Xiaomi certainly grabbed some attention when they launched the Mi 3 last year in India. It was the best sub-Rs. 15,000 one could get at the time (or rather manage to get during the flash sale). However, things drastically changed in the last few months. Competitors stepped up their game and started releasing devices at lucrative price points, which ideally was one of the selling points of a Xiaomi device.
This year, the Chinese company is back in the Indian market with its latest flagship, Mi 4 but does it carry the same qualities to be a hot seller as the Mi 3? Let’s find out.
Xiaomi is probably one of the few companies that completely revamps the design of their flagship device. There’s not an iota of similarity between the Mi 4 and the Mi 3 when it comes to design. Sure, the phone looks a bit inspired by Apple’s iPhone but Xiaomi has adopted a plastic body and is supported by a forged stainless steel frame and aluminium-magnesium alloy mid-frame, making the phone really sturdy and look premium. The only downside with such a frame is the reduction of the grip, making it slightly slippery.
As for the placements, Mi 4 sports a 5-inch display flanked by the 8 megapixel front-facing camera at the top and touch sensitive menu buttons below. The left hand side of the phone features the microSIM card slot whereas the right hand side has the volume buttons and the power button. The top hand side houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, infrared for universal remote control and the bottom side features the microUSB port and a loudspeaker.
The back side of the phone has a 13 megapixel sensor and flash. Interestingly, Mi 4 does not have a user removable back but with little effort; one can easily open the back cover to replace it with a new one. The battery however, is sealed with the device, making it difficult to change it easily.
Overall, we were highly impressed with the phone’s design and considering the price point at which Mi 4 sells, the phone is definitely one of the premium designed handsets in that particular price range.
While smartphone manufacturers are trying to increase the display size with every passing flagship device, Xiaomi has kept the same screen as the Mi 3. In short, the Mi 4 comes with a 5-inch display supporting a full HD resolution (1920×1080) that achieves a display pixel density of 440ppi. The display sourced from Sharp or JDI is really sharp and has high colour saturation with 84 percent NTSC gamut. It also has a Gorilla Glass OGS to protect the screen from scratches.
Performance-wise, Xiaomi Mi 4 is no slouch. It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5GHz processor and 3GB of RAM. The combination makes the phone fly and handle every task thrown at it with ease. The multimedia playback is good enough with a wide variety of format support.
On the software side, Mi 4 is the first device from Xiaomi to run the latest MIUI v6 based on Android 4.4.4. The newer version has also got a facelift compared to the previous version that runs on existing Xiaomi devices. The user interface is more colourful and vibrant, with flatter icons but still do not possess an app drawer. All apps reside on the paginated home screen that makes the phone look a bit cluttered when you’ve 100s of apps installed.
MIUI 6 also simplifies the notification panel by clubbing all the notifications in one area that can be reviewed later on or important notifications get user’s attention by the individual icon-based notification.
The OS also comes with newer animations that look nice and work smoothly on Mi 4’s powerful hardware. There’s also lot of customisation options like changing the transition effect, themes, fonts, wallpapers and lots more.
Xiaomi touts Mi 4’s camera to be one of the highlights of the phone and we tend to agree. The 13 megapixel camera at the back is extremely fast with a 0.3s focus speed. The camera interface is easy to use and offers live filters or variety of camera modes like HDR, Refocus, Burst Shoot, Manual, Panorama, Audio and more. The manual mode allows users to select white balance, adjust focus, exposure time and even ISO up to 3200. The camera can shoot video up to 4K in resolution.
As far as the quality goes, Mi 4 has a very potent camera. The colours are good with low noise visibility, saturation. Manual mode also comes in handy if you’re looking for perfect execution.
The call quality is good and clear on the Mi 4 but we felt the earpiece volume to be on the lower side. The call interface allows the user to record the call, which is an added bonus.
The Mi 4 features 3080mAh battery and quite frankly, Xiaomi has done well to optimise the battery. The phone supports two power modes – Balanced and High Performance. While the Balanced mode easily gives over a day and a half of usage, high performance as the name suggests offers excellent performance but compromises battery life in the process.
All said and done, Mi 4 is a great device in the price range but the phone’s Achilles heel is the limited amount of storage. Given the high-end games, 4K video recording support, and a good quality camera, 16GB gets filled up quickly. If you can make do with the storage, the Rs. 19,999 gives no other reason to complain. However, if limited storage breaks the deal, you can wait for the 64GB variant that comes to India on February 24 at a price tag of Rs. 23,999.