Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Introduction


Xiaomi is a leading smartphone maker from China whose reputation for powerful, stylish and aggressively-priced gadgets stretches well beyond the Republic's borders. With its latest flagship smartphone, the Mi 5, the brand wants to offer almost everything that $700 handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6s do, at a considerably lower price. It's an ambitious undertaking that could spark anyone's interest. Let's see if the hype is worth it – or not!

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
In the box:


  • Xiaomi Mi 5
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • USB Charger
  • Warranty and instructions
  • SIM tray ejector

Design

Nice looks and great ergonomics with just a few rough spots.

Xiaomi's flagship has a graceful, understated appearance. It's got clean lines, slim bezels, a metal frame, and a glass-covered back (unless you get the Ceramic Exclusive variant). Unaware of the Mi 5's affordable pricing, some could actually mistake it for an expensive smartphone, but its good looks are deceptive. The metal frame lightly prickles the palm at some spots, the glass back doesn't feel as nice as those of more expensive handsets, and the power and volume keys are slightly wobbly.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Still, these are minor flaws that don't offend, but merely make the Xiaomi Mi 5's price tag seem realistic, rather than too good to be true. We're fond of this sleek and elegant handset that's comfortable to hold and easily lends itself to one-handed operation. The Home button is a bit narrow for our tastes and its tactile feedback isn't very good, but the fingerprint scanner in it is top-notch – fast, accurate, and reliable. On the other hand, those capacitive navigation keys might appear dated in 2016, but they do what they are supposed to.

 

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Front view | Side view
Xiaomi Mi 5
Xiaomi Mi 5
5.69 x 2.72 x 0.29 inches
144.55 x 69.2 x 7.25 mm
4.90 oz (139 g)

Xiaomi Mi 5

Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7
5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

HTC 10
HTC 10
5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches
145.9 x 71.9. x 9 mm
5.68 oz (161 g)

HTC 10

Apple iPhone 6s
Apple iPhone 6s
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s



Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Display

A high-quality screen with great brightness and contrast properties.

The Mi 5 has a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1080p resolution that comes off as high-quality, both in our measurements and in real-life use. The brightness levels are superb and cater to comfortable usage across all lighting conditions, while the color balance is close to ideal. This is a balanced, well-calibrated screen whose quality could stand up to that of more expensive offerings, if it weren't for the average viewing angles.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Xiaomi Mi 5 638
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
1:1400
(Excellent)
6334
(Excellent)
2.09
2.69
(Good)
3.23
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6s 554
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1593
(Excellent)
7056
(Good)
2.21
1.47
(Excellent)
3.23
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 484
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6852
(Excellent)
2.07
1.26
(Excellent)
2.09
(Good)
HTC 10 372
(Average)
7
(Good)
1:1594
(Excellent)
7442
(Good)
2.13
2.62
(Good)
5.11
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 55.2%
50%
unmeasurable
5.2%
0%
254%
109.1%
Xiaomi Mi 5 78.5%
0%
83.8%
11%
13.9%
19.3%
71.5%
HTC 10 82%
85.7%
71.4%
7.4%
6.1%
2.3%
27.8%
Apple iPhone 6s 82.9%
83.3%
79.8%
5.1%
10.9%
56.5%
53.9%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Introduction


Xiaomi is a leading smartphone maker from China whose reputation for powerful, stylish and aggressively-priced gadgets stretches well beyond the Republic's borders. With its latest flagship smartphone, the Mi 5, the brand wants to offer almost everything that $700 handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6s do, at a considerably lower price. It's an ambitious undertaking that could spark anyone's interest. Let's see if the hype is worth it – or not!

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
In the box:


  • Xiaomi Mi 5
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • USB Charger
  • Warranty and instructions
  • SIM tray ejector

Design

Nice looks and great ergonomics with just a few rough spots.

Xiaomi's flagship has a graceful, understated appearance. It's got clean lines, slim bezels, a metal frame, and a glass-covered back (unless you get the Ceramic Exclusive variant). Unaware of the Mi 5's affordable pricing, some could actually mistake it for an expensive smartphone, but its good looks are deceptive. The metal frame lightly prickles the palm at some spots, the glass back doesn't feel as nice as those of more expensive handsets, and the power and volume keys are slightly wobbly.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Still, these are minor flaws that don't offend, but merely make the Xiaomi Mi 5's price tag seem realistic, rather than too good to be true. We're fond of this sleek and elegant handset that's comfortable to hold and easily lends itself to one-handed operation. The Home button is a bit narrow for our tastes and its tactile feedback isn't very good, but the fingerprint scanner in it is top-notch – fast, accurate, and reliable. On the other hand, those capacitive navigation keys might appear dated in 2016, but they do what they are supposed to.


