Xiaomi makes great-looking phones, and it’s sticking closely to an established theme — shapely bodies with curved brushed metal rear panels — with the Mi5S Plus price. It’s very similar to the Redmi Pro, the last Xiaomi phone we examined closely, just on a larger scale. It’s about the same size as an iPhone 7 Plus, but has a 5.7-inch screen, so it’s a compact shape. However, the body is quite thick at 8mm.
This extra thickness is effectively disguised by the curved metal sides, which make it very comfortable to hold, especially where the bottom corner rests at the base of your palm. It’s not quite as easy to use one-handed as the Huawei Mate 9 — a bigger phone — and I struggled to reach across the screen with my thumb. It’s lighter than the Mate 9 at about 170 grams, putting it closer to the iPhone 7 Plus.
A fingerprint sensor is mounted on the back under the twin camera lenses. It’s easily located when picking up the phone, and quick to react. In addition to locking the phone, it can secure apps and activate a child mode. What it doesn’t do is make the Mi5S Plus compatible with Android Pay. Try to set the mobile wallet feature up, and you’ll get a warning that because the phone runs a custom version of Android, it won’t work.
The Mi5S Plus has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor inside. It’s not quite the latest, but it’s pretty close, and good enough for the OnePlus 3T, the HTC U Ultra, and other smartphones. It’s supported by 4GB of RAM in our phone, but a version with 6GB of RAM is also available if you’re willing to pay more. We’d say 4GB of RAM is more than enough for most tasks. The 4GB Mi5S Plus has 64GB of internal memory, while the 6GB model has 128GB. There’s no MicroSD card slot, sadly, but the SIM card tray will accept a second SIM card.
The Mi5S blazes along. The Snapdragon 821 is an excellent performer, and we have no complaints at all about app compatibility, speed, or playing games. If you want a phone that will shrug off even the most taxing tasks, the Mi5S Plus is the device for you. Riptide GP 2, with the graphics resolution turned up to maximum, plays like a dream with no frame rate issues or slowdown at all. Bullet-hell shooter Danmaku Unlimited plays superbly in HD and on Hard mode, where an awful lot happens on screen at once.
Zipping through the usual apps, The Mi5S Plus is a pleasure. It’s smooth, speedy, and performs with the same urgency you’d expect from a phone with one of the latest processors inside. It’s unfortunate that the benchmarks, as is sometimes the case, don’t tell the whole story. Our AnTuTu test returned 118180, which is well below other Mi5S tests for some reason, and Geekbench 4 gave 3436 multicore. Don’t pay them any attention.
Battery, screen, and connectivity
We’ve been impressed with the Mi5S Plus’ 3,200mAh battery, which has happily lasted for two days of normal use, and features a USB Type-C connector, and Quick Charge 3.0. In less than 90 minutes, the Mi5S Plus was fully charged, which makes it highly usable. The power efficiency of MIUI is assisted by the 1920 x 1080 pixel LCD screen. Super high-resolution screens are great, but they do suck battery power.
It doesn’t ruin the Mi5S Plus either. The screen may use LCD technology, rather than an AMOLED panel, but it’s really bright, crystal clear, and a joy to look at. There’s a reading mode to reduce sleep-interrupting blue light, but there’s no scheduler, so you have to activate it manually. However, you can apply it to certain apps, such as an e-reader app, to make it slightly more user friendly.
The Mi5S Plus is an import-only phone, and doesn’t support all the right bandwidths for 4G LTE use in the United States. It’ll happily connect to AT&T and T-Mobile’s 3G network, though. In the U.K., where the Mi5S was tested, it spent the majority of its time connected to a 3G signal on the O2 network. Again, it doesn’t have the right bands for 4G LTE connectivity, but it never felt slow, and any speed difference may only be noticeable in back-to-back tests, or when streaming high-quality video.