Xiaomi Mi 5 specs review: coming of age

Introduction


After more than 18 months in development, the Xiaomi Mi 5 was finally introduced at MWC 2016 in Barcelona. The official successor to the very successful Xiaomi Mi 4 is, without question, the most powerful and design-conscious smartphone produced by the enterprising company. Produced in three versions – Standard, High, and Exclusive – the Mi 5 is seriously impressive from both design and hardware perspectives. After all, this is the first Snapdragon 820-powered device to ship, and it's not just Qualcomm's cutting-edge chipset and low price that makes the Mi 5 a very competent and competitive smartphone. Xiaomi took its time and produced a true hardware powerhouse. Let's dig a little deeper into what makes this fledging success tick!

Design

The Mi 5's ceramic cover has been baked in 1500 degrees celsius in order to attain twice the scratch resistance and toughness of sapphire.

We don't usually cover design in our specs reviews, but the Xiaomi Mi 5 is worth making an exception for. With its past high-tier handsets, the Chinese upstart made a name of a proficient Apple copycat for itself, following Jony Ivo & Co's design blueprints to a degree edging on the obnoxious. This time, Xiaomi came up with an elegant and highly original (as original as you can get with a mainstream smartphone, anyway) design of its own.

The Mi 5's body has a glass back and a chamfered metal frame, while the exclusive edition comes with a smooth, uniform ceramic cover that's baked in 1500 degrees celsius in order to attain twice the scratch resistance and toughness of sapphire. Ceramic was used in the OnePlus One, and as much as it's aesthetically appealing, it is also a fingerprint magnet. Still, the handset remarkably light, at just 4.55 ounces (129g) or 4.9 ounces (139g) for the ceramic version.


Display

Xiaomi uses a 16 LED lamp technology to cover 95% of the NTSC color palette and increase peak brightness output by 30%.

Xiaomi equipped the Mi 5 with a 5.15-inch, 1080p-resolution IPS LCD screen. We like how the manufacturer chose a screen diagonal that's friendly towards one-handed usage, and an appropriate resolution that makes for sharp visuals and gives the processor a relief from having to compute double the amount of pixels, like the Quad-HD displays of competing handsets do. Thanks to this, the Mi 5 offers faster 3D graphics performance, and already managed to crush the LG G5's impressive benchmark score in AnTuTu.

The Mi 5's display has another few tricks up its sleeve. It uses a 16 LED lamp technology, which helped Xiaomi cover 95% of the NTSC color palette and increase peak brightness output by 30% over the Mi 4. The new panel achieves a peak brightness of 600 nits, which will be sufficient to make the screen legible under intense light. Additionally, the screen offers a 1500:1 high contrast ratio, which means the brightest parts of the image are up to 15 times brighter than the darkest, resulting in truer colors.


Hardware

Made on a cutting-edge 14nm fabrication process, the Snapdragon 820 is capable of two times the performance and power efficiency of the octa-core SD 810.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 is the platform of choice for Xiaomi's long-in-the-making flagship. Made on a cutting-edge 14nm fabrication process, the chipset has four custom-designed Kryo CPU cores, clocked at up to 2.2GHz and capable of two times the performance and power efficiency of the octa-core Snapdragon 810. The processor is coupled with Qualcomm's own Adreno 530 graphics unit, which offers a 40% improvement in graphics performance, compute capabilities, and power usage compared to the Adreno 430. It supports the latest graphics standards, including OpenGL ES3.1, Vulkan, and OpenCL 2.0, which means you will be able to play all upcoming 3D games in their full glory.

There's also the Hexagon 680 digital signal processor, which is tasked with improving performance and battery life. Last but not least, we have the Spectra Camera image signal processor (which supports sensors up to 25MP), and a X12 LTE modem capable of three times the peak upload speads and 33% faster peak download speeds compared to X10 LTE. Additionally, the platform has Quick Charge 3.0, which is able to top off a battery in less than an hour.

Whatever you can probably think of, Qualcomm's newest chipset has it. This includes 4K video capture, playback, and external display support; all cellular connectivity standards in operation plus the latest in Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, and VoLTE standards; the Haven security technologies suite with services such as SafeSwitch (theft prevention), Sense ID (3D fingerprint tech), and StudioAccess (content protection). It's the most competent mobile chipset built to date, and its presence in most of this year's flagship Android phones, such as the Mi 5, is only appropriate.


Memory-wise, the Mi 5 comes with 3GB or 4GB of fast, power-efficient LPDDR4 RAM, which is enough to handle complex multitasking and keep many of your favorite apps in memory so they respond instantly. The Mi5's storage memory (up to 128GB) uses the excessively speedy UFS flash storage, which is up to 87% faster than the bog-standard eMMC storage and makes for near-instant read and write operations. Whereas eMMC 5.0 goes up to 240MB/s read/write, UFS supports up to 450MB read/write speeds. However, the Mi 5 doesn't let you expand its storage via microSD card.

