Xiaomi Mi 5s debuts with metal rear and ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Xiaomi's update to its flagship Mi 5 which debuted earlier this year gets a design tweak and upgraded hardware.

Aloysius Low
Aloysius Low Senior Editor
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.
2 min read

The new Mi 5s drops the glass rear for brushed metal.


It's been less than a year since the Xiaomi Mi 5 was announced at MWC, but Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is already updating its flagship. The Mi 5s drops the glass rear for a brushed metal back and switches the capacitive button fingerprint sensor to an ultrasonic one.

The change means Xiaomi can cut costs since it won't have to cut a hole in the screen's glass to allow the capacitive sensor to touch your skin. But there's still a slight indentation where the sensor is. The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor takes a 3D map of your fingerprint, and should recognise it even when your finger is wet.

Other changes include a bumped-up processor in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 128GB of onboard storage.

Xiaomi has also buffed up the camera. While it's gone down from 16-megapixel to 12-megapixel, the Mi 5s is using a Sony IMX378 1 or 2.3-inch CMOS sensor with larger pixels at 1.55 microns, which Xiaomi says is equivalent to those found on compact cameras. I'm looking forward to seeing how the camera holds up when I get a review unit.

Personally though, I'm not too sure if I'm a fan of the design change. The glass rear of the original Mi 5 helps it to stand out against a sea of competitors that sport a metal rear, and the Mi 5 now will be hard pressed to stand out. Then again, having accidentally dropped my Mi 5 and shattered the glass rear, I can guess why Xiaomi wants to switch that out for a more durable material.

We will see how the phone holds up when we get a review unit, in the meantime, here's a quick rundown of the phone's specs.

Key features

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 3GB or 4GB RAM, 64GB or 128GB onboard storage
  • 12-megapixel rear camera, 4-megapixel front
  • 3,200mAh battery
  • USB Type-C port
  • Retails in China only for now
  • 1,999 yuan ($299, £230, Au$390) or 2,299 yuan ($344, £265, AU$448)

The Mi 5s will come with a headphone jack, in case you're wondering.

Shopping laptop image
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping