What We Think Of The Xiaomi Mi 5

Xiaomi is a fairly unknown brand in South Africa, yet ask any tech journalist or anyone who’s done business in China whether they’ve heard of the company and odds are you’ll get an emphatic ‘yes’. If you’re wondering just how to say the word Xiaomi, the easiest way to pronounce it is : Shao-Me (like ShowMe)
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Published: Thursday, July 21st 2016
General
Xiaomi is a fairly unknown brand in South Africa, yet ask any tech journalist or anyone who’s done business in China whether they’ve heard of the company and odds are you’ll get an emphatic 'yes'. If you’re wondering just how to say the word Xiaomi, the easiest way to pronounce it is : Shao-Me (like ShowMe) Founded in 2010 by Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s ethos is based on the belief that high-quality technology doesn’t need to cost a fortune. The company uses feedback from their customers, known as MiFans, to improve existing products and help create next gen devices.  

Having sold over 70 million handsets in 2015, the Xiaomi product range includes the Mi Max, Mi 5, Mi Note Pro, Mi Note, Mi 4S, Mi TV, Mi Band, Mi Smart Home gadgets and other accessories (not all of which are available in South Africa).

Xiaomi’s Mi 5 is one of the latest handsets to reach the country (preceding the Redmi Note 3 but following after the Mi 4, Redmi Note 2 and Redmi 2 Pro).

Design

Xiaomi has always had slightly above average design, not bad but nothing that would make you take a second glance, with the Mi 5 however, all that’s changed. The front of the device is dominated by beautiful display and barely there bezels, in fact the side bezels are so narrow that the screen is pretty much bordered only by the metal rim of the handset where it meets the edges. The back of the device is an all-glass affair with a gentle curve on both the left and right-hand sides of the phone making it feel far more comfortable when you hold it. Xiaomi’s team have improved their handset design so much that there are only 2 devices that it can be compared to namely Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 6S.  

Display

Bucking the current trend of cramming as many pixels into a tiny display, Xiaomi has opted to put a 1080p display in the Mi 5 instead of a quad HD display. If you’re thinking that this a sub-par display, let me stop you right there. This is one of the best full HD displays I have ever seen in a smartphone. Colours are vibrant with blacks looking deep and lush on the screen. This display will more than satisfy your smartphone needs, in fact the only time you’ll need a higher resolution on a display is when you’re using it with a VR headset.

UI

Xiaomi is a Chinese corporation which means that they have a slightly different way of doing things. The UI (user interface) on Chinese handsets tends to be heavy on animations and cutesy graphics, something that’s been proven to work in Asian countries, however, has never garnered much love in Western countries. Xiaomi bucks this trend with their MIUI. While not quite as clean as stock Android, MIUI is still a very clean interface with a few Xiaomi tweaks. You’ll first notice this when setting up the device for the first time and getting the option to choose between one of 3 keyboards, one of which is SwiftKey. MIUI also includes a password protected child-friendly mode a do-not-disturb mode and a guest mode. If you’re making the jump from iOS to Xiaomi, then you’ll find it rather easy to adapt as the MIUI has more in common with Apple’s OS than it does with Android

Camera

The Sony made 16-megapixel rear facing camera takes some pretty great snaps, especially in its price range. Images are clear, show accurate colour and carry a fair amount of detail thanks to its f/2.0 aperture and 4-axis image stabilisation. The only time you’ll find the camera starting to struggle is when it comes to lowlight and nighttime shots, where it tends to lose some detail and overexpose certain shots. The front facing camera has an automatic beauty mode which edits your picture based on your age (which it attempts to guess) and gender. I found this to be a bit creepy, but then again, I’m not a huge fan of selfies. If you are a selfie addict, then you’ll be more than happy with the Mi 5’s front-facing camera.    

Battery life?

The king of smartphone battery life is undeniably Sony thanks to the incredible 2-day battery life that their Xperia range consistently delivers. Xiaomi, unfortunately, does not deliver that same level of battery life, however, you can get a full day’s usage out of a single charge.

 Our Verdict

The Mi 5 is a well-made, thoughtfully designed handset which is hitting well above its category. It has a beautiful design, above average UI and a really good camera. What lets it down is the fact that it does not have expandable storage and its pricing is slightly higher than expected when compared to other handsets in the company’s portfolio. If you’re willing to spend R7999 on a smartphone then you could do far worse than the Mi 5.

Specifications

Dimensions 144.6mm x 69.2mm x 7.3mm
Weight 129g
SIM Dual Nano-SIM
Display 5.15-inch 1080p display
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996 Qualcomm Adreno 530, 624 MHz Dual Core 1.8 GHz Kryo & Dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo 3GB RAM
Storage 32GB non-expandable
Camera 16-megapixel rear camera, 4-megapixel selfie camera
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3000 mAh battery
Operating System   Android 6.0 Marshmallow (running Xiaomi’s MIUI V7)
Charging Port USB type C
Sensors GPS A-GPS GPS+GLONASS BeiDou Navigation
Extras Fingerprint scanner, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0