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Xiaomi Mi 5 Review – A sleek beast

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The much awaited Xiaomi Mi 5 was launched in India at an event in New Delhi on March 31. Initially it was launched in China during MWC 2016, and India is the only country after China where the Mi 5 is officially available. With the launch of Xiaomi Mi 5 in India, it becomes the first Snapdragon 820 powered smartphone to be launched and sold in India. The Mi 5 is Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone and is the most expensive one Xiaomi has ever sold. Xiaomi has been advertising this smartphone as ‘Insanely Fast’. But, is it just a marketing campaign? Or, does it really perform well? We answer that question with this Xiaomi Mi 5 Review.

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In box contents

  • Xiaomi Mi 5
  • Charger
  • USB Type-A to Type-C Cable
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • User Guide

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Xiaomi Mi 5 specifications:

  • CPU: 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor
  • RAM: 3 GB LPDDR4
  • GPU: Adreno 530
  • Operating System: MIUI 7 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Display: 5.15-inch Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) LCD display with Gorilla Glass 4
  • Rear Camera: 16 MP with dual-LED flash, PDAF and 4-axis OIS along with f/2.0 aperture
  • Front Camera: 4 MP
  • Internal Storage: 32 GB
  • Connectivity: 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, VoLTE, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, IR Blaster, NFC
  • SIM: Dual SIM (Nano + Nano)
  • Other: USB Type-C, Fingerprint Scanner, Quick Charge 3.0
  • Colors: White
  • Dimensions: 144.5 x 69.2 x 7.25 mm, 129 grams
  • Battery: 3000 mAh

Design

The Xiaomi Mi 5 boasts off a uni-body design which is covered with glass at both the front and the back along with metal frame thrown on the sides. The Mi 5 is 7.25 mm thin and weighs 129 grams. It’s very lightweight and compact and feels very comfortable to hold with one hand.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Front View

The Mi 5 boasts off a 5.15-inch Full-HD display and has a brightness of 600-nits which is achieved by using 16 LEDs. The phone is very compact and comfortable to use with one hand.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 backlit navigation buttons with fingerprint scanner

Below the display are the capacitive navigation buttons along with a physical home button. The fingerprint scanner comes built into the home button which can be used to unlock the phone as well as secure features such as Child Mode and App Lock. One thing I liked about the home button is that it can also be used as a capacitive home button despite being a physical one. Besides, you can also swap the positions of the navigation buttons. To access these options, go to Settings > Additional settings > Buttons.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Rear View

At the back of the Mi 5 resides the 16 MP primary camera which comes with dual-LED flash, 4-axis OIS and f/2.0 aperture. The back of the Mi 5 is covered with a scratch-resistant 3D glass and houses a 3000 mAh non-removable battery. Also can be seen is the Mi moniker at the bottom. The design language of the Mi 5 has been inherited from the Mi Note.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Left View
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Xioami Mi 5 SIM tray

On the left side of the phone is the SIM card slot which houses two Nano SIM cards. There’s no slot for microSD card so you will have to make do with 32 GB of internal storage. Besides, Xiaomi has only launched the 32 GB variant in India so you don’t have much options here.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Right View

On the right side of this phone is the volume rocker and power button. These buttons felt edgy and rough around the corners. Also, they should have been a little more sturdier than they already are. You can also see that there’s no camera bump which makes the back of the Mi 5 seamlessly flat. Well, Xiaomi deserves appreciation for that as most of the phones which come with fingerprint scanner have camera bumps at the back.

The chamfered edges also add up to the beautiful design of the Mi 5. Having said that, it feels a little rough at the point where the glass back and the metal frame meets on the left and right side of the phone. Though not an issue, it might be a little annoying for some.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Top View
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Xiaomi Mi 5 Bottom View

On top of this phone is the 3.5 mm audio jack along with an IR Blaster and secondary mic. Whereas, at the bottom is the USB Type-C port along with primary mic and a speaker. The left grill houses the mic and the right grill houses the speaker. A design language most of the manufacturers are incorporating into their smartphones nowadays. The Mi 5 comes with an app called Mi Remote which can utilize the IR Blaster. You can use the Mi 5 as a remote control for TV, AC, Fan, Projector, etc

Display

The Mi 5 boasts off a 5.15-inch display which comes with Gorilla Glass 4. It has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels along with a pixel density of 427 ppi which is pretty good. The viewing angles on this phone are also good.

