2016 is shaping up to be a great year for smartphones — and the Xioami Mi 5 is an embodiment of many of the best trends. Like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, the Mi 5 is a handsome mix of the latest specs and Android software, and it checks off most of the requisite boxes for a premium mobile device: beautiful display, fast fingerprint sensor, large battery, and the latest LTE modem. But unlike traditional flagships, Xiaomi’s new premier smartphone doesn’t cost upwards of $600.
Xiaomi is one of China’s most popular brands precisely because of its fanatical commitment to having the most aggressive specs-to-price ratio. It sees itself as a mobile internet company first (hence the “Mi” in its product names) and strives to make a profit not by selling hardware but by selling stuff via that hardware. That makes it imperative to create phones that are as cheap and, at the same time, as pleasurable to use as possible, which only serves to benefit Xiaomi’s users. By now, it might be trite to say that premium smartphone features keep trickling down to lower price tiers, but they really are, and it’s companies like Xiaomi that are pushing that trend hardest and fastest.
YOU CAN’T BUY IT IN THE WEST… YET
The Mi 5 is only available in China and neighboring countries that Xiaomi already operates in, and the company remains cagey about expansion plans into Europe and the United States, but this new flagship did have its official launch in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress. That, along with the launch of Xiaomi’s global accessories store last summer, signals a Chinese company on the cusp of breaking beyond its status as a regional power.