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Xiaomi Mi 5 review: the real MiCoy

Update: Refreshed review!
Xiaomi Mi 5 review: the real MiCoy

Xiaomi has finally released its long-awaited flagship, the Xiaomi Mi 5. After taking almost two years to appear, the successor to the Mi 4 is now with us. The Mi 5’s design is reminiscent of the Galaxy S7. Its hardware surpasses the LG G5. Regarding price, the Mi 5 outperforms all competitors. Could this be the best phone of 2016? Find out in our Xiaomi Mi 5 review.

Good

  • High-end hardware
  • Inexpensive
  • Large internal memory
  • Dual-SIM

Bad

  • No LTE band 20
  • Incomplete Google Apps integration

Xiaomi Mi 5 release date and price

The Xiaomi Mi 5 can be imported quite cheaply. The Pro, the premium version, comes with 128 GB of flash memory, 4 GB of RAM and a ceramic back, will cost around US$499. The base model, with 32 GB of flash and 3 GB of RAM, is around US$410. The LG G5, comparable on specs, retails for around US$629.

Models which are available for importing come with a Chinese firmware. This can be switched to English (but not all languages). If you buy it from a local trader, check to see if your Mi 5 comes with pre-installed Google apps, as you won’t be able to access your Google account and the Play Store otherwise. We’ll turn to other difficulties in the software section below.

Another disadvantage of importing a Xiaomi Mi 5 relates to LTE support. The Mi 5 can not run on all available bands. In rural areas or on highways, it might drop to slower connections or go offline completely.

Xiaomi Mi 5 design and build quality

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is glass-smooth and similarly curved like the Galaxy S7. Special protection against shocks, water or dust aren’t built in. The outer edge at the front is sharp and feels a bit ‘cutty’ in the hand. The almost frameless display looks beautiful.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1591
The display is almost bezel-less. / © ANDROIDPIT

The physical home button can also be used as a capacitive button. So you need him not to press to return to the Home screen.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1635
Left of the aluminum frame is the Dual-SIM slot. / © ANDROIDPIT

For the material used in the back cover, you’ll either get curved glass or hard, glossy ceramic. The latter will be sold with the 128 GB Pro version and is harder than steel. With the glass variant, you can choose from either white, gold and black.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1587
The Mi 5's back comes in either glass or ceramic options. / © ANDROIDPIT

One of Xiaomi’s design feats was to keep the rear camera flush with the back, unlike the many protruding camera lenses we see in the iPhone and Galaxy S6. Somehow, Xiaomi fit it inside the 7.15 mm-thick casing. Another design feature is the excellent screen-to-body ratio on the phone’s front. Non-display surfaces are minimal and limited to the upper and lower edges.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1637
Metal buttons to the right. / © ANDROIDPIT

Xiaomi Mi 5 display

The Xiaomi Mi 5 display has absolutely convinced me. Its resolution is sufficient for everyday tasks and its brightness is more than sufficient. The colors are rich and deep and make pictures and videos look realistic.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1638
The display offers great color and sharp detail. / © ANDROIDPIT

The display is a 5.15-inch full HD LCD unit. Thanks to a LED backlight redesign over its predecessor, the maximum brightness can be increased to 600 cd/m². It also comes with pixel-level adaptive contrast, meaning you have serious control over display brightness.

This technology runs on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processor and its hexagon subunit. It regulates brightness so that white areas are less bright than dark ones.

Xiaomi Mi 5 software

After Easter 2016, new software for the imported Xiaomi Mi 5 will be available. After its release we’ll test it again. Until then, our judgment applies in this section on the impressions with the Chinese ROM, which is retrofitted with Google Apps and therefore malfunctions.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1650
How MIUI 7 looks. / © ANDROIDPIT

When you buy your Mi 5 from a trader, you could be offered either a variant with the Chinese ROM and Play Store pre-installed, or you might get the so-called multi-ROM variant which provides native support for Google Apps. Be aware of which model you’re buying and know the differences. Read on for the important ones.