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The display of the Mi 5 is really good, be it watching videos, reading text or playing games. The colors look good and the text appears crisp. We would have liked to see AMOLED display, but, the way this LCD display performs you wouldn’t feel the need of an AMOLED display.

The brightness of the Mi 5’s display is achieved by using 16 LEDs which ultimately provide a brightness of 600-nits. The brightness of 600-nits proves useful when you are viewing something under sunlight. We didn’t face any issues while using this phone under sunlight. The Mi 5 comes with reading mode which essentially makes it easy for you to read something on the screen during night time. The reading mode reduces the background glare of the display by applying a filter with a warm tone to it.

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You can also change the colors and contrast of the Mi 5’s display to your liking. There are three color modes you can choose from – Warm, Standard, Cool. You can access these settings by going to Settings > Display.

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The Mi 5 also comes with one-hand mode which lets you decrease the contents of the screen suitable to a display size of 3.5-inch, 4-inch and 4.5-inch. You can enable the one-hand mode from Settings >  Additional settings > One-handed mode.

Fingerprint Scanner

The Mi 5 comes with a fingerprint scanner built into the home button. Besides using the fingerprint scanner to unlock the phone, it can also be used to secure other features such as Child Mode and App Lock.

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The fingerprint scanner is pretty fast and accurate. We didn’t have much issue trying to unlock the phone using the fingerprint scanner.

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In order to be able to use the fingerprint scanner on the Mi 5, you first need to add your fingerprint. Go to Settings > Lock screen and password > Screen lock & fingerprint > Add fingerprint and then follow the instructions. Make sure you remember the backup Pattern/PIN/Password so that you can use it when the phone doesn’t unlock using your fingerprint.

Performance

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 quad core processor which comes with 3 GB LPDDR4 RAM and Adreno 530 GPU. Snapdragon 820 is Qualcomm’s latest SoC which is a successor to the last year’s Snapdragon 810. There are two more variants of the Mi 5, one having 3 GB RAM and 64 GB storage whereas the other having 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The latter is the ceramic back version which is a limited edition (Mi 5 Pro). Xiaomi has only launched the 3 GB + 32 GB variant in India.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 CPU-Z stats

The Mi 5 is a beast when it comes to performance, it handled everything we threw at it like a champ. The Adreno 530 GPU complements Snapdragon 820’s prowess and that shows when you are gaming. The graphics rendered in game are very good.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 AnTuTu benchmark scores

The Mi 5 scored 112,786 points in our AnTuTu benchmark test.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Geekbench 3 score

Talking about the Geekbench 3 benchmark test, it scored a whopping 1925 and 4754 points in single and multi-core test respectively.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Geekbench 3 benchmark score comparison

Here are the full stats of Geekbench 3 bechmark test of the Mi 5.

When most of the flagships are coming with 4 GB of RAM nowadays, you might think that 3 GB RAM won’t suffice on the Mi 5. But hey, let me tell you that multi-tasking on this smartphone was a sheer pleasure. It didn’t even lag once while switching between apps. Most of the times I had apps like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and games like N.O.V.A. 3 and Asphalt 8 running in the background.

Games we tested on Xiaomi Mi 5

  • N.O.V.A. 3: Freedom Edition
  • Asphalt 8
  • NFS No Limits
  • Traffic Rider
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N.O.V.A. 3: Freedom Edition
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Asphalt 8
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Traffic Rider

As can be seen in the images above, the graphics rendered on the Mi 5 are really good. Never even once did the Mi 5 stutter while playing such resource intensive games. There were always some apps running in the background while playing these games. Must say the performance is excellent. Asphalt 8 and NFS NL ran very smoothly.

