Xiaomi 5-blade Shaver Review: Too Good To Be True?

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Xiaomi 5-blade Shaver Review: Too Good To Be True?

Review Summary

Pros: very comfortable, decent closeness, powerful motor, solid build quality, fantastic battery life, USB port, easy to clean, compact (for a 5-blade shaver), reasonably priced

Cons: underwhelming performance with longer & flat-lying hairs, no pop-up trimmer, very basic battery level indicator, poor wet shaving performance, noisy, not widely available

Our Rating:

(3.5 out of 5 stars overall)

Value for money:

Features:

Performance:

Buy the Xiaomi Mijia MSW501

See on Amazon

Arguably one of the most intriguing electric shavers in recent years, the Xiaomi 5-blade foil razor originally started out as a crowdfunding project.

Backed by numerous enthusiastic buyers, mass production started soon after and it’s now in full swing.

I’ve been eyeballing this shaver for quite some time and to say that I was excited about shaving with it would be an understatement.

Just like the hundreds of potential buyers that were pledging money even before the shaver existed, I was particularly attracted by the prospect of an affordable, high-performance 5-blade shaver.

In this review, I’m finally able to share my thoughts on this Xiaomi Mijia razor after testing it thoroughly for the past few weeks.

I’ll also be discussing some of my favorite alternatives from the well-established shaver brands at the end of the review.

So let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Features overview

The Xiaomi Mijia MSW501 (that’s the full model name) really is a specs monster: 5 cutting elements, 15 000 CPM (cycles per minute) motor and a massive battery.

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

5 blade shaving head

This has got to be the defining feature of the Mijia shaver and one of its main selling points.

While until now your only option for a foil razor with 5 active cutting elements was the Panasonic Arc 5, we finally have an alternative.

Xiaomi went however with a different approach for the foil head components.

Shavers with multiple cutting elements usually have different types of cutters for tackling different types of facial hair: short, long, straight, flat-lying, with different grain and so on.

If we take a close look at the head unit of the Xiaomi Mijia MSW501, we can identify 3 types of cutters:

The shaving head of the Xiaomi Mijia MSW501 with the 5 cutting elements.

1. One central trimmer for capturing hairs that grow in different directions. This is quite common among other foil shavers. Xiaomi calls this element a Lifting Fine Combing Blade.

2. Two regular foil elements that cut hairs at skin level. They should provide that close, smooth finish we all want. We’ll see later on in the review how close the Xiaomi Mijia shaves.

3. Two elements that feature long, curved slits that should catch and cut longer hairs. In my opinion, these cutters are the novelty of Xiaomi’s setup.

So at least on paper, everything seems to be covered.

I was particularly interested in the two outermost elements with the long slits that were different than everything I’ve seen so far. It will be interesting to see how effective they are when shaving a longer beard.

The actual blades are integrated into the foil block, so they are not removable.

The 5 blades are integrated into the foil unit and are not removable.

In that regard, Xiaomi’s implementation is similar to Braun’s cassettes that also integrate the foils and blades into a single unit.

Flexible head

The Xiaomi Mijia MSW501 is fitted with a flexible shaving head that can move up and down and from left to right.

The movement of the flexible head on two axis.

The 5 blades can also move independently.

In theory, these features should make it easier for the user to shave the different areas of his face without constantly adjusting the shaver in order to maintain proper contact with the skin.

However, the main problem I saw with Xiaomi’s approach (even before testing the shaver) was that the range of motion seemed to be really short.

In fact, I think it’s the shortest I’ve seen yet with any electric razor.

Moreover, the movement of the head feels very springy, wobbly and it always comes back immediately to a central, neutral position.

Also, there’s no switch to lock the head in a fixed position as you get with most electric razors that have a flexible head.

15 000 CPM motor

While the actual number is of little importance to most of us, I think this particular spec deserves a mention.

According to Xiaomi, their motor can reach a peak of 15 000 Cycles Per Minute, making it the fastest unit currently fitted to any electric shaver.

This is quite impressive and should help the MSW501 deliver excellent performance.

Also worth mentioning is that the shaver has an MCU (Memory control unity) that ensures constant power regardless of the coarseness of the hair and the battery charge level.

Large rechargeable battery

Xiaomi fitted their flagship razor with a massive 2000mAh Li-Ion battery, capable of delivering up to 90 minutes of cordless use.

That is again impressive, and not only for this price range.

Most other electric shavers, including the high-end models that cost a premium, usually offer 45 to 60 minutes of use.

And to sweeten the deal even more, the Xiaomi Mijia comes with a USB Type-C port, allowing you to charge it with a regular cable and your phone’s charger.

Since it’s a wet/dry electric shaver, it will only operate cordless as a safety precaution.

Miscellaneous features

Finally, here are a few more features worth mentioning: IPX7 waterproofing, travel lock, 3 level battery indicator, 3-minute quick charge function.

