Interface and Functionality

Xiaomi’s MIUI 6 custom user interface runs shockingly smoothly and comes with sleek, modern applications. TouchWiz on the Galaxy S5, on the other hand, is often stuttery and less visually cohesive.

With the Android 5.0 Lollipop update still to come for both the Mi 4 and the Galaxy S5, we’re dealing with Android 4.4 KitKat on both devices. It’s far from the same interface, though - Xiaomi uses its MIUI skin, a deep overhaul of the Android interface, while Samsung goes with its TouchWiz UI, a skin with its distinct flavor, but not so far from the roots of stock Android.

The Xiaomi MIUI custom UI has a long history - first as a launcher, then as a Xiaomi skin, and it has received its last major overhaul just a few months ago in version 6.0. If we had to summarize the MIUI v6 experience, we’d say that it is an adaptation of iOS 7/8 for Android with all of the essential Apple platform features: no app drawer, translucent menus, similar universal search bar, and more. This striking similarity might be worrying to some, but there is one thing that no one could argue with - the MIUI skin runs in a surprisingly fluid manner.


We have long been frustrated with the all-too-obvious stutter on even state-of-the-art Android devices. It’s gotten better with time, but is still a persistent and noticeable issue. What many first-tier phone makers (Samsung included) could not do for so long, Xiaomi does very well with its MIUI skin - that occasional stutter is almost completely eliminated in it.

The stock apps in MIUI v6 are also very sleek with a clean, modern look and zippy animations. Still, some of them, like the calendar, seem like too close of a copy of Apple apps, but many have some original and very clever features that you can check out in our screenshots.

The Galaxy S5’s UI is a traditional TouchWiz affair - topped up with features, coming with cartoony icons, and a mixture of Tizen elements with Android aesthetics. It also holds the downside of having some features like Air Gestures that often seem gimmicky rather than genuinely useful.


On a positive note, we should mention signature Samsung touches like the multi-window multitasking solution, and the S Health application that acts as a health hub.

The fingerprint scanner is another feature supported by the S5 and missing on the Mi 4, and even though we are not keen fans of the swipe-based fingerprint method, it is better having this one than none at all.

Processor and Memory

With a quad-core Snapdragon 801 on board and 1080p screens on both phones, we have a parity in terms of performance.

The Xiaomi Mi 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 both come with a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 system chip, and with no differences in the number of pixels they have to push, performance is on par with these two - on paper and for games at least: for all else, we’ve already told you that the Mi 4 feels faster and smoother in daily operations.

A few words about the Snapdragon 801 are still due: it’s been replaced by the Snapdragon 805 in the latest flagships, but the 801 is still plenty capable. It is a 28nm 32-bit chip with good multi-core performance and graphics, so that you will have no issues running the most demanding games. Take a look at our benchmark test results - you can see for yourself that the differences in performance potential between the Mi 4 and the S5 are minimal.

The Xiaomi Mi 4 comes in a 16GB and 64GB models, and there is no option to expand this memory (there’s no microSD card slot). Samsung, on the other hand, practically offers a 16GB model of the S5 only, but it does have expandable storage via a microSD card slot supporting up to 128GB cards.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 34032
Samsung Galaxy S5 36603
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 1284
Samsung Galaxy S5 1186
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 1431
Samsung Galaxy S5 3479
Sunspider Lower is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 1571.8
Samsung Galaxy S5 777.3
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 28
Samsung Galaxy S5 27.8
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 11.2
Samsung Galaxy S5 11.7
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 995
Samsung Galaxy S5 1054
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 850
Samsung Galaxy S5 944
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4 2155
Samsung Galaxy S5 2900

Internet and Connectivity

Currently sold Xiaomi Mi 4 models do not support 4G LTE outside of China, while the Galaxy S5 rocks fast LTE speeds of up to 150Mbps for downloads.

Surfing the web happens on a custom browser solution on the Mi 4. The MIUI browser is fast and works smoothly when scrolling and zooming around. The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, comes with a choice of the Samsung custom browser solution and mobile Chrome. It does well with both, and is equally fast with surfing. Of course, you can also get Chrome on the Mi 4.

One of the few downsides of buying a smartphone like the Xiaomi Mi 4 from China is the uncertainty over its connectivity. The Mi 4, in particular, does NOT support 4G LTE outside of China. A version with support for global LTE (FDD-LTE, rather than the Chinese TDD-LTE standard), however, is expected in the last days of 2014. Until then, the maximum you can squeeze out of the Mi 4 is 3G connectivity.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 - as a privileged member of a truly global brand - has no such issues. It supports a category 4 LTE modem, with peak speeds of up to 150Mbps for downloads.

Other connectivity options include the standard dual-channel Wi-Fi on both, Bluetooth 4.0, and A-GPS. NFC, however, is missing on the Mi 4, while the S5 supports it. Also, both handsets come with an infra-red (IR) beamer that you can use with a companion app, turning your smartphone in a remote control for your TV and other electronics.

