In a matter of a few years, Xiaomi has become a game-changing brand, following a strategy that revolves around offering well-specced and designed devices at surprisingly low prices. And while its latest flagship, the Xiaomi Mi 5, is at Rs 24,999, easily its most expensive device in the Indian market, it still comes with the sort of spec sheet that would put more expensive devices to shame.
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review: Design marvel and one-handable
Long accused of stealing design ideas from Apple, Xiaomi seems to have looked inwards and actually drawn inspiration from its own Mi Note Pro (never released in India, alas) for the Mi 5. The 3D glass curved design, first seen on the Mi Note Pro, is more refined and the phone feels just the right size even while having a 5.15-inch screen in its frame. The metal frame blends smoothly into the glass back of the edges, making this an exceedingly beautiful device, with a distinctly premium and “expensive” feel. Our review unit came in white color and while the glass front and back make it slippery and prone to smudges and fingerprints, we do not think either is a big issue (though we would recommend getting a case). Weighing at 129 grams and measuring 7.25mm, the smartphone is thinner and lighter than the Galaxy S7 (7.9mm, 152 grams), and has no protruding camera on the rear.
However, unlike the Galaxy S7, the Xiaomi Mi 5 isn’t water-resistant, and also unlike the Galaxy S7, it lacks expandable memory, so users will be stuck with the onboard storage they’re given (32GB, unfortunately). One feature that does seem to be becoming common across Xiaomi’s new smartphones is an IR blaster, which works perfectly with a number of appliances. Also on board is a fingerprint scanner embedded on a physical home button. Unlike the one on the Galaxy S7 which we found to be inconsistent, the Mi 5’s fingerprint scanner was accurate in recognizing your touch most of the time. On the base of the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a speaker, which is not really the phone’s strongest point – it is easily blocked by a hand, you never get high-quality, lossless sound quality. Also on the base is a USB Type-C charging port for fast data transfer. In terms of connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi 5 supports two nano-SIM cards, and comes with 4G LTE, NFC, 802.11 b/g/n/ac, GPS and Bluetooth 4.2.
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review: Consistent performance, respectable battery life
The Xiaomi Mi 5’s 5.15-inch, 1920 x 1080 display offers stunning, sharp images and videos. It uses a regular IPS LCD panel, and while it is unlike the Galaxy S7’s Super AMOLED quad HD ( 2560 x 1440) display, it is more than adequate for browsing the Web, playing games, sending e-mails or watching a full length movie. We never struggled to see the texts in bright sunlight, and the display was very good for watching videos on the go, as it was able to produce exceptional colors. It is certainly a huge step ahead of the display on the Mi 4, which in itself was quite a good display.
The real strength of the Xiaomi Mi 5 is the 1.8 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor and 3GB of RAM under the hood, making it one of the first smartphones in India to feature Qualcomm’s flagship SoC. And we had no complaints how the device performed in our week long testing. Graphic-intensive games such as Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8: Airborne played smoothly on the device. Switching between apps is also smooth and fast, although we found the Mi 5 became warmer during charging. Call quality was excellent in our tests.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is loaded with a 3,000mAh ( non-removable) battery. We used the Mi 5 as our primary device for a week, receiving hundreds of emails, playing music over Bluetooth headphones, surfing the Web, clicking photographs and playing games while returning in the Delhi Metro, and more often than not were able to get a day of battery usage. For most people that shouldn’t be an issue, we assume.
Running a custom version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the Mi 5 comes with MIUI 7, which is similar to that seen on the Redmi Note 3. As expected, there is no app tray , everything is placed on the home screen. It might not be as slick as stock Android, but MIUI 7 compensates with a number of features.
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review: Average Cameras
The Mi 5 comes fitted with a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 sensor for its rear camera, which is paired with a dual-LED Flash. Well, it all looks good on paper, at least, but, its performance is not really in the class of the likes of the Galaxy S7. From day one, the touch to focus feature on the Mi 5 just did not work consistently. We faced a number of focusing issues as well. While the Mi 5’s camera take nice shots in some scenarios, we ended up often getting average images. Even HDR mode, generally a Xiaomi strength, was a bit of a letdown. On some occasions, shots came out a little underexposed. The much-hyped 4-axis optical image stabilization feature also did not help us in taking fast moving shots to the extent we expected, although 4K videos were excellent. If you are a selfie junkie, the 4-megapixel ultra pixel front camera is capable of taking some pleasant shots, even in low-light conditions.
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review Conclusion
Xiaomi has delivered on the design and performance fronts with the Mi 5, although its camera is a let down by Xiaomi standards. But if you’re craving to get a super fast smartphone and don’t have the budget to get the likes of a Galaxy S7, then the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a solid buy at Rs. 24,999.