Build quality and ergonomics

The design of the Xiaomi Mijia MSW501 certainly stands out among the rest of today’s electric shavers.

I personally think it’s really sleek and I like it a lot.

Side view of the Xiaomi Mijia 5 blade foil razorl

They went with a very simple, almost minimalist design that screams high tech and makes the razor look more expensive than it is.

The build quality is also really good: the shaver feels very solid and weighty and appears like it’s just a slab with no panels or screws in sight.

It’s well balanced too, however it is heavier than most other electric shavers at 235 grams.

The Xiaomi held in hand.

See the price on Amazon

Even though it’s quite compact in size for a 5-blade foil razor, the main culprit for the additional weight is likely that large battery.

The shaver’s body and the bottom half of the head have this matte, powdery finish that looks really nice, but doesn’t offer the best grip.

The girth of the body is also substantial and with its rather hefty weight, it’s not quite as comfortable to hold, especially during a long shaving session.

The removable foil unit features glossy plastic and is held in place by strong magnets.

The 5-blade foil head.

So it’s not friction fitted or kept in place by clips as it’s usually the way with most shavers.

However, I must admit that it works brilliantly.

It snaps securely in place, it never came off by accident and it’s so easy and natural to remove and put back on.

The power button doubles as a travel lock switch and can be activated by pressing and holding it for 3 seconds.

A padlock icon will signal that the shaver is now locked and can’t be switched on. You can deactivate it by pressing and holding the power button.

The battery level indicator is very basic, consisting of a single icon that changes color according to the remaining charge.

It goes from white to orange and finally red when it’s time to charge it again.

Unfortunately, there’s no integrated hair trimmer on the back of the razor. I think for most users it would have been really useful, so it’s a shame that they’ve left it out.

The back side of the razor is completely barren.

The charging port is located at the very bottom of the shaver and as mentioned earlier, it’s not a proprietary connector, but the universally beloved USB Type-C, so props to them for making our lives easier.

Xiaomi's USB-C charging port.

I think all other manufacturers should follow suit in that regard.

Overall, despite some negatives in the ergonomics department, the Xiaomi Mijia feels like a high-quality, solid shaver with a couple of really nice touches like the magnetic foil head and its original aesthetics.

Included accessories

The accessories that come with the Mijia 5-blade electric shaver.

The Mijia 5-blade shaver comes in a small and sturdy box that resembles the one of a smartphone.

Even the unboxing experience is similar, with the shaver sitting on top of a plastic support and right below that you’ll find the rest of the accessories.

So here’s what you’ll be getting apart from the shaver itself:

  • Protective cap
  • Cleaning brush
  • USB cable
  • Instructions leaflet

The bundle is rather small, however you do get all the essentials. There’s no USB charger included, but nowadays everyone has a few lying around.

Also worth mentioning, the instructions included in the box are in Chinese only.

Battery life and charging

The Xiaomi Mijia 5 blade razor can only be operated in cordless mode, so it will not work when connected to a power outlet.

It has a hefty 2000mAh Li-ion battery that should provide 90 minutes of cordless use.

And I can confirm that the battery life of this thing is fantastic.

It just goes on and on. In fact, the battery LED indicator on my unit only turned orange now, even though I’ve been shaving constantly with it for a couple of weeks.

With double the battery life of most other shavers, I can’t really complain.

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that I’m a big fan of USB charging and at least for me, this is a big deal.

Not having to carry around a dedicated charger is definitely welcome for a change and there’s one less thing to worry about.

Charging the Xiaomi with a regular USB-C cable and charger.

The USB Type-C connector is located at the bottom of the shaver and you can use the included cable or any other you might have to charge the shaver.

Speaking of which, it takes a little less than two hours to go from 0 to 100%.

Considering the size of the battery, that’s actually not too bad.

There’s a 3-minute quick charge function that allows you to get just enough current in order to complete a shave.

Overall, I am really happy with it and I think most users will be as well.

Shaving performance

So far so good, but how does the Xiaomi Mijia 5 blade razor actually shave? This is probably the part of the review you’re most interested in, so let’s get right to it, starting out with the closeness.

1. Closeness of the shave

Even though I try to approach testing new shavers with an objective mindset, I was really excited about this one and my expectations were high as well.

It’s a true 5 blade foil shaver powered by the fastest motor available to my knowledge. So it must be really good, right?

Well, as far as closeness is concerned, the Mijia razor is decent, but definitely not the best I’ve used.

I’d say that it is on par with other foil razors in this price range like the Braun Series 3, and slightly behind the Panasonic Arc 3 or the Remington F5-5800.

If you were expecting a similar performance to that of the other 5 blade foil shaver available, the Arc 5, I’m afraid the Mijia didn’t quite match it.

