There's one smartphone causing a big stir--and it's not even here yet. Xiaomi’s Mi 5. It’s launching in India tomorrow.
One reason is that Xiaomi knows how to create a stir. The other is that the Mi 5 is packed with all sorts of stuff for an affordable price. When it starts shipping in April, the Mi 5 will be some nice competition for the OnePlus 2.
Right now, however, people are comparing the Mi 5, which will be sort of Xiaomi’s flagship, with Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S7. It isn't anywhere near as beautiful as the S7 but it does have a lot of high-end features at half the cost.
The Mi 5 isn't a huge phone, for a change. It's 5.1 inches and reportedly is very nice to hold, if not behold. The Verge called it an "alarmingly good phone." The competition will certainly think so.
The biggest specification of all, coming with the the Mi 5, is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset. That's what the non-Indian version of the Galaxy S7 has, though Samsung's Exynos processor is faster on the Indian S7. But whatever -- it'll be one fast device.
There's three versions of the Mi 5 in China -- 32GB, 64GB and 128GB, with 3GB on the low and 4GB RAM on the high end model. No MicroSD card slot on any of them, but dual-SIM slots and support for 4G on bands used in India.
The Mi 5 also seems to be available in a "3D glass" model, which is really all about a slight curve to the glass and metal, and a ceramic back model. It's said to be light and great to hold.
Some may be pleased to see a USB Type C port on the Mi 5. That's nice because it's so much easier to use, but I'd be terrified of losing the cable and then having a tough time replacing it because they're not yet as common as regular ones. Also connecting anything else to the phone becomes a nuisance.
The phone has fast charging 3.0, which I tell you, should become mandatory for all. People are hoping there'll be some new power banks launched as well.
The 16MP camera on the Mi 5 is touted to be flagship level. I've seen tests comparing that closely with the Galaxy S7's 12MP camera. Both have Phase Detection Auto Focus or PDAF. It's not reported to be as good as the S7's camera, but it may well turn out to be better than any in its price category. The front facing shooter is a 4MP ultra pixel with lots of beauty filters which you can use while video conferencing.
The Mi 5 also has a fingerprint sensor, NFC, and infra-red.
It launches tomorrow, March 31, but availability will be sometime in April—likely through the flash sales Xiaomi is notorious for. Mi fans are waiting for it. Are you?
Lila Ray is a corporate consultant who likes her gadgets almost more than her shoes. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org