Xiaomi Mi5C is the first smartphone with a Xiaomi Pinecone Surge S1 octa-core processor. Since Xiaomi tries to get as much as they can out of the Mi5 series, there is already a Mi5 Pro, Mi5s and Mi5s Plus, with all the different storage sizes and processor speeds. Having a look at the specs, the Mi5C seems to be a step backwards in terms of interior potential. However, specs do not say everything about a phone, so we will see more in the following review. Presenting Mi5C, Xiaomi wants to give you a flagship feeling with a price tag of about 200$.
Background and problems
One year ago Xiaomi lost a lot of market shares in China as well as in India. Due to this Oppo and Vivo were able to sell more smartphones than Xiaomi in the last quarter of the year. To cope with this, Xiaomi floods the market with different smartphones in the premium as well as in the low-budget class, like Mi5s, Mi5s Plus, Mi Note 2, Redmi 4a, Redmi 4X and so on. The real masterpieces are only Redmi 4 Prime and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Xiaomi’s business concept to offer good smartphones for little money is a simple one and is now getting copied by other manufacturers. Xiaomi Mi6 then was created according to the business concept; such a strong hardware for such a low price is hardly to be copied by any other manufacturer. With its homemade CPU Xiaomi now complements its own operating system MIUI and shows power on the international market.
Design and build quality
As we expected the Mi5C is a very slim (7.2mm) and very light (135g) smartphone. They added two shiny plastic stripes to the aluminum body, which for me looks pretty unpleasing. I would have liked the usual small antenna lines better. Even though the plastic has a good feel, I would have wished for the same color as it was used for the body. Holding the phone in your hand it gives you a high-quality feel and the aluminum body secures a good grip. Power button and volume control are firmly attached and are made out of metal.
Mi5C’s front looks very much alike the Xiaomi Mi5, due to the identical home button, which can be accompanied by two Android sensor keys that are illuminated with one dot each. Also you can choose a one-button mode in the settings that deactivates the soft-touch buttons on the left and right of the home button. With this setting the home button has the backwards function when touching it and it opens the multitasking overview when tapping it twice.
There is a notification LED that pulses in different colors. The china phone supports dual SIM, however there is no storage expansion just alike to all the devices out of the Mi series. However, they compensate for this lack with 3/64GB of memory, if that is enough space for you. All in all the Xiaomi Mi5C is a compact, attractive and nicely built phone that lies comfortably in your hand.
Xiaomi Mi5C display
The display simply has it all. Xiaomi Mi5C’s display is made by the Japanese joint-venture JDI and offers razor sharp 428pixels per inch. The bezels are slim with only 2mm. The great contrast for an IPS display, a precise color representation as well as a good outdoor readability make the display a gem and the 10-point touch screen and the smooth surface that melts into the metal frame give the phone its finish. This display can compete with all the flagships recently on the market.
Performance and OS
With the help of benchmarks we could place the Xiaomi Surge S1 CPU somewhere between the Snapdragon 617 and the Snapdragon 625. There are 8 cortex-A53 cores that clock at 4×2.2GHz and 4×1.4GHz. The Mali-T860 GPU has 4 cores and can handle even graphically demanding games. The system runs as smoothly as usual without any lags.
The homemade Surge S1 processor can convince not only concerning the system but also in terms of gaming. Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 5 and NOVA 3 run smoothly with only occasional jerks. Even after one hour of gaming the temperature did not pass 35°C, so the heat management is also fine. Writing and reading speed of the internal storage are not so fast with 122/90 MB/s (EMMC 5.0), the RAM however can convince with 7.2GB/s. The system runs as smoothly as you will expect from MIUI. The browser’s performance is good, but not as good as we had in other Xiaomi devices, e.g. Redmi Note 4X. However Surge 1 makes a promising impression. If Xiaomi would use this chip in the low budget segment, I would be giddy with excitement. For 200$ this performance is appropriate, but not extraordinarily great, as it is for example with the Redmi 4 Prime.
Operating system MIUI V8
Xiaomi Mi5C is recently only sold in China and the Chinese ROM is delivered without Playstore. In general, this is not a problem since it can be installed afterwards as well. However, also the 3G net cannot be used with the Chinese stable-ROM. Therefore, you have to do an unlock first and to install the Xiaomi.EU ROM with TWRP. This one can be updated manually each week and has a lot of adaptations for Europe, as the Google Play services. The Xiaomi.EU ROM is based on Android 7.1 with MIUI V8.3. The system runs fluently, but not as fast as with a Mi5 or a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X.
Xiaomi Mi5C houses a 12 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture with a pixel size of 1.25μm. This is not as big as the Mi5s’ but Xiaomi promises good night shots and high-class HDR images with the Mi5C. HDR shots turn out pretty well, however with night shots the ISO value is turned up very high so the images are affected by image noise.
In good light the shots with Xiaomi Mi5C are sharp and autofocus works fast and precisely. The pictures can even convince in terms of detail and colors. You can make videos in 4K, however only with 24 FPS. The autofocus reacts very slowly in videos. The 8 megapixel selfie cam produces really nice pictures so that selfie lovers can be satisfied.
Xiaomi used a 2860mAh battery with 9V/2A quick charge. Here we were surprised in a positive way by the small 2860mAh battery. Xiaomi Mi5c made it through a solid 6.45 hours in the PC Mark battery test and also in daily use it lasted for one day. The display-on time was about 4-5 hours. Quick charge worked with the delivered adapter as well as with a standard Qualcomm QC 3.0 adapter without any problems. You get 30% battery every 15 minutes (between 10% and 90%). Still, the battery life is worse than with all other Xiaomi devices.
Connectivity and communication
When delivered Xiaomi Mi5C neither supports 3G nor 4G internet. With a simple trick you can activate the necessary 3G and 4G bands. With the Xiaomi.EU ROM (based on the Xiaomi DEV-ROM) also surfing in 3G was possible. Internet reception was always strong and stable. You can also make phone calls in good quality with the Mi5C.
HintYet, 3G only works with the Xiaomi DEV-ROM or the Xiaomi.EU ROM. You also have to execute the following steps:
1) Insert *#*#1#*#* in your phone
2) select TEL_Assistant
4) select Telephony
5) select Radio Access Tec
6) activate 5 Mode
Xiaomi Mi5C supports the following frequencies:
GSM 900 MHz, GSM 1800 MHz, GSM 1900 MHz, LTE-TDD 1900 MHz (B39), LTE-TDD 2300 MHz (B40), LTE-TDD 2500 MHz (B41), LTE-TDD 2600 MHz (B38)
Even the internal speaker can convince with its good volume and clear sound up to maximum volume. With the 3.5mm audio jack you get acceptable sound quality with middle class earphones.
The further equipment comprises a dual band WiFi module (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with ac standard, Bluetooth 4.1 and an infrared sensor. The phone also supports fm radio with connected earphones. Mi5C finds your position within a few seconds with a precision of 5-6m. Car navigation worked without any flaws in the daily use as well as pedestrian navigation. Here you are additionally supported by a compass. Apart from the three standard sensors (acceleration, proximity and brightness sensor), there is also a gyroscope sensor.
* Incl. VAT and, if applicable, delivery costs – subject to interim changes.