Does a good smartphone need to cost an arm and leg? Perhaps it is justifiable if the company adds in a boatload of features that we might never use all of them in the lifespan of having the phone. Could massive 8-core processors on the phone with clock speeds reaching that of the desktop PC that you possibly own be another justification. Well to answer the first question, it is a NO. The Xiaomi Mi 5X is here to show the world that a humbly priced smartphone with a decent performance and simple features can still offer what we need out of a smartphone and perhaps takes that extra step.
First off, let’s take a walk into the design department of the phone, the Sleek aluminium body has a nice smooth feel and at the same time does not feel like it might just slide out of your hand and shatter all over the floor. The nicely curved edges are crafted perfectly making it easy to grip and use the phone with comfort even when using it in one hand. Overall the look of the phone give a very premium feel and sometimes when I take it out I get a lot of comments that the phone looks a bit like the iPhone’s back, whether that is a compliment or not, really depends on you. Picking up this phone is enough to tell you that the company did put a lot of effort when it came to the build and design of the phone, which is something many companies seem to neglect.
Being pretty on the outside is one thing but, just because it has a pretty face does not mean the inside has been forgotten because Xiaomi has done an excellent job with the specs as it comes with a very decent mid-range Snapdragon 625 processor alongside 4GB RAM and 3080mAh battery capacity. That does not stop there as it also shows then navigating the phone, for the past 2 weeks of using this phone, I found almost no slowdowns or lags when opening apps overall making for an enjoyable experience through my time using the phone.
Now I have not been a fan of the MIUI even since I tried using the Mi 3 phone a few years back, but now I find myself getting more used to the UI seeing as they have improved a lot of factors in the interface. Even if I am a fan of the stock Android experience, the MIUI 8.5 on this phone is now very simple to navigate and something I really like is the settings menu, as it really feels like they took some notes from the stock interface settings page and applied it here.
It is not confusing or frustrating to look for the particular settings and most of the functions are not hidden away deep within the page. Adding to that, i was surprised but I found myself using the Mi remote app a lot, I love the fact that my phone can be used as a conventional remote control, and honestly I wish more phones adopt this feature because our phones are always with us but I remote controls seem to always go missing no matter how well you keep it.
For a budget phone you would expect the camera to be just subpar but again, Xiaomi did not drop the ball because the dual 12MP camera on the back takes pretty great shots. Even in low lights, there are not many issues as it still produces a nice amount of detail as long as you have a light source nearby.
However, even if the camera does have nice night shots, you have to have really stable hands when taking a low light shot as it tends to blur very easily due to the fact that it does not have image stabilization. Day shots, however, come out really nice. Pictures that I have taken look pleasing to look at, as it seems to capture colours very nicely and it is also good to pick up details as you can see on the wooden bench, the cracks and marks are very obvious so I am pretty impressed with the quality of detail in pictures.
If the subject is in the distance or you want to get a close-up of the subject, simply tap on the x2 button and that activates the x2 optical zoom, because it is an optical zoom rather than a digital zoom, there is no loss in quality when taking pictures, in fact it is much easier to capture more details in the subject’s features.
Now that might worry some of you that are conscious of your complexion, which is why Xiaomi has included a beautifying effect in it which you can tweak giving you the option to use the smart feature which will automatically set the amount of beautifying based on the low medium or high preference, or go with the manual mode where you can slim down your face, change the skin tone, and the smoothness of the skin. Now I know some people will definitely use this feature but no matter how I play with the settings, my portraits come out like my skin looks like plastic. The effect is just too obvious for my liking and it makes it look eerie and inhuman when the feature is turned on. But those of you that like to use the beautifying effect will be happy to know that the Pro mode really allows you to fine tune your selfies, particularly to your liking.
With all the performance and features pack into this phone, you would expect that the battery might have a hard time keeping up with all of this, but in fact battery life is very good as I can get 1 and a half days of use with my daily usage of messaging, music listening, browsing the internet and watching videos. Times where I use my phone less than usual, the battery can go up to 2 days, but just as long you keep calm when seeing the 20% battery warning sign as you get home from work.
Overall, the 5X is one of the best budget phones I have ever tried so much so that it feels like you are getting a 2000 ringgit device for the price of only 950 ringgit which the 5X cost. Xiaomi has also produced the Mi A1 which is basically the 5X running on a pure stock android. If you do not like the MIUI interface that comes with the 5X, you can easily opt of the A1 which is the exact same specs but running on stock android. If you are looking to pick up the 5x, you can head over to GearBest as they are having a promotion on the phone which you can pick up for under RM1,000.