Smartphone battles regarding flagships have been about pricing at times, but Chinese OEMs have dismantled the idea of flagship prices for flagship phones. You can buy a flagship phone at a very budget-friendly price now. A good example was the near-$400 USD price tag of the OnePlus 3 when it arrived, and the $479 USD price tag of the OnePlus 3T when it arrived on the market. These prices are $200-$400 more inexpensive than their counterparts, with even Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ coming in at $750 USD and $850 USD, respectively.
In this battle of budget flagships, then, price is not an issue since both are ultra-affordable. What will distinguish these are other factors such as build quality, UI and software, cameras, SoCs, and other features.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
The OnePlus 5 appears to maintain the same aluminum construction as previous models, with the antenna bands being removed from the back cover. The Xiaomi Mi6, on the other hand, brings a stainless steel frame that joins a glass display with a curved glass back cover that is more oleophobic than one would imagine.
In terms of design, it’s the old metal versus glass debate that we can’t settle here. Some view metal as premium and believe it to be more durable to drops, bumps, and impact than glass phones, and some understand the potential impact risks of glass smartphones but view them as far more beautiful and elegant than premium phones. For those that don’t care for the usual glass, Xiaomi offers Ceramic as an option.
It all comes down to your preference, but there’s no denying that the OnePlus 5 and Xiaomi Mi6 will prove to be two of the most premium-yet-affordable flagships the market has ever seen. If you can’t choose between the two designs, it’s okay: we can’t blame you.
The OnePlus 5 is said to have a 5.5-inch AMOLED Full HD display with a 1920 x 1080p screen resolution, while the Xiaomi Mi6 has a 5.15-inch IPS LCD Full HD screen. The Xiaomi Mi6 will have slightly better pixel density due to its smaller screen, but those looking for more screen real estate may want to consider the OnePlus 5. AMOLED panels tend to have more saturated colors, so that may be another reason to go with the OnePlus 5. If AMOLEDs aren’t your cup of tea and LCD screens are just fine for you, then the Mi 6 is an excellent choice.
As for sheer screen size, the OnePlus 5 wins because its screen is 0.35 inches wider than the Xiaomi Mi6.
The OnePlus 5 and Xiaomi Mi6 both feature the 10-nanometer, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, so the processing power for these budget-friendly flagships is stellar. With the move to octa-core processors from Qualcomm (forget the Snapdragon 810 nightmare), battery life and graphics improvements are part of the equation. However, OnePlus 5 has the Snapdragon 835 processor clocked at 2.35GHz, while Mi6 has it clocked at 1.9GHz. This leaves the OnePlus 5 as a winner here.
The OnePlus 5 will have 8GB of RAM as the standard, which stands apart from the 6GB RAM configuration found in the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T, the OnePlus 5’s two previous successors. The Xiaomi Mi6 has 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM, so the OnePlus 5 will have 2GB of additional RAM as compared to the Mi6. The win goes to the OnePlus 5.
The OnePlus 5 is set to have 128GB of storage while the Xiaomi Mi6 has both 64GB and 128GB storage configurations. OnePlus is going with one storage configuration to focus its efforts on one flagship and give buyers the best experience possible while Xiaomi is offering some variation of choice in its storage options. OnePlus has already discontinued production on the OnePlus 3T to focus on the OnePlus 5 (“one flagship,” the OEM says).
Keep in mind too that if you’re looking for expandable storage, you won’t find it here with either budget-friendly flagship.
The camera battle is where the battle of the budget flagships turns interesting. OnePlus and Xiaomi take different approaches to dual cameras, with OnePlus placing a 16MP+16MP dual camera setup on the rear of the phone with a 16MP selfie snapper. Xiaomi placed its 12MP+12MP dual camera setup on the rear and brought an 8MP selfie snapper to the front camera.
The OnePlus 5 has better dual rear cameras (16MPs vs. 12MPs) as well as a better selfie camera with double the megapixel count of the Xiaomi Mi6. The overall win here goes to the OnePlus 5.
The OnePlus 5 will have a 3,300mAh battery while the Xiaomi Mi6 has a 3,350mAh battery. Though the Mi6 has a slightly bigger battery, these two smartphones have Full HD resolutions and thus, should provide enjoyable battery life no matter which wins your heart and wallet.
The OnePlus 5 has a better AMOLED panel vs. the LCD screen of the Mi6, a wider display (5.5 inches vs. 5.15 inches), more RAM (8GB vs. 6GB), better minimum storage (128GB base storage for the OnePlus 5 versus the 64GB of base storage for the Mi6), greater megapixel counts (16MP rear cameras versus 12MP rear cameras), but also has a slightly smaller battery than the Xiaomi Mi6.
There are other factors to consider as well, such as the fact that the Xiaomi Mi6 lacks the 3.5mm headphone jack while the OnePlus 5 maintains it but has moved it up top instead of at the bottom where it was originally located. Then, there are the UI overlays where Xiaomi and OnePlus have their own unique features that distinguish their handsets.
In the battle of the flagships, it all comes down to preference. Both prove to be formidable competition in a race where premium often carries an out-of-the-ballpark price tag, but Xiaomi seems to offer more options (if you overlook the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack).