Xiaomi has a reputation for making good phones at incredible prices. That’s never been more true than with the new Mi 5, a phone with specs to compete with the iPhone or Galaxy S7—but which costs, comparatively, peanuts. Too bad you probably won’t be able to buy one.
Xiaomi’s clearly put some effort into making the new Mi look good. It’s got a premium feel, with metallic edges that are reminiscent of the Galaxy S6 Edge. Hardly surprising, given the company has a track record of borrowing design elements from pricier competitors.
The body itself is made from a highly polished ceramic material, with a slightly curved back which makes it comfortable to hold. The bezel is hardly noticeable, and you can reach most of the screen with your thumb—the phone feels very thin, partly because the body tapers towards the edges.
Under the hood there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, the same processor that’s used in the new Galaxy S7 and LG G5. There’s also 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM. It’s hard to tell how the phone will perform in the wild after just playing with it for a few minutes, but based on what we saw, there’s no lag—the device was responsive the whole time.
And then there’s the display. Oh, the display. It’s awesome: 5.15 inches of beautiful FullHD IPS panel, which looks easily as good as the one on the Galaxy S7.
On the back there’s a 16-megapixel camera, and the front-facing camera has 4 megapixel sensor. Again, it’s hard to judge after just a few minutes, but the images it captured looked good—though probably not as good as the ones you’d capture with an iPhone 6s or a Galaxy S7. There’s 4-axis stabilization in there too—the iPhone, for reference, uses just 3 axes—but some of the photos we took were still blurry if we moved the device a little more than usual.
Xiaomi sells its devices at close to cost, so this phone will go on sale in China for ¥2600 for the high-end model and ¥1999 for a more basic version. That’s just $350 and $260 respectively—incredibly cheap for a phone that can compete with the iPhone or Galaxy S7.
Sadly, it probably won’t come to the US—not least because of the legal problems it would probably face for shamelessly ripping companies like Apple and Samsung. But you might be able to find one on eBay, if you’re desperate for a slice of Mi.