Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus Review
Last September, Xiaomi announced the Mi 5s Plus as the bigger variant of the company’s new flagship phone — the Mi 5s. It’s got a Full HD display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor, and a choice of either a 4GB or 6GB RAM. We have the former which comes with 64GB of internal storage and Google Play Store to get you started.
For less than Php21K, let’s see what this phablet can offer its users in this full review.
Design and Construction
The Mi 5s Plus seems to be a beefed up version of the Redmi Note 4 which we just reviewed (read here). It has a 5.7-inch screen with fairly thin bezels surrounding its display and a white face that complements its gold chassis.
A slab of scratch-resistant glass (not specified what type) is what protects and covers the front camera, sensors, and the trio of backlit capacitive keys.
Its edges are chamfered, so the grip is a bit sharper than usual. Two out of four antenna bands are seen at the sides up top, while the other two are situated down under along with the charging port.
The right side of the phone is where the volume rocker and power/lock button are placed, while the left hides the SIM card tray. A lot will be disappointed to know that it only accepts two Nano-SIM cards with no space for a microSD card to expand its internal memory.
Up top, we have the 3.5mm jack, noise-cancelling mic, and the IR blaster. It’s amusing to find infrared support which is a consistent sensor on most Xiaomi phones.
Located at the bottom is its USB Type-C port sandwiched by the holey-grilles for the main microphone and the loudspeaker. Do take note that only the grille on the right side is the speaker.
The back of Mi 5s Plus is similar to the Redmi Note 4 without the unsightly antenna bands. Xiaomi decided to implement plastic on the upper and lower portions of the rear which isn’t really obvious unless you tap it. These are coated with the same pattern and effect of the metallic portion making it appear as one.
There are dual rear cameras which are both 13MP sensors with a two-tone LED flash. As a common implementation, the fingerprint scanner is situated just below the cameras.
Having a 5.7-inch display, the Mi 5s Plus is sizable but could still be operated with one hand. The placement of its lock screen button is just right for the right thumb to reach while the fingerprint scanner is ergonomically situated for the index finger. Its curved corners also make it comfortable to hold.
Display and Multimedia
As mentioned earlier, the handset carries a Full HD display with 386ppi. It’s worth mentioning that although it’s already in the phablet territory with a 1080p resolution, its pixel density is still above the threshold and images still appear packed.
Watching videos is also enjoyable on its 5.7-inch screen. Its speakers, although they produce good volume and decent bass, is a bit lacking and sounds uneven since it’s only firing from one side in landscape mode. Although, for casual watching, its audio quality would suffice.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow skinned with MIUI 8, the Mi 5s Plus has no app tray so all your applications are presented on the main screen. What we like about it, software-wise is that bloatware is kept to a minimum. There are no extra apps pre-installed that you’ll end up uninstalling anyway. This leaves users with over 57GB of usable space.
Navigation throughout its UI is smooth and fluid. Switching between apps is also responsive and lag-free which is not surprising given the internals of the handset. Xiaomi is also giving its users access to dozens of free themes which are free for download for added personalization.
In terms of optics, Xiaomi followed the footsteps of Huawei by implementing dual rear cameras — one with colored and one with a monochrome sensor just like the P9 and P9 Plus. Although, the Mi 5s Plus has a higher 13MP resolution compared to the 12MP shooter of P9. It also has dual-tone LED flash for a more natural color when used.
Meanwhile, its front-facing camera is just your average shooter with a 4-megapixel sensor. It takes decent shots even at night but there is noticeable noise.
One thing we loved about the P9’s camera is its monochrome mode that shoots in black and white. This is also possible with the Mi 5s Plus and the result is also quite impressive. Check out the sample shots below.
Below are some video samples taken during the day and at night:
Performance and Benchmarks
Xiaomi’s Mi 5s Plus is powered by a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 CPU with a fast UFS 2.0 ROM, and Adreno 530 GPU for the graphics department.
During our entire time of using the device as an everyday driver, it was able to carry out tasks with ease. We used it for browsing social media, taking photos and videos, and playing games once in a while and it did all those without breaking a sweat. Its 4GB RAM also proved to perform well when we opened several resource-heavy applications at the same time.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, this fluidity in performance is not that surprising as it really has capable specs to boot.
This handset also boasts a fast fingerprint sensor and was a joy to use since it effectively adds a layer of security on the device. The recognition is also spot on and reads our print 9/10 times.
Below are our usual benchmarking scores so you could compare it with other smartphones.
- AnTuTu: 119,311
- Quadrant Standard: 33,196
- Vellamo: 3,147 (Multicore), 3,310 (Metal), 5,827 (Chrome Browser)
- 3DMark: 1,760 (Sling Shot ES 3.1)
- PCMark W: 6,276 (Work Performance 1.0)
Connectivity and Call Quality
Being a flagship device, it’s got all the bases covered with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and even 4G+ radios which made LTE browsing fast (in Philippine standards, of course). It also has a USB Type-C which is now the standard for high-end smartphones.
Making calls was easy and getting a clear signal reception was not hard for the Mi 5s Plus. We could hear audio from the other line clearly and vise-versa.
We ran PCMark’s Work 1.0 Battery Test on the Mi 5S Plus and its 3800mAh battery was able to last for 15 hours and 50 minutes. This is a great performance from its battery and we know settling for a 1080p display made this possible. If it had 4K or even Quad HD screen, we’re certain that it wouldn’t last this long.
Meanwhile, it sports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 which replenishes the battery from 0-70% in 1 hour.
The handset has a solid build quality although personally, I’m not a fan of its gold color. We’re also not complaining that it only has a Full HD resolution as battery life greatly benefitted from it. We’re also fans of the dual camera setup ala Huawei P9 and its Monochrome mode that shoots sharp photos with great contrast.
In terms of software, we’re happy that bloatware is were kept to a minimum leaving us with a nice room for storage. Unfortunately, expansion is not possible which could turn off potential buyers. If you demand more space, you could always go for the 128GB variant.
The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus is available at Widget City for Php20,500 (4GB+64GB) and Php23,000 for the higher variant. See listing here.
Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus specs:
5.7-inch IPS LCD @ 1920 x 1080 pixels, 386ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
Adreno 530 GPU
4GB / 6GB RAM
64GB / 128GB internal storage
Dual 13 MP Sony rear camera w/ dual-tone LED flash
4MP front-facing camera
GPS w/ A-GPS
3800mAh battery w/ Quick Charge 3.0
Android 6.0 Marshmallow with MIUI 8
- Solid form factor
- Long battery life
- Monochrome Mode
- Minimal bloatware
- Fast fingerprint sensor
- Non-expandable memory