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 Sample||450.5 MiB||240|
|MI5 S Review Original Photos From Review||36.3 MiB||463|
|Xiaomi Mi 5S 1080p DIS Enabled Video Sample||163.9 MiB||198|
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: