For all versions of mysql if you do SHOW VARIABLES; you will see the version in the list returned regardless of the version of mysql used.
SELECT VERSION(); will work on mysql 3.23
here is a complete tutorial http://www.geeksww.com/tutorials/database_management_systems/mysql/tips_and_tricks/how_to_check_mysql_version_number.php
i guess u r only printing the client’s version no. thru mysql -v
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