The year 2015 wasn’t very kind to Xiaomi. Due to several reasons, some that were out of its control, it didn’t release the successor to the Mi 4. Instead, it decided to wait for the right time. That time, at least in India, came in late March when the company brought Mi 5. Now, that the phone is here, it looks like Xiaomi’s wait was worth it.
The Mi 5 is one phone that is complete, in almost all its aspects. It goes head-to-head against the iPhone 6S or the Galaxy S7.
While it doesn’t always win, the fact that it provides everything that these superphones do, at a price that is almost half, makes it a winner. Even with a price of Rs 24,999, the Mi 5 offers a mix of gorgeous looks, superb performance and a smartphone experience that comes thoroughly polished.
One of the best bits about the Mi 5 is its design. With two sheets of curved glass fit inside a polished aluminium frame, the Mi 5 looks modish. In fact, it looks downright gorgeous, although it is a pity that Xiaomi is not selling the black version, which is even more stunning, in India at the moment. More significantly, it feels great in hands. The bezels around the 5.15-inch screen are extremely thin, which makes the Mi 5 a compact phone. It is also very light at 129 gm. The downside of the glass and metal design is that you will have to use the phone inside a cover. Its smooth metal and glass also make it slippery.
The screen is another part where Xiaomi seems to have worked extra hard. The phone shows brilliant colours and even though it doesn’t have as many pixels as what you get on the Galaxy S7 screen, the Mi 5 display is sharper than iPhones. It also has a very bright screen, which makes reading emails or watching photos easier on eyes.
For its price, the Mi 5 packs in above average hardware. It is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor. And though this processor is the “Lite” version with the speed of 1.8GHz and not 2.2GHz that regular version has, it has enough oomph in it to provide smooth experience. It also helps that the phone has 32GB internal storage and 3GB RAM. You can browse websites without any hitch, play demanding games without any lag, edit photos smoothly and, of course, make calls that have clear voice.
The 16-megapixel camera in the Mi 5 is not as good as the iPhone 6S or Galaxy S7, but it is better than what peers offer. In this price band, only the Nexus 5X is better and that has an exception of a camera. Even in poor light, the Mi 5 captures good photos. But the detail is somewhat on the lower side compared to other top performers.
The colours, however, are extremely vibrant in the images clicked with the Mi 5 and the camera speed, even with HDR mode, is on the faster side.
In shooting videos and selfies – the phone has a 8-megapixel front camera – the Mi 5 excels. Compared to its peers, it is definitely on top here.
While providing smooth performance and doing everything that you expect a smartphone to do, including supporting two SIM cards, the Mi 5 lasts full day once you have charged it fully. That is good enough, although we have seen phones that offer more battery life.
As noted earlier, the Mi 5 is an all-rounder. So what’s bad about it? The software. It’s something where Xiaomi could have done better. The Mi 5 uses MIUI software, which is based on Android Marshmallow. But it doesn’t look like Android. It looks like MIUI and lacks some of the features that Android Marshmallow offers and feels little dated. Also, it is available only in online flash sale. This means you have to queue up virtually to buy it.