Xiaomi Mi5s in-depth Review – Worth to upgrade?

The Xiaomi Mi5s is the popular successor to the Mi5 and comes with some significant upgrades. The new Snapdragon 821 and a 12 mp SonyIMX378 Sensor are just two of the highlights that make this an awesome Flagship. Is it really worth to upgrade to the newer version?

Pros of the Xiaomi Mi5s (SUMMARY)

  • Overall premium build and design, expect for the Volume Rocker and Power button
  • Light weight, Portable and can easily be used one handed
  • Great performance (basing on benchmarks, highest result of Antutu), signify significant boost of performance
  • Fast UFS (Universal Flash Storage) – Read: 375 Mb/s and Write speeds: 75 Mb/s
  • No Thermal Throttling, runs cool even on heavy use
  • One of the best 1080p Display I have tested, Vibrant colors, no tinting, maintains colors even on extreme angles, and the touch sensitivity is accurate.
  • MIUI 8.2 Global ROM (few bloatwares installed in the system)
  • The 12 MP camera takes amazing still shots, 4K video is also good with tripod use and 1080p supports EIS
  • Fast and Stable WiFi (Dual Band WiFi support)
  • Supports NFC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Good Audio Quality from the loudspeakers
  • 3.5mm Headphone great Audio Quality and supports Mi Enhancer and Equalizer (no static)
  • Almost 10 hours of battery life on casual use
  • Quick Charging support, Charges fully in just 90 mins.

Cons:

  • Personally, the performance boost is mainly for benchmarks, there are still stutters sometimes and the overall OS is a bit of a Memory Hog.
  • No App Draw
  • No Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) 4K recording, only EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) on 1080p
  • The Camera UI hasn’t changed, from the midrange Smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Pro (identical)
  • Limited in Shooting modes
  • Underutilized Camera Sensor (limited features)
  • Weird issues on the Fingerprint Scanner (Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes it’s not)
  • Camera Audio Output is not that good (only 16 bit at 96kbps)
  • No MicroSD Card Support
SpecsXiaomi Mi5s
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 821 2.1GHz Quad Core
GPU: Adreno 530
MemoryRAM: 3/4/6 GB
ROM: 64/128 GB UFS (Universal Flash Storage)
OSMIUI 8.0 (Android 6.0 Marshmallow)
Features: Dual Apps
Display5.15 inch, IPS, Corning Gorilla Glass 4
1920 x 1080 pixels, 650 nit Brightness, 428 ppi
3D or Force Touch (only on the 6+128GB version)
Main Camera12 mp SonyIMX378 CMOS BSI, PDAF, CAF, f/2.0 Aperture, Dual Tone Flash,
6P Largan lens, 4K UHD at 30 fps
Front Camera4.0 MP, f/2.0 Aperture
NetworkDual Nano SIM
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 850/900/1800/2100/2600MHz
SensorsAccelerometer, Ambient Light, E-Compass, Gyroscope, Hall, Proximity
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2
WiFi 2.4/5GHz a/b/g/n/ac
NFC (Near Field Communication)
USB Type C
GPSGPS / A-GPS / Glonass / Beidou
IO1x Dual Nano Sim Slot
1x 3.5 mm Audio Jack
1x USB Type C
Dimensions145.6 x 70.3 x 8.25 mm
Weight: 145g (Full Alloy)
BatteryBuilt in 3100mh (Quick Charge 3.0)
9V 2A Charger

Availability? Xiaomi Mi5s (3+64gb) retails at $265 (valid until Oct 14)

You may be interested: Flash or Limited Time Sales (updated)

The new Snapdragon 821 Chipset is…

It’s pretty obvious that the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset is the King nowadays. It also powers the other Flagships such as the OnePlus 3T, Xiaomi Mi Note 2 etc… And naturally the Benchmark scores are the highest so far. On Antutu, it got around 141K points, making it the highest of any Chipset available. Compare that to the previous Snapdragon 820, which only got 103K points. You get the picture on the performance boost.

But is it really faster than the Snapdragon 820?