The closeness when using it on flat surfaces like the cheeks was actually really good, but on other areas where my stubble is also very coarse (neck, chin, above the upper lip), it could have been better.

Out of the 5 cutting elements, only two are actually used to cut the hairs close to the skin. Those are the two perforated foils that flank the center trimmer.

The other 3 are aimed at capturing and trimming longer hairs that grow in different directions, reduce them to stubble which is then cut by the two foils.

So it appears that the shaving unit of the Xiaomi Mijia would be ideal for shaving a longer beard, but we’ll get to that later on.

Overall, the closeness is good for a shaver at this price range, but not as good as I hoped it would be.

2. Comfort

The comfort on the other hand was just stellar.

The Xiaomi Mijia MSW501 proved to be a very gentle, forgiving, and surprisingly comfortable foil razor.

In fact, it’s among the best I’ve used in recent years.

I have very sensitive skin, especially on the neck, and I often get some razor burn. But I didn’t have any issues using this razor.

Before shaving with it for the first time, I was worried about the foils getting hot as it’s often the case with some lower-end shavers.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the case at all and they remained cool even at the end of a lengthy shave.

I only had one minor issue regarding the comfort and it can be easily avoided.

Precisely, if I moved the razor too fast when shaving a 3 days bead (so the hair is longer than usual), some hairs will get pulled.

The solution to avoid that from happening is to use slower strokes if the hair is longer than roughly 2mm.

When I shaved daily I could get away with sloppier technique and moving the shaver faster.

Overall, I was really impressed with the comfort of this Xiaomi and I think it would be suitable even for users with sensitive skin.

3. Shaving flat-lying and longer hairs

The performance of the Xiaomi Mijia razor when used on a longer beard was underwhelming, to put it lightly.

Despite those 3 cutters specifically designed to tackle longer hairs with different grains, it was just not good enough at it would constantly leave them behind.

Things were even worse with the hairs on the neck that grow in different directions; unless your stroke is perfectly perpendicular to the direction of hair growth, it just won’t cut them.

It often got really fiddly trying to get those stray hairs and required many passes, leading to a lengthy shaving session and on a few occasions, I even had to follow-up with a different shaver.

So this razor is definitely not ideal if you tend to shave less often and have hairs that stay flat on the skin or grow in different directions.

It’s less of an issue when used daily on short stubble, but even then it seemed to require more work in order to get a clean shave.

A Braun Series 3 ProSkin for example will fare much better despite only having 3 cutters and a slower motor.

In my opinion, this was by far the biggest shortcoming of the Xiaomi Mijia MSW501 as far as shaving performance is concerned.

4. Wet shaving

Another disappointing and unexpected minus was the wet shaving performance.

Usually, the use of a good shaving cream can help with getting a better shave.

But with this one, things were actually worse.

While the comfort was still excellent, it was even more difficult to shave flat-lying hairs and the closeness also didn’t improve, at least not to a significant degree.

I do enjoy shaving wet, especially during weekends when I have more time at my disposal, but in the case of this Xiaomi shaver, I would actually recommend you to just stick to a dry shave.

It’s not worth the extra prep work since the results aren’t getting any better — on the contrary.

5. Noise

Foil electric shavers are usually loud during use.

They have fast motors and the blades oscillate at very high speeds, unlike rotary razors that tend to be the quietest of them all.

So I was expecting the Xiaomi Mijia razor to be loud, but not quite as loud.

Subjectively, I think it’s the noisiest shaver I’ve used in the last 10 years or so.

It makes a high-pitched buzz that can actually get annoying if you’re sensitive to that type of noise.

So if you need an electric shaver that is reasonably quiet during use, this is definitely not the one.

If I were to summarize the shaving performance of the Xiaomi Mijia 5 blade razor, I would say that it was underwhelming.

Maybe we all just had really high expectations and really wanted it to be great, but apart from being very comfortable, there’s was nothing particularly remarkable about it.

Cleaning and maintenance

The 5 blade Mijia razor is IPX7 waterproof, which means you can wash it with water and that is the best way of cleaning it in my opinion.

Here’s how I usually go about doing it.

Once I finish shaving, I remove the foil frame simply by pulling it straight off the shaver (since it’s only held in place by magnets).

I gently tap the plastic part on my sink to remove the bulk of hair clippings trapped inside. You can also use the included brush, but only on the inner part of the foil head, not directly on the foils as you can actually damage them.

I personally don’t bother with the brush.

If you have a can of compressed air, you may use that as well to blow out the fine hair.

After that, I put the shaving head back on, turn the shaver on and rinse with warm tap water.

Cleaning the Xiaomi shaver with water.

From time to time it would be a good idea to use a bit of liquid soap to thoroughly remove the stubborn dirt, dead skin and kill any bacteria.

