The Xiaomi Mi 5 review - Powerful hardware meets elegant design!
T he Chinese mobile devices manufacturer Xiaomi has released their latest flagship Android smartphone: Xiaomi Mi 5. It features impressive hardware specifications and great design that leaves you with a very good first impression. Although it doesn’t brag about introducing any “ first of their kind” features like being the first water resistant smartphone or the first modular smartphone, or even the first “warp speed” smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi 5 has lots of details that might make you consider buying it sooner rather than later. We had it for testing for about a week and now it’s time for us to share our impressions about this device, in this review:
Hardware specifications and packaging
The Xiaomi Mi 5 comes in a glossy white cardboard box with a simple and classic design. On the top of the package you can see a picture of the smartphone in all its four available color variants. On the sides of the box there’s only blank space and the bottom of the box holds just some stickers with information about the smartphone and its technical specifications.
Open the box and you get to see the Xiaomi Mi 5 you just bought.
The smartphone sits on a cardboard support and, if you take it out of the way, you get to see the entire content of the package: the smartphone’s power charger and its detachable USB Type-C cable, a small metal pin useful for taking out the SIM holder, the warranty card and the user guide. Unfortunately, just like many other manufacturers, Xiaomi chose not to include headphones in the package. This approach probably helps in keeping the costs low, but it’s not something we appreciate, especially when we’re dealing with a flagship device.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a flagship Android smartphone that’s a bit smaller than what we’ve seen lately from other manufacturers. The Mi 5 has a 5.15 inch display that benefits from an IPS LCD panel. It offers a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels at 428 PPI pixel density. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, so it shouldn’t scratch easily.
This smartphone is powered by a high-end Snapdragon 820 quad core Kryo processor running at a maximum frequency of 1.8 GHz and an equally powerful Adreno 530 graphics processing unit. You also get 3 GB of RAM memory and 32 or 64GB of internal storage space, depending on the edition you buy. Unfortunately, the smartphone has no microSD card slot so you can’t expand the storage space with a flash memory card.
The main camera on the Xiaomi Mi 4 uses a lens with 6 elements, it has a Sony IMX298 16 megapixel sensor and uses Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) technology. As a result, it should be able to take sharp photos even when you’re moving or your hands are shaking. The camera is also getting aid from a dual tone LED flash when you’re shooting photos in low light environments. As for the front camera, there’s not too much to say about it except the fact that it has a 4 megapixel sensor, which should be good enough for video chat apps, but it’s probably not the best for taking great-looking selfies.
In terms of connectivity options, the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a dual SIM smartphone, meaning that it can simultaneously work with 2 SIM cards. It can connect to 4G mobile networks, it includes a built-in Bluetooth 4.2 chip and offers NFC support. Also, in terms of wireless connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi 5 has a network chip that is compatible with the 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac networking standards, so it can connect to both 2.4 GHz and to 5 GHz wireless networks. An interesting thing about the Xiaomi Mi 5 is the fact that it also includes an infrared sensor and that’s something you don’t see too often on a smartphone. Moving on to the wired connectivity options, the Xiaomi Mi 5 has an USB Type-C reversible connector and a 3.5 mm audio jack.
It might also be interesting for you to know that this smartphone comes with quite a lot of sensors built-in. Besides the usual accelerometer, gyro, proximity or compass sensors, the Xiaomi Mi 5 also has a barometer and a fingerprint sensor .
The body is built from plastic, metal and glass, but together with its non-removable 3000 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery, it weighs only 4.55 ounces (129 grams). This feather-light weight is held by a body with a length of 5.69 inches (144.55 mm), a width of 2.72 inches (69.2 mm) and a thickness of 0.28 inches (7.25 mm).
If you'd like to see more details about the specifications of the Xiaomi Mi 4, check its official website: Xiaomi Mi 5 Specs.
The Mi 5 is the new Xiaomi flagship and it has all the hardware it needs to prove it. The specs are all high-end and the raw performance you should get from it should be more than plenty for any Android app or game, no matter how power hungry it is. The only thing we can point as negative is the fact that you don’t get any headphones in the standard package and you need to purchase them separately.
Design and build quality
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is one of the most beautiful smartphones we’ve seen this year. The first thing that strikes you is that, although it’s a flagship, it’s smaller than the best smartphones of other manufacturers. The Xiaomi Mi 5 has a 5.15 inch display which, as you can see in the photo below, is almost frameless, with incredibly thin left and right bezels.
