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Circuit Breaker

Xiaomi's new Mi 5s flagship comes with an ultrasonic fingerprint reader

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Embedded under the glass 'button' at the bottom of the device

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Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi has unveiled its new Mi 5s and Mi 5s Plus handsets, successors to this year's Mi 5. The devices offer mostly expected updates, including an improved camera and faster processor, but there is one particularly interesting touch — a new ultrasonic fingerprint reader built under the glass at the bottom of the phones.

This, says Xiaomi, means the Mi 5s and its larger sibling can boast "seamless, button-free design." This is a bit misleading, considering that the 5s still has a concave indentation that looks like a button and is also the only place you can use the fingerprint reader.

However, using an ultrasonic sensor should mean more accurate fingerprint readings for the Mi 5s. Xiaomi says the sensor is based on Qualcomm's ultrasonic technology, which, it's claimed, makes it easy to scan your fingers even when they're dirty or wet. If you've ever tried to unlock an iPhone with wet hands, you'll know how irritating this issue can be. We'll have to wait to try out the Mi 5s in person, though, to see how good the ultrasonic reader really is.

In terms of other specs, the main change for the phones is a new Snapdragon 821 chipset (a step up from the Mi 5's Snapdragon 820) and a metallic rear case (the back on the Mi 5 is glass). There's also new Sony CMOS image sensor powering the 12-megapixel camera on the Mi 5s, with dual-tone LED flash and 4K video recording, while the Plus model has a dual-camera system. Both models offer up to 128GB of storage, while the 5s has up to 4GB of RAM and the Plus goes up to 6GB of RAM. The Mi 5s has a 5.1-inch, 1080p display with pressure sensitivity, while the 5s Plus has a 5.7-inch display.

As ever with Xiaomi, we're not expecting these phones to get a US release, but Chinese customers will be able to preorder both devices on September 29th. For 1,999 yuan (around $300) you can get the base model Mi 5s with 64GB storage with 3GB of RAM, while the high-end version (128GB storage / 4GB RAM) will go for 2,299 yuan ($344). The base model of the 5s Plus (64GB storage / 4GB of RAM) will go for 2,299 yuan ($344), while the high-end model (128GB storage / 6GB RAM) will sell for 2,599 yuan ($390).