After rinsing the head with water, place a few drops of liquid soap on the outside of the foil, then switch the razor on for 15 to 20 seconds.

Cleaning the shaver with soap.

You can spread the soap with your finger so it can lather nicely and cover the entire surface of the foils. Add a few drops of water as well if necessary.

Rinse the head with warm water (with the shaver still running) until all the foam has gone. Turn it off, remove the foil and give it a final rinse inside out.

Carefully shake off the excess water and let the foil unit air dry completely before attaching it to the shaver.

You should also lubricate the cutters around once a week or after every cleaning that involved soap.

Just make sure the foils are completely dry before applying the lubricant.

You can use clipper oil or spray cleaner and lubricant for electric shavers. For more details here’s a complete guide on how and when to lubricate an electric razor.

Overall, cleaning is very easy and straightforward. The integrated cutters could make dirt buildups harder to remove, but if you clean the shaver after every use it shouldn’t be a problem.

Replacement parts availability

While Xiaomi is quite a popular brand all over the world thanks to their smartphones and gadgets, their electric shavers are not exactly ubiquitous.

Therefore, they’re not so easy to get. And it’s the same situation with the replacement foil heads.

At least at the moment of writing this review, your best bet for getting the replacement head would be to simply import it directly from China.

The cost is very reasonable, especially when compared to the other well-known brands. It undercuts them by quite a lot.

Shipping will however take a long time (approximately one month or even more), so definitely keep that in my mind as well.

Unfortunately, I can’t say much at this moment about the reliability of the shaving head or its lifespan.

Wrapup—Who should buy the Xiaomi 5-blade shaver?

I think the most important thing here is to have realistic expectations regarding the performance of this shaver.

Even though the specs might suggest Arc 5 level of performance, in reality, things are not quite like that.

The Mijia MSW501 definitely does some things really well:

  • It’s very comfortable and shaves reasonably close
  • The build quality is really good
  • It has fantastic battery life and is fitted with a USB charging port
  • It’s easy to clean
  • The price is very reasonable

That said, its performance really takes a hit when shaving longer, coarser, flat-lying hairs. It’s just not good enough and you’d be better off with a different razor in this case (more details in the next section).

Considering its price and performance, it’s a compelling machine and a good choice for someone looking for a very gentle everyday foil shaver.

If you can buy it at a good price and you don’t mind the long shipping time from China, it really is worth it.

I would also consider it as a travel shaver despite having 5 cutters as opposed to most compact single-blade shavers.

But the excellent battery life and the ability to charge it with your phone charger make a really good case in its favor.

Let’s now check out a few alternatives from the competition that could be better in several situations.

Better alternatives

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

See the price on Amazon

This is more like a personal opinion, but I think this Braun has a few key advantages over the Xioami 5 blade shaver.

Costing roughly the same (sometimes even less if you can get it at a discount), it’s widely available and so is the replacement shaving head (32b cassette).

And while it only has 3 blades compared to Mijia’s 5, it’s noticeably more effective when shaving those difficult long hairs.

The shaving head of the Series 3 ProSkin.

The motor is, on the other hand, less powerful and it can feel underpowered when shaving areas with coarse hair, but it will eventually get the job done and the closeness will be similar as well.

It’s a comfortable and gentle shaver, suitable for users with sensitive skin.

Moreover, the 3040s model has a slide-out hair trimmer and while it’s not the best, it is a welcome addition.

Braun Series 3 3040s trimmer

Finally, the slim 3 blade head makes it more nimble and easier to use, so it’s a better choice for beginners as well.

I personally would pick it over the Xiaomi Mijia mainly because it’s more efficient at cutting flat-lying hairs.

For more details, you can check out my in-depth review of it as well.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65

Panasonic es-lv65-s Arc 5

See the price on Amazon

I think the reason why the Mijia MSW501 caused such hype was the prospect of getting extreme performance at a fraction of the cost of other high-end shavers.

Its specs looked really promising with the 5 blades and powerful motor, but unfortunately, specs alone can’t make a great shaver.

And while it performed more than decently, it can’t really match the other 5 blade foil shaver we all know.

The Panasonic Arc 5 is in my opinion still the reference for closeness, while also remaining reasonably comfortable during use.

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65.

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65.

It’s also a lot more efficient at getting difficult hairs in fewer passes, even though it’s not class-leading in that regard (a Braun Series 7 or 9 would be better).

The Arc 5 also performs exponentially better when shaving wet.

Its pop-up trimmer is also one of the best if not the best you’ll find on any shaver.

So while the price of the Panasonic is higher, I think it’s well worth it and should be considered by anyone looking for a highly capable foil shaver.

All Arc 5 models have similar performance, but my picks would be the ES-LV65 or ES-LV67 as they usually have the best price.

For more details, make sure to check out my in-depth comparison of the Xiaomi Mijia and the Panasonic Arc 5.

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