MWC 2016: Samsung be warned: Xiaomi Mi5 is a hypercheap, beautiful phone with incredible specs

Many people won’t have heard of Xiaomi. Others might know it’s a brand that’s been making waves in Asia, selling phones with amazing specs for low prices – and it’s just created something even more impressive with the Xiaomi Mi5.

While the smartphone industry is close to plateau in terms of necessary specs, Xiaomi’s new flagship has taken some of the best bits of the smartphone world and stuffed them into a 7.25mm handset.

There’s a 3000mAh battery, 16MP camera (using a Sony sensor with 0.3 sec autofocus) the latest Snapdragon 820 CPU and 4GB of DDR4 RAM.

The 5.15-inch display (with a presumably 1080p screen, although the brand didn’t outline this during the announcement) has been stretched to the edges of the handset to make the device fit in the hand better.

Curved in the right places

The Xiaomi Mi5 has the same curved back that we’ve seen on the new Galaxy S7 (although Xiaomi was first to use the technique on its Mi Note last year) to help it sit better in the palm, and comes in black, white and gold, with a ceramic version available too.

Curiously for a brand that’s so spec-heavy (Hugo Barra, global VP for Xiaomi spent a large portion of the press conference going into detail about each component), there’s no removable battery or microSD slot – you’ll be able to buy it in 32GB (with a low-speed CPU and 3GB RAM), 64GB and 128GB variants to get your storage fill.

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The Mi5 is running the brand’s own MIUI 7, which sits on top of Android M, and will get weekly software updates to bring in new features and tweaks.

But let’s get to the main element: the price. It’s coming in at RMB 2699 for the top of the range 128GB with 4GB of RAM and ceramic back version (around $350 / £300 / AU$575), down to RMB 1999 ($305 / £220 / AU$425) for the 32GB option.

The Xiaomi release date has been set for March 1 in China, with global markets following soon (including India). Therein lies the rub for the Mi5 announcement: the brand has been rather locked to Asia since its beginnings, and has had limited shipping to Western countries.

That said, this press conference is the first Xiaomi has conducted on European soil, so perhaps things are changing there. However, the price might not stay as low in other countries, so it’s worth bearing that in mind before you ditch your current phone for the impressive-sounding, and impressive-looking, Mi5.

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