Xiaomi's slick Mi 5C packs the company's first processor

The phone maker's latest offering packs a brand new chipset, 3GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and will set you back only $220.

Daniel Van Boom Senior Writer
Daniel Van Boom is an award-winning Senior Writer based in Sydney, Australia. Daniel Van Boom covers cryptocurrency, NFTs, culture and global issues. When not writing, Daniel Van Boom practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, reads as much as he can, and speaks about himself in the third person.
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Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Daniel Van Boom
Aloysius Low
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Xiaomi is following the footsteps of Apple and local rival Huawei, on Tuesday in Beijing announcing the Mi 5C -- a phone powered by the company's first in-house processor, the Surge S1.

The Mi 5C looks to be a cheaper, less powerful iteration of last year's excellent Mi 5. Like that phone, it has a 5.15-inch screen. Unlike that phone, it has 3GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 2,860mAh battery. Compare that to the Mi 5's 4GB of RAM, 16-megapixel rear camera and 3,000mAh battery.

But the Mi 5C clearly wins on price: It'll cost 1,500 yuan, which converts to around $220, AU$280 and £175, when it launches on March 3 in China. That's a good bit lower than the 2,700 yuan ($400, AU$500, £315) the Mi 5 cost last year.

The Mi 5C houses Xiaomi's own 2.2GHz Surge S1 chipset, built by Pinecone, a subsidiary started by the company two years ago. Xiaomi claims the S1 Surge outperforms the Snapdragon 625, Qualcomm's midrange chipset.

The Mi 5C key specs:

  • 5.15-inch, 2,560x1,600-resolution display
  • 5.6x2.7x0.27 inches (144.4x70.7x7.1mm)
  • 2.2GHz octa-core Surge S1 processor
  • 12 megapixel rear camera, 8 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 3GB RAM
  • 64GB of internal memory
  • 2,860mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Rose Gold, Black, Gold variations

As with previous phones from the innovative Chinese electronics company, it'll run MIUI, a customised version of Android. It's based on Android 7.1 Nougat, first introduced last October with Google's own Pixel phones.

Xiaomi becomes the fourth phone maker to create its own processors, after Apple, Samsung and Huawei. It'll theoretically let the company craft phones for cheaper and allow it to sell them at a lower cost. That'll give it a much-needed competitive edge in China, where it last year slid from No. 1 to No. 5.

The Mi 5C's China-exclusivity means you won't be able to buy it from your local carrier, but it won't take long for the phone to pop up on third-party online retailers.