With the Mi5s, Xiaomi presents a resolute further development of its flagship series. Whereas Samsung’s Note 7 is blowing up in their face and Apple couldn’t fulfil the users’ high expectations with the IPhone 7, Xiaomi Mi5s strikes while the iron is hot. The phone’s heart is the latest Snapdragon 821 processor by Qualcomm. You can choose between either 3/46GB or 4/128GB storage. We’ve taken a closer look at the Xiaomi Mi5s and we explore the question whether or not an upgrade is worthwhile for Mi5 users.
Design and build quality
Xiaomi Mi5s’s metal casing appears to be more solid and long-lasting than the Mi5’s double glass design. Whereas the Mi5 had a weak spot on the home button in terms of durability, the Mi5s now uses a pure touch button with an integrated ultrasound fingerprint scanner. After touching the button with you finger the Xiaomi Mi5s is unlocked immediately. You don’t have to press the button additionally as it was the case with Mi5. The phone was unlocked in 9 out of 10 attempts, so the fingerprint scanner is extremely precise.
The new aluminium casing completely encloses the smartphone and you have a better feeling while holding the Xiaomi Mi5s than the Mi5, thanks to better rounded-off edges. The heavier weight of 150g leaves an impression of higher quality as well. At the smartphone’s top and bottom you can find antennas-stripes, and the front is protected by scratch-resistant, slightly rounded off 2.5D glass. The Mi5s has slightly grown in its dimensions, which are now 145.6×70.3×8.25mm. Nevertheless, the Mi5s belongs to the more compact 5-inch smartphones. Power button and volume control consist of metal and are well fixed in the casing. The curved form and the slightly rounded off 2.5D glass make the Mi5s fit perfectly in the hand.
The SIM tray offers room for 2 Nano SIMs, but unfortunately the storage is not expandable. The infrared sensor at the top was cut out, the audio jack remained. The noise cancelling microphone is located on the rear, at the smartphone’s bottom you find main microphone, speaker, and micro-USB port.
In the Mi5S’s design, Xiaomi erased some weak spots of the old design and the manufacturer even presents something special with the ultrasound fingerprint scanner. Of course, design is always a matter of taste, but those who treat their Mi5s carefully will not have any problems. In comparison to the Xiaomi Mi5, the Mi5s is built more solidly and has a higher durability.
The Xiaomi Mi5s has exactly the same display as its predecessor. It’s a 5.15-inch display with a 1920×1080 pixels resolution. Therefore, we’re citing our review of the Mi5:
“The Xiaomi Mi5s’s display is impressively sharp and the brightness is on a top level with 600cd/m2. The color representation is precise and there are nice viewing angles. The Xiaomi Mi5s’s sunlight display gives you an almost perfect readability outdoors. The automatic contrast and the automatic brightness work perfectly fine. You can adjust the color temperature and the color saturation in the options menu if necessary. There are slim bezels with only 2mm.”
In comparison to the Mi5, the 2.5D glass secures better haptics while operating the phone. The 10-point-touch works perfectly and puts all input precisely and fast into practice. Unfortunately, the loudly announced force-touch feature is only available in the 4/128GB version.
Performance and operating system
The Android 6 based MIUI V8 is speeded up by the latest Snapdragon 821 processor. Since MIUI V8 was examined closely in each of our current Xiaomi reviews, we here just point to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review.
Snapdragon is the fastest Android smartphone processor available today. The processor’s 4 Kyro cores are divided into 2 clusters: a performance cluster, which clocks at 2.15GHz, and an energy saving cluster, which clocks at 2GHz. It’s supported by an Adreno 530 GPU, which clocks at 650MHz. According to manufacturer Qualcomm, the performance was increased by 10%, what, however, doesn’t matter that much. Xiaomi Mi5s runs like Usain Bolt on steroids, and it has a noticeable increase in the benchmarks. Putting the Mi5 and the Mi5s next to each other, and opening different apps, you cannot notice any difference.
