The Xiaomi Mi 5X was touted as the first smartphone to get the new MIUI 9 right out of the box and we think it makes a decent headline. Is it the key feature though? Well, if we were to decide, we would've focused on the camera instead.
But you know, near-flagship-camera-for-less-money isn't exactly the blurb that will earn the marketing department's money. Plus, it's not the exact same dual-camera setup as the flagship Mi 6. It's pretty close though and it's cheap. The Xiaomi Mi 5X costs about the same as a Redmi Note 4, whose Snapdragon 625 chipset it's using.
So, the screen size, performance and price of a Redmi Note 4, the premium design of the Mi Max 2 and a dual camera setup with a telephoto lens. There goes the Mi 5X.
In an ironic twist of events, the Mi 5X was demoted to a China-only phone by the time our review unit was shipped. Xiaomi decided to launch an entirely new A-series within the Google One initiative, and the Mi 5X became the Mi A1. The A1 is an identical smartphone, it just runs vanilla Android and will be available worldwide.
With the A1, Xiaomi will be looking to expand its global footprint but that doesn't completely rule out the Mi 5X. The phone may be officially available in China only at the time of writing but select retailers are already selling it worldwide with the MIUI 8.5 international ROM.
Official or not, A1 or 5X, the handset is a decent midrange package with a 5.5" 1080p screen, a reliable and energy-efficient Snapdragon 625 chip, and a dual-camera setup that was, until recently, a flagship privilege.
Although the Snapdragon 625 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge, Xiaomi has chosen not to take advantage of it yet again. The supplied charger does 5V/2A only and it probably isn't such a big deal for a 3,080mAh battery. The Redmi Note 4 didn't get fast charging either and it would've made a lot more sense there, considering there's a 4,100mAh battery to fill up.
So, the A1 or the Mi 5X? It may sound confusing but the difference essentially boils down to the launcher - or the absence thereof. The A1 comes un-skinned, most of the globally-available Mi 5X units have MIUI 8.5 and the China ROM is MIUI 9. We guess that's far from a decider, so let's take a closer look at what's good and bad about the phone at hand. Follow us on the next page for the traditional hardware checkup.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.