Front view | Side view
Xiaomi Mi 5
Xiaomi Mi 5
5.69 x 2.72 x 0.29 inches
144.55 x 69.2 x 7.25 mm
4.90 oz (139 g)

Xiaomi Mi 5

Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7
5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

HTC 10
HTC 10
5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches
145.9 x 71.9. x 9 mm
5.68 oz (161 g)

HTC 10

Apple iPhone 6s
Apple iPhone 6s
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s



Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Display

A high-quality screen with great brightness and contrast properties.

The Mi 5 has a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1080p resolution that comes off as high-quality, both in our measurements and in real-life use. The brightness levels are superb and cater to comfortable usage across all lighting conditions, while the color balance is close to ideal. This is a balanced, well-calibrated screen whose quality could stand up to that of more expensive offerings, if it weren't for the average viewing angles.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Xiaomi Mi 5 638
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
1:1400
(Excellent)
6334
(Excellent)
2.09
2.69
(Good)
3.23
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6s 554
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1593
(Excellent)
7056
(Good)
2.21
1.47
(Excellent)
3.23
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 484
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6852
(Excellent)
2.07
1.26
(Excellent)
2.09
(Good)
HTC 10 372
(Average)
7
(Good)
1:1594
(Excellent)
7442
(Good)
2.13
2.62
(Good)
5.11
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 55.2%
50%
unmeasurable
5.2%
0%
254%
109.1%
Xiaomi Mi 5 78.5%
0%
83.8%
11%
13.9%
19.3%
71.5%
HTC 10 82%
85.7%
71.4%
7.4%
6.1%
2.3%
27.8%
Apple iPhone 6s 82.9%
83.3%
79.8%
5.1%
10.9%
56.5%
53.9%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

Up-to-date Android build with a lively user experience on top.

Xiaomi's flagship runs the company's MIUI 7 OS, based on Android 6.0. The interface is lively and animated, but also cohesive and straightforward. There's no app drawer and the amount of pre-installed applications is narrowed to a satisfactory minimum. Xiaomi's stock apps work fine and look pretty nice, although some graphical elements appear too small and applications like Messaging and e-mail inexplicably lack landscape mode support. Theming is available, should you get bored with the default look, and you can also take advantage of Xiaomi's Mi Cloud service to back up and store your data. MIUI7 has had a lot of thought put into it and is a very satisfying user experience, overall.

Processor and Memory

The Xiaomi Mi 5 delivers the high-end performance of premium Android smartphones.

Generally, the Xiaomi Mi 5 offers a superb performance-to-cost ratio. Still, your mileage may vary somewhat, depending on which variant you get. The 'Standard' model, which is the cheapest of the three, has its Snapdragon 820 processor underclocked and comes with 32GB of storage. The 'High' model (which we tested) and the top-tier 'Ceramic Exclusive' edition let Qualcomm's CPU roar at its maximum frequency, but the former comes with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while the latter escalates to 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

CPU and memory differences aside, all models use blazing-fast UFS flash storage, which is amazing for the price, but there's no microSD card slot for expansion. They also use the same non-removable 3000mAh Li-Po battery. While we can't predict how much of a performance hit the 'Standard' model takes in benchmark tests, we assume the difference in practical usage will be negligible.

Benchmarks show that the 'High' version ranks just a little behind the much more expensive big boys by Samsung, LG, and HTC in overall system performance, but comfortably keeps up and even surpasses them when it comes to 3D graphics and basic number crunching. In actual use, the Mi 5 is a beast that handles anything you throw at it quickly and confidently – just like a flagship smartphone should!

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 136695
HTC 10 131088
Xiaomi Mi 5 122037
Apple iPhone 6s 59075
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 3632
HTC 10 3578
Xiaomi Mi 5 3517.33
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 5339
HTC 10 4418
Xiaomi Mi 5 5651
JetStream
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 62.049
HTC 10 46.453
Xiaomi Mi 5 55.364
Apple iPhone 6s 118.91
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 53
HTC 10 47
Xiaomi Mi 5 60
Apple iPhone 6s 59.1
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 29
HTC 10 13
Xiaomi Mi 5 26
Apple iPhone 6s 56.1
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 1943
HTC 10 1806.33
Xiaomi Mi 5 1970
Apple iPhone 6s 2139
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 2327
HTC 10 2094.33
Xiaomi Mi 5 2269.66
Apple iPhone 6s 2539
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 5455
HTC 10 4381.33
Xiaomi Mi 5 5457.33
Apple iPhone 6s 4421
View all

Connectivity

With its Qualcomm modem, the Xiaomi Mi 5 has got you covered.

The Mi 5 is a dual-SIM handset (2x nanoSIM slots) that supports Cat. 12 LTE speeds (up to 600 Mbps DL, up to 150 Mbps UL) in addition to almost all mobile networks on Earth. It also has 802.11a/b/g/n/ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type C, and NFC support. Surfing with the integrated browser is a bliss, as pages and images load quickly, and navigation is very smooth.

