streets of Los Santos was a breeze despite it looking like an early PS2 game. We tried our luck by increasing the Visual Effects to Max, Car Reflections at Medium, and Shadows to the Classic option and we found it to be a better experience with sharper environments and greater detail with almost no penalty in terms of frame rate making it the ideal way to play Gran Theft Auto San Andreas. Pushing any of these settings any higher however, led the game to run at a crawl.
Finally we checked out Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade. This is an on-rails shooter takes place in the distant future and you’re a giant robot killing orcs, space demons, and all sorts of abominations. High resolution textures, special effects, and the huge amount of onscreen action make it worth checking out on the Redmi 5. Simply put gameplay was buttery smooth on the Redmi 5, with no stutter at all. You could be mowing down orcs or engaging in fisticuffs with giant weapons of death, and the action didn’t skip a beat, we could go ahead and tweak its graphic options but there was no need as it defaulted to its highest settings on the Redmi 5 and was a treat to play. Blazing through four missions saw little impact on the Redmi 5 getting just a little warm to touch.
Is the Redmi 5 best for budget Android gaming?
From the games we checked out, it’s a worthy option. Unless of course all you play is Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, whose issues can be pinpointed to the fact that its creator Rockstar isn’t interested in updating it any further. This aside, the combination of an efficient processor and a well-thought out design made gaming a treat. That being said, it will be interesting to see how it will stack up in the future with the likes of Fortnite on the horizon. Right now though, if you’re planning to check out Xiaomi’s latest and you’re an avid gamer on the go, the Redmi 5 has you covered. Do stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for a comprehensive review of Redmi 5’s overall capabilities.
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