Xiaomi is one of the biggest phone makers in China, and it's increasingly getting its name heard elsewhere. Xiaomi officially unveiled its Mi 5 flagship Android phone at MWC 2016 in Barcelona, and on 31 March the Mi 5 has also launched in India. Here we reveal what you need to know about how to buy the Xiaomi Mi 5 in the UK, plus the Xiaomi Mi 5 release date, price, features and specifications. Also see: Huawei P9 release date, features and spec rumours

Xiaomi Mi 5 release date: How to buy the Xiaomi Mi 5 in the UK

Xiaomi Mi 5 launch date: 1 March 2016.

Xiaomi phones are not officially sold in the UK, so the Xiaomi Mi 5 will not be available from the likes of Vodafone, Three, EE, or the Carphone Warehouse.

However, it is possible to get hold of Xiaomi phones through Chinese sites such as Geekbuying.com, GearBest.com and Coolicool.com, which we regularly use to supply us with Xiaomi products for review. (For example, in the past they have sent us samples of the Xiaomi Mi 4C, Xiaomi Redmi 3 and Redmi Note 3 phones, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 tablet, the Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Pulse activity tracker, the Xiaomi 10,000mAh Power Bank and even the Xiaomi iHealth Smart Blood Pressure Monitor.)

The Mi 5 is to cost 2,600RMB (£285) for the high-end 128GB model and 1,999RMB (£219) for the entry-level 32GB version - but the official prices are largely irrelevant if you're buying in the UK, because you'll have to pay whatever price you are charged by importers.

Geekbuying is listing for presale the Xiaomi Mi 5 in 32GB/3GB, 64GB/4GB and 128GB/4GB models in white black and gold. It says shipping will begin 31 May.

Xiaomi Mi 5 32GB storage, 3GB RAM, white: £294.62 
Xiaomi Mi 5 32GB storage, 3GB RAM, black: £316.18 
Xiaomi Mi 5 32GB storage, 3GB RAM, gold: £316.18 
Xiaomi Mi 5 64GB storage, 3GB RAM, white: £352.11 
Xiaomi Mi 5 64GB storage, 3GB RAM, black: £377.98 
Xiaomi Mi 5 64GB storage, 3GB RAM, gold: £377.98 
Xiaomi Mi 5 128GB storage, 4GB RAM, black: £416.78 

Coolicool is also listing the 64GB Xiaomi Mi 5 in black, white and gold at £304.50, and GearBest at £343.39.

Update 5 April 2016: GearBest is currently holding a flash sale on the Mi 5 where it is available for just £295.35 (32GB version)

These prices may change from day to day, and note that if you're shipping to the UK you may have to pay import duty. Read our advice on buying grey market tech before you go ahead with your purchase. Also see: Best Chinese phones to buy in the UK 2016.

If you are buying in the UK, note that the Xiaomi Mi 5 may support only bands 3 (1800MHz) and 7 (2600MHz) for 4G LTE (that's according to the product listing on various sites, although the Snapdragon 820 is capable of 800MHz). If you have an O2 SIM, or use a network that piggybacks on O2's network, such as GiffGaff, you should know that the Mi 5 may not support LTE band 20 (800MHz), and you may not receive anything more than 3G. As soon as we know for sure we will update this article. Also see: How to tell whether a phone is supported by your network

Xiaomi Mi 5 features and specifications

The Mi 5, which looks a lot like the Mi Note and has what Xiaomi calls a '3D ceramic body', has a 5.15in full-HD (1920x1080) IPS display. Equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 64-bit quad-core processor it should be an absolute beast for performance. Xiaomi has clocked it at a huge 142,084 points in AnTuTu, but we'll wait until we get one into our lab before we make our own judgements.

This chip is faster and more energy-efficient than ever, and comes with Adreno 530 graphics and support for ultra-fast Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is available with 32-, 64- or 128GB of storage, in black, white, gold or pink. The 32- and 64GB models come with 3GB of LP-DDR4 RAM, while the 128GB version has 4GB of RAM. Be sure to choose the correct storage model for your needs, because microSD is not supported. (There are some other ways you can add storage to Android, of course.) 

The primary camera is a 16Mp Sony IMX298 model with a sapphire glass lens, four-axis optical image stabilisation, PDAF autofocus, DTI tech and f/2.0 aperture. It can also shoot 4K video. At the front you get a 4Mp selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture and 2um large pixels. Below are some test shots Xiaomi showed off from the Mi 5's camera (click to enlarge).

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera

As we've mentioned, in terms of connectivity this is a 4G phone; it's also dual-SIM, with the phone operating in dual-standby mode. Other connectivity specs include NFC, GPS and GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, Wi-Fi Display and Wi-Fi Direct, plus a fingerprint scanner. Charging and data transfer is possible over a reversible USB-C port.

There's a 3000mAh, 685Wh/L high-density battery built into the Mi 5, which measures 144.55x69.2x7.25mm, 129g handset.

The Mi 5 is an Android phone but runs MIUI 7, which is based on Android Marshmallow. Don't expect to have Google Play and the usual Google apps preinstalled (although you can install them as we outline in our Xiaomi Redmi 3 review), and be prepared to do some setup such as installing a UK keyboard.

Xiaomi Mi 5 videos

Xiaomi Mi 5 pictures

Xiaomi Mi 5

Xiaomi Mi 5

Xiaomi Mi 5

Xiaomi Mi 5 hype before the launch

Xiaomi threw out all sorts of hints for what to expect from the Xiaomi Mi 5. 

One thing Xiaomi is keen to get out there is that the Mi 5 is going to be fast. Faster than fast.

Mi_5_Faster_than_fast

Make that "insanely fast":

...Xiaomi's vice president for international Hugo Barra's attempts are less impressive but more amusing:

Okay, we get the picture - it's fast. We also know that the Xiaomi Mi 5 will have a camera capable of this:

Xiaomi Mi 5 camera 

...And this:

Mi 5 camera

And judging by this case made for it the Mi 5 is going to be incredibly thin. Thincredibly thin:

Thincredible Mi 5

Xiaomi phones run MIUI 7.0, which is a custom version of Android. Here's a sneak peek at the Mi 5's home screen:

Mi 5 home screen

Those tips all came straight from the horse's mouth. Here are some other rumours we've picked up about the Xiaomi Mi 5 from around the web:

• The Xiaomi Mi 5 will have a metal frame with front and rear glass panels, with a fingerprint scanner built into the home button

• The Xiaomi Mi 5 will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, which is not only faster and more energy-efficient than previous Snapdragon chips, but includes Quick Charge 3.0 support for the 3600mAh battery

• The primary camera is rumoured to be specified at a huge 26Mp with an f/1.6 aperture, and there may be an 8Mp selfie camera at the front, too

• The screen is most likely to be a 5.2in full-HD panel that features pressure-sensitive technology like Apple's Force Touch

• There will be two versions - one with 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM, and one with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM

• The Mi 5 may see the very latest 802.11ad Wi-Fi

Here's a video of some Xiaomi fans getting excited about the upcoming Mi 5 launch:

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.