Xiaomi Mi 5 launches today: Here’s how you can buy one

Xiaomi launches the Mi 5 today at 11am, 2pm, 5pm during the Mi Fan Festival, equipped with the first Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor in India.

Xiaomi sticks with its strategy of undercutting global giants like Samsung and Apple with a retail price of Rs 24,999 for the Mi 5.
The Indian variant of the Mi 5 comes with 32GB of inbuilt memory, 3GB of RAM and a 3D Glass back.
Other noteworthy specifications are: a 16-megapixel camera front camera with 4-axis (OIS), a 5.15-inch screen with a Full HD resolution (1080×1920) and a front fingerprint sensor. Although the smartphone is expected to black, white and gold colour options, currently only a white colour option can be seen on the official website.

Xiaomi has announced no plans to release the Mi 5 in either market, as the phone maker continues to focus on core developing markets such as its home turf of China—where it was 2015’s best-selling smartphone brand—and India. And yet the company keeps sending its flagship phones to reviewers like me, prompting stories about how the Mi 5 is a great phone you can’t buy.

True, the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a very nice phone that doesn’t cost very much—the 64 GB model I tried sells for around $350 in the countries where it’s available—but the price-to-performance ratio isn’t exactly what makes the Mi 5 noteworthy. There are plenty of quality budget phones already, including ones you can actually buy in the United States. What sets the Mi 5 apart is how it aspires to be part of something bigger.

The MIUI software reskins Android to be a bit more like iOS.
First, let’s talk about the phone itself. The Mi 5 is a conversation-starter, at least in my experience. People see the aluminum trim and curved white glass back and want to know what they’re looking at—a rare quality for a sub-$400 phone.

The Mi 5 excels at more than just looks. It’s also fast at opening, closing, and moving through apps, thanks to a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 3 GB of RAM. Xiaomi didn’t skimp on the display, which easily rivals my iPhone 6 Plus in terms of maximum brightness and viewing angles, and offering more pristine whites and vibrant colors to my eye.

The phone has a classy curved-glass back
The Mi 5 also has a few other noteworthy embellishments, such as the reversible USB-C charging port, and a fingerprint sensor built into the home button. (The sensor unlocks the phone in a snap, but requires a bit more finger repositioning than iPhone and Nexus phone fingerprint readers.) Despite the Mi 5’s slim build and impressive performance, Xiaomi managed to squeeze in a 3,000 mAh battery, which never failed to get me through the day.

If there’s one noticeable drawback on the hardware side, it’s the camera, which struggles with motion shots. (Many an attempt at photographing my toddler were lost to blurriness.) Even so, the Mi 5 does better than your average mid-range phone. The 16MP shooter takes gorgeous still shots in sunlight, and provides reasonably bright indoor shots without using flash. It helps that the camera uses phase-detection auto-focus to quickly lock onto faces.

On the software side, the Mi 5 ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. But Xiaomi, like most other phone makers, has decided to bulk it up with a custom interface, in this case called MIUI.

The extra layer isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the home screen is more akin to iOS than Android, with no app drawer for stowing away less frequently used apps, it still supports widgets, and offers a clever way to bulk-move apps across screens or into folders.