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24 Comments

1. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

XiaoMi has 3gb ram Samboy : I don't care Sammy win XiaoMi has 3080mah battery Samboy : I don't care Sammy win XiaoMi has 8mp front camera Samboy : I don't care Sammy win XiaoMi priced only $300 Samboy : cheap XiaoMi, galaxy s5 is more premium

5. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

XiaoMi: Get your phone spoiled IDC(Lack of service centres XiaoMi: Software updates unreliable and unstable IDC. Xiaomi: Camera sucks compared to Sammy IDC. Xiaomi: Data leaked to China servers IDC. Xiaomi: Drop your phone in water IDC. Xiaomi: Fingerprint scanner.. What? IDC. Xiaomi: Copying Apple style IDC.

7. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

We found another winner, who complain everything on $300 device and willing to compromise every single cons on $600 I thought only Apple fan do this?

12. Neo_Huang

Posts: 1067; Member since: Dec 06, 2013

1. You can just buy two for the same price. 2. MIUI gets updates all the time and is extremely stable. 3. Camera is a mater of opinion. 4. You can't prove it, and it wouldn't affect you in any way. 5. It's your fault if you do. and XiaoMi offers $16 accidental damage insurance. 6. Swipe-style fingerprint scanners suck and are hard to use. 7. ???

21. alexvv

Posts: 165; Member since: Oct 16, 2013

You are mostly right but Samsung leaks your data to south korea, practically America, what's the difference ? Everyone leaks steals your data not only bad Chinese xiaomi.

6. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Xiaomi: No Gorilla Gass 3 Xiaomi: Worse battery life despite large battery(based on trustable gsmarena test) Xiaomi: no memory card slot, stuck with 16gb Etc

9. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

price ?

10. Noonting

Posts: 135; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Samsung has better audio quality Samsung has better camera quality Samsung has better optimization Samsung has more service center Xiaomi Fanboy : I don't care Xiaomi is cheaper! There are reasons for cheap price

19. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

Yes, because Xioami doesn't have a $200 gross profit margin (aka mark-up) scam like Samsung. It's common knowledge Samsung smartphones are over-valued and dumb or naive buyers support Samsung due to their embarrassment of over-paying for crappy phones. A number of business articles talk about how the S5 has not sold as well (versus Samsung's expectations) and the unsold units are collecting dusts in the warehouses. Now, Samsung is discounting unsold S5's and that destroys the resell value of the S5. Samsung could only fool so many people for so long. At the end of the day, it's an android device and therefore it's a commodity. I have predicted this on phonearena.com many years ago.

16. laughmi

Posts: 283; Member since: Oct 28, 2014

Agreed but not a single person would buy a Xiaomi if they are priced in the range of $100 less than Samsung (for mid-high range). Thats the truth and it hurts!! Samsung spends alot on R&D, Innovation, brand value and thats why they kick ass of even older brands like HTC, sony let alone the Chinese brands.

2. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

mi4 kills S5. (mi kills sammy) Go Xiaomi, disrupt the monopoly.

3. darkskoliro

Posts: 1092; Member since: May 07, 2012

omfg mi4 has free music streaming?? :D

4. rocksy

Posts: 67; Member since: May 06, 2014

Breaking News - Bad news for Xiaomi. Xiaomi banned from selling, importing phones in Indiahttp://m.ibtimes.co.in/delhi-high-court-impose-sanctions-xiaomi-over-ericsson-patent-infringement-case-phone-sales-616798

15. laughmi

Posts: 283; Member since: Oct 28, 2014

Xiaomi's run looks short in India. They outsell all brands except Samsung but the issues with patent infringing, copying, Worst service center, worst Redmi series phones, sending data to Chinese servers, security risks, phones getting badly heated, worst battery backup etc. have made sure this company just has a short run and would get turned to laughmi soon.

8. RandomUsername

Posts: 808; Member since: Oct 29, 2013

Mi 4 has on-screen buttons that aren't on the screen??? Also the S5 has IP67.

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 31092; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Best looking android phone by far, not surprising being as iPhone inspired as it is.

13. Neo_Huang

Posts: 1067; Member since: Dec 06, 2013

IMO the Mi3 was way better. The Mi4 looks a lot like the Galaxy Alpha though.

17. salaal

Posts: 109; Member since: Dec 08, 2013

The MI4 came out before alpha lol.

14. hotcaptain

Posts: 4; Member since: Dec 02, 2014

thank you for the review. indeed very informative. However, i still go for samsung s5 for a safer option.

18. chloeblack

Posts: 16; Member since: Nov 18, 2014

It seems that XiaoMi is facing big challenges and resentments.

20. 09131809121

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 16, 2014

I don't like xiaomi

22. effimote

Posts: 20; Member since: Jan 06, 2015

s5 is better undoubtedly ,but if consider into the price , xiaomi 4 is cost-effective cellphone .i bought one xiaomi 3 from kingsbuying.com cost about 250 . working great .but just got heated easily

23. mirexcool

Posts: 65; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Bought at Aliexpress. Satisfied! s.click.aliexpress.com/e/VJ2rjEMrZ

24. Ricky14

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 12, 2015

For safety i choose Samsung galaxy s5 instead of Chinese phone.And i own galaxy s5 so far one of the best smart phone.

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