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 for comparative 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 for borrowing design cues.
The body itself is made from a highly polished ceramic material, with a slightly curved back which makes it comfortable to hold. There's not a great deal in the way of bezel — you can reach most of the screen with your thumb — and it also feels very thin, partly because of the taper at the edge.
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 were no UI lags — the device was responsive the whole time.
And then there's the display. Oh, the display. It's awesome: 5.15 inches of beautiful full-HD IPS panel, one that looks easily as good as the one in the Galaxy S7.
On the back there's a 16 megapixel f2.0 camera, and at the front a 4 megapixel sensor with the same aperture. 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 OIS stabilisation in there too — the iPhone, as reference, uses just 3 axes — but some of the photos we took were still blurred 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 RMB2600 for the high-end model and RMB1999 for a more basic version. That's just $US350 ($486 in Australia) and $US260 ($361 in Australia) respectively — incredibly cheap for a phone that can compete with the iPhone or Galaxy S7.
Sadly, it probably won't come to the US or to Australia — 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.