Flaws with the Chinese software are particularly visible in apps that run in the background and maintain a constant server connection. This mainly includes messengers like WhatsApp or Threema.

With the multi-ROM version, you can install new firmware to the Mi 5. Even the Xiaomi Redmi 3 comes with an easy-to-use flashing instruction manual and the necessary files to replace the Chinese firmware with an international one.

The Xiaomi Mi 5 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow underneath MIUI 7. This software has 175 million active users with only a team of 750 developers. With weekly software updates, MIUI is among the most dynamic user interface running on any smartphone today.

Xiaomi Mi 5 performance

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is fast and has great gaming performance. Its performance is, in principle, below that of the Samsung Galaxy S7. In addition, the Mi 5 suffers from annoying software bugs. Since these should be fixed with a future firmware update, this might only be a short-term issue.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 powers the Xiaomi Mi 5. This is considered the fastest smartphone processor of 2016 and is also used in other flagship devices, such as the LG G5 or the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S7. The Mi 5 uses many of the new features of this chip. Thus, the signal processor is actively used in the camera, where it ensures enhanced picture quality.

  Vellamo Metal Mellamo Multicore AnTuTu Geekbench 3 single Geekbench 3 multi Basemark X medium Basemark X high
Xiaomi Mi 5 2016 1855 109588 1783 4123 29070 26258
Samsung Galaxy S7 2743 3371 130270 2125 6394 39520 31131

 

Also, the internal memory has been improved. Xiaomi has turned to Samsung to rely on what was featured in the Galaxy S6, UFS 2.0. This flash memory technology operates at up to 450 MB/s, so any app should be loaded in a split second.

In theory, this key data should offer a high work rate. But with my repeated testing there was an (apparent) thermally-induced reduction of processor power. This manifested itself in ever smaller measurements. Amazingly, this applies only to CPU tests. Gaming performance was not affected by the restriction.

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera

The camera of the Xiaomi Mi 5 is not as great as anticipated. The test images that Hugo Barra had leaked in advance were shot at tropical daylight and quite detailed. In anything less than perfect conditions, expect average photos. The image stabilizer ensures remarkably smooth video and steady-handed photos - yes, including selfies.

The camera doesn’t have a previously rumored aperture of f/1.6, but rather an ordinary f/2.0. The optical image stabilizer works using four axles; two rotational and two transversal.

These compensate for displacements to the smartphone housing. What that means is when your hands move, or the subject of your photo, you shouldn’t end up with blurry photos. In practice, the stabilizer proves to be an extraordinary selling point, ensuring exceptionally good video, making the Mi 5 one of the best multimedia smartphones that you can currently buy.

AndroidPIT Xiaomi MI 5 PRO 11
Xiaomi Mi 5 camera menu. / © ANDROIDPIT

The sensor Xiaomi used is the new Sony IMX 298. Its new DTI Pixel to Pixel insulation allows a sharp demarcation between areas of different color. The new signal processor from Qualcomm works in the background for fast post-processing in real time. This is also demonstrated by the 4 MP selfie cam and advertised Mi video app.

Xiaomi Mi 5 battery

The Xiaomi Mi 5 battery lasts one day. It can be remarkably fast to charge. In about an hour it’s charged enough for a whole day’s use. For charging, it uses the Type-C connector. Your importer might also send an adapter.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi5 1632
The battery is charged quickly via Quick Charge 3.0. / © ANDROIDPIT

Despite its compact housing, Xiaomi could spoil us with a good-sized battery. Here we only get a maximum capacity of 3,000 mAh. This was achieved by increasing the energy density to a remarkable 685 Wh/l.

