Affordable and uncompromising seems to be the credo of Xiaomi regarding its S500 shaver. This little black model has everything you'd expect from an electric shaver without inflating the bill.
We know Xiaomi mainly for its smartphones, activity sensors and scooters. The Chinese behemoth doesn't hold back and regularly adds many other strings to its bow. Thus, it offers the electric shaver Mijia S500. As is often the case with Xiaomi products, this model has been launched at a competitive price, here €49. It uses a system of three rotating grids similar to what we find on the Philips Series 7000 S7786/50, for example. The similarity ends there and the Mijia S500 focuses on simplicity. It abandons the beard density sensor and the connection to a smartphone in favor of two blade rotation speeds and an estimated autonomy in percentage. Enough to make it a must-have?
No need to beat about the bush, the Xiaomi Mijia S500 shows a very attractive build quality. The plastics seem to be of good quality and the black matte finish is very pleasant to the touch. When you turn on the device with the only button on the front, the handle is decorated with different transparent lights for a very nice aesthetic effect.
This way, you are informed about the speed of the blades, the presence of a problem or a maintenance operation to be planned (the cleaning of the blades, more precisely), and above all about the remaining charge level. The S500 is also quite accurate thanks to a percentage indication, so you can plan your shaving session without fear of the blades stopping in the middle of your cheek. There are not many devices that give such precise information on this point, although the Philips OneBlade Pro QP6650/61 also has this battery life indicator.
The only button on the body of the S500 is used to turn on the shaver, but also to select one of the two blade speeds, an option that is also not very common in the small world of electric shavers. Another function of this button, as versatile as it is discreet, is to activate the safety function to avoid the S500 turning on unexpectedly. Of course, it will take some time to master all the pressure durations and not to change the power level instead of switching off the machine, but you'll get used to it very quickly.
The technical data sheet announces an IPX7 waterproof rating: it can therefore be submerged under 1 m of water for 30 min without suffering any damage. You can then use it with gel or foam to facilitate the glide, or shave in the shower without fear.
Shaving is very comfortable. First of all, it weighs only 175 g, which makes it one of the lightest devices in our comparison, excluding the OneBlade model. In addition, Xiaomi has balanced its shaver remarkably well, so it doesn't tend to tip to one side or the other because of the weight of the head, for example. Its small size also plays in its favor: it fits comfortably in the palm, which is not always the case with its competitors. Finally, we were afraid that the smooth plastic used would make the handle slippery, but it is not and the shape of it (with its bump located under the shaving head) avoids unwanted falls. All this contributes to a pleasant grip in all points.
Surprisingly, there are very few shavers or clippers that can be placed upright like an electric toothbrush. The S500 is part of this very closed club and it is therefore unnecessary to dedicate a large storage space to it. Thus stored, one can proceed to recharge by connecting a USB cable to the USB-C port located at the base of the shaver and protected by an easy-to-handle rubber cover. Xiaomi provides the (small!) cord, but no charger is included. Nevertheless, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, connected watches, in-ear headphone charging stations and other game consoles using compatible hardware, there's bound to be a compatible transformer in the household. Thanks to this bias, Xiaomi avoids the user to have a useless proprietary charger at home when the S500 will not be in the bathroom anymore.
So does this S500 have everything to please? Almost, because nobody is perfect. Indeed, we would have liked a little more generosity from the manufacturer, such as a backup trimmer, a precision head, a carrying pouch ... In this case, we will have to make do with a brush to clean the head of the shaver, a cover to protect it and the famous charging cable.
After a few uses, we have to admit that Xiaomi does not (yet) have the expertise of Panasonic or Philips in the field of sharpening. As a result, the rotating grids often pull out the hair more than they cut it, especially if it is a bit long and you are satisfied with the lowest rotation speed of the grids. So don't hesitate to use the maximum speed, avoiding if possible to use it on very full beards.
Compared to another model with rotating grids (the Philips Series 5000 S5587/10, for example), the cutting areas are more extensive and are also placed closer to the edges. The user therefore gains slightly in precision, even if this is not the most important parameter for a shaver of this type. The three cutting circles of the S500 are not independent: when one of them moves, the other two follow a similar movement. This means that the shaver does not follow the curves of the face as well, although we are far from a very rigid model like the Braun Series 9 9390CC.
The S500 is one of the least enduring shavers in our comparison if used at the highest power setting, and can run for 63 minutes. By reducing the speed of the blades, you can save 10 minutes. It will take 75 minutes of charging to fill the battery to 100%. Note that it is possible to shave with this device plugged in, which is not the case for all the models in our comparison.
Thanks to its IPX7 waterproof rating, the S500's head can be placed under a stream of water to remove any cut hairs. This will not be enough to remove the remains of the cut stuck under the shaving circles; fortunately, the upper part is easily removed.
Please note that it is not possible to remove the different parts of the rotating blades, as can be done with Philips shavers, among others. And since this part is full of corners, nooks, crannies and grooves, it is not always easy to remove all the cutting residues, even with the supplied brush.
As the Xiaomi S500 shaver has two power settings, we have performed two sets of noise measurements.
At speed 1, the noise level reaches 60 dB (A) at 20 cm (shaving on the neck), 68 dB (A) at 5 cm (shaving on the cheeks), and peaks at 75 dB (A) a few millimeters from the ears. By increasing the power, our sound level meter gives fairly close measurements at 20 cm and 5 cm, respectively 60 dB (A) and 69 dB (A). When you approach the ear canal, on the other hand, you can feel the difference, as the sound level peaks at 79 dB (A). Nevertheless, even at maximum power, the noise of the S500 shaver is very bearable.
The Xiaomi S500 shaver is a very nice product, full of good ideas, like the remaining charge indicator. Sober - maybe a bit too much so, more options would have been appreciated - and elegant, it will make a good impression in the bathroom as long as you don't use it at the minimum power, not enough to ensure a sharp shave and without drawn hairs.