The temperature of this sleek beast did rise to around 42 degree celsius while gaming, but, it’s acceptable given the kind of power we are dealing with.

Software

The Mi 5 runs on MIUI 7 Global beta version which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and carries April’s Android security patch. The final version of the MIUI 7 should roll out soon.

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The Mi 5 doesn’t come with any bloatware as you would expect from a smartphone which doesn’t run on stock version of Android. The UI is reminiscent to that of the iPhone as there’s no app drawer and all the apps are placed on the home screen.

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The Mi 5 comes with some built-in wallpapers to choose from. You can also change the screen transition effect if you want. To do so, just long press on the home screen and you will be presented with the options.

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The Mi 5 comes with an app called Security which consists of options for battery, virus scan, permissions, cleaner, etc. You can also change the entire theme of the Mi 5 if you want. There are four themes available besides the default one, they are – High Life, Rose, Pink Blush and Ocean Breeze.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 App Permissions

With the app permissions feature you can decide which app can access what on your Mi 5.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Remote Control

Remember we told you that the Mi 5 comes with an IR Blaster? Well, you can use your Mi 5 as a remote control for TV, AC, Projector, etc with the help of Mi Remote app.

Camera

The photography department on the Mi 5 is handled by a 16 MP rear camera and a 4 MP front camera.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Front Camera

The 4 MP camera front did take some good photos. Just like most of the Android smartphones out there in the market, the Mi 5 also comes with a Beauty Mode. But, unlike the Beauty Mode I’ve seen on other smartphones in the past, the one on the Mi 5 actually works. You can notice the difference when the Beauty Mode is set to High. It also shows the gender and age of the person while taking a photo from the front camera. However, the age shown isn’t accurate always and is more than what your actual age is.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 Rear Camera

The 16 MP rear camera took some good shots. It comes with dual-LED flash, PDAF and 4-axis OIS along with f/2.0 aperture. The rear camera of the Mi 5 can record videos in 4K resolution.

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Xiaomi Mi 5 rear camera filter options
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Xiaomi Mi 5 rear camera modes
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Xiaomi Mi 5 rear camera beauty mode
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Xiaomi Mi 5 rear camera video modes
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Xiaomi Mi 5 front camera filters
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Xiaomi Mi 5 front camera beauty mode

That was the UI of the camera app. Now let’s take a look at the daylight shots taken from the Mi 5.

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Non-HDR click
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HDR click

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Panorama
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Panorama

Now let’s take a look at the night shots taken from Mi 5.

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Non-HDR click
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HDR click
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Non-HDR click. Without flash.
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HDR click. Without flash.
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Non-HDR click
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HDR click
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HHT mode

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Non-HDR click
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HDR click

The camera on the Mi 5 does take some good shots. The daylight close up shots were sharp and detailed. The phone did a good job at stitching the images properly in Panorama shots as well. The 4-axis OIS on the Mi 5 just works.

Talking about night shots, it will get the job done. Sometimes, the camera did face issues while focusing on distant objects, but that was during the night time which can be understood. If you feel the night shots are not bright enough, you can always fire up the HDR or HHT mode.

Call Quality and Audio

The call quality on the Mi 5 was good. No issues whatsoever. The voice was audible on both the ends during a call.

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As far as the audio coming from the speaker at the bottom is concerned, it wasn’t much impressive. The audio often lost clarity when we increased the volume in the range of 70-100%.

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Xiaomi Mi 5’s Music App and settings

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The Mi 5’s Music app does provide you some settings to tinker with. The Mi Sound Enhancer adjusts the audio according to the headphone type that you select from the provided options. Apart from that, nothing much fancy here.

Storage

The Mi 5 comes with three storage options – 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB. The 32 GB and 64 GB variants come with 3 GB RAM, whereas, the 128 GB variant is the ceramic version which comes with 4 GB of RAM and is a limited edition. The review unit we received has 32 GB of internal storage as Xiaomi only launched the 32 GB variant in India. Out of 32 GB, 26.30 GB is available to the user.

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The Mi 5 comes with a file manager called ‘Explorer’ which has a neat UI and categorizes the files according to their file type.

