Xiaomi Mi5S Review (In-Depth Video Review)

Xiaomi Mi 5S Review

Xiaomi Mi5S Review (In-Depth Video Review)

The Mi5S I would say is one step forward and two back from the Mi5, why? Well, the build quality is slightly better thanks to the more solid feeling full alloy unibody (No more glass rear) But the Mi5S while it gains a new fingerprint reader, faster chipset, NFC and new 12MP Sony IM378 sensor (Same as the Google Pixel)  it loses optical image stabilization. Which I believe is a must for any flagship mobile. Without it 4k video is super shaky and really needs a tripod, 1080p on the other hand, does at least have decent digital image stabilization which smooths out the shakes.

The rest of the mobile is great, very quick, thanks to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, fast UFS 2.0 storage and 1080p screen means it handles everything with ease including the most demanding 3D games. Battery life is slightly better, with a PCMark 7 rating of 9 hours and 59 minutes. A good hour more than the Mi5. In real world use that equates to about 30 minutes more run time. Not much as the battery is only 200mAh’s larger which is nothing.

The 5.15″ screen is the same as the Mi5’s, great colors, blacks and brightness topping out at 650 lux make it viewable in direct sunlight. But we still have that ugly black border around the screen. Xiaomi cleverly uses wallpapers with black backgrounds or edges to try to hide this fact and make it look bezel-less.

It ships with MIUI 8 which is running on top of Android 6.0.1, the ROM had plenty of Chinese bloatware, lucky I could remove most of it and had to of course install Google Play, since my version doesn’t have the Mi5S global ROM. It’s very quick and snappy the phone, not once did I experience any lag or stutter, this thing is lightning quick.

The fingerprint reader works just fine, 9 out of 10 times. And now being buttonless (No physical button to press) it should, in the long run, be more reliable.  It also works when your finger is damp or wet where others would struggle to rear your fingerprint.

Now the new Sony IMX378 sensor is one of the best according to DXOMark’s review of the Googles Pixel which uses the same sensor, funnily enough, it also lacks OIS and uses DIS. But I found that low light image performance to be disappointing and to touch again on video quality the focus often has lock issues (Focus breathing) and bitrates used aren’t up to spec. Audio, for example is only recorded at 96kbps whereas the Note 7 and Galaxy S7 use 256kbps. At least it’s in stereo and not mono like the iPhone’s.

Here are some video samples directly uploaded from the phone zero editing.


12MP IM378 Image samples used in the video review:

4k Mi 5S Video Sample451 MiB479
MI5 S Review Original Photos From Review36.3 MiB786
Xiaomi Mi 5S 1080p DIS Enabled Video Sample164 MiB352

As you can see daytime still look great, but there is color clipping and lots of over saturation of the flowers. The details of the wood on the macro shot are excellent. Low light however, doesn’t look as good. It’s the low light and video performance where the Mi 5S really disappoints. Even losing out to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ in this comparison below.

Xiaomi Mi5S Benchmarks:

The lack of MicroSD support is also a deal breaker for some. At least now 64GB is the lowest option and 128GB being the highest. The 128GB version also has 3D Touch, similar to that of the iPhone 6s.

So if you’re looking for a new phone the Mi5S ticks all boxes, just not the camera performance, not for a flagship. Xiaomi has a lot of work to do on the software optimization as we know the hardware is there (IMX 378) but it’s just so poorly optimized. It’s about time their camera guys were given a huge shake up, maybe a new they should hire some ex Samsung or Apple camera software techs to step up their game as they are clearly lagging behind so much!

Where to buy the Xiaomi Mi 5S:

Gearbest | Aliexpress (Seller used for this unit)

Video tech reviewer and tech blogger. I have a huge interest in the latest tech, tablets, laptops, mobiles, drones, and even e-scooters. Active in the tech community since 2008 days of the Omnia i900 Windows phone. Samsungi8910omnia.com, Samsunggalaxysforums.com founder from way back.


  1. Hi
    Xiaomi Mi 5s
    excellent Picture in Dark place
    manual Setting iso 100 Free Noise



    Please Update review

  2. Hi Chris
    First of all good job on a detailed review, and one of the earlier ones for Mi 5S too!
    I have always liked your reviews for gadgets out of China

    Here I have a question regarding the camera on the Mi 5S. Do you think that the picture quality will improve by either side-loading the Pixel’s camera app, or by flashing a custom ROM in the future (i.e. ported Pixel ROMS), as you said in your post the hardware potential is there.
    Thank you

  3. Your review is so good.
    Please 1.explain about display and quality…?
    2.if you can compare camera with Google pixel, it would be very nice.

  4. Can you install Google Play on it? Or have to wait for international ROM for it?

    • You can install Google play, just google “Mi5 google play installer v2” and that apk you move to your MicroSD and run it to install play store.

  5. Band20 ?
    maybe with an upcoming international version?

    • Does the Snapdragon 821 not have band 20? I thought it did. I thought it was the MediaTek ones that always lacked it.

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