Xiaomi Mi 5 review: Beauty and brawn at same time
Xiaomi Mi 5 review: Beauty and brawn at same time:
Perfection requires patience, an assertion Xiaomi made again and again as the company dealt with the delay in bringing out its next flagship Android phone. Well, finally that phone is here. The Xiaomi Mi 5 is not perfect; but at least it’s close, closer than what most smartphones in the modern world would ever be. No wonder it took almost two years in the making.
Here’s a quick walkthrough: The Mi 5 has a premium glass and metal design, a 5.15-inch FullHD display, Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 processor, a 16-megapixel camera on the rear with optical image stabilisation and a 3,000mAh battery that supports quick charging. There’s more. The phone supports dual-SIMs and 4G LTE, runs Android Marshmallow, comes with front mounted fingerprint scanner and squeezes in a USB Type-C port for charging and data syncing.
Design and build quality
The Mi 5 is beautiful. It’s a gorgeous piece of tech, this one. With so much power crammed inside, it’s a beautiful monster. It is a phone that you will fall in love with, if you are into that sort of thing.
On first look, the Mi 5 seems like a fine-looking mash up of the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S6. But actually it is not. The Mi 5 borrows heavily from the Mi Note, a phone that sadly didn’t make it to India. It’s actually the Mi Note, only better, a gradual refinement much like what the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6S represent for counterparts. The biggest difference is that you won’t have to sell your kidney (liver, or what not) to buy the Mi 5.
The Mi 5 has an all-3D glass body made of Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which has been joined together by a metal frame with chamfered edges. The design is very thoughtful. Xiaomi has been able to make an all-glass phone that isn’t as slippery as a fish. It will skid off a gentle slope, just that it won’t fly out from your hand. The back has a very gradual curve that kind of eases into the metal frame. The front, meanwhile, is flat as a pancake. This ensures the phone sticks to your hand and stays there, unless you really want it to fly.
“The Xiaomi Mi 5 is not perfect; but at least it’s close, closer than what most smartphones in the modern world would ever be. No wonder it took almost two years in the making”
The Mi 5 has a 5.15-inch FullHD display with a 1080×1920 pixels resolution, which roughly translates to 428 ppi pixel density. Although, it is lacking the quadHD resolution that we see on phones like the Galaxy S7, we don’t miss it at all. The Mi 5 display gives the Galaxies or even the iPhones a run for their money, at half the cost.
The screen of the Mi 5 can get really bright and it can go really dim as and when required. It displays well saturated colours, and adaptive brightness works as it should. Viewing angles are also excellent. The Mi 5 particularly excels in outdoor sunny environm
ent where its inbuilt Sunlight Display feature kicks in and offers good screen legibility. At the same time, the phone’s Reading Mode option ensures reduction in background glare by shifting colours towards the warmer end of the spectrum in low light or in the night.
The Mi 5 runs Android Marshmallow-based MIUI 7, which is based on Android 6 aka Marshmallow. Latest software is always a big bonus, only in Xiaomi’s case latest software iteration does not necessarily translate to drastic changes in the interface.
The MIUI 7 in the Mi 5 looks almost exactly (save some exceptions) like MIUI 5 in the Mi 4. There’s very little difference between a KitKat-based MIUI and a Marshmallow-based MIUI. We understand Xiaomi’s reluctance to change is geared at offering a unified user experience across devices, but not offering consumers key Android 6 interface elements is a buzzkill.
However, if you are not a “stock Android fanatic”, MIUI 7 offers all the bells and whistles that you’d want from a fully-functional operating system. And it’s fluid and fast, even with all in-your-face animations. Also, Xiaomi’s dedicated theme engine works well in offering plenty of customisation options.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 that is available in India is powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 530 GPU and 3GB RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal memory of which about 26.35GB is available for use.
