In the world of Chinese smartphones, 8 months is practically an age to go before updating your flagship to fight off competition. Of course, that’s not to say that the Xiaomi’s Mi 5 was anything less than great, but when the competition’s so fierce and margins are razor thin, offering anything less than the best isn’t the brightest business move.

So, how has Xiaomi moved to improve the Mi 5? Well, first of all, they’ve slapped an ‘s’ on to the end of its name, which is nice, but it doesn’t end there.

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Externally, the phone has moved from a curved glass back to a brushed aluminum look, offering greater durability. The phone is also slightly shorter, thicker and wider than its predecessor, climbing to 145.6 x 70.3 x 8.3 mm from 144.6 x 69.2 x 7.3 mm for the Mi 5. The layout of the rear camera has changed slightly too, with the flash moving to the left hand side of the sensor, rather than the right.

Moving on to the front and you’re greeted by the same beautiful 5.15″ 1080p display that the Mi5 packed, but also, and perhaps most notably, no visible fingerprint scanner. Gone is the silver outlined unit underneath the screen, replaced here by a light indentation. So, where’s the fingerprint scanner gone? Under the glass.

In a first for any smartphone maker, Xiaomi have equipped the Mi 5s with a ultrasonic fingerprint reader which is mounted beneath the glass. That means not only a cleaner look to the front of your phone, but also better recognition of dirty fingers and durability.

The majority of the changes, however, are internal. Gone is the Snapdragon 820 processor of the Mi 5, replaced by the newer Snapdragon 821 and backed by a bigger 2,300mAh battery unit which should see you last a day of very heavy usage, even with endless calls to your energy company’s customer service number. Oh, and that screen we mentioned? It’s now pressure sensitive on the higher end 128GB model, if that’s something you care about.

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Finally, the camera has seen a spec improvement. You now get a lower resolution 12MP Sony 1/2.3-inch IMX378 sensor which makes use of much larger pixels sites to produce brighter, clearer images than before. The camera also comes with an f/2.0 aperture, a dual-tone LED flash, phase detection auto-focus, auto HDR and video recording of up to 4K resolution at 30fps.

So, on to the price. For the 64GB model with 3GB of RAM, you’re going to be looking at a price of around £230, whilst the 128GB model with 4GB of RAM and a pressure sensitive touchscreen will set you back around £270. Both versions will come in four colours; dark grey, gold, silver or pink.

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However, there’s another smartphone joining the fray: the Mi 5s Plus. It features the same Snapdragon 821 chipset (clocked higher at 2.35GHz), a larger 5.7″ screen, a bigger 3,800mAh battery, a slightly different body design and a rear mounted conventional fingerprint reader.

Perhaps the biggest departure is the move towards dual rear cameras. One is black and white only whilst the other shoots in colour, like the Huawei P9, to enable better photography on the go.

The Mi 5S Plus comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for £270, or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for £300. Both handsets are available to pre-order today.

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Ten fingers, five senses, one man, loads of Chinese smartphones.

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