The Mi 5 was released over a year ago and even though the Mi 6 is also available, Xiaomi continued the tradition by releasing the X variant, the Mi 5X. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 625 which is also used in the Redmi Note 4, Redmi 4 Prime and Mi Max 2. What makes it different is the USB 2.0 Type C port and dual cameras.
Design and Build Quality
The design looks pretty much similar to the Mi 5C with flat rounded edges. It also has chamfered edges that bring a nice shine to the metal body. On the back the antenna bands are curved towards the edge to give a cleaner look. It’s still manageable to use it one handed but it’s a little slippery so get a case if possible.
As always, it comes with 2.5D glass that is mounted on a piece of plastic, resting on the chassis. The fingerprint sensor placement is just about right, where my index finger is placed naturally. Power button can be reached easily but personally I found the volume rocker to be a little too high. The buttons are also made of metal, feels very tactile and have a nice feedback.
The camera is protruding and it’s going to rock flat on the table. My only worry is that the glass on the camera will get scratched without a case.
There is a single speaker grill on the right of the Type C port and it’s pretty loud at maximum volume. I wished it had dual stereo speakers though. The headphone jack is on the left and it comes with the standard equaliser and sound enhancer settings. The button behaviour can also be changed.
To the left of the proximity sensor is the LED lights. It’s a pity there isn’t any color options like the other models. At least give some basic colors would be nice.
Coming from Xiaomi, the Mi 5X feels pretty solid and premium. Only thing is that the design is pretty repetitive throughout their budget lineup and It can be quite confusing for the average users.
Hardware and Display
The display is sharp for the 5.5 inch 1080p screen and 401 PPI is still quite the norm for most smartphones. The colors on Xiaomi’s display are usually quite vibrant in my opinion and there is the usual colors and contrast setting to change it to your liking. It’s also bright enough to use in direct sunlight at maximum brightness. It’s also nice to see the black border is also pretty minimal.
Viewing angles are as expected with little loss of detail but some brightness will be lost. The capacitive buttons are backlit and customizations can be done like long press behaviour and disable buttons when certain apps are running.
The fingerprint sensor unlock speed is quick and accurate. It’s also always active and will work even if the screen is off.
There are 2 variants of the Mi 5x, 32/64 GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. It has around 53GB free storage from the box for the 64GB version. It also has support for micro SD card up to 128GB in SIM slot 2. As this phone supports dual SIM, you can only choose either dual SIM or single SIM with micro SD card. USB OTG is also supported using my Type C thumbdrive.
Talking about dual SIM, both are compatible with 4G but only 1 can be LTE at any one time and the other will be 3G. There is also VoLTE setting and the option to select SIM card for calls and SMS.
There is an IR blaster at the top for controlling home devices using the Mi Remote app.
Software and Performance
Having used some Xiaomi phones with the Snapdragon 625, benchmark scores are pretty similar. Antutu scored 63223 and GeekBench scored 869 for single core and 4217 on multicore. I can safely say the performance is good and the Mi 5X is no exception.
Gaming on the Mi 5X was great and I tested with Galaxy on Fire and Naval Creed. Graphics looks nice with no stuttering. Loading screen does take a little longer to load but nothing too severe. This phone should be able to take on most current games and probably newer games in future.
Like the Mi Max 2, typing quickly on the search bar at the settings page had some input lags. I’m pretty sure it’s the OS so I’m hoping Xiaomi will fix this. Other than that, the UI is pretty fluid and smooth. With the 4GB of RAM, multitasking shouldn’t be an issue and I didn’t need to close apps at all.
Depending on location, network bars was around max most of the time. Calls sounded clear on both ends without any drop calls. Network speeds on both cellular and WiFi was fast enough for use both indoors and outdoors.
The Xiaomi Mi 5X is running China ROM MIUI 8.5 on top of Android 7.1.2. As this phone is still relatively new, no official global ROM has been released yet. There won’t be any Google apps installed so you will need to install them yourself. I used the same method for Xiaomi Mi 6 for installing Google Apps.
The Themes app allow you to change the UI with themes, wallpapers ringtones and fonts. Scanner app uses the camera to open up features like Shopping mode where you snap a photo of a product and it uses Taobao to do an image search and displays the relevant product. Translate is where you scan a word or phrase and it translates it on the fly.
The Security app is a one stop place for security and maintenance of the phone. It has Cleaner for cleaning up junk files, Blocklist for calls or sms, managing permissions for individual apps and also virus scanning. App Lock is for locking your apps with a password to protect and prevent unauthorized access.
On the home screen, tap and hold on an empty space to add widgets and change animation effect. Swiping left on the home screen also brings up Smart Assistant with app shortcuts and card notifications. App shortcuts can be changed and you can select different cards to display. Smart Assistant and be turned off in settings if you prefer.
The dropdown shade can be changed to show toggles and cards together or separately. Behaviour for individual app notifications can also be changed. Lock screen shortcuts for both left and right can be disabled or changed to launch certain apps.
2nd space creates another separate workspace where documents, photos and apps can be shared between each other and it’s like having 2 different devices in 1 phone. Dual App duplicates compatible apps where it runs independently from each other.
Other useful functions are Reading mode, Do Not Disturb, Double tap to wake, Quick ball, One Handed mode, compass and FM Radio.
The 3080mAh battery is small compared to the Redmi 4 which is smaller in size yet bigger. I expected more since the Redmi Note 4 also has similar size yet still able to pack in a 4100 battery. With the Snapdragon 625 which is more power efficient, battery life will be able to last a full day. Screen on time varied between 5-7 hours for my usage.
My day usually lasts around 10-12 hours, using the phone at 75% brightness, connected to 4G outside and WiFi at home. My usage is the common stuff like web surfing, calls, messaging Youtube, some gaming and I will have around 20–40% battery life each day.
Even though the Snapdragon 625 supports Quick Charge 3.0, it isn’t supported on the Mi 5X. It took around 2.5 hours – 3 hours to fully charge from 0-100% with the supplied charger rated 5V/2A.
There is the battery saver mode that monitor background processes and turn off sync with the ability to create schedule. You can also set battery drain and heating alerts.
The Mi 5X comes with dual 12MP Wide angle and telephoto camera capable of taking portrait photos. There is also Beautify, Panorama and HHT (Hand Held Twilight) for night shots. Camera filters can be accessed using the triple circle icon. Press the volume down twice to quickly launch the camera.
Day shots has mostly been quite good for Xiaomi phones with colors being bright and saturated. HDR will brighten up photos depending on the point of focus. Night shots are generally grainy and noisy. HDR will brighten photos a little but I still couldn’t see a major difference for HHT.
Manual focus is quick but I couldn’t get the auto focus to work correctly for photo mode. Macro shots need to be more than 20cm away to be able to focus. Optical zoom is up to 10x but it will definitely get blurry at this level. It also boasts 2x optical lossless zoom which is pretty accurate.
In Manual mode, there are settings to change like White Balance, Focus, Exposure time, ISO and also wide or tele lens. There is no OIS on the Mi 5X so expect footages to be shaky and you can record up to 4K resolution. Time Lapse and Slowmotion mode are also available.
Xiaomi’s front facing camera is usually good for selfies with Beautify tool switched on.
The dual camera setup sounds great but personally I feel it doesn’t perform as well as the Mi 6. The battery life is good but the capacity should have been bigger compared to its counter parts and they could have put in a better processor. This phone feels neither here nor there and there is no wow factor in the Mi 5X. Overall it’s a good phone by itself but easily over shadowed by its siblings.