Both of them are insanely fast with MIUI V8, and play any demanding 3D game without any complaints. The Mi5s heats up way less than the Mi5. After 30 minutes of gaming the temperature is now 36°, not 40° like it was before. There is no jerking and no delay when using the smartphone; the UFS 2.0 memory chip has a reading/writing speed of 451/166MB/s. The RAM is fast as well with a speed of 16GB/s. You can choose between the 3/64GB and the 4/128GB version. The RAM usage is quite high with 1.5GB in the IDLE-mode. When putting more than 10 apps in the intermediate storage, the previously opened apps have to be reloaded when opening them again. However, this isn’t a problem considering the minimal load time. Those who worry that 10 apps might not be enough can choose the 4GB version.
The Mi5’s increase in performance is discernible in the benchmarks, in practice, however, you don’t notice any change. MIUI 8 runs as fast as in the predecessor model, the only thing to be improved is the heating up. Those looking for an efficient smartphone without any compromises are well-served by a Mi5s.
Xiaomi Mi5s uses the probably best camera sensor in the world. The 12MP Sony IM378 sensor is also used in the Google Pixel. Video enthusiasts, however, have to go without an optical image stabiliser. Xiaomi Mi5s takes good pictures with incredibly many details in good lighting conditions. The Mi5s easily surpasses its predecessor, and in terms of image quality it can keep up with all other big brands without any problems. The autofocus works fast and there is no trigger time anymore. As always, the MIUI camera app provides a pro mode and several filters.
Videos can be recorded in 4K, and they’re sharp, rich in detail and well matching in terms of colours. You can activate an electronic image stabilization in the settings, which reduces the amount of blurred pictures, but it has nothing on an optical image stabiliser. The audio quality is okay, but not comparable to the quality of the IPhone 7 or Galaxy S7. The automatic focus is sometimes a bit volatile, but all in all it works quite well.
The camera’s weak point comes up when taking pictures in bad lighting conditions. One of the reasons is the small f/2.0 aperture. The ISO value immediately increases in little light and the result are pixelated and blurred pictures. The 4MP front camera takes beautiful selfies, but there are problems in bad lighting conditions as well.
Communication and connectivity
Mi5s supports the following lte frequencies:
4G: FDD-LTE B1/B3/B5/B7/B8
3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8, TD-SCDMA B34/B39
2G: GSM B2/B3/B5/B8
The voice is good on both sides, and the hands-free kit can be used as well.
In my opinion, the Mi5’s internal speaker is better than the one of Mi5s. The Mi5s sounds a bit tinny and tends to overemphasize treble at full volume; the Mi5 does a better job here. Nevertheless, the speaker is good.
The Xiaomi Mi5s does a nice job in terms of Wi-Fi reception, Bluetooth, and GPS reception. The Wi-Fi reception is slightly weaker than the Mi5’s, but it is still on a very high level. GPS works perfectly with the China ROM and during navigation in the car, there was no deviation from the course. When using the GPS as a pedestrian, you’re supported by an electronic compass. There are a gyroscope, NFC, and OTG as well.
The Mi5s houses a 3200mAh battery, which is not replaceable. The Xiaomi Mi5s can be charged with any quick-charge 3 adapter, and charges really fast: 20-50% in 20 minutes, 20-80% in 35 minutes, 0-50% in 30 minutes, 0-100% in 1 ½ hours. Compared to the Mi5 you only get 1 hour DOT (display-on time) on top; consequently, the Mi5s’s battery life is simply great. One hour of playing Asphalt 8 takes 16% of the battery. The Xiaomi Mi5s lasted for about 11 hours in the PC-Mark test with a medium display brightness, which is 2 hours more than the Xiaomi Mi5. Demanding users can get through the day with the Mi5s, and the average user can get 2 days of run time.
Conclusion and alternative
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*Prices include shipping and toll. Intermediate changes of prices, ranking, delivery time and costs possible. Prices last updated on 21.02.2019