The smartphone is powered by a 3000mAh battery, which is supposed to be enough for 8 days of standby and should be able to provide a decent battery life for the Mi 5, given its modern and power-efficient hardware.

Camera

The Mi 5 is one of the first to feature Sony's IMX298 camera sensor, whose perks include phase detection auto focus and DTI pixel-to-pixel isolation.

Rather than follow the 12MP sensor with big pixels trend that's present among high-end Android phones, Xiaomi equipped the Mi 5 with a 16MP main camera whose main differentiation has to be its 4-axis optical image stabilization. This is one of the first smartphones to stabilize on a rotational axis, in addition to the X, Y, and Z coordinates. This comes particularly handy in low-light shooting conditions, but also translates to particularly blur and shake free photos and videos. Xiaomi demonstrated the Mi5's OIS system against that of the newest iPhones, and the difference in efficacy was nothing short of staggering.

The Mi 5 is also among the first to feature Sony's IMX298 camera sensor, whose notable perks include phase detection auto focus and DTI pixel-to-pixel isolation. This is a pretty big deal, because unlike common back-side illuminated sensors, Deep Trench relies on front-side illumination to suppress electrical crosstalk. Crosstalk is the parasitic charge exchange between neighbouring pixels, which results in image distortion and requires the implementation of a pixel isolation technique such as Deep Trench Isolation. DTI puts small, light-proof dividers between pixels to prevent crosstalk and light from bleeding onto nearby pixels, reducing color inaccuracy. It's the most modern method available, and it's used by Apple in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.


Additionally, the Mi5's camera setup features an f/2.0 aperture which is neither too fast, nor too slow, but rather standard. The cam has a dual-LED flash and supports 32 seconds of manual exposure, while benefiting from a light enhancement technology with the goal of delivering authentic colors.

The Mi5's front camera is a 4-megapixel unit, which may or may not be the HTC UltraPixel camera in disguise. Xiaomi used this cam on the Mi Note Pro, and by all accounts, it suffices for the task of handling selfies with its big, light-soaking 2 micron pixels and 80-degree wide angle. The manufacturer also implemented real-time beautification to enhance video calls.

In addition to photos, the rear cam can take videos in up to 4K resolution, and both cameras can record in 1080p or 720p should you want it this way.

Expectations


For all its overwhelming specs, the Xiaomi Mi 5 is priced very affordably in its homeland of China. Of course, if one decides on importing the phone, those prices will be higher, due to reseller markup, shipping costs and import taxes. Still, the Mi 5 could potentially make for a heck of a deal, considering the base model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage starts from ~$306 (2000 yuan), the 3GB RAM / 64GB storage goes from $352 (2300 yuan), and the Ceramic Exclusive with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is sold for $413 (2700 yuan).

At these prices, the Mi 5 is an extremely competitive handset and surely the prettiest, most powerful smartphone Xiaomi has ever produced. The handset has that "coming of age" feel to it, and it could potentially become a blowout success for Xiaomi, whose market share has been overtaken by a very active and resourceful Huawei. Xiaomi Mi 4 owners have waited more than 18 months for a successor to the smartphone, and are probably anxious to upgrade, while customers looking for a high-end handset will surely have their interest caught by Xiaomi's flagship.

Also read:


Related phones

Mi 5
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 4 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3000 mAh

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32 Comments

1. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

THE GRAPES ARE SOUR, anyone?

8. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

128 gig Mi 5 is less than half the price of 32 gig S7.

9. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

But PA rating is going to be around 7-7.5.... oops that doesn't bother me at all. To me it's a 10 on 10 device.

11. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

it is a pretty impressive device. 450$ is a bargain. I wish if it will launch in this part of the world too. Mi5 is the first with IMX298? I thought it is Mate 8?

2. aesthetics

Posts: 128; Member since: Oct 02, 2014

Just make it available in EU pls! !!!

3. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

4, 4i, 4c and 4s. Coincidence? I THINK NOT

22. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah right, those i must be from Nokia 1110i and c from experia compact model and for S... HTC hero S, or Galaxy S line (xperia S?)

4. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Nice specs...just don't like the fact the standard had lower memory speeds and underclovked CPU. I suspect the IMX298 will perform similarly to the 6s.

23. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

then how are those under "underclovked CPU" and lower memory speed beat S7 and G5 on antutu bench? :-/

28. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Because the benchmarks scores were reached by the high-end version of the Mi5, not the standard version...

30. raky_b

Posts: 393; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

ibend, what are you talking about? do yo know how to read??? only premium version has 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and only that version uses UFS flash storage, but still even with eMMC storage that does not mean this cheaper versionas are bad....just their Antutu will not be as high as Premiom one's. but, don't look at Antutu...that does not mean a sh**t in real life performance, and they did cheat that test before, so they can cheat it again.

5. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Oh wow, IMO, this is better than the Galaxy s7, make is come to USA, and keep the exclusive edition under 450USD, I am sure to grab one.

6. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Super EXCELLENT smartphone. Very tempting to buy. Great design and features And I'm absolutely okay with 1080p display. Though it should've come with expandable storage and 4000mah battery like Redmi note pro(nothing without its cons). Anyway excellent job MI. Did live up to its expectations. Waiting for phone and battery review.

10. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Looks and seems pretty awesome but no need to even care until the say they are releasing it in the US

12. Samir_Maric

Posts: 89; Member since: Oct 28, 2012

Huawei Mate 8 is the 1st phone to feature Sony's IMX298 camera sensor i think

13. Unordinary unregistered

This is a great phone. I watched the Live event. Hugo did a bad job of selling it. On the stage Hugo even praised iPhone and Galaxy S6 (Seems like a nice guy). About the phone, it is phenomenal... * Snapdragon 820 processor. We all know how good it is * 128 GB memory with 4GB RAM * 5.15-inch FullHD IPS display with 16 LED to power, which produces brightness measured at 600nits (wow). Sunlight reading, in-built reading mode, night mode.. and so much * Awesome Sony IMX298 16MP Camera with Four axis stabilization for upto 4K videos (iPhone 6S Plus only has two axis and iPhone 6S has no OIS). The camera supports DTI deep trench isolation technology, much like the iPhone 6S. * 4MP front camera (Looks like that ultrapixel camera from HTC). Good. * Curved glass design (Ok, this we have seen in lots of phones. It is nice to have) * Option of ceramic body * Quick Charge 3.0 * UFS 2.0 flash memory, same as galaxy S7 * 4G voice or VoLTE support. LTE standard improved to Category 12 with upto 600 Mbps download support. and wait.. few things not there on some flagships... * NFC * IR Blaster * USB Type-C Price (Roughly) * $300 (32GB/3GB) * $350 (64GB/4GB) - (Edit: Seems like it is 3GB not 4GB) * $410 (128GB/4GB/Ceramic Body) __And one more thing..__ At 7.25mm and 129 grams, it is also notably thinner and lighter than the outgoing Mi4. Heck it's even lighter and thinner than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG's G5 . And it still rocks a __3000mAh__ battery This phone has everything that Fandroids have been asking for past one year. The only complaint might be the software. But that really depends on the individual. Use a Mi3 phone with Nova Launcher and all MI Apps hidden. Wont experience any lag or sub-par user experience. For half the price of Samsung S6 and LG G5, if you don't mind the brand, this is a no-Brainer!!! * Some websites claim that mi5 has dual-sim support. Couldn't verify in official website. * mi5's Antutu score is __142K__. For Comparison: LG G5 scored __133K__ and S7 scored __116K__. (Source:IBTimes)

14. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

It's one helluva phone! What are the charging times of a phone with Quick Charge 3.0 vs Quick Charge 2.0? The Mi5 has to be the first phone with USB Type-C AND Quick Charge 3.0, correct?

16. Jelles

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 24, 2016

Yes, it has a dual sim slot. mi.com/mi5/specs/

17. mafiaprinc3

Posts: 585; Member since: May 07, 2012

I think it does have dual SIM, like pretty much all mi flagship devices

24. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

wel.. hugo is honest tech guy.. He just wont talk like marketing guy :)

29. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Actually, it's doesn't have everything I've been asking for. * no MicroSD card slot * no IP rating * no MIMO 2x2 Wi-Fi * no AMOLED display * an average camera (likely, or at least a not-the-best camera) : it's the same sensor as the Huawei Mate 8, with an aperture of only f/2.0 * a crappy software.

32. Unordinary unregistered

Sorry, you aren't the popular vote. You're also arrogant, ignorant, and just plain stupid if you think this phone sucks.

33. xocomaox

Posts: 200; Member since: Dec 14, 2015

It does look terrific. I prefer a larger screen but this phone is wonderful for all that you've noted. I am looking forward to the Plus model that should be 5.7" although I'm not sure if anything is official yet?

15. avishekmukherjee

Posts: 362; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

Awesome and sexy phone

18. monoke

Posts: 1162; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Curved glass done right. Not too overly done like sammies resulting in a more refined look imo.

19. Dale14

Posts: 23; Member since: Jun 26, 2015

This is one good smartphone :) although I'd like it if it has microsd slot. :)

20. Tziggy14

Posts: 624; Member since: Sep 02, 2014

With this phone, looks like we'll have a new face on the no.3 smartphone position this year.

21. MaryPoopins

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

I read on GSM Arena that the fingerprint sensor is not 'always on'. You need to wake the phone up first before using it... can anyone confirm if this is the case or has seen this info elsewhere ?

25. Arte9000v2

Posts: 19; Member since: Feb 24, 2016

Will MIUI keep reloading apps during multi tasking? coz that really irritates me.

26. dazed1

Posts: 800; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Add at least 40% mark up to those prices and you get the "real" price..

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