Xiaomi Mi5



I got the Xiaomi Mi5 on ebay ($299.99 = $430AUD). On first impression, it looks good. Google Play Store worked fine. The phone feels like a Samsung Galaxy S6, with some improvements, like USB-C.

Other than the phone being awesome and me getting 99% of my favorite miracles, here is what I've noticed:


SOFTWARE
 
HARDWARE
mood_bad
  • No Android 7
  • No Google Pay
  • Some Google apps that seem to be only available on Nexus/Pixel devices, which is expected to be fair
  • Cannot disable built-in apps, like SMS messenger (I use Hangouts) and gmail (I use Inbox)
mood_bad
  • I happen to prefer the fingerprint reader on the back for better grip, and leaving the front glass uninterrupted
  • Not Daydream VR ready
  • Only one external speaker, but it does pack a punch
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  • Pay Pass via HCE: you can install your bank's NFC pay app in lieu of Google Pay (important: install the app, and add a card, disregard any previous card on the app from an earlier install as payments are likely to fail as they did for me)
  • The built-in camera app has quick access to exposure in manual mode. HHT is like HDR but seems faster.
  • I like the built-in Clock app better than by Google
  • There is Mi Cloud sync if you want an alternative to Google (if geopolitics is a bother)
  • Nice UI Buttons (Settings / Additional Settings / Buttons options): 1) Volum Up for silence camera snaps or video, 2) screen shop via three finger down swipe gesture
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  • IR remote control capable, with built in app!
  • The cameras are awesome! No shutter lag!
  • I have full confidence in the Snapdragon 820 SoC (Lite version, slightly under clocked but for a fraction of the price of the other flagship, and still full featured) that powers it all
  • USB C w Fast Charging, even charges pretty fast over regular high amp charger

CONCLUSION ...

The Mi phone has numerous annoying quirks, as most brands do, but everything seems to work really well as a package. I appreciate the highly regarded reputation of Mi (via episodic anecdote run-ins including a talk by Clay Shirky where he indicates that what Mi is doing to Samsung is what Samsung did to iPhone). My overall experience is very positive -- the Mi5 is a flagship. On top of that, what you get for the price is a GREAT DEAL, and I love it! I would recommend Mi to any sensible person.




Home screen,
Out Of The Box

About screen,
OOTB

About screen
after a system update



mi.com/en/mi5
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaomi



23 May 2017
After too many frustrating attempts trying to get a newer version of MIUI, today met with success!

It is really quite simple when it works. I now believe that an earlier ROM was just not ready, but the current one works without fuss (miui_MI5Global_V8.2.2.0.NAAMIEB_b03a4b93ba_7.0.zip).

The outline on this page was what worked (Method 1: System Update), http://en.miui.com/a-232.html

The main benefits are: an upgrade from Android 6 to Android 7; and security updates.

BTW, Android Pay still does not work.


Before / After


Update:
It had only been 8 months since I got the Mi5, but it feels like the landscape had changed so much. Since switching away from a Google phone I've been missing out on Updates, Google Pay, Android Auto, and flagship VR.

Update:
25 Sep 2017
Updated miui from stable to dev version, hoping for frequent updates. Android Pay seems to work now. Android Auto seems to work now, with a better cable and a bit of fighting to get it to work.

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