Xiaomi today refreshed its most affordable smartphone model, the Redmi 4A (Review), with a brand new generation. 5,999 price point. The ability to deliver solid specs at low prices has functioned extremely well for the company thus far, but now the big gimmick is essentially a massive company-sponsored subsidy on the first five million Redmi 5A units it sells, bringing the price down to Rs. 4,999. We’ve seen innumerable introductory offers before, but this one is undoubtedly going to cause a massive rush of prospective buyers when it goes on sale on December 7.

While the introductory offer might overshadow the merits of the phone itself, we’re more interested in the true usage experience. Is your Xiaomi Redmi 5A truly capable of becoming a “desh ka smartphone”? We’ve managed to devote a little time with the device, and here are our first impressions.

This phone feels nearly insubstantial, weighing only 137g. It’s all plastic and the body really has a slight flex to it once twisted. We do not think that this is anything to be worried about, but a protective case might be a good idea. The phone fits well in a hand, thanks to its 5-inch screen, and the curved edges mask its 8.35mm thickness.

We got our hands on a Gold unit, but Xiaomi additionally lists Dark Grey and Rose Gold as options (the latter isn’t an option on Xiaomi’s store webpage, so it might be introduced later). The finish on the rear is very plasticky, and there’s no mistaking it for alloy. Both gold options have white front faces, while they gray one looks more sober in black. On an interesting side note, the Redmi 5A’s box is bright red and there’s just a tiny Xiaomi emblem in one corner – that the company is emphasising Redmi itself as the primary brand.

The display is fairly crisp, given its size and 720×1280 resolution, but colors are not all that vivid. There is quite a bit of plastic above and below the monitor. Xiaomi has used non-backlit capacitive buttons for Android navigation, which isn’t good but that’s what we expect at this price level. On the flip side, you will find two separate trays; one for only a Nano-SIM and the other for a second Nano-SIM as well as a individual microSD card. There is a Micro-USB interface on the bottom of the Xiaomi Redmi 5A and an Infrared emitter on the top, and you get a preloaded app to remote control your appliances. The most interesting thing on the back is the “Made in India” text. Aside from that, there is a camera and flash in the top-left corner, along with a huge speaker grille across the bottom.

In the lockscreen, you can swipe right to quickly pull up the IR remote program, flashlight, and a Mi Home app which allows you to command Xiaomi home appliances.

The remainder of MIUI is fairly nice, if you like single-layer UIs. There are a few extraneous animations in lists and on program icons, but the phone didn’t feel sluggish whatsoever in our limited time with it. You have the ability to password-protect apps, run two instances of these with different accounts, and generate a secure “Second Space” which is almost like having a second user accounts. Xiaomi has also preloaded Amazon Shopping, WPS Office, UC News, along with the Microsoft Office and Skype programs, in addition to Google’s usual ones.

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chip, and either 2GB of RAM with 16GB of storage, or even 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage. You can add a microSD card of up to 128GB. There’s a 13-megapixel rear camera along with a 5-megapixel front camera, each of which shoot shots that look fairly decent on your phone’s personal display. Xiaomi is pushing battery life as a major feature of this phone, but the battery capacity is a fairly typical 3000mAh, so we’ll have to wait to see how that works out.

We will have full battery and camera performance tests in our detailed review, and a lot more detail about the Redmi 5A coming up shortly, so stay tuned to Gadgets 360.

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