Xiaomi Mi 5 technical specifications

Dimensions: 144.55 x 69.2 x 7.25 mm
Weight: 129 g
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Screen size: 5.16 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 1920 x 1080 pixels (427 ppi)
Front camera: 4 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 6.0 - Marshmallow
User interface: MIUI
RAM: 4 GB
3 GB
Internal storage: 128 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Number of cores: 4
Max. clock speed: 2.15 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth

Early Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is strong, but not as strong as I had hoped. The optical image stabilizer enhances the camera to film camera standard, giving it a bonus selling point. Since the device has to be imported and Google Apps must be installed, the G5 or the S7 might be the better choice for many customers. This may change when the Mi 5 ships with international software and seamless Google integration, which should be the case very soon.

If Xiaomi officially sells this phone in the US and the lack of LTE frequencies was resolved, the Mi 5 would be near unbeatable. But most of all - the Xiaomi Mi 5 shows that packaging high-end hardware at a mid-range price is possible.

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50 comments

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  • The Bluboo Maya with 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 13MP camera and Android 6.0 OS, only at $69.99,I have order 1 just waiting for it's arrival :)


  • The Bluboo Maya with 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 13MP camera and Android 6.0 OS, only at $69.99,I have order 1 just waiting for it's arrival" :)


  • I replaced my 'piece of junk Galaxy S6 Edge' with the Mi5. Very impressed compared to my twice as expensive (old) Samsung!

    (I am European. The Netherlands)

    Oh and the curve is on the back where it should be not on the front where it distorts the image)


  • The phone is awesome, some people have commented that it has low storage, xiomi itself says that 25GB will be for an use and its 25 GB, if you feel its low then don't buy. The phone doesn't hang at all. The Camera clicks beautiful pictures with front and rear. The only issue is with heating, not always but while charging and while accessing some apps, and the battery temperature rises to 42 or 43 degrees and it really feels too much when you place it on the cheek while talking.
    Otherwise, this phone is best.


  • What part of this review is "refreshed". I read the exact same content.


  • Xiaomi

    A company I was impressed with it at CES this year in Las Vegas

    Most of the criticism published in this article (poor 4GLTE signal, no pre-loaded Google apps) where exactly what I told the Sales Team at their Kiosk, except I was brutally honest (I told them look around at your competition, if you want to enter the North American Market? please come back to CES next year with an Android Smartphone that will function in North America with the latest Android OS) ....


    I also wasn't impressed with the prices ($300-$350 is the maximum I will pay for No Contract), I think they can come down for 2017


  • As the Global rom 7.2 miui has been released, will you guys be doing an updated review?


  • When you compared the cameras between Mi 5 and Galaxy S7, you'll see how miserable Xiaomi Mi 5 is. See YouTube for more references.


  • I live in a pretty rich family, so I could probably get this, but I'll need more information on the software.


    • You should just buy Samsung S7 then, just watch the comparison video on YouTube between mi5 and S7. I'm pretty poor, eventhough I wanted s7, I can only buy mi5 if the price come down below $350. Took me 6 months just to save money to that amount... :(


  • Sellable! Seems to be a hit already!


  • Phil S Mar 30, 2016 Link to comment

    It is a very nice phone with an excellent spec to price point but with a lack of the crucial band 20 which I suspect has been left out exactly to slow people from European countries importing it. Maybe an updated model will appear when the company feels the time is right. So for now let's see what other manufacturers will do to counter it.


  • True comments below. Why is Xiaomi treated still like a newcomer from China. It has already released many phones and worked for it's rather good reputation. Xiaomi phones don't fare well against competition only in appropriate price brackets.


  • What do you mean it's "similarily curved as the S7"???????
    It's curved actually the opposite direction! Similarily to the Sony Ericsson Arc S, not the S7. I think it's the best 2016 flagship so far next to Sony X Performance. I find the design of the Mi 5 way better than that of the sparkling, shiny S7- maybe it's more appealing to girls. The Mi 5 has got great image stabilization and great hardware. The only improvement could be done in software and the one lte band. Apart from that it's an awesome phone and I'm really wondering how the software copes on a daily basis.


