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[Reviews] [Device Team] Mi 5c Hands On Review: Exploring Xiaomi's First SoC Venture!

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17:33, Mar-16-2017
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Mi 5c: Exploring Xiaomi's First SoC Venture
by mitch002 (follow me on Twitter @MI_mitch002 for my latest unboxing and tutorials)

Xiaomi started the year right, releasing their very first SoC codenamed Pinecone Surge S1 inside the newly unveiled Mi 5c. Now joining the elites like Apple, Samsung and Huawei as the only smartphone manufacturers to have their own processors.But every new venture has their respective birth pains, and Xiaomi is not exempted from this trend. There are reports that the phone heats up when in use, we will discover it as we put our hands on this beautiful device.

Xiaomi Mi 5c Specs

  • Powered by Surge S1, octa-core 64-bit processor (2.2GHz quad-core A53 + 1.4GHz quad-core A53)
  • 5.15” display, 550-nit brightness, 2048 brightness levels with ultra-precise backlight controls, 94.4% NTSC Color Gamut
  • Slim and light premium metal body: 132g and 7.09mm thin
  • 2860mAh battery; 9V/2A fast charging
  • 3GB + 64GB, dual-channel LPDDR3 + eMMC5.0
  • Dual Sim, Nano Size
  • 1.25 micron pixel size, ultra light-sensitive 12MP rear camera
  • Single-frame HDR
  • f2.0, 27mm wide angle, 8MP Front Camera
  • Front fingerprint sensor
  • USB C Port
  • 3G, LTE
  • Android Marshmallow, MIUI 8
  • 802.11a / b / g / n / ac dual-band wireless network
  • Wifi Display, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, A-APS, GLONASS, Beidou Positioning
  • Gold, Black, Pink

What's in the Box:



The Mi 5c sports an unibody with an aluminum finish, we can see that at the back, the battery cover is matte finish but the upper and lower border line is glossy finish, pretty resembles that of the Iphone 5s.
Above the frame we have the Infrared port together with the 3.5mm jack and the noise cancellation mic.
On the right side, we have the volume rocker and the power button. which is pretty much the same across all Xiaomi models.
On the left side, we have the sim tray which supports 2 Nano sim cards and sadly it’s not the same as Mi 4S and Redmi Note 3 Pro which sports a hybrid sim 2 slot for either a Micro SD card or a Nano Sim.
Below the frame we have the USB-C port which is standard for all flagship smartphones released by Xiaomi, and the loudspeaker is placed at the right and to the left of the charging port is the mic in. This time its different from the Mi 5 design, normaly its 4 holes on the left and 4 holes to the right, this time its one hole on the left and one hole on the right, to prevent users from complaining why there is only louspeaker sound on the right holes and not on the left.
In the front, we have the physical home button with fingerprint scanner together with the 5.15" display and the 8MP selfie camera. The homebutton has a special assistive touch, you just need to tap the home button lightly and it will go back to home screen just like that on the Mi 5s.

The back sports a matte finish aluminum case together with the 12MP Single HDR Single LED flash. The overall feel on the Mi 5c is very smooth, very light and very thin, overall we pretty love this unit as an overall experience, it kind of sway away from the design of Mi 5 in terms of aesthetics and got closer to that of the Iphone design. Xiaomi did a heck of a job in squeezing in all those goodies inside the Mi 5c. One noticeable thing is the phone is so smooth that it just might slip out of your hand anytime you are not conscious about it.



The Mi 5c comes with a IPS LCD 5.15-inch display coupled with a curved glass on the sides. We tried to ask for the kind of glasses used but we did not received any data as of press time, but expect it to be scratch resistance, to what level we still don't know. The screen display is pretty good, it has sunlight display technology and can adjust brightness automatically when surrounding is dim or bright.

