Xiaomi Mi 5C Review: The First Step in a Long Journey

It took about 2 years from Xiaomi to release its first self-made chip. We have talked too much about it and how this processor can affect the future of Xiaomi. But today we are going to talk about the first smartphone sporting the first Xiaomi processor, Surge S1. The Xiaomi Mi 5C is the worthy representative of Mi family. This means it comes with a number of familiar specs. But on the other hand, this is an experimental device, meaning we will see some surprising features but the Surge S1 chip.

Read: Xiaomi Mi 5C Quick Review

Xiaomi Mi 5C Design

The Xiaomi Mi 5C comes in a white blank box carrying only the name of this phones on the side and a memory configuration. This is the case when we can use the phrase ‘the simplicity of genius’.

Xiaomi Mi 5c black

The back of the box provides some info on this device such as 3GB + 64GB memory configuration, 1080p screen, 2860mAh battery and more.

Xiaomi Mi 5c black

There are no useless thing included in the box. The latter comes with a standard set of accessories including the 18W power charger.

Xiaomi Mi 5c black

As for the overall design, the Xiaomi Mi 5C looks absolutely identical to the original Xiaomi Mi 5. It comes with a matte metal back panel as well as a 2.5D arc glass. Many say this design is copied from the iPhone 5, but Xiaomi has always come with unique features. The Xiaomi Mi 5C design is no exception – there are several eye-catching differences in comparison to the iPhone. It’ll be more correct to say the Mi 5C has almost no changes in comparison to its founding father, the Mi 5. I mean it sports a display at the same 5.15 inches. However, the original Mi 5 is packed with a ceramic body, while this model comes with a regular metal back panel.

Xiaomi Mi 5C

Read: The Most Charming Xiaomi Mi 5 Ceramic Exclusive Edition Ends!  

The phone has been announced to come in three color options including Gold, Rose Gold and Matte Black. The former two color options looks good, but they can be compared to the matte black version. Thanks to multiple production processes and the materials used to make this phone the Xiaomi Mi 5C is too attractive for eyes. It provides a great ergonomics experience as well as pleasant emotions.

Read: Xiaomi Mi 5C Black Out of the Box Tour: Black Gold

The left hand side carries a SIM card slot. Once it is opened we can see it supports dual nano SIM cards unlike the most of current smartphones.

The volume rocker and the unlock button is on the right side.

Xiaomi Mi 5C

The 3.5mm audio jack and the microphone hole are placed on the top. They are also accompanied with two antenna ribbons.

The microUSB Type-C, speaker and another microphone hole are on the bottom.

The Xiaomi Mi 5C is very stylish. It comes with a metal housing but and this feature can give some advantages to the device. But glass housings are becoming more and more popular. Therefore Xiaomi has to think on this. Look at the HTC U Ultra or the Meizu X, and you’ll understand what a huge difference there is between the metal and glass bodies.

HTC U Ultra

Xiaomi Mi 5C Performance or What Surge S1 Can Provide

The brain of a digital device has been known as CPU (Central Processing Unit), which is accompanied with various chips like GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), memory controllers, specialized video and audio chips (DSP), and many more. But they all are integrated into one chip called SoC (System-on-a-Chip).

Currently there are only a few mobile chip makers – Qualcomm, MediaTek, Huawei, and now, Xiaomi. The main purpose of all these companies is to make chips providing better performance. The CPU and GPU affect it the most. So manufacturers are mainly working on them. But CPUs are made by ARM, a monopoly company that sells licensed CPUs to them. As for GPUs, there is more competitive environment – ARM’s Mali, Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR, Qualcomm’s Adreno.

Currently more than 50% of Android-running smartphones are packed with Snapdragon processors. The same picture was in 2015 as well. This means the smartphone market depends on Qualcomm.

As for the Surge S1, it’s a mid-range chip made to compete with the Snapdragon 625 and MediaTek Helio P20. I can also add the Huawei Kirin 655 to this list.

Read: Xiaomi Surge S1 vs Snapdragon 625 vs Helio P25 vs Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 655

All three SoCs use the same A53 octa-core architecture. The only difference is the process technology they come at. In this sense, the Surge S1 is in the worst status – it uses 28nm technology, while the Snapdragon 625 uses 14nm and the Helio P25 uses 16nm process technology. The Xiaomi Surge S1 also supports only support LPDDR3 and EMMC5.0 storage options.

However, let’s see how the Surge S1 chip behaves on the Xiaomi Mi 5C. The four large cores clock at 2GHz, while the next bunch of smaller cores run at 1.85GHz.