  • My Mi 4 has an overheat issue, but it passes over a year of usage, yet it still operates well. And I recently realized that the device's camera could detect solar eclipse. That's amazing! And now Mi 5 finally available, hopefully it will arrive in Malaysia soon and looking forward to have one :)


    • That's great, but I heard that the Mi 5 doesn't have very good storage at the moment. They're still working on a custom cloud storage space for any type of drive or mechanic to back up or even Bluetooth their memory onto other devices quickly. Sounds pretty cool.


  • Hands on Xiaomi Mi 5 India | Xiaomi Mi 5 Reviews | Xiaomi Mi 5 First Impression
    techinfobit.com/hands-on-xiaomi-mi-5-india-xiaomi-mi-5-reviews-xiaomi-mi-5-first-impression


  • i just registered to be able to post this comment ,i wanted to let it pass but i couldn't
    there are 3 possibilities here: either the writer of this hands on review is slow in the brains department or has no idea what in the world he is doing or he is biased.
    first the curved back is an original xiaomi feature which was first introduced in their mi Note line that samsung copied.
    second there are only so many ways u can put the camera, home button and fingerprint scanner and xiaomi kinda used the best option possible to minimize the bezels and give the device a better look. its like saying since some company used 4 wheels on a car any car that is being made is a uninspired copy of that first one...
    i'm not a xiaomi fanboy xiaomi or any other brand but i HATE it when people write inaccurate articles like this.
    this will be my last visit to this site since they use unprofessional writers in their crew.


    • I did the same. Awful review


    • WOW YOU SPEAK MY MIND ABSOLUTELY !!!! curved back is xiaomi trade mark on mi note , then used also by samsung in their flagship months later.
      when i read this im totally ... what ???? it really show us that the reviewer have lack of information about xiaomi. But its understandable since mi note is not out for sell in europe. (xiaomi should make their curved back a patent perhaps) But i still cant accept, when the author mentioned mi5 copycating s7 with the fact the two phones announced in the same event., cos this is becoming a real bias... even if the author dont have a clue that xiaomi using curved back first, at least he has to be fair... the two units being introduced at the same time, how came he made a conclusion Mi5 copycat S7 ???? if the fact were S7 came months earlier than Mi5 then his comments justified... but both of the phones are introduced in the same event. - remember this !!!

      but still , as i said its understandable... cos xiaomi dont start their step on western country yet and androidpit have lack info on xiaomi unlike gsmarena who already put attention on xiaomi years back.

      hope for the better review in future... ( i put bad score on this articles not to judge but to push for better improvement in future)


    • Paolo Mar 30, 2016 Link to comment

      I know that what you're stating here is true, but Please stop being a Xiaomi apologist!

      I know you're blinded by the exceedingly low price relative to specs, but the fact that the camera performs "average" when in the pressers Xiaomi is bragging it as "world beating" considering all the tech used speaks volumes that they STILL have work to do before the can truly, undeniably surpass Samsung and LG.


      • I had a Galaxy s6 edge before my MI. Camera just like the rest of the phone was crap. When did Samsung fix this? In the S7?


  • Android Phones are now on sale only on AndroidSmartphoneDeals:com


  • This is probably the phone that will make me switch from IOS to Android :I saw some demonstrations : they have managed to deliver an amazing combination between IOS simplicity and Android's open world.
    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one.


  • i would like to bring your attention to one particular thing... that is....plz stol saying thats mi5 looks like the s7... instead the s7 looks like mi note pro..which was the first phone to bring a 3d curve back in a smartphone... so please get over it... samsung's design is inspired by xiaomi not the otherway... mi5 is therefore an original design.. ya it is similar to s7 bt here the tone should be a lil diff which gives credit to xiaomi not samsung for such an amazing design


  • Although copy paste material from the other smartphone manufacturers, they need to come up with its own front panel display different from the others. Hardware is rock solid and the best in the current world, my only complain is the front display should be different. It Matters
    WOS.COM.PK


  • Xiaomi although didn't do well in 2015 as compare to 2014, but with this smartphone Mi 5 its the beginning of something wonderful on the sales front with amazing 14 million registration.
    WOS.COM.PK


  • does someone know, if it comes to Denmark?


