Monday, January 23, 2017

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:

  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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


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,

About screen
after a system update

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 (

The outline on this page was what worked (Method 1: System Update),

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

BTW, Android Pay still does not work.

Before / After

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.

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