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Xiaomi Mi 5 Reviewed

For a company which no one knows where it came it from, there’s an astonishing amount of buzz around Xiaomi in SA’s tech scene. The Chinese firm has made a name for itself with surprisingly well-specified phones at impressively competitive prices, and the Xiaomi Mi 5 is shaping up to be no different.

Somehow, Xiaomi has managed to cherry-pick some of the latest components on the market despite the budget price tag. So, you get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 – also found in the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5, you might recall – and at least 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage.

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You might expect, then, that Xiaomi had cut its corners elsewhere to keep those costs low, and it’s fair to say that the entry-level plastic Mi 5 lacks the premium, metal-bodied feel of a flagship from its better-known rivals. There’s a little metal trim, but mostly the phone feels as light as its 129 grams on the scale would suggest. As a result, you could well find it a little on the cheap side, though you might be grateful after carrying it in your pocket all day.

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Either way, you get a 16-megapixel camera using Sony’s latest IMX298 sensor, 4-axis image stabilization, a physical home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader, and a 3,000 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.

In fact, the only blips for spec-hounds are probably going to be the lack of a microSD slot, and the display. It’s not small, at 5.3-inches, and the IPS LCD screen looks great, but the resolution is 1080p Full HD where rivals have already gone higher.

Pixels aren’t everything, though – frankly to my eyes the IPS panel Xiaomi is using is fantastic, and I particularly like the wafer-thin bezels on the left and right – and in all the Mi 5 feels very cohesive and thought-through.

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Even MIUI 7, Huawei’s customized version of Android, feels more polished than ever before. Yes, there are still patches which feel like they swerve a little closer to iOS than you’d imagine Apple’s lawyers would be comfortable with, and some of the preloaded themes are more tasteful than others, but MIUI has a wide-ranging fanbase and they’re nothing if not prolific with their modifications.

The lingering question many are asking after reading all of this is “when will I actually be able to buy one?” and that, you probably won’t be surprised to hear, the device is already available and has been for the past 4 months at selected retailers at a recommended R7 999

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.