The first half of 2015 was a relatively good one for Xiaomi with the launch of the Mi Note and the Mi 4i, which was made specifically for the Indian market. However, both phones turned out to be a dud for the company, no thanks to their disappointing chipset.
In the second half of the year, the company did not really release any compelling new handsets, and overall the company’s product lineup felt that it was lagging behind when compared to Lenovo and Huawei’s Honor brand. The lack of the announcement of the company’s much anticipated flagship handset, the Mi 5, did not help things either.
More than two years after the launch of the Mi 4, Xiaomi finally unveiled the Mi 5 – its flagship phone for 2016 – at simultaneous events that were held in China and at Barcelona, Spain in Europe. The phone received outstanding response in China where more than 16.8 million people registered to be a part of the first flash sale that occurred on March 1.
At their Redmi Note 3 launch event held in Delhi, India, yesterday, Xiaomi announced that it plans on bringing the Mi 5 to India next month. I managed to spend quite sometime with the phone at the event and came way relatively impressed with it. Below are my thoughts on it.
Xiaomi Mi 5 first impressions
When you first have a look at the Mi 5 in white, you will be deceived into thinking that it is made of plastic and has a cheap build quality. Hold the phone in your hands, though, and you will be instantly surprised by two things: how light the phone is and how premium it feels.
For a phone that comes with a 5.15-inch display and a 3,000mAh battery, the Mi 5 is extremely light, and its 129g weight on paper does not really do it justice. Even after reading this, you will be surprised with how light the phone is when you first hold it in your hands.
The curved glass back and metallic chassis ooze quality and scream a premium build quality that is usually only found on flagship phones. The black variant of the phone looks much better than the white variant; the former looks sleek, stealthy and sexy, which the white variant just seems to be missing.
Since the back is made of glass, it has its usual downfalls: its a fingerprint magnet and very slippery. The fingerprints are not visible on the white variant of the phone, but show up pretty easily on the black variant. The curved edges do help in improving the ergonomics of the Mi 5, but they are still not enough from preventing the phone from slipping when kept on a smooth, inclined surface that does not offer any friction.
The IPS LCD display can get really, really bright and since its laminated, it feels like you are touching the icons on the display itself rather than the glass itself. The almost non-existent side bezels also help in making the phone feel even more compact.
Most importantly perhaps, the Mi 5 does not suffer from any performance and overheating issues. Xiaomi likely decided not to launch the Mi 5 last year due to the fiery Snapdragon 810 chipset from Qualcomm and their wait seems to have been worth it. While I did not push the handset relatively hard, it remained cool during my time with it, which mainly consisted of clicking a lot of pictures, shooting videos, and just navigating around the UI.
I can’t comment about the camera performance, but the 4-axis OIS really seems to do a great job at minimising shakes and jitters while recording video. Even better, videos shot on the Mi 5 did not suffer from any jello effect that is usually seen on phones that employ 3-axis OIS like the LG G4.
The fingerprint scanner was also seemed pretty fast and accurate, even though its touch area might seem like a bit small initially.
Xiaomi plans on launching the Mi 5 in India sometime in April. While the company did not provide any hint about the pricing of the handset, I expect it to price the 32GB/3GB RAM variant of the Mi 5 at around Rs. 24,000, with the top end variant being priced somewhere around Rs. 28,000-29,000. At that price point, I doubt the Mi 5 is going to have any competition. The handset easily trades blow with the Galaxy S7 and the LG G5, and while it might not be better than them in every regard, at its expected price point, you really won’t have much to complain about.