The ‘affordable’ smartphone space is becoming extremely cluttered with most manufacturers looking at how to tap into the rapidly growing smartphone market, particularly in the developing world. Growing off the back of high sales in their home market, Chinese technology companies are expanding globally, in an attempt to break the dominance of manufacturers like Apple and Samsung. According to IT research and advisory company Gartner Inc, the three Chinese companies, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi jumped into the top five, first quarter of 2016.
While Xiaomi, which was founded by entrepreneur Lei Jun in 2010, is fifth in terms of ‘worldwide smartphone sales to end users’, its footprint has been primarily in Asia, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, India and Indonesia. They are on an expansion and, in South Africa (from where they are looking to penetrate the whole continent), they have appointed Mobile In Africa Group Limited as their authorised distributor.
Specs & Features
The relatively new flagship smartphone is the Mi 5. The first thing that struck me about the Mi 5 was how light it is, weighing in at a mere 129g. Plus, it’s dimensions of 69.2mm (l) x 7.25mm (w) x 144.6mm (h) with a 5.15-inch 1080p display makes it comfortable to hold in one hand for even those with the smallest hands. To be honest, because I like devices with a little heft to them, I did find it a little disconcerting to begin with, but it does fit comfortably in my jeans pocket when riding.
Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Xiaomi’s MIU 7 with a 16-megapixel rear camera, 4-megapixel selfie camera and dual-SIM (nano) card slots, the Mi 5 holds its own against any Android smartphone out there. The main camera is said to be “constructed with the combination of 6 different lenses” and has autofocus and optical stabilisation. It can also record 4k video, has 3GB RAM and 32G internal storage. See video below for Xiaomi’s optical image stablisation Mi 5 test versus the iPhone 6s, posted on their site.
Buying the Xiaomi Mi 5
Buying a smartphone these days is more about personal preference. The Mi 5 has all the necessary specs and features to compete with the flagship devices from other manufacturers, particularly if your focus is on functionality. It is currently available for R7,999 from MIA Africa’s site or from Makro, DionWired, Game, Takealot and Incredible Connection. They are also currently running a promotion, till end of July 2016, where you can get it for cash or on a Vodacom UChoose Flexi 150 contract at R399 for 24 months. You get R400 cash back if you take advantage of this and purchase on their site with this promotion.
There is a certain irony to receiving Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone the Mi 5 for review on the same day that I had a meeting with someone from Mi-fone, which has taken Xiaomi to court in a couple of territories around the continent for the use of ‘Mi’. As to how this pans out is yet to be seen. In the meantime, the Mi 5 is available for sale in South Africa.