Xiaomi Mi 5 features a brand new 16MP camera, equipped with a dual-LED dual-tone flash and enhanced with an innovative 4-axis optical image stabilization. The latter means the camera will be able to stabilize the image (especially in video recording) noticeably better than the competitors.
The sensor itself is the Sony IMX 298, which comes with phase detection auto focus and deep trench isolation technology. The sensor seems like the real flagship deal, at least on paper and, interestingly enough, Xiaomi managed to fit it inside the body without a lens bump. Naturally, in combination with the powerful Snapdragon 820 chip, it can do 4K video as well.
On the front, we have a 4MP UltraPixel camera - lifted from the Mi Note.
The camera interface is fairly simple and features toggles for the HDR mode, the flash and the video camera.
It has three panes - the default one shows the viewfinder with a virtual shutter, flash trigger and front camera key. A pull down from the top of the screen gets you a choice of 12 filters with live previews. A slide from the bottom displays the advanced modes such as Panorama, Virtual Horizon, Beautify, Timer, Tilt Shift, Fisheye, and Manual as well as the camera settings.
The Manual Mode offers you manual settings for white balance and ISO. The Face Detection switch is within the additional settings.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 indeed resolves a great deal of detail and the noise levels are kept reasonably low. The white balance accurate, and we are quite fond of the lively color rendition. The dynamic range is high, which lately becomes a must for a flagship camera. Overall the processing is really mature and we consider those samples among the best 16MP ones we've seen so far.
The foliage is way better than the mess we saw on the Galaxy S7/S7 edge with more resolved detail and distinctive shapes even on the tiniest of grass and trees' blossoms. The green color is more accurate, too.
The HDR mode is conservative enough and rescues both the highlights and shadows without making a flat contrastless mess out of the image. Those also among the best HDR photos we've seen as far as the quality is concerned, but the HDR effect may oversaturate the colors.
And here are a few low-light samples - they turned out to be nothing impressive, though we've seen much worse.
Panorama shots are available too. You can capture both landscape and portrait panoramic photos with a 180-degree field of view. Shooting is easy, but the resolution is the same as on the Mi 4c. Thankfully, the stitching takes little time to complete. The end result is better than before - while the resolution is about 3600x1240px and the image quality is very good - there is enough detail, no awful stitches and accurate colors. The dynamic range could have been better though.
Xiaomi Mi 5 features a 4MP UltraPixel front-facing camera for high-res selfies. The images come out with more than enough detail, high contrast, and pleasant colors. The dynamic range is above average, too.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is more than capable of pulling its own weight in our Photo Comparison tool. You can see it puts up an excellent fight against the other snappers we've tested and comes on top even against some far pricier options.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is the first smartphone to introduce 4-axis optical image stabilization. Long story short - it should do twice times better at stabilizing videos compared to the regular OIS most of the flagships are using.
And indeed The Mi 5 does better when it comes to stabilizing trembling compared to the iPhone 6s Plus. Whether the trembling was vertical or horizontal - the Mi 5 turned out noticeably better stabilized picture and it lives up to the expectation.
Xiaomi Mi 5 camcorder has the same UI as the still camera. It supports slow-mo and time-lapse videos with customizable snapping interval.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is capable or recording up to 4K@30fps. Oddly, there is no 60fps option for the 1080p video recording.
The 2160p samples have a video bitrate of 42 Mbps, while audio is captured at 96 Kbps with 2 channels (stereo). The 1080p videos have a lower bitrate at 15 Mbps. Unfortunately, the recorded sound on both type of videos is poor, possibly due to the low audio bitrate. Hopefully Xiaomi improves on the sound with updates because today it's rather unusable.
The amount of resolved detail in the videos is high, but not the best we've seen. The colors are accurate, the contrast is high, while the dynamic range is a slightly above the average. The framerate is smooth and consistent at 30fps.
Unfortunately, the 1080p videos are a complete mess. The Mi 5 rarely succeed to focus properly, and when it does, the videos are soft and lack detail. We accidentally shot a 720p video instead of 1080 and found to be OK, in fact, we suspect the Mi 5 upscales 720p up to 1080p frame in order to produce the Full HD videos.
Hopefully those will be fixed with an update, but until then - we suggest shooting at either 4K or 720p clips.
And here is a 1080p video we've uploaded on YouTube.
Finally, you can use our Video Compare Tool to see how the Mi 5 stacks against the competition when it comes to video capturing. The 1080p results are quite disappointing.