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Out with the old: Xiaomi’s sparkly Snapdragon 821-powered Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus are here

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Xiaomi has updated the Mi 5 smartphone with the Mi 5S, and added a Mi 5S Plus to the range. The pair have been announced in China following a series of rumors and leaks, The original Mi 5 is hardly an aging device, having been revealed in February, but Xiaomi clearly wants to make use of a very new, and very special component — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor.

The new chip is the star of the Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus, which Qualcomm says is 10 percent faster than the Snapdragon 820. Is it the only thing that makes these two new phones special? Let’s find out.

Xiaomi Mi 5S

The Mi 5S looks very similar to the Mi 5, with a curved body making it comfortable to hold, but it now comes in new colors, ranging from grey and silver, to brushed metallic pink and gold. On the rear, the flash unit has been shifted to the other side of the camera lens, and there are pronounced antenna lines running across the body.

Around the front the screen size stays the same at 5.15-inches, as does the 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and impressive 600 nits brightness. It’s now pressure sensitive, like Apple’s 3D Touch system on the iPhone, but it’s not clear which apps or tools take advantage of the technology. The Snapdragon 821 processor is joined by 4GB of RAM in the range-topping model, which also has 128GB of RAM. Xiaomi has used an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in the home button for speedy, reliable, and secure unlocking.

Sony’s new IMX378 12-megapixel camera sensor is on the rear, with a 4-megapixel selfie camera above the screen. The Mi 5S has a USB Type-C charging port, plus a 3,200mAh battery with fast charging. Xiaomi will charge around $300 for the 64GB Mi 5S, and $350 for the 128GB model.

Xiaomi Mi 5S Plus

Where would a manufacturer be without a Plus model? The Mi 5S Plus lives up to its name, because you’ll look at a massive 5.7-inch screen wrapped up in a body that’s slightly more compact than the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus. It weighs less too, at 168 grams. For the sister Mi 5S phone, Xiaomi has moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, where it’s set beneath two camera lenses.

Mounted flush with the body, Sony has supplied both the 13-megapixel cameras, which seem to operate in a similar way to Huawei’s P9. There’s a monochrome mode, and although no sample pictures were released, we’d expect a depth-of-field mode to be included. Xiaomi as experience here, having fitted dual cameras on the cheaper Redmi Pro to produce a bokeh effect.

A much larger 3,800mAh battery joins the Snapdragon 821 processor, which inside the 128GB model comes with 6GB of RAM. Go for the smaller 64GB Mi 5S Plus, and it has 4GB of RAM. This model costs the same as the 128GB Mi 5S, but you’ll have to spend about $390 for the 128GB Mi 5S Plus.

The phones will be on sale September 29 through Xiaomi’s own website, but official international sales are highly unlikely. It’ll be possible to order one through an importer if you’re set on owning a Mi 5S though.

Article originally published in 09-12-2016. Updated and rewritten on 09-27-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in all the official details regarding the Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus

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