Xiaomi Mi 5 is a powerful and beautifully designed handset that costs around Rs 24,999 (approx US $370). This is one of those phones that you have to track down yourself, buy upfront and plug your own SIM card into, although for experienced users this is hardly a challenge.
There are two variants of the Mi5. A basic version, which has what Xiaomi calls a ‘3D Glass’ back, and comes in 32 GB or 64 GB storage options coupled with 3 GB RAM. There’s also a Pro model that has a ceramic back, and comes with 128 GB of storage and 4 GB RAM. The question is, is the Mi5 is worth seeking out? Well, here is our review for the handset.
You may have preconceptions about the build quality of low-cost Chinese phones, but in this case we urge you to cast them aside. The Mi5 is completely solid in every way, and nothing about it would give the uninitiated any reason to believe it wasn’t a high-end device.
The metal frame looks and feels like it could have been designed by Samsung, while the 5.15-inch screen extends so close to the edges of the phone you wonder how Xiaomi managed to build such a marvel. The fingerprint scanner on the front of the device and is concealed beneath the home button. The headphone jack is located at the top of the phone
Xiaomi has opted for a USB-C connector on the Mi5 – and if you don’t know what that is, then just know that it renders your old charging cables entirely useless, and requires you to buy extra cables for anywhere you might want to juice up your phone away from where you keep your main charger.
The display is equally impressive when it’s turned on. It has a pretty modest resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, which, compared to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 is a little low – those phones have similar screen sizes, but 1440 * 2560 resolutions.
The Mi5’s display is bright, colorful and full of detail. It’s an IPS-type screen, rather than an AMOLED, but that doesn’t seem to have a huge impact, as it still offers the kind of ultra-vivid colors you’d see on the Galaxy S7.
The Mi 5 comes with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow along with Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 OS atop it. Thanks to the MIUI 7 OS, you cannot tell the Mi 5 from the older Android OS sporting devices such as the Redmi Note 3 or even the Mi 4i.
MIUI 7 OS which was announced by Xiaomi in October last year comes loaded on the phone. While, in terms of pure looks, it isn’t drastically different from the MIUI 6, we do see some new features in the OS. Xiaomi has added on a lot more Indian themes to the MIUI 7 for starters. It has an animated profile picture feature called ‘Showtime’ which lets other MIUI users see your animated selfies when you call them, instead of a profile picture.
But the MIUI 7 OS skin also tends to suppress certain features that are offered by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, such as Now on Tap, because the hardware button doesn’t pull up Now on Tap. Xiaomi has said that it’s working on a fix. Also, with regards to app permissions, in Android 6.0 you get staggered app permission prompts, which come up only when you are using a particular feature and when you are actually using it. But with MIUI7, you have to mass accept all permissions when you’re downloading the app.
Hardware and Performance
There are two variants of the Mi5. A basic version, which has what Xiaomi calls a ‘3D Glass’ back, and comes in 32 GB or 64 GB storage options coupled with 3 GB RAM. There’s also a Pro model that has a ceramic back, and comes with 128 GB of storage and 4 GB RAM. Both the variants are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and Adreno 530 GPU.
The Mi 5 is more than capable of running anything you throw at it. Opening and switching between apps, playing high end games, opening over 20 tabs in Chrome and so on are things that the Mi 5 can handle with ease.
In terms of heat management, we noticed that the phone did get warm on the first update. Also, when charging, the phone does get warm and in bright sunlight, if you are taking a call, expect some warmth around the earpiece region. While gaming, we noticed that the temperature on the rear side reached around 40 degrees, which is manageable.
The fingerprint scanner is relatively fast, but thanks to the low height of the home button, there were times when we had to readjust the placement of the thumb to unlock the device. Just like we’ve seen on the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S7 edge and many other fingerprint scanner based phones, after restarting the phone, you have to unlock the device either via the secret pin or the pattern unlock as it refuses to unlock via the fingerprint.
The device features a 16 mega-pixel rear camera with Sony IMX298 sensor, PDAF (phase detection auto-focus), OIS (optical image stabilization), sapphire glass protection, 4K video support, and LED flash. It also features a 4 mega-pixel selfie camera, with f/2.0 aperture.
The image quality in daylight situations was good and the output is packed with detail. There wasn’t any noticeable color tinge. Focus was quick as well and we were surprised to get good images even from a moving vehicle. However, there were some situations when using the HDR mode did not really show much difference in the overall image quality, something that we had loved in the Xiaomi Mi 4i.
In low light situations, there is noticeable noise in images but these are still decent images as compared to other phones in that price range. Sure, you will notice a waxy texture in low light images, specially in the shadow region due to loss of sharpness, but that’s to be expected.
The 4-axis optical image stabilization is good and certainly helps if you are shooting stills while in a moving vehicle or want to get that steady shot. The Mi 5 is capable of shooting 4K videos and video quality is good enough for casual sharing.
he Mi 5 is backed with a 3,000 mAh battery that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. In a regular usage scenario which involved having two emails on sync, 10-15 photographs in a day, an hour worth of music and surfing the web and messaging gave us around 12-14 hours of use before requiring to charge it again. On heavy days, the phone tends to run out of juice before your workday is over.
At its reasonably modest price – depending on which model you buy – the Xiaomi Mi5 is nothing short of staggering value for money. This is a phone that offers the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 3 GB or 4 GB RAM and 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB storage.
However, we would have still liked better battery life for power users on the Mi 5. Also, the user interface really needs some change in the design language. It is responsive, no doubt. But what’s the point of having Android 6.0 Marshmallow if some of its key features are not available for users – such as Now on Tap or the Doze mode? Hopefully Xiaomi will fix these issues in future updates.
However, these issues are really just nits to pick with a phone of this price and overall quality.