Xiaomi Unveils the Mi 5

Vlad Savov for The Verge overviews Xiaomi’s newest flagship:

I’ve been casually following Xiaomi for a while now. There’s something about this company and their products that sets it apart from other Asian smartphone makers, especially Samsung. To sum up my impression in a word: inoffensive. They don’t come off as attempting to radically change everything and peacock around as something bigger than they are (Samsung comes to mind again; see previous post), instead adopting an iterative design philosophy in their products.

Look no further than this phone for example. Besides the awkward placement of sensors in the top bezel - a problem almost every other Android phone simply can’t seem to shake off - it’s a mildly attractive phone, and inoffensive at worst. The OS, a skin of the latest Android, is actually visually appealing, using simple, slightly faded colours, and looks intuitive… again, inoffensive. The spec sheet sounds serviceable.

I picked up on a subtle indication that this was a product that was actually worked on and not simply rushed to market. Savov mentions that “Xiaomi took two years to make [the phone] happen”. The only other company I know that cares to mention the length of time they work on a product is Apple.

Like other Android OEM’s, they take a lot of cues from Apple, like curved glass, two-tone flash, aluminium finishes with separation lines, etc. But after years of Android phones seemingly phoning it in or joining in on the spec war (bar maybe Motorola’s phones), Xiaomi’s phones seem to be treating these cues as such: just as cues, which then need to be built-upon or altered rather than outright implemented onto a product.

Of course, I’ve yet to actually try the device or see how it copes with usage on a daily basis. But based on my experience playing with Xiaomi phones, I think that, just maybe, Android phones are finally getting great.

Oh, and it starts at $260. I don’t usually like meriting a device on its price, at least not on that alone, but this is baffling.