    • It probably won't be available in Danish shops, and Xiaomi will probably not sell it to you directly, but there is nothing stopping you from buying it in a foreign shop and having it shipped to Denmark. It should work fine on Danish networks.

      You'll easily find some of the foreign shops, willing to ship to Denmark, by writing Xiaomi mi 5 buy in Google.dk


  • curved glass on back was used for xiaomi note before samsung...


    • NOTE. xiaomi mi note and mi note pro was introduced in january 2015... earlier than the time when the first samsung using curved back introduced to public.


  • "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"

    Xiaomi used 3d curved glass on the back of their mi note and mi note pro about a year ago. Many designs features on the mi5 can be found on the mi note and mi note pro.


  • So I saw on another android news site that the Mi5 could make Googles short list for the 2016 Nexus phones (or at least Google should consider it). That's how impressed some people who have seen it are. I would consider it. That would be one way to get it here in the United States.


    • Problem with Xiaomi in the United States, and the European Union, is the patent systems.

      Unless you have a massive patent portfolio it is easy for companies like Apple and Samsung to secure a import and sales ban in court and be sued in general. Case in point, because Xiaomi recently got their first mobiles approved by the FCC, they already have a patent troll attacking them in the US.

      Perhaps if Xiaomi were to buy a company like Blackberry or HTC, who has the patents needed to defend against frivolous lawsuits they could enter the US market, but it is unlikely they will try otherwise.


  • Excellent smartphone I am still wait in india


  • vicky Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    I'll say a big no to the Xiaomi phones, my friend owns an Mi4i and I must say it is the worst phone ergonomically built till date. I'll rather go with Huawei or LG


    • That is a totally crap thing to say friend. I own Mi4i for over a year now and i have used an HTC, Samsung Note, Moto, LG Nexus and a Sony Xperia before that. By far, Mi gave me the most satisfaction in day to day usage (except for the fact that it does not have expandable storage which i fulfill by using an OTG pen drive).


      • I also have the Mi4i and it's a great phone. Occasionally I loose my widgets and have to put them back but everything else is rock solid.. The dual SIM function is great. Though I see there is a general price creep up on these Chinese phones these days..


      • agreed.
        xiaomi is the best phone for low budget with full of features. the only minus in xiaomi is the brand itself, i hope their brand will change to english.


  • Do you know if this phone is gonna work in Mexico and USA ? (if i bougth it in china or inida)


    • It will work only on 3G no LTE in Canada , I really wanted to get this phone but until I hear more for north America I wont chance it by buying it for now , hopefully it comes .


  • Does anyone know what are the LTE bands for this phone?


    • I Think you should watch specs from mi note pro, i would think they are the same. If i remember correct you could get more bands to Mi pro with some tinkering. +remember that the phone does not have google play from factory(I have to install google play with fastboot every time i update the mi pro)


    • LTE bands include 38 / 39 / 40/ 41. The 18 bands that are specifically covered include 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29.


  • This is such a wonderful phone. Looks to me like a mix of a Galaxy and an Iphone. Also filled with hardware awesomeness, at last a Snapdragon 820 phone at half the price of the Galaxy S7. Although the Galaxy S7 obviously still has its advantages over the Mi5 as seen here (versus.com/en/xiaomi-mi-5-vs-samsung-galaxy-s7) , I believe the much lower price tag is enough for most to let go of these added features. The IP68 though is a big feature missing from the Mi5 that is present on the S7.


  • As Oneplus 1 user, i will say Oneplus 2 is boring; bad camera; bad audio output. Given that xiaomi has escalated the picture quality and audio quality at low level redmi 2 than the mi3 mi4, i am interested at this. No information about LTE bands?


  • Great preview of Mi 5. Could you please confirm it is really dual sim? I couldn't find that information in the official presentation.

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