Battery

The Mi 5 ships with a 3000 mAh non-removable battery. The performance of the battery is quite acceptable. This phone comes with USB Type-C and Quick Charge 3.0 which means you can quickly juice up the battery for that additional backup.

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On normal usage, the battery will easily get you through the day. However, on mixed usage, you will have to charge the phone at the end of the day. We got a screen on time of 6 hours on this phone which is really good, given the fact that the Mi 5 sports some powerful hardware under the hood. Had Xiaomi gone for a 2K display like every other manufacturer is doing, the battery backup would have been lower. But again, human eye can’t differentiate between a 1080p display and a 2K display, so Xiaomi’s decision of going with a 1080p display on this phone is justified.

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The Mi 5 gave battery backup of 9 hours and 17 minutes in our Geekbench 3 Battery Test. Here are the full stats of Geekbench 3 battery test of the Mi 5. Our daily usage included playing some games for more than an hour, browsing through Facebook for 10-15 minutes, having some phone calls, reading on Quora for around 15 minutes, and lastly, streaming videos on YouTube. Take a look at the battery table below to get an idea of Xiaomi Mi 5’s battery performance.

Apps/GamesRuntimeBattery ConsumedBrightnessWi-Fi
1080p YouTube Video20 minutes4%AutoOn
Offline 1080p Video20 minutes2%AutoOff
Online Music via TuneIn Radio30 minutes2%AutoOn
Offline Music1 hour3%AutoOff
Facebook20 minutes3%AutoOn
N.O.V.A 3: Freedom Edition20 minutes6%AutoOn
Asphalt 820 minutes8%AutoOn
Traffic Rider20 minutes8%AutoOn
NFS No Limits20 minutes6%AutoOn

On an average, the Mi 5 took more than 2 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. Going by the current standards, I feel this is a bit high. Also, the Mi 5 comes with Quick Charge 3.0, so charging time should’ve been somewhere around 2 hours or lesser instead of more than 2 hours. The phone also used to reach temperatures in excess of 40 degree celsius while charging. But again, that’s something we have seen on the phones that come with fast/quick charging.

Pricing

There are three variants of Xiaomi Mi 5:

  • 3 GB RAM + 32 GB Internal Storage
  • 3 GB RAM + 64 GB Internal Storage
  • 4 GB RAM + 128 GB Internal Storage

The test unit we received is the White colored variant which has 32 GB of internal storage. Xiaomi didn’t launch the 64 GB variant in India. You can buy the 32 GB variant from Mi.com for Rs. 24,999. A ceramic back limited edition called the Mi 5 Pro comes with 128 GB internal storage and 4 GB RAM, but, that also hasn’t been launched in India yet.

Verdict

It’s time to end this Xiaomi Mi 5 review with the verdict. The Mi 5 is a sleek beast. It performed well and handled almost everything we threw at it with ease. It has a uni-body design and might remind you of the Samsung Galaxy S7. However, the metal and glass design has been inherited from the Mi Note.

The LCD display with brightness of 600-nits does perform well outdoors and has good viewing angles. Watching videos, reading text and playing games was fun. The 3000 mAh battery will get you through the day on normal usage, but, on a mixed usage you will have to juice up the phone at the end of the day. The Mi 5 comes with Quick Charge 3.0 so getting that extra charge quickly won’t be an issue.

Talking about the camera, the 16 MP rear camera took some detailed shots. The 4-axis OIS did aid in taking shots while moving. Unlike cameras on other phones, the Beauty mode on this phone does work. You can notice the difference. However, the age prediction wasn’t accurate and we expect this flaw to be ironed out in the coming updates as the MIUI 7 on this phone is a beta version.

So, the million dollar question is, should you buy this phone? Well, yes. If you are looking for a smartphone which is powered by Snapdragon 820 SoC, performs like a champ and is sold relatively cheaper than the competition, then there’s no better option than the Xiaomi Mi 5. Add to that the camera performance, and you have a winner.

Pros

  • Great design
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Great performance
  • Good camera
  • Nice display
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No microSD card slot

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