Xiaomi Mi 5X comes with the same dual-camera we saw on the Mi 6, sans the OIS and bright lens. The regular wide-angle camera on the 5X has a 12MP sensor with 25mm f/2.2 lens and 1.25µm big pixels. The 12MP telephoto sensor's specs sound familiar - 1.00µm pixels and 50mm f/2.6 lens, close to what Apple used for the iPhone 7 Plus telephoto cam.
The camera interface is fairly simple and features toggles for HDR, Portrait Mode, and flash on the left, and 2x telephoto and the video camera on the right.
There are 17 filters available with live previews. The camera also offers quite a few different shooting modes - Panorama, Timer, Audio, Straighten, Manual, Beautify, Group Shot, Tilt Shift, and Night (HHT) as well as the camera settings. The Manual mode lets you tweak ISO (100-3200), exposure time (up to 1/15s), white balance, and focus.
The Xiaomi Mi 5X, just like the Mi 6, snaps pictures blazingly fast, resolves a great deal of detail, and the noise levels are kept reasonably low (though a bit higher than what we saw on the Mi 6 due to the not-so-bright lens). The white balance is accurate, and we liked the lively color rendition. The dynamic range is high without ever resorting to HDR. There is no corner softness either, but some oversharpening is noticeable on trees and buildings.
The telephoto camera also does a great job in good light and comes in handy when you need a bit of zoom. Its quality is close to the main camera's - the images have plenty of detail and the same great processing, colors, and dynamic range.
The telephoto lens has a narrower f/2.6 aperture and won't do for low-light shots. In those scenes the phone will stop using the telephoto camera and would instead switch to cropping the output of the main camera to achieve the zoomed effect. The iPhone 7 Plus does the same thing, by the way. This, of course, takes its toll on image quality, so we'd recommend against using the second camera in low light.
The Mi 5X regular camera has a wide dynamic range, sure, but there are times when you'd still want to use the HDR. Here the phone does a great job brightening up the shadows without compromising the highlights.
The Mi 5X low-light shots came out very soft in a variety of scenes. You can see what's in the picture, just don't expect much detail when you zoom in. There is a lot of noise, sometimes we also got blurry images due to the lack of stabilization, but those still would do for the social networks.
If you leave the automatic HHT mode enabled - it enhances the low-light samples - you will get much less noise in the images but most of the samples won't benefit from much more detail or higher contrast. Still, we prefer less noise and we suggest keeping this option on.
The closeups on the other hand greatly benefit from the HHT model. We can show you the differences between normal and HHT low-light closeup samples with our low-light picture quality chart. We snapped the chart with both modes and here are some full-res crops.
Just like Apple, Xiaomi wants you to use the telephoto camera only in really good light and mostly for portraits. Due to the lens' narrower aperture of f/2.6, the lack of optical stabilization and its smaller sensor, the telephoto camera is probably unfit to capture good low light images.
The Mi 5X uses the combination of the two cameras to shoot the trendy Portrait shots. It's a process of mapping the distance to all objects of the scene and attempting to isolate the subject in front by blurring the background. This works best when you're shooting a well-lit subject which stands out against the backdrop. The software will get fooled by a strong backlight or a busy scene.
The Mi 5X shoots its portrait shots faster than the iPhone 7+, but it takes longer for the camera to read the scene and determine where the depth effect should be. The samples turned out very pleasant with mostly accurate shapes and blur effects. It's possible for the algorithm to smear an ear or some hair, though that's not an Mi 5X-specific issue, but an issue of the methods themselves.
You can capture only portrait panoramic photos with an 180-degree field of view. Shooting is easy and the resolution about 18MP (up 2,000px tall). The image quality is great - there is plenty of fine detail, accurate colors, and no signs of bad stitching. The dynamic range is great as is the contrast. The pano shots are somewhat softer than the regular shots, and the foliage isn't as great, but those are still some fine shots.
We also tested out the 5MP front-facing camera. The images came out average in detail and a little bit noisy, but with high contrast, and pleasant colors. The dynamic range is about average, too.
Finally, you should check how the Xiaomi Mi 5X does against the Mi 6 and Redmi Note 4 in our Photo Compare Tool. We've pre-selected these two, but you are free to pick any other phone to compare it against.
You could also use our tool to compare the telephoto cameras of the Mi 5X, iPhone 7 Plus, and Galaxy Note8.
Video mode gives you a choice of 2160p@30fps and 1080p@30fps for common shooting with a 720p@120fps option if you want some slow-motion effects. There's no 1080p@60fps mode, though, which would make a big difference in fast-paced scenes. No telephoto videos either.
Anyway, the 2160p videos are captured at a bitrate of 41.6Mbps and have rock solid 30fps. The audio is stereo captured at 96KBps bitrate.
The 4K video quality is great - the resolved detail is plenty, the dynamic range is above average, the colors and contrast are very good. The noise is kept quite low, and the Mi 5X produces some really nice 4K videos. The audio quality is pretty bad - there are traces of compression, and you'll notice that it gets even worse with loud sound sources (loud music, crowds, cars honking, etc.).
The 1080p videos are shot at a bitrate of 20Mbps and have the same audio bitrate. The video quality in 1080p is quite different to the 4K videos though. The level of detail is very low and everything is way oversharpened. It looks like the picture was upscaled from a lower resolution and sharpened too much. This isn't the first time we've experienced this with a Xiaomi, unfortunately.
Finally, you can use our Video Compare Tool to see how the Mi 5X stacks against the Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 when it comes to video capturing.