Both the front and the back of the Xiaomi Mi 5 are covered and protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 layer that makes the smartphone look glossy and glamorous at the same time. However, the glossy back also means that the Mi 5 has a natural tendency to slip and slide when you place it on a plane surface. For instance, when I put it on a coffee table made from glass, it seemed like the Mi 5 had a will of its own and just wanted to slip away. If you buy this smartphone, you should take care with this aspect.
All that glass on the Xiaomi Mi 5 meets at the edges of the smartphone and ends under an aluminum frame with sleek and elegant lines.
The power button and the volume rocker are found in their usual Android spot, on the upper right edge of the smartphone and, even if they don’t have different textures, they are easily identifiable because of their sharp edges.
The Home button is the only physical button from the from of the device and it also holds the fingerprint sensor. Having the fingerprint sensor placed on the front of the smartphone makes it very easy to use. It’s also one of the fastest fingerprint sensors I’ve seen.
To the left and to the right of the Home button, you will find the other two traditional Android buttons for Back and Recent apps. Xiaomi chose a minimalist design here, as the two capacitive buttons are actually invisible and can be seen only when their white LED lights activate. In our opinion, this is a great design choice that contributes a lot to the good looks of this smartphone.
You might have noticed that we didn’t say anything about the existence of a camera button. That’s because there is none on the Xiaomi Mi 5, although it would have made a nice addition, especially considering the fact that the main camera of this smartphone is actually good. But more on that later in the camera experience section of this review.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 impressed us with its good looks. Although there’s nothing about it that we would call spectacular, we love the simple and elegant way in which every part meets another and the efficient way in which each bit of space is used. This is a smartphone that you will fall in love at first sight in most cases.
The smartphone experience on the Xiaomi Mi 5
The Xiaomi Mi 5 features a 5.15 inch Full HD display that benefits from the IPS technology. After using it for a while, both indoors and outdoors, we can testify that the screen has very good contrast, it displays vivid colors and, most of all, it has a really high brightness. You will have no problems whatsoever in deciphering what’s on the screen, even if you use it in direct sunlight.
You might have noticed earlier in this review that we mentioned that the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a dual SIM smartphone. It can use up to two SIM cards simultaneously. Another great feature is the fact that both SIM cards can use 4G networks, although once you connect to 4G using one SIM card, the other will be limited to 2G. Both cards must be nanoSIMs and they are both inserted in the same card tray from the left edge of the smartphone. To take the tray out you will have to use the metallic pin from the smartphone’s package.
During the time we had the Xiaomi Mi 5 for testing, I used it as my main Android smartphone. While doing so, I could see and hear how this smartphone fulfills its basic duty of being a phone. :) I can say that the phone conversations I had on it were of very good quality and the sound levels were satisfying. I could hear the people with whom I talked without problems and they were also able to understand what I was saying, even when I was in loud and noisy environments.
If you’re concerned about whether the mobile signal reception is any good, I can tell you that it is, at least on the 3G network aired by my mobile operator in my geographical area.
In terms of audio quality, the loudspeaker does a pretty good job and it doesn’t distort sounds, even at the highest volume. However, the highest volume is not as high as we’ve heard on other high-end smartphones like the Motorola Nexus 6 , for instance. However, even if the loudspeaker is above average, the audio fidelity you’ll get from a good set of headphones will outmatch it anytime.
The autonomy you’ll get from the 3000 mAh battery is above average but it’s not great. If you use your smartphone heavily and you like checking your Facebook and Twitter accounts often, read every email you receive instantly or browse the internet a lot, than the Xiaomi Mi 5 will probably last you for a day. If you use it rar ely , you might get two or even three days out of it. I for one, managed to keep it away from the power outlet for a day and half, and considering the powerful hardware packed inside this smartphone, this is good battery life.
We like how the Xiaomi Mi 5 fulfills its basic role of being a phone and we love how its display looks. On the other hand, the loudspeaker could have been a bit louder considering that it is Xiaomi’s flagship.
If you will go to the next page, yo u will find out details about the camera experience offered by the Xiaomi Mi 5, the software installed on it and the results it managed to obtain in benchmarks.