OnePlus 3 and the Xiaomi Mi 5 are powerhouse phones, and they both look pretty awesome too. The mid-level smartphone segment keeps getting better and better, each day. But, right now it doesn’t get any better than either of the two phones.
If you’re out to buy a new phone, and happen to have the two in your list, it could be pretty difficult to make a choice. Well, that’s what we are here for. To help you make a choice, an informed choice.
Here’s a point-by-point breakdown of the OnePlus 3 and the Xiaomi Mi 5, so you can make that all-important choice.
Design and build quality
The Mi 5 has an all-3D glass body made of Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which has been joined together by a metal frame with chamfered edges. The design is very thoughtful. It is a gradual evolution of Xiaomi’s Mi Note. What is remarkable is the fact that Xiaomi has been able to make an all-glass phone that isn’t as slippery as a fish. And it’s compact to hold. In fact it’s just the right size to hold: not too small, not too big either.
The OnePlus 3 ditches the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2’s iconic sandstone finish. At the end of the day though, it’s a small trade-off you pay for a more premium, lighter and thinner experience. The OnePlus 3 is an all-metal smartphone, a first for OnePlus. Unlike its previous phones that were chunky, the OnePlus 3 feels nicer, and more refined. But, it is slippery to hold. And quite big, in comparison to the Mi 5. You will have to use both hands to make full use of all its corners. Also, it isn’t the most original of designs around. The phone looks like a mashup between the HTC One and the OnePlus 2, which could irk some buyers.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi 5
The OnePlus 3 comes with a 5.5-inch fullHD AMOLED display with a 1920×1080 pixels resolution. The OnePlus 3 may have retained the screen resolution of its predecessors, but it’s a different display panel altogether. OnePlus calls it Optic AMOLED. The screen of the OnePlus 3 is significantly richer and brighter than the screens of the OnePlus One and the OnePlus 2. While the OnePlus X’s AMOLED screen produced notoriously over-saturated colours, the screen of the OnePlus 3 is more neutral in this regard.
The Mi 5 has a 5.15-inch FullHD displaywith a 1080×1920 pixels resolution, which roughly translates to 428 ppi pixel density. The Mi 5 display gives the Galaxies or even the iPhones a run for their money, at half the cost. The screen of the Mi 5 can get really bright and it can go really dim as and when required. It displays well saturated colours, and adaptive brightness works as it should. Viewing angles are also excellent. The Mi 5 particularly excels in outdoor sunny environment where its inbuilt Sunlight Display feature kicks in and offers good screen legibility.
Xiaomi’s Mi 5 is brighter than the OnePlus 3 in comparison, but the OnePlus 3 is also not far behind. In fact, the difference will be hard to notice for most buyers.
The OnePlus 3 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow-based OxygenOS version 3.1.2. OxygenOS sticks dangerously close to stock Android and offers an almost bloat-free experience out-of-the-box. The only extra apps it chips in is a file manager, gallery and a music player. Think of it as a third-party Nexus. And that’s awesome, in a world where Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 on-board the Mi 5 basically strips the phone off key Google highlights like Now on Tap.
The MIUI 7 may be super smooth and entail in more customsaition options, but not offering consumers key Android 6 interface elements is a buzzkill.
If you are not a “stock Android fanatic”, MIUI 7 offers all the bells and whistles that you’d want from a fully-functional operating system. But, there’s something about the simplicity of OxygenOS that makes it stand out.
Winner: OnePlus 3
Performance and battery life
The OnePlus 3 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with Adreno 530 GPU and whopping 6 gigs of RAM. You get 64GB of internal memory straight off the bat, but expandable storage is not supported.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 that is available in India is powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 530 GPU and 3GB RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal memory, which is non-expandable.
Paper-specs are enough to suggest that the OnePlus 3 is a powerhouse phone, hands down. The Xiaomi Mi 5 may not be a slugger, but clearly, the OnePlus 3 holds the edge here when it comes to raw performance.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 also tends to get hot when pushed. The OnePlus 3, not so much.
