Why Xiaomi Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus Lack Ceramic Body?

The first thing that makes an impression when looking for a smartphone is the housing. It’s not only a case of design but a material as well. Commonly, there are two types of materials used in making the smartphone housing – plastic and metal. But this doesn’t mean the smartphone makers use only these materials. I mean if looking more attentively we can find smartphone housing made of ceramic, wood, fabrics and etc. Decision making for housing material depends on several factors including the price, the phone class and the mission put on the phone. If you remember, the original Xiaomi Mi 5 was launched with a metal unibody and like its predecessors it showed a respectable sell results. But even this factor doesn’t prevent the manufacturer to launch the advanced version of its flagship with a new ceramic housing. We have expected to see something like that for the Xiaomi Mi 5S that is said to inherit all the best features of its predecessor, but as we have seen the newly launched flagship of the manufacturer comes in a metal housing like its sibling the Mi 5S Plus. It has been rumored we’ll see a ceramic housing on the Xiaomi Mi 5S and even saw a few leaked photos confirming this feature, but we got what we got at the end. So why it happened?

xiaomi-mi-5s-and-5s-plus-back-panelI have said at the beginning of the article that the most popular housing materials are plastic and metal. As for plastic technology, there are two synthetic substances in use of phone housings manufacturers – ABS (aka Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PC (aka Polycarbonate). There is also the third version when these two materials are combined – ABS + PC. When it comes to a metal housing, you should know there are three technologies used in it – Aluminum + Anodization, Oxidation and Die casting.

Each of these material has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the ABS has a low resistance to ultraviolet and is sensitive to atmosphere influences. So it will become fragile and start to scatter in a short time. But it’s very cheap. The polycarbonate housing smartphones are tougher and are more scratch resistance. In order, to come in with a cheaper but more durable housing, manufacturers combine these materials.

When it comes to metal housings, it’s thought to be used on high-end smartphones, as metal gives a premium feel. Thanks to aluminum alloys the manufacturers make handset with protected internal components and they are also durable. But there is a real disadvantage for this material- a metal always weaken a signal. The radio waves are reflected so it’s becomes more difficult for the device to use them to communicate. Smartphone makers are trying to change the structure of metal to make it look like plastic. Thanks to a special technology the material becomes five times stronger compared to aluminum and three times stronger than steel. Thus the phone housing becomes thinner but more solid.

So now when we have sorted out the most popular smartphone housing materials, let’s look at different models and find out which of them comes with this or that housing. There are many high-end smartphones beloved by smartphone users and all of them come with a metal housing. Among them we can find the HTC One M9, Samsung Galaxy S line handsets, Huawei Ascend P8 and so on. But there are also top branded handsets making housings of glass and leather. Say, the Sony Xperia Z5 and LG G5. So which is the best and why it’s difficult for Xiaomi and other smartphone makers switch to ceramic body handsets.

xiaomi-mi-5s-front xiaomi-mi-5s-plus

Back in 2013 Apple filed a patent application for a ceramic housing design. It was thought the upcoming cheap iPhone models can sport a ceramic housing. Recently, the iPhone 7 has been launched and it sports a glass curved housing. And it’s rumored we have to wait for the iPhone 8 that can be made of zirconia ceramic. If it happens, we will deal with a material that is four times harder than stainless steel, lightweight, and will resist scratches. Plus, it is radio transparent, and all those silly-looking antenna lines will disappear.

As for other brands, Huawei has announced it is working on a ceramic body smartphone. As Shao Yang, Chief Marketing Officer said,”The material is one of the most important things for consumers, not only because it will have the different feeling, but because it can make the different architecture.” And it’s difficult not to agree with him, as the market is full of handsets packed with the latest features. But all of them behave differently, and it’s mainly related with the housing they come in. We can remember even the case related with the Xiaomi Mi 5 Pro. The original Mi 5 was a great device equipped with decent specs, but the manufacturer replaced it metal housing with a ceramic body, and everything fell into its place.



That’s why when Xiaomi announced it will release a 3D ceramic body Mi 5, the whole net was buzzing about it. This made many manufacturers think on the housing of their upcoming flagships. But the bravest manufacturer launched its first model with such a body – OnePlus X. All these reasons and all those spotted photos made us think Xiaomi will make the housing of the much rumored Mi 5S will not go back to full metal body for its Mi series smartphones. Unfortunately, both the Xiaomi Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus come with a metal housing.



So, we can say the Xiaomi Mi 5S and its sibling the Mi 5S Plus are great, packed with many new technologies and hardware, but let’s be honest – if these smartphones are packed with the rumored features, they can make tough competition to any top branded handset. But the manufacturer hasn’t done it and it’s supposed the main reason is related with the cost. At the moment, the Xiaomi Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus are priced as follows:

Xiaomi Mi 5S 3GB RAM + 64GB ROM – 1999 yuan ($259)

Xiaomi Mi 5S 4GB RAM + 128GB ROM – 2299 yuan ($345)

Xiaomi Mi 5S Plus 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM – 2299 Yuan ($345)

Xiaomi MI 5S Plus 6GB RAM + 128GB ROM – 2599 Yuan ($390)

As you see, even now when there is no ceramic housing the phones can be considered as overpriced. Do you imagine what price tags they would come at if the Chinese Apple decided to make it of ceramic?


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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