Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5

Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5

Release date and price


We’ve had to wait almost two years for the new flagship from one of China’s biggest manufacturers. The latest flagship from Xiaomi takes to the market in three different versions. The most affordable model costs 1,999 CNY (about US$305) and brings 32 GB of internal storage and a 3D glass rear panel, but has a lower clock speed than the other two models, 1.8 GHz instead of 2.15 GHz.
The middle model has 64 GB of internal storage and a 3D glass rear panel, and will be priced at 2,299 CNY (US$352).
Finally, there’s the Pro version, which will haul along 4 GB of RAM, compared with the 3GB at the disposal of the other two versions, and a 3D ceramic back, all for a price of 2,699 CNY (US$413).


Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-1   

The only problem is that, despite being presented at an event for the international press, the only countries that Mr Barra has confirmed for the device’s release are China and India. The Chinese market is set to receive the device on March 1, India will receive it at a later, as yet unspecified, date.

In an interview with The Verge, Hugo Barra spoke candidly about the global availability of the Mi 5. When given a question about Xiaomi’s relationship with Google, Mr Barra expanded to talk about the potential availability of the Mi 5 outside of the core market it usually operates in.

He said Xiaomi has “other markets on their radar screen” although the “Mi 5 is not launching outside of our core markets, but we are starting to keep our eyes open.” This confirms previous speculations by AndroidPIT about the Mi 5’s availability.


Xiaomi Mi 5 design and build quality


Xiaomi has said that design is the reason we have had to wait almost two years to see a successor to the Xiaomi Mi 4.
According to Hugo Barra, Xiaomi undertook a major effort to place a camera lens in the same position as on the iPhone 6 (upper back), and install a home button with fingerprint scanner, like on the Samsung Galaxy S6 (elongated and found at the bottom of the front panel), and reduce the device’s body-to-screen ratio.


Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-2


The result, unfortunately, is a phone that looks like an uncharismatic cross between the latest Samsung and Apple flagships. It’s a little disappointing that a manufacturer that has earned international acclaim, whose recent efforts have kept us on the edge of our seat, has fallen foul of imitation.

Having said that, one of the highlights, especially at this early stage of consideration, is the striking resemblance the device’s rear panel bears to the Galaxy S7. 3D glass (or 3D ceramics in the case of the Pro model) curves towards the device’s edges, binding elegantly to the metal frame.


Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-3


At 129 g the Mi 5 is one of the lightest flagships of recent times. Neither the 152 g Galaxy S7 nor the 159 g LG G5 can compete with it on weight.

Xiaomi Mi 5 display

The Xiaomi Mi 5 has a 5.15-inch screen with Full HD resolution. These numbers offer more than enough pixels per inch, with no blemishes to be seen anywhere on the display. The colors of the MIUI 7 interface take on an impressive brilliance.

Although I only had the opportunity to test the phone under indoor lighting, it appears that the screen’s brightness will be sufficient for most lighting conditions.

The device has a healthy 600 nits of brightness (for comparison, the newly announced LG G5 has 900) and Xiaomi’ssunlit display feature optimizes the display in bright outdoor conditions. We will have to put the effectiveness of this to the test in our upcoming full Xiaomi Mi 5 review.


Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-4


Overall, the viewing experience on the Mi 5 adds up to more than the sum of its technical specifications, and an excellent body-to-screen ratio makes viewing pictures and other multimedia a very pleasing experience.

Xiaomi Mi 5 special features

The fingerprint scanner on the Xiaomi Mi 5 is installed in the home button, rather than on the back, as was the case on the Redmi Note. The initial setup takes just over five seconds, and unlocking the device seemed smooth and fast when I tested it.

Xiaomi Mi 5 software

The Mi 5 comes with Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 interface. What differentiates this from other interfaces is, like on many other Chinese brands, the absence of the app drawer. Any apps you download will appear on the home screen, where they can be grouped into folders, similar to how iOS functions.
The Mi 5 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, as expected, so functions such as Doze mode and granular app permissions are present.

Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-5  

Xiaomi claims to focus heavily on its own software, seeing it as a defining feature ( “Mi”, in the device’s name, comes from “Mobile Internet”) and MIUI has matured a lot in recent years. The Mi 5 has five different default themes and the ability to customize the capacitive buttons.
Swiping to the end of any menu causes an effect that sees menu items stretching, similar to that seen on the latest LG models. I personally find this somewhat unappealing.

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera

The Mi 5 houses a 16 MP IMX298 main camera of Sony design. The rear camera integrates Xiaomi’s 4-axis optical image stabilization technology, which should ensure sharper images when taking moving pictures.

Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-6


On the front, we find a 4 MP camera with f / 2.0 aperture lens, capable of 80-degree (wide-angle) selfies. The camera app has an intuitive interface. It was easy to use even in the very short time I had with the device, and it responded quickly to my taps and presses. To assess the quality of images fully, we’ll wait until the device arrives in the newsroom.

Xiaomi Mi 5 battery

The Mi 5 comes carrying a 3,000 mAh battery, which should be more than enough to keep the device going for a good length of time, especially when combined with Marshmallow’s Doze feature and the more ergonomic Snapdragon 820.
The Mi 5 also supports Quick Charge 3.0, which boasts 20 percent faster charging speeds than 2.0, promising an 80-90 percent battery charge in an hour.

Hands on Review of Xiaomi Mi 5-7


As soon as we test the device more thoroughly, we will provide further details on the device’s battery performance.


Xiaomi has presented us with an excellent flagship, capable of comfortably competing with those seen from Samsung, LG and Apple.
Personally, I was expecting a little something extra from the device, like with the OnePlus 2, given the long wait and the plethora of rumors that fueled my expectations.
It does remain haunted by one big problem: the lack of an official release in Europe and the US makes it difficult to get hold of. However, the Mi 5 is undoubtedly an excellent device.
What are your thoughts on the Xiaomi Mi 5? Let us know in the comments.


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