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Opinion 429 Shares 29 comments

Why this low-cost Xiaomi phone is more exciting than a $649 iPhone

When a US$649 iPhone is released, I expect it to be special. This is a huge amount of money to fork over for a product with many cheaper alternatives. It's for this reason that the US$300 dollar Xiaomi Mi 5 is far more exciting. Allow me to explain.

AndroidPIT Xiaomi MI5 6
Sloping edges of the Xiaomi Mi 5. / © ANDROIDPIT

Functionally the same

Low-cost Android phones like the Motorola Moto E can be picked up for around 100 dollars. For this price you can send emails and WhatsApp messages, make video calls, and install almost every kind of app. Essentially, it has the same functions as an iPhone 6s except it costs less than 1/6 of the price. 

Now, the iPhone 6s may be shinier and nicer and with better photos and display and performance: I accept this. But aside from perhaps its fingerprint scanner, they are very similar in terms of function. 

AndroidPIT Xiaomi MI5 10
Slim, glass, metal, USB Type-C, fingerprint scanner: the picture says it all. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Mi 5 approach

Soon, Xiaomi will deliver a high-end, good looking handset, complete with fingerprint scanner and all of the trimmings, and it will cost less than half the price of the iPhone 6s's base model. 

For the reason, I believe that the device in question, the Xiaomi Mi 5 may become the highest value smartphone when looking across performance and asking price.

All variants come with a Full-HD display (1920 x 1080p compared to the iPhone's 750 x 1334 pixels), a Snapdragon 820 processor, 3 GB of RAM and fast-charging. It's competing at the very highest level, but it also looks fantastic and cuts no corners in design.

To outclass a top-of-the-range product and to do it for half the price is very, very rare, and not just in smartphone terms. How often does a consumer hardware product cost much less than, and also perform as well as, its premium competitors? 

apple iphone 6 siri
iOS has Siri, Android has Google Now. / © ANDROIDPIT

iPhones used to be these beautiful, untouchable pieces of hardware that looked so much cleaner and more polished than everything else. I'm not saying that Xiaomi hasn't borrowed heavily from the iPhone design. I'm just saying it has done so extremely successfully.  

Essentially, at MWC 2016 Xiaomi presented a premium looking and feeling phone which has high-end hardware and costs the equivalent of around 307 dollars (1,999 CNY very crudely converted) and I'm still shocked by this. 

AndroidPIT Xiaomi MI5 1
The full review of this guy should be online next week. / © ANDROIDPIT

Final thoughts

Of course, my current line of thinking is based on a number of assumptions: we’ve only been hands-on with the device for a short time. It could be released with a few problems; the iOS software is probably preferable than Xiaomi's MIUI skin.

Our Mi 5 comparison with the iPhone 6s already explains a lot about how these compare. I'm not saying that the Mi 5 will be better: only that it's more exciting. It's more exciting because of the Mi 5 announced to the smartphone world "look at how I good this can really be", while the iPhone 6s says "I am as good as a phone half my price". 

This reaction isn't because I don't like Apple or iPhones or iOS: don't jump to that conclusion. On its own, without any competition, I'd think the iPhone was incredible. Incredible.

But, what can I do? Xiaomi is going to produce a cool phone and make it ridiculously well-priced. How could this not be the more exciting prospect?

Do you agree? Give me your thoughts in the comments.


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  • thanks u very much for your help i also pulled out my battery. and it work my camera is started working now. so thanks u very much

  • Only thing I would worry about is security and open back doors. What apps have access to is also important along with encryption.

    • Also, I would assume, OS upgrades, security fixes and firmware updates might be less reliable than on an iPhone. But it's an assumption. The fact is: the price tag is extremely different and not everyone cares about these issues in the same way.
      Still waiting to read more about this interesting competition...

  • Xiaomi M5 half price than Apple and can compare with Apple. Sure the choise is M5!

  • janpieter 7 months ago Link to comment

    As soon I can buy one I will do, who no where to buy?

  • I'm always feeling awkward when one say that an interface as MIUI or any other like the Samsung one isn't good enough as it it was a definitive problem. I think that all I have to do is install the Google launcher and problem is solved. I'm I wrong???

