Xiaomi has been active in equipping dual cameras across its entire lineup, from the budget-friendly to the midrange and flagship levels. This got us thinking: How would the cheapest of the bunch fare against the most expensive? There’s only one way to find out.

For this single-branded camera shootout, we’re pitting the high-end Mi 6 against the much more affordable Mi 5X. While the former should smoke the latter in terms of raw performance, image quality may actually be more competitive than you’d expect.

They both have a pair of 12-megapixel cameras at the back with dual-LED flash and 2x optical zoom. Being the pricier one of the two, the Mi 6 naturally has some advantages, namely optical image stabilization and a slightly larger aperture opening on the wide-angle lens for brighter photos.

But just how big of a difference would those features make? Let’s compare photos taken around Beijing, China to find out.

Our first samples are close-ups with the naturally produced background blur of the two sets of cameras. Right off the bat, we can see how close this comparison is going to be. Both did an outstanding job of blurring out the background while keeping the flower sharp. The Mi 6’s photo just happens to be a little brighter because of the larger aperture.

At first glance, both shots seem to be identical in terms of pure quality, but looking a bit closer reveals slightly sharper details on the walls of the Mi 6’s photo and more noise in the Mi 5X’s output.

The Mi 5X needed a higher ISO to evenly illuminate the subject, but because of that, you can see some loss of detail in the darker areas. Still, it has better contrast than what the Mi 6 produced.

Similar to the flower photos earlier, the macro shots here give a slight edge to the Mi 6, but only because of the better-controlled exposure on the subject itself and around it.

Now we have our first samples from the zoom lenses of each phone. Results turned out similar to the previous comparison, with the Mi 5X’s product being more subdued.

This scenario gives us more to work with. The Mi 6’s image is noticeably better here with a warmer tone and less blown-out highlights.

Using optical zoom this time, the results are again more or less the same. Both phones did a splendid job of keeping everything sharp; the photo from the Mi 6 is just warmer.

HDR mode was active to retain all the details in the highlights and shadows. We give this round to the Mi 6 for rendering the lines on the building’s facade with greater accuracy.

Selfie time! This one was tough with the strong backlighting, but both phones did well enough. If you pixel peep, you’d notice less mush on the face for the MI 6, at the expense of minimal overexposure.

Surprisingly, the output favors the Mi 5X this time. The cheaper phone’s advantages are in the better-looking floor, clothing, and vegetation in the background.

Indoor shots with poor lighting are tough for any smartphone, and this is no different. The Mi 5X had difficulty focusing and took several attempts to capture the right exposure, but the final image turned out pretty well. Yet, the Mi 6 takes the victory thanks to its brighter lens and image stabilization, both of which were invaluable for this sort of situation.

Again, the Mi 5X struggles to find the correct exposure, and doesn’t focus nearly as fast as the Mi 6. With that, the MI 6 wins with a superior photo overall.

Mi 6 (left), Mi 5X (right)

Mi 6 (left), Mi 5X (right)

Rounding up our shootout are samples shot in portrait mode. With the feature turned on, a combination of the zoom lens and software tricks create extra blur behind the subject, giving the impression that these were shot with dedicated professional-level cameras. Both phones did great here. We prefer how the Mi 6’s photo looks a little more realistic and less blown out with the lighting, although the Mi 5X didn’t do a bad job itself with the way it handled the colors.

And there you have it! If there’s one thing we learned from this shootout, it’s that paying for a more expensive dual-cam Xiaomi phone doesn’t necessarily give you a better imaging experience.

Sure, the Mi 6 would win every other comparison — battery life and playing graphics-intensive games, to name a few — but in terms of image quality, you can pick either one and be fully satisfied.

SEE ALSO: $200 phone vs $600 phone: Dual-camera shootout

SEE ALSO
$200 phone vs $600 phone: Dual-camera shootout