Camera

Photos have rich detail and punchy colors, but the videos are underwhelming.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Xiaomi equipped the Mi 5 with a 16MP main camera and a 4MP "UltraPixel" front camera. The former is joined by a dual-LED two-tone flash and its lens is covered with scratch-resistant sapphire. The Mi 5 is also the only smartphone that features 4-axis optical image stabilization that fends off shakeups from eight different directions. Most OIS-enabled _phone_ cameras currently make do with 2 or 3-axis stabilization.

The camera app launches at a near-instant and snaps photos quickly enough. It's feature set is comprehensive, but not so much as to be overwhelming, which makes the app easy and reliable to use.

The camera app - Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
The camera app - Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
The camera app - Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
The camera app - Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

The camera app


We took the Xiaomi Mi 5 out for a spin and, despite the gloomy weather, its camera still managed to stand out. While the automatic exposure doesn't always nail the scene, white balance is usually right and photos tend to boast excellent details with very low noise. Colors are noticeably enhanced – we find the result vivid and eye-flattering, but the enhancements may come across as too strong to some. The pleasing results are retained in indoor shots, although noise increases noticeably.

Meanwhile, selfies taken with the front camera look rather snazzy.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 1.5
1.6
315
281
Apple iPhone 6s 1.7
1.9
485
293
HTC 10 2.4
3.2
616
534
Xiaomi Mi 5 2.9
3.5
600
522
View all

Video recording


The Mi 5 can record videos in up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second and lets users choose between automatic and tap auto-focus. Maybe it's the cloudy weather to blame, but videos from the Mi 5 didn't wow us quite like photos did. They look acceptable in 4K, but 1080p clips lack detail. The camera easily loses focus while shooting, and the recorded sound is unpleasant and metallic. The 4-axis OIS does a very good job keeping shots steady, but the results aren't ground-breaking.


Multimedia

There's everything you need to entertain yourself, although the video player is lousy.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
With its high-quality screen and decently loud speaker output, the Mi 5 has your multimedia needs covered. The music player lets you take advantage of built-in headphone profiles to get better frequency response if you own a pair of Xiaomi earbuds. The 'Gallery' app provides enough organization and editing functionality to get you started, while the powerful hardware has all your gaming needs taken care of. The built-in video player, however, only starts and stops videos – if you want a sensible degree of control, you must install a third-party app like MXPlayer or VLC.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s 0.986
HTC 10 0.95
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.704
Xiaomi Mi 5 0.18
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s 69.6
HTC 10 68
Samsung Galaxy S7 72.7
Xiaomi Mi 5 72
View all


Call Quality

Your voice might sound a bit sterile.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review
Alas, the unpleasant 'metallic' quality from video recordings is present in outgoing calls made with the Mi 5, but at least it's not as harsh. Clearly, Xiaomi has a bit of work left to do on making the most of its microphones. The earpiece sounds decent enough, and so does the loudspeaker, although the latter could have been louder, in our opinion.

Battery Life

We expected better, but the result is still quite acceptable.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Given the sizable 3000mAh battery and the power-saving advantages of one of the best chipsets on the market, we expected the Xiaomi Mi 5 to deliver a bit more battery life than it did – 7 hours and 27 minutes of constant on-screen use in our test. The handset does support Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 technology, which means a quick stop by the power outlet will provide enough juice for another few hours – if you have a QC-compatible charger, which Xiaomi doesn't bundle with the Mi 5. With the one that comes in the box, maxing out the battery takes over two hours.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s 8h 15 min (Excellent)
Xiaomi Mi 5 7h 27 min (Good)
HTC 10 7h 10 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 6h 37 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s 150
Xiaomi Mi 5 139
HTC 10 100
Samsung Galaxy S7 88
View all

Conclusion


While the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a great all-around smartphone, only customers in China and India will be able to score it at bargain prices, starting at the equivalent of around $300 for the 32GB model. Shoppers from the rest of the world can buy the Mi 5 from eBay and other web stores, but chances are they'll end up paying a higher price. Most online retailers who sell Xiaomi products charge a price premium and ship their stock from China, which means you'll have to handle any import and sales taxes imposed by your state or country. Depending on where you are, these can be costly!

Xiaomi Mi 5 Review

Jumping through these hoops is almost guaranteed to drive the Xiaomi Mi 5's actual price to $450 or above, and to make matters worse, you are left at the mercy of a potentially obscure online seller when it comes to warranty and customer support.

Thus, most consumers will probably be better off considering safer options in the same price range. The Nexus 5x ($300) or Nexus 6P ($450) are fantastic Android phones that are readily available and properly looked after. Also, you can still score a yesteryear's flagship like the Samsung Galaxy S6 (at $450) or LG G4 (just $300).



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