Personally, I have tested and used also the Leeco Le 2 Max, which used the Snapdragon 820, it also comes with a Quad HD Display and a bigger 5.5 inch Screen. And in terms of gaming, multitasking, I have to say that performance is about the same. Remember, this is just my personal opinion. But I do think the Snapdragon 821 is still underutilized right now. As the older Snapdragon 820 is still good enough for Heavy Multitasking and Gaming.

Inconsistencies with Performance…

I was actually surprised that I did still experience performance hiccups.  The problem was on the memory Utilization. I do think this is a OS issue, on the MIUI 8.2 in particular. Taking a look at the Memory Utilization, you will easily run out of memory if you used it aggressively. That is by opening multiple games, and apps at the same time, and not closing them entirely or not clearing the cache. When I did my gaming benchmark, After I am finished with one game, lets say Mortal Combat X, I had to clear the Cache to make way for another game, just to keep a good supply of RAM available.

MIUI 8.2 looks about the same…

From the lack of App Draw, to the Camera UI, everything about the MIUI 8.2 is a rehash. I did not find anything different from the older MIUI I had tested. The Xiaomi Mi Max, Xiaomi Redmi Pro , all had similar features and options available. For a Flagship, I was expecting more… What you find on the other Midranger handset from Xiaomi, you also a clone copy of that on their Flagships.

The Camera UI in particular was a bit disappointing, It is limited in terms of features and seems to be a bit basic. I was expecting more considering it had the new SOnyIMX378 Sensor.

Gorgeous Display

Xiaomi has never let me down when it comes to great Screens. And the Mi5s still continues that. I am actually loving the smaller 5.15 inch Display with a 1080p resolution. Honestly, it feels much better holding it, I can use the phone one handed. The number of pixels is simply astounding, and at close up, you can clearly see how vibrant the colors and  deep the contrast is. There is no tinting, sunlight legibility is also acceptable  and the colors maintain even on extreme angles. The touch screen is also very responsive and I did not notice any weird touch inconsistencies.

Great camera performance especially on good lighting

On my short use of the camera, I did notice that HDR (High Dynamic Range) works great and actually the colors and images look a lot better with it turned on. The Camera Sensor has a f2.0 Aperture and can go as high as 3200 ISO, which might not be a lot but it still can get pretty good pictures. It also has PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), focus is fast and also works on Video.

Why no OIS on 4K… Why?

Perhaps my biggest complaint of the Xiaomi Mi5s is the lack of OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) on 4K video. You absolutely need a tripod to help in stability. Even holding the phone steady, the video is still shaky. Although you can downgrade to 1080p, and here EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) is now available. I don’t know what happened to Xiaomi, because the first Mi5 (Standard), did have OIS on 4K.

Correction: no OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), only EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization which is available only on 1080p. No EIS on 4K

Low light shots is OK

On low light, you can clearly see noise, but Image Quality is still very acceptable. The level of detail is still good even with limited lighting. 1080p Video also works well on low light compared to the 4K.

Front Facing camera, video blogging anyone?

The Front facing camera can take good pictures, and video is also very fluid at 720p HD. However, it is limited in terms of features. You only have 3 shooting modes available.

Audio Output from the Camera? Nah…

The Audio Output from the Camera is really not that great, it has a low bit rate and the Audio Quality is average at best. But this is also true on most Xiaomi Phones at I have tested this year.

 

All Aluminum Alloy build

One particularly big change from the previous Mi5 is the All Aluminum Alloy design. And frankly, I prefer it over glass, it isn’t anymore a fingerprint magnet and slippery. Meaning, I can hold the phone perfect one handed without worrying about it slipping.

Weird Bug on the Fingerprint Scanner…

Honestly, I prefer a home button where you can actually push and has a Fingerprint Scanner feature also embedded, that is why I did use the Xiaomi Redmi Pro more as my daily driver. The Fingerprint Scanner, I rated it at just 7 out of 10 because of a weird bug. It is accurate now, but after a couple of days, it looses accuracy and sometimes, it doesn’t recognize anymore. You can solve this by making a new one, but this is more of a hassle…

TDD LTE 4G…

Sadly, I wasn’t able to test the 4G LTE performance, because this model only has TDD-LTE 4G Frequencies, which is available in China only

Fast and Stable WiFi, really good

The range on the WiFi is great, and I did not experience any connection issues even when I am far away from an access point. I still get good signal strength.

