Were the two years Xiaomi spent on the Mi 5 worth it?

  • Sanshey Biswas, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 02, 2016 19:35 IST
That says a lot about the Mi 5. It’s not the most advanced hardware out there. Instead, Xiaomi has focused on making a phone that you have a really good experience with.

After a month of the Redmi Note 3 launch, Xiaomi announced that the Mi 5 will go in sale for Rs 24,999 at 8 AM on April 6, in India. The latest flagship from the company sports a 5.15-inch full HD screen, 16 MP camera, 3,000 mAh battery and runs a MIUI 7 ROM (based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow).

All this is packed into a compact body with curved Gorilla glass back while managing to weigh just 129 grams — One of the first things you notice about the device. The As Jai Mani (Lead Product Manager of MIUI for India) said during the launch of the Mi 5 on Monday, the phone’s design focuses on “handability”. We’re guessing he meant how good it feel in the hand, because we were impressed by the curved edges and attractive design. We’ve also heard OnePlus founder, Pete Lau talk about how important the feel of a smartphone is and it seems like companies are focusing more on the experience than specifications.

Read more: OnePlus updates to get more frequent post Android M says Pete Lau

That says a lot about the Mi 5. It’s not the most advanced hardware out there. Instead, Xiaomi has focused on making a phone that you have a really good experience with. From the few hours I’ve spent with the phone, everything seems to be quite polished but only time will tell how much the phone impresses us.

Speed: The Mi 5 runs a on the latest Snapdragon 820, paired with 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB (non-expandable) storage. It has a USB Type C port that supports Quick Charge 3.0, but the adapter being bundled with the Indian version of Mi 5, only charges at Quick Charge 2.0 standards. This Hugo Barra, VP Xiaomi said was due to the tight time constraints set for the India launch. Even then, you’ll spend much less time stuck to a charging cable while juicing up the massive 3,000 mAh battery. It’s only available in white colour initially.

The Mi 5 also pack a front fingerprint sensor which has a ceramic layer for more accuracy. The USB-Type C port is also waterproofed for IP67 certification, but the device isn’t. However, you can by the Mi Protect plan to have water and accidental damages covered by warranty.

We talked to Xiaomi’s VP, Hugo Barra about the design intricacies of the Mi 5 and more during a teardown session that we’ll share in coming weeks.

The camera on the Mi 5’s front has pixels that are larger than usual. We tried it out in a room with low lighting condition. The front camera managed to capture details and keep distortion quite low, despite the lack of light. Coming to the rear, unlike iPhones and the Galaxy S7, you don’t see anything protruding. It’s a 16 MP shooter that’s fast and captures colours and details really well, probably because it’s mounted on a 4-axis optical image stabilisation mechanism. We compared the video capturing capability on the Mi 5 with and iPhone 6 and we were more than impressed.

Xiaomi spent two years on teh device, and as Barra told us, building the Mi 5 was an iterative process. Everything has been improved and upgraded over time. In doing so, they have made it very difficul to criticise their latest flagship device. The Mi 5 also pack some neat little tricks that add to the overall experience you have with the phone.

The IR blaster and Mi Remote app combined, have made the remotes for the AC, Tata Sky and tons of other gadgets redundant. You just point your phone at the AC and use the app to control all the necessary functions like temperature and power. The Mi 5 looks impressive at first and that’s all we can say before we’ve spent enough time to write a review that we’ll be publishing soon.

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