Xiaomi Mi 5s is a great flagship with excellent build quality, performance, battery life, and imaging skills. It makes a few notable upgrades over the Mi 5 predecessor - a metal unibody, a bigger battery, a more power-efficient chipset, and a capable main camera.
But it also loses a few things over the Mi 5 that many would consider crucial - camera OIS and Gorilla Glass protection. The IR port is gone for good, too. So, is the metal body and the new camera sensor worth sacrificing the screen protection and the benefits of OIS for low-light photography?
There is no easy answer to this. The Mi 5s is indeed superb at design, handling, power, and daylight shots. Its new software image stabilization helps the videos, too, but it's not as good as an OIS solution. But then again, people shoot a lot more in daylight rather than low light and the Mi 5s camera is a huge improvement over the Mi 5 regarding image quality.
Long story short - Xiaomi Mi 5s is a true flagship with top-notch capabilities. And if it weren't for the easily scratchable screen, we'd consider it perfect. It's a worthy purchase due to its great pricing, though the Mi 5 owners should probably skip it and wait for the Mi 6 next year as they won't gain much from the 5s iteration.
There are lots of options to consider if you are looking for a smartphone like the Mi 5s, but you haven't settled on a particular brand.
The compact flagship class, where the Mi 5s falls under, has been flourishing this year. The LG G5 price, for example, has fallen to the Mi 5s levels, and the G5 will give you a better and higher-res display, a unique modular design, and an additional main camera for wide-angle shots.
LeEco's Le Pro 3 is a good match for the Mi 5s with the same screen resolution, chipset, and a capable camera setup. It's cheaper and offers a bigger screen estate and battery over the Mi 5s, but its availability is quite limited.
You may want to consider the ZUK Z2 Pro, whose price has fallen quite a bit since its release in June. It will give you an AMOLED screen and 6GB of RAM, powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and a 3,000mAh battery. The ZUK isn't among the most popular brands out there, but its unique glass design and launcher may fit you well.
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge cost the same as the 64GB and 128GB Mi 5s respectively. Both offer higher-res AMOLED screens, very capable chipsets, and great 16MP main camera with OIS. The S6 edge has a superior design and you may want to give those two a try.
There are two very intriguing 5.2" devices cheaper than the Mi 5s, yet equally intriguing - LG Nexus 5X and Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016). Both are powered by lesser chips, but offer great designs and user experiences. The Nexus, as usual, focuses on pure Android OS and fast updates, while the Galaxy A5 has a punchy Super AMOLED screen and OIS main camera.
Finally, there is always the old Mi 5, which has a glass back, a higher-res camera with OIS, and a better battery endurance. And you get these for less cash.
Instead on a high note, we'll end this review expressing our mixed feelings. The Xiaomi Mi 5s is easily likable and ticks all the right checkboxes for a flagship phone. The thing is that we already had that with the Mi 5 and the Mi 5s is an odd successor - it's not necessarily better than the Mi 5, it's just different. As such, it will surely appeal to new users, but it isn't likely to draw those who are looking to upgrade from the Mi 5. And we guess the company is alright with that and we can't blame them. If you are among the brand's fans, just make sure you approach the Xiaomi Mi5s with the right set of expectations.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.