    • Possibly other things get messed up when UI is heavily changed from stock OS. Notifications, for instance, or some of the settings are usually different and you cannot renormalize them just by using a launcher.
      I don't personally know the kind of changes made into Xiaomi's declination of Android, but this just means that to wait and check specific reviews would be a wise move ^_^

  • 18
    anshul 7 months ago Link to comment

    No doubt iPhone is best in class. Quality products, innovation, clean iOS & many more, yes one more thing exclusive Apple logo.
    But if we talk about technology, innovation, design then these things are also happening outside Apple but at hyper speed. There are so many new companies coming up with new & unique ideas just like Oppo phone with reversible camera. Now it's difficult to play game of monopoly.
    We can expect anything because in today's age there is no need to pay hefty amount to enjoy something amazing. Use your head before splurging on something which has excellent substitute. :+)

  • Abhyuday 7 months ago Link to comment

    It has to be more exciting because all iPhones are essentially the same. The design is actually worse than older iPhones. The antenna lines are disgusting and it's impossible to get a good grip.

  • Dean L. 7 months ago Link to comment

    So I'm also waiting to see how this phone functions in the US. There have been rumors that it could become a low cost nexus device if Google sees value in that. And if that happens then it could work on the major US carriers networks. We'll just have to wait and see how or if this plays out. I to am interested in this phone based on the reviews.

  • When will the New Android for lenovo tabs have the updates

  • I wouldn't necessarily say the Mi 5 is more exciting but I think the world of 'budget' phones is more exciting. There are so many OEM's pushing to be the best 'budget' device that they are now getting very close to flagship status. This is going to be fun to watch over the next few years and I hope more of the 'big' OEM's try to make a splash.

    • Mgod 7 months ago Link to comment

      It is more exciting, the moniker "budget" implies cheep or not as good when in reality this is literally how much I phones should cost. Material wise and parts wise the Xiaomi is more advanced than the iPhone.

    • Motorola changed the landscape when it released the Moto G. And you're absolutely right, "budget" devices now stack up nicely against their flagship competition with no corners cut or expenses spared. Even with Huawei, Xiaomi, Alcatel and the likes making tremendous waves, I believe Motorola is still leading the way. Exhibit A) Moto X Pure Edition. But that was 2015. Can't wait to see what 2016 holds!

  • Keeping my fingers crossed on this one!

  • Ruby H. 7 months ago Link to comment

    I was one of the first people in the US to import the Xiaomi RedMi Note back in 2014. I needed a travel phone for Europe and my Virgin Mobile phone would not work there. Turned out to be a great solution and for a great price. But unfortunately, Xiaomi phones are not made for the US market which means, no CDMA (Verizon, Sprint), no LTE 4G in the US and distribution or after sale service in the US. The only way you can get a Xiaomi phone is by ordering one through an online Chinese reseller like Gearbest or Banggood. After reseller markup, the cheapest you can buy the Mi 5 mentioned in this article is $430. And you'll have to wait 4-6 weeks for it to arrive from China. There is still no 'International ROM' available which means the phone comes with just two languages: Chinese and English. And since Google is illegal in China, unless you can get the reseller to install it, the phone doesn't come with the Google Play Store or any Google apps for that matter.
    In short, this is a great phone...if you live in China. The quoted $307 price is only available in China.
    The international version when it becomes available will be sold only in developing nations.
    At $430, it's still a great buy if you live in a country where this phone's LTE bands are supported and you don't mind not having after market support.

    • Cannot guarantee about the following info, but it 's better you check them up [I cannot post links here, but I'll provide the websites]:
      - The Xiaomi Mi 5 will support "GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE" [gsmarena]
      - "Google Play Store reportedly launching in China in early 2016" [androidcentral]
      - You can download the UI portings in many different languages [Xiaomi MIUI Official Global Site]
      About the other concerns, well, I dunno ^_^ yet.
      ... P.s.: I don't use a Xiaomi phone, but I'd like to try one.

    • Dude, its dual sim. Whose sim 1 slot support CDMA and Sim 2 support GSM, phones made for chinese market have diff. Network support and those phones don't work with network type of any other country in the world, and that is why xiaomi has come up with universal network support with this phone coz of which this phone would work with almost every network type, xiaomi had global versions of the phones which are sold in india WHICH did support CDMA.
      I am an Indian, Mi phones Here do come with all the Google apps which one can expect from any android phone. I really am not sure whether google is banned in china coz chinese market is full of google android products! If you know where to buy from You can get It for a great price. Similarly, iphones in India cost 1000USD to 2000USD! Don't know for what reason, thats why Android phones are more popular here.

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