9 hours and 21 minutes battery life, according to PCMark

PCMark gave it a pretty good battery life, and I have to agree. I am currently using it as a daily driver and on my casual use, I only need to change it at night, because the battery can stand the whole day of use. Of course, this doesn’t include heavy gaming and the brightness should be set to around 50%.

It has USB Type C Port with Qualcomms Quick Charging support, you can fully charge it in just 90 mins.

Here is also a link to affordable Flagships that are still powerful. Click here

Pros of the Xiaomi Mi5s (SUMMARY)

  • Overall premium build and design, expect for the Volume Rocker and Power button
  • Light weight, Portable and can easily be used one handed
  • Great performance (basing on benchmarks, highest result of Antutu), signify significant boost of performance
  • Fast UFS (Universal Flash Storage) – Read: 375 Mb/s and Write speeds: 75 Mb/s
  • No Thermal Throttling, runs cool even on heavy use
  • One of the best 1080p Display I have tested, Vibrant colors, no tinting, maintains colors even on extreme angles, and the touch sensitivity is accurate.
  • MIUI 8.2 Global ROM (few bloatwares installed in the system)
  • The 12 MP camera takes amazing still shots, 4K video is also good with tripod use and 1080p supports EIS
  • Fast and Stable WiFi (Dual Band WiFi support)
  • Supports NFC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Good Audio Quality from the loudspeakers
  • 3.5mm Headphone great Audio Quality and supports Mi Enhancer and Equalizer (no static)
  • Almost 10 hours of battery life on casual use
  • Quick Charging support, Charges fully in just 90 mins.

Cons:

  • Personally, the performance boost is mainly for benchmarks, there are still stutters sometimes and the overall OS is a bit of a Memory Hog.
  • No App Draw
  • No Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) 4K recording, only EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) on 1080p
  • The Camera UI hasn’t changed, from the midrange Smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Pro (identical)
  • Limited in Shooting modes
  • Underutilized Camera Sensor (limited features)
  • Weird issues on the Fingerprint Scanner (Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes it’s not)
  • Camera Audio Output is not that good (only 16 bit at 96kbps)
  • No MicroSD Card Support

Availability? Xiaomi Mi5s (3+64gb) retails at $265 (valid until Oct 14)

You may be interested: Flash or Limited Time Sales (updated)

Conclusion: I feel the new Camera Sensor was underused. I mean, it had great potential

Actually, I was looking more on the camera on reviewing this Phone. Because I knew, the performance of the new Snapdragon 821 would not hold a lot of breakthroughs, except for maybe on benchmarks. Honestly, the SonyIMX378 is great, both in good light and low light. Probably I will make a video on a more comprehensive look at it. One of the biggest blunders I think is the lack of OIS on 4K. I mean, without OIS, the video quality is totally unusable. You can downgrade to 1080p and get a much better and stable shot with EIS but the obvious lack of OIS is a big headturner. Xiaomi could have improved or might as well make the camera the best feature of the Smartphone.

Is it Worth to upgrade to the Mi5s?

Considering the pricing, I think no, but when the price goes down, I think it is a good choice. The Camera is actually really good, however it is also a bit underutilized, it lacks features, and probably the biggest head turner is the lack of OIS or Optical Image Stabilization on 4K. Although EIS is there on 1080p, which is proving to be quite promising. Performance is also not that different compared to the older Gen Snapdragon 820, despite and increase on Benchmark scores, it isn’t really noticeable on real world use, and I had identical gaming experience. Adreno 530 and Snapdragon 820/821 is still on top of the Chipset market, and considering the apps currently available. It can handle most of it without any issues. I think you should stick to the old Mi5 which is cheaper and has OIS for 4K (but different Camera Sensor). Or you could choose other more affordable and Budget friendly flagships available, which don’t offer really that good of a camera compared to the Mi5s but still is great in terms of performance.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Samll error in your review… Mi5S does not have OIS on 1080p but EIS. OIS is hardware, EIS is software based stabilization…

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