Putting Mi 5c and Mi 5 side by side and played some movies, there is not really much difference in terms of the rendered video although Mi 5's display is a little more sharper and brighter than Mi 5c based on our assessment. This is due to Mi 5 incorporating more Backlit LED (a total of 16 LEDs), Mi 5 will display the photo brighter under max brightness compared to the Mi 5c. The Mi 5 600 nits luminance output vs 550 nits of the Mi 5c spells the difference in terms of display. One thing that captures our attention is the Sunlight Display Panel which makes the viewing under direct sunlight easy on the eyes.

Pinecone Surge S1

  • Octa-core 64-bit chipset (4xA53 cores 2.2GHz + 4xA53 cores 1.4GHz)
  • 28nm High Performance Computing (HPC) process
  • Mali-T860 quad-core GPU
  • AFBC + ASTC image compression technology
  • 32-bit high performance DSP for voice processing
  • 14-bit dual ISP; enhanced image processing capabilities
  • Surge ISP algorithm improves camera light sensitivity by 150%
  • Dual noise reduction algorithm reduces noise and preserves image detail in low light
  • Upgradable baseband; programmable modem, OTA up-gradable
  • VoLTE high quality call and video support
  • Chip-level security; TEE architecture, strict compliance with safety regulations
  • Antutu score 64,817 (Theoretical)


We did a lot of test on this unit to check its performance since its the first by Xiaomi, the Surge S1 can handle any multitasking activity without a hiccup plus we did play heavy graphics game like NBA2k17 for 2 hours, we used Golden State Warriors team to defeat several powerful team like the Cavs, Spurs and Thunders. The game went well and we were pretty impressed, it did not have any lags at all during gameplay. One noticeable problem is the heat generated by the game at the back of the phone which is probably hotter than the Mi 5 and Mi MIX that we have on hand.


The Xiaomi Mi 5c supports China Mobile TDD-LTE at the moment, but we were able to explore that it does supports FDD-LTE band 800 1800 and 1900, other bands we have yet to know. Wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac is also smooth and it also supports Wi-Fi Direct. Wireless screen mirroring is also available via the Miracast protocol, tethering data is also working perfectly. Bluetooth 4.1,GPS, and GLONASS are all present, One thing that is missing is the 4G+ capability, unless someone can unlock its potential. We were only able to achieve 4G at the most for this unit at the moment.


Here are the supported bandwidth by the Mi 5c:
  • Mobile 2G / 3G / 4G VoLTE 16Khz support HD voice
  • Unicom 2G
  • the GSM 2/3/8
  • the TD-SCDMA 34/39
  • the TDD the LTE-38/39/40/41
  • underlying algorithms can be upgraded via OTA

Audio & Video

The Mi 5c sports a pretty good speaker, loud and crisp. We have compared the output audio of Mi 5c against the Mi 5 and we proved that the loudspeaker of the Mi 5c can rival that of the Mi 5. Not really much difference on our observation. Mi 5c supports a wide range of video format like MKV, MP4, M4V, AVI, XVID and more. It can even support 4k H265 videos in the process.

Suppported Formats:
  • MP4
  • M4V
  • MKV
  • XVID
  • WAV
  • AAC
  • MP3
  • AMR
  • FLAC
  • APE
  • DSD

Support H.264 / HEVC (Main profile), H.264 (Baseline / Main / High profile), MPEG4 (Simple profile / ASP) and other video formats,
support PCM, AAC / AAC + / eAAC +, MP3, AMR - NB and WB , FLAC, APE, DSD, WAV and other audio formats.

The main focus of Xiaomi in Mi 5c is primarily in its 12MP Ultra Light Sensitive Single Frame HDR Camera (other than of course the Surge S1 SoC)  It’s no fluke that this camera can take pretty good shots under good lighting, as well as above average shots on dim lights. We have put together some photos for you to enjoy. We took outdoor photos, macro, food photo as well as playing with exposure time to get good photos of waterfalls. Thanks to @schwaa for mentoring me on this.