As a result, the AnTuTu test performed for both sets showed quite different scores. The large cores scored over 60.000 points. The small cores got about 45.000 points. Moreover, the 3D performance is surprising.

The Xiaomi Mi 5C has been also tested for playing games. During the test 6 cores were loaded completely; 27% of the whole capacity was used; and the processor was providing only 20fps.

Xiaomi Mi 5C Camera: Hidden Abilities of Surge S1

Xiaomi Mi 5C’s camera is promoted as the eye of the Night. At first sight we thought the phone comes with the same IMX378 sensor found on the Xiaomi Mi 5S. Actually the phone comes with a 12 MP main rear camera with OmniVision OV12870 sensor and another 8 MP front shooter with Omnivision OV8865 sensor. Such modules can be found on various top-end devices like the iPhone.

Read: Xiaomi Mi 5S Camera Review: Same IMX378 Sensor Found On Google Pixel

The fact Xiaomi’s Surge S1 chips dual-camera is pretty nice. For example, the same Huawei Kirin 955 on the Huawei P9 doesn’t support this feature. And the manufacturer has to use additional ISP.

Xiaomi Mi 5C Camera Samples

When taking photos with this handset and not using any mode the captures come with low contrast, gloom colors, poor color saturation and so on.

Xiaomi Mi 5C HDR off

Once the HDR is opened, the same photo becomes brighter. So it’s highly recommended to activate this feature when shooting regardless the fact it slows the process down.

Xiaomi Mi 5C HDR on


Xiaomi Mi 5C HDR off


Xiaomi Mi 5C HDR on

The same thing can be recommended when taking nighttime photos.


Xiaomi Mi 5C HDR off


Xiaomi Mi 5C HDR on





Xiaomi Mi 5C Battery: Is The Small Battery Justified?

The most vulnerable feature of the Xiaomi Mi 5C is the battery. The phone comes with an ‘outdated’ processor, in some sense. I mean its Surge S1 chip uses a 28nm process technology, which heats more, required voltage is higher and other technical problems. Moreover, it is packed with a 2860mAh battery that is considered as a small capacity battery per se.

The phone was tested for a battery life. The brightness was set at 50%. The volume was set at 53%. 4G data connectivity is activated as well. Four sets of a video made the device to discharge from 100% to 74%. So the estimated video playing time is thought to be around 350 minutes.

Though the Xiaomi Mi 5C battery lifetime can’t be satisfactory, it comes with a 5V / 2.5A, 9V / 2A, 12V / 1.5A charger, nominal up to 18W surging fast charge. As for the charging test, the phone charged up to 60% in 30 minutes. And it was fully charged in 70 minutes. Not bad.


  • Appearance: the phone comes with a stylish design, which be a selling point of the phone.
  • Performance: though it comes with a 28nm chip, the provided performance is stable.
  • Camera: Mi line handsets always come with good cameras. The Mi 5C’s Eyes of the Night is no exception.
  • Price: 1499 yuan is great for such mid-range devices.


  • Battery: the battery capacity is too small. This is dissatisfactory, but the 18W fast charging option can save the situation.

Wrap Up

The Xiaomi Mi 5C is the budget-friendly version of the Mi5. Taking into account this fact Xiaomi has made a few experiments on it. In this sense, the Mi 5C is perceived differently.

First, the Surge S1 is not perfect, but it will solve many problems related with chip vendors. Xiaomi and Samsung have delayed the release date of their flagships in face of the Mi 6 and Galaxy S8. And this is not the only case. The same Sony Xperia XZ Premium will appear in the market only in June. If looking back, the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro was delayed due to Snapdragon 810 capacity problems at Qualcomm. Huawei, which is the current leader in the Chinese market, has solved this problem by producing its own chips. That’s why it launches astonishing phones one after another.

Second, self-made chips may affect not only the release schedules, but the cost as well. Processors are priced high currently. So own hardware can be a game changer in the price race.

Finally, Huawei has passed 5 long years since the first chip was released. So the Xiaomi Mi 5C and the Surge S1 should be taken as the first step in a long journey.


Argam Artashyan

Back in 2010, he was dismissed from his position as a lecturer at the university. This made him get another job at his friend’s digital marketing company as a blog writer. After a few years, when he was thinking the article writing is his mission, Google pushed the Panda update and affected the company and websites he was working at. (Un)fortunately and surprisingly, he got an offer to head a large knitting factory. In 2016, he got his Ph.D. and resumed teaching at the University … and writing tech-related articles following his passion.

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  1. did they fix video recording problems ? with picture “jumping” when exposure changes, every second and focusing problems ?

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