The mono speaker setup on-board the OnePlus 3 is average at best. If you’re looking for good speakers in a smartphone, the OnePlus 3 is definitely not the one for you. Audio output through headphones is fine though. The mono speaker in the Mi 5 is louder in comparison. It gets pleasantly loud with little or no distortion at peak volume.
Both the phones support dualSIM and 4G LTE, alongside NFC connectivity option.
The OnePlus 3 is backed by a 3,000mAh battery, which is smaller than the one inside the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2. The OnePlus 3 has decent battery life (above-average), if not the best. Moderate to extreme usage saw us charging the phone twice on a working day. There are phones with bigger and better battery life in and around this price point and the Xiaomi Mi 5 is one of them, even though it has the same capacity. But, OnePlus has a surprise packed inside the OnePlus 3. This is the company’s first phone that supports its in-house fast charging technology – or fast charge in general — called Dash Charging. The accompanying Dash Charger is capable of charging the phone to up to 60 per cent in just 30 minutes. And it does. 45 minutes or so is all it takes to fully charge the phone.
Moreover, the Dash charger has been built in a way that shifts most of the power management processes from the phone to itself so the phone doesn’t get hot while charging. And it doesn’t. The OnePlus 3 stays surprisingly cool even when charging. This means you can continue to use the phone even while it’s charging.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, but Dash charging employed by OnePlus and its heat-management process gives it the added edge.
Winner: OnePlus 3
The OnePlus 3 comes with a 16-megapixel camera — Sony IMX 298 sensor — on the rear with PDAF, f/2.0 aperture and Optical Image Stabilisation. The rear snapper is capable of recording time-lapse, 4K video and RAW file format. The Mi 5 also sports a 16-megapixel camera on the rear with f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis optical image stabilisation, phase detection autofocus and dualLED flash. It’s rocking the same Sony IMX298 sensor but has a Sapphire glass lens. Its camera also supports DTI (deep trench isolation) technology, much like the iPhone 6S.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 may seem like it is having the upper hand, on paper, but actual use scenarios tell a different story. The rear camera of the OnePlus 3 clicks better photos – with good dynamic range and little or no metering issues – especially in good light and indoor lighting. It can be a hit and miss in low light but overall we feel that it clicks images with considerably lesser noise than the Xiaomi phone in such situations.
The 8-magapixel front camera of the OnePlus 3 also clicks selfies with more detail as compared to the Mi 5’s 4-megapixel front-facing camera.
The OnePlus 3 holds an edge at video recording though. Videos shot with it are optically better stabilised – and still – as opposed to one shot with the OnePlus 3. At the same time, the Mi 5 rear camera is a little faster to focus and has slightly better shutter speed. But if we were to decided solely on the basis of the image quality, the OnePlus 3 certainly offers better results.
Winner: OnePlus 3
So which on should you buy?
Both the OnePlus 3 (at Rs 27,999) and the Xiaomi Mi 5 (at Rs 24,999) are excellent smartphones in their own right. Both of them offer top-tier performance like phones that cost almost a double. But, between the two, the OnePlus 3 boasts considerably better performance (there’s always at least 2GB or close RAM left no matter how many apps you have opened), more storage, better cameras, and fast and heat-efficient charging.
The OnePlus 3’s OxygenOS meanwhile keeps things simple, and if that wasn’t enough, OnePlus gives you the option to root it, ROM it, or whatever without voiding the warranty. The Xiaomi Mi 5 may have been the best phone that money could buy at under Rs 30,000 at the time when it was launched, but the title now rests safely with the OnePlus 3. Also, you no longer need invites to buy the OnePlus 3. So the choice becomes quite obvious. The OnePlus 3 is now the ultimate mid-range flagship smartphone to beat. And it’s going to take something very special to do that.