Photo Gallery (Unedited Photos)


Battery, Temperature and Benchmark

While packing in 2860mAh inside a thin unibody is no easy task, the Mi 5c has a battery life similar to that of the Iphone. We are not really impressed with it as we have recorded a mediocre 6 hours 45 mins on performance mode as well as 7 hours 37 mins on balanced mode. The charging we were able to get a maximum of 2.11 Ampere input during charging which as explained by Xiaomi.

Screenshot_2017-03-12-05-59-29-758_com.futuremark.pcmark.android.benchmark.jpg Screenshot_2017-03-12-05-59-31-837_com.futuremark.pcmark.android.benchmark.jpg
Screenshot_2017-03-12-18-22-53-213_com.futuremark.pcmark.android.benchmark.jpg Screenshot_2017-03-12-18-22-51-298_com.futuremark.pcmark.android.benchmark.jpg

We were able to achieve a benchmark score of 58,387 points under performance mode as well as 46,645 points under balanced mode. Which is no where near 64,817 points that Xiaomi claimed it to be.  These scores are pretty an average score that can be achieved by the likes of Snapdragon 625 SoC.


The fingerprint scanner takes only 20 seconds estimated to setup and it is very responsive in unlocking the phone, but one thing for sure, the physical button makes the Mi 5c looks like the Mi 5 in the front. The homebutton has an assistive touch that enable the user to light tap on the physical button to go back to home screen.

More Benchmarks:


Mi 5c, Good Job Pinecone Surge S1!

The Mi 5c surely did not disappoint us in its first venture with the Pinecone Surge S1 SoC, we were able to play heavy games, watch 4k videos, listen to Spotify, multitask our daily routines without a hitch. Which is pretty impressive for a start, what we didn't like was the heat dissipated by the phone on heavy games and prolonged time using mobile data.

Another problem is that this phone is supposed to be working only for China Mobile (patent reason), but we were able to unlock the FDD LTE capability of this phone, check my thread below.

As far as price and features is concerned, this phone is a performer in its class and we are happy that Xiaomi is getting more serious with their smartphone dominace as it join powerhouse Apple, Samsung and Huawei as the 4th smartphone maker with its own SoC.

Mi 5c retails for 1499 RMB.

Related Guides:
Iphone 6s vs Mi 5c vs Mi5


Disclaimer: Please don't send me any PM regarding any type of Sales related inquiries. I'm a Xiaomi enthusiast but not a seller of Mi Products. I'm just a hardcore Xiaomi Fan, one notch higher than many of you here. Also I'm a Tech Blogger in the Philippines and all my review devices are either bought by myself from Xiaomi or borrowed from someone for a short period of time.


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00:03, Mar-18-2017
Mi 5c is rocking the world

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17:37, Mar-16-2017
It took me around 30 seconds to scroll to the bottom page in order to rate your thread. Hahahaha. Rated and will start reading right away !
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17:39, Mar-16-2017
Very nice review, lovely amzing


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18:00, Mar-16-2017
Awesome review. Thanks for the photos

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18:11, Mar-16-2017
the glass onthe up side phone is similar on nexus 6p im really impress

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20:21, Mar-16-2017
Good job on the review and thank you for showing us what is the capability of the phone. Sadly the camera isn't impressive unlike the shots you've taken with the Mi 5/5S. CPU is good enough for a mid-range CPU.

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23:27, Mar-16-2017 Via mobile
MI4C even better than this one. All A53 as big and little aren't good choices, inefficient. A53 at high clock speed makes this phone over heat. I think A72 is better for Big Cluster of Xia

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23:30, Mar-16-2017 Via mobile
MI4C even better than this one. The processor is inefficient. A53 for Big Cluster of CPU isn't better than A72. Put A53 as a Big Cluster of CPU at high clock speed makes phone come overheat

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00:49, Mar-17-2017
I have just watched a review of this phone and conclusion is:
Premium look and amazing screen but camera performance is horrible. Not again, for God sake the camera performance is almost the most important thing nowadays and that is exactly why oppo has a success. Xiaomi wake up and listen to people here and fix it in the future.

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01:10, Mar-17-2017
Very good devices

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