The Mi 5, in terms of raw performance, is the most powerful phone that you can buy for less than Rs 25,000 right now. Yes, India doesn’t get the top-tier 2.15GHz Snapdragon 820 variant with 4 gigs of RAM and 128GB memory (for now), but what you do get can easily stand neck-to-neck with the best in the business. In terms of hardware, it is as good as any high-end phone.
Thanks to Qualcomm’s latest and greatest processor and 3GB RAM, the Mi 5 is a pocket rocket. It breezes past every task — basic or hard grinding – that you throw at it without breaking a sweat.
“The Mi 5 particularly excels in outdoor sunny environment where its inbuilt Sunlight Display feature kicks in and offers good screen legibility”
Apps open and close in a jiffy, and navigating between multiple home screens (and switching between apps) is smooth. Moreover, Adreno 530 GPU onboard gives ample kick to games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Need for Speed No Limits, Implosion and NOVA 3. If you are looking for a high-end gaming device that is also relatively affordable, the Xiaomi Mi 5 is definitely the one for you. It gets hot (when you use it at a stretch especially while gaming), but it is also quick to cool down.
This is also the first Xiaomi phone to incorporate a fingerprint scanner, and it works well to say the least. It’s fast and consistent, bringing it in line with Apple’s Touch ID and Google’s Nexus Imprint.
The mono speaker in the Mi 5 gets pleasantly loud with little or no distortion at peak volume. The speaker output betters the likes of the OnePlus 2 and Nexus 5X. The Galaxy S6 and HTC’s One M9 offer better, but what you get with the Mi 5 at its price point is pretty value for money in this regard. Phone calls made with the Mi 5 are of excellent quality and we did not encounter any odd call drop issues with our review unit.
The Mi 5 sports a 16-megapixel camera on the rear with f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis optical image stabilisation, phase detection autofocus and dualLED flash. It’s rocking a Sony IMX298 sensor (first device in the world to ship with this sensor) and a Sapphire glass lens. The camera also supports DTI (deep trench isolation) technology, much like the iPhone 6S.
The camera app is fairly straight-forward. If you’ve used a Xiaomi phone before, you’ll instantly be at home. If not, it takes no genius to get used to. It’s simple yet functional. The camera focuses quickly and shutter speed is impressive. The phone takes little or no time at all to shoot and process images. The Mi 5 has one of the quickest camera that we have used.
The image quality is, however, mixed affair. The Mi 5 can shoot amazing photos and yet there are instances where it falters. It all depends on the available light. For its price, we can safely say that the Mi 5 clicks wonderful images. But it doesn’t match what the high-end phones like the Galaxy S7, the iPhone 6S or even the Nexus 5X, which is kind of a freak with its stupendous camera performance, can churn out.
The Mi 5, in good light, clicks impressive images. The rear sensor does a fine job differentiating between light and dark areas so metering is spotless. Details are aplenty and colours are punchy, at times a bit too vibrant, in these conditions. The Mi 5 also does a good job with macros in such situation.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 uses a 3,000mAh battery. The phone supports Qualcomm’s next-generation Quick Charge 3.0 technology and charges like a bullet. Sadly, you only get a Quick Charge 2.5 compliant charger in the box.
Mixed usage, which included an hour of video playback, half an hour of GPU-intensive gaming, 45 minutes of basic games, phone calls (to the tune of one hour), some music streaming and YouTube playback along with some web browsing gave us close to 14 hours on the device. Toning down the usage got us close to one full day without any hiccups.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a flagship phone sold at a more mainstream price. It’s beautiful, has an exceptionally good screen and has powerful hardware inside it. Ticks quite a many boxes, doesn’t it? Yes, it’s not perfect. Its software kind of kills some of the fun, especially if you are fond of stock Android, and its camera falls short compared to other flagship phones. But then look at that price. For Rs 24,999, the Xiaomi Mi 5 is one hell of a phone! Two years in the making, huh? Well, as it turns out, it was well worth the wait.