Xiaomi Mi 5 – Camera
Like much of the Xiaomi Mi 5, the camera outshines what you’d expect at this price.
On the rear of the handset you’ll find a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 sensor, coated in sapphire glass and packing optical image stabilisation. In terms of megapixel count, that’s more than both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6S, and on par with the LG G5.
But how does it perform? Actually, very well. The camera app is super-fast and packs a well-rounded manual mode, while daylight shots are almost universally fantastic. Colours are vibrant and there’s plenty of detail.
As you can see from the examples below, bright colours do have a tendency to look a little oversaturated – take the leaf, for example – but whether or not this is an issue is a matter of personal taste. For most, the photos will look superb.
There’s plenty of detail in landscape shots, with strong colours
Macro shots look impressive, too. Plus, those funky, blurry-background bokeh-style shots are easily achievable. Unlike the Huawei P9, though, you don’t need to jump into a special mode for this to take effect.
Macro pictures look great, with a nice blurry background
That’s not to say that there aren’t an excess of novelty options, because there are. There’s one for capturing fisheye-style shots and another for beautifying your subject; both produce mediocre-looking results.
Low-light shots are less impressive, but they’re still much better than those produced by other phones in this price range.
The four-axis optical image stabilisation – the majority of phones still use two axis – keeps things steady, but there’s still plenty of distortion around light sources and details.
As you can see in the below image, some of the light sources are wildly over-exposed, and there’s just a general blurriness to the snap. It’s still quite bright, though, which is down to the wide f/2.0 aperture that allows plenty of light into the sensor.
4K video looks pretty decent, aided by that improved OIS. It’s steady, smooth and packed with detail. The 60fps, 1080p looks even better – obviously, it isn’t quite as sharp – and that’s the one I’d tend to go for.
Around the front you’ll find an 8-megapixel sensor that takes fantastic selfies. It can’t quite compete with the HTC 10, but it’s still one of the best out there.
It’s nice and wide for cramming in multiple faces, but it does feature an odd mode that likes to take a guess at how old I am, and then insists on covering me up with a beauty filter. According to Mi 5, I’m a 25-year-old female – which I might just take as a compliment.
Xiaomi Mi 5 – Battery Life
Another strong area for the Xiaomi Mi 5 is its battery life. The 3,000mAh non-removable cell tucked under that glass back has managed to easily get me through the day, normally with about 10-15% to spare – even with intensive use.
I managed to drain it completely only on a single occasion, and that was when I installed around 50 or so apps.
A 30-minute gaming session playing Hitman Sniper eats through 13%, while a less-intensive title such as Monument Valley consumes around 8-9%. An hour of Spotify streaming on my commute takes up around 5%, which is quite impressive and on a par with other phones with a 3,000mAh battery.
All in all, the Mi 5 should get you from morning to bedtime without having to reach for the charging cable. But it won’t go for multiple days. This isn’t a phablet; nor is it the Moto X Force.
On the bottom of the phone is a USB Type-C port, taking the place of the once standard micro-USB. This is good news, especially since USB-C is finally starting to break into the mainstream.
That USB Type-C port also utilises Quick Charge 3.0, so even when you do hit the red you’ll jump back to 100% super-fast. It juices up fully in about an hour, but you’ll get to 60% in just over 30 minutes.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Mi 5?
With its fantastic array of high-end parts, the Mi 5 is a superb option. The package is only made sweeter by the its low price.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is around £300 cheaper than rival devices – such as the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 – that run on similar hardware . Yet, it doesn’t feel like it. While it may not be quite as sturdy as those higher priced phones, it performs just as well.
However, you won’t be able to simply stroll into a Carphone Warehouse, plonk down £275 and walk out with Xiaomi Mi 5. You’ll need to import it, and even then it hasn’t been built for UK or US networks, and support if things go wrong isn’t clear-cut.
Those willing to accept this, and the fact that the software is more like iOS than Android, may just pick up what might be the best-value phone of the year.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a fantastic, affordable device that should have the big boys quaking in their boots.
Thanks to Gearbest.com for providing us with this device for review. You can buy the Xiaomi Mi 5 here.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Battery Life 8
Calls & Sound 7
Screen Quality 9