Xiaomi Mi 4 review: Lot of goodness mixed with some err
When Xiaomi entered India some eight months back, nobody could have predicted its rise in such a short span of time. The company managed to break the region barrier and became price-conscious phone buyers’ favourite in the country. If 2014 was all about Xiaomi putting itself on the Indian map, 2015 is widely seen as the next phase to their growth.
After playing out itself in the relatively safer price bracket till now, Xiaomi is now geared up to hit the higher segment in the country. And their pursuit for success in this sphere will rely on their doing with Mi 4, their latest flagship in India. While it was launched in China last year, Mi 4 will entertain Indian consumers for the next couple of months, bearing the brand’s flag. Can the new Mi flagship match up to the unexpected success of its predecessor Mi 3? Your guess is as good as ours.
Display: 5-inch 1920x1080p Corning OGS
OS: MiUi 6 over Android 4.4 KitKat
CPU: 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
RAM: 3 GB
Storage: 16 GB internal
Cameras: 13 MP (rear) with LED flash and 8 MP (front)
Connectivity: 3G/2G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Battery: 3080 mAh
Weight: 149 grams
Dimensions: 139.2 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm
Price: Rs 19,999
Yes, it’s hard to hide from the fact that so-called ‘Apple of China’ has embodied its design inputs from the iPhone 5S copybook. The unibody design has an appealing look, and the chamfered edges with metallic finishing on the sides give the Mi 4 a fair design and ergonomics balance.
The glossy back panel takes us back to the plastic-era of Samsung and now Xiaomi has done something similar. In addition to the glossy part, you’ll also find the phone slips as you hold it or keeping it on a table.
The 5-inch form size has been well distributed, making the phone compact while handling. Except the glossy (and slippery) part, it’s hard to dislike the Mi 4 for its looks, premium-ness at flagship-killer pricing.
Mi 4 sports a 5-inch full-HD display layered over Corning OGS for protection which manages to live up to its name and purpose. We can’t really have many complaints about 1920x1080p resolution and with its size (just about right) what you end up getting is a visual treat.
The colour reproduction levels are top-notch, brightness is fairly optimum and outdoor visibility has been well modulated into the device. Viewing angles would pose no major concern and in the end you’ll start falling in love with the display (as we did) and that’s about it.
Performance & Benchmarks
Now let’s talk business. Mi 4 is priced at Rs 19,999 and for that kind of change any consumer in India would like to determine its overall value. So, we make things easier for you and put it in straight words. The phone has all the attributes to replace Rs 30k phone and still give you the kind of surety that can be only bought with super-expensive phones. Mi 4 manages to deliver on its promise and more, but still has some obvious concerns (mostly genuine).
First up, we’ll talk about the good stuff and there’s a lot to write home about. This excellent piece of device gets equal weightage on the hardware front as well. It packs a quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU with 3 GB RAM, which guarantee ‘super’ power. Play games, open as many browsers as you want, watch movies or listen to your favorite tunes, Mi 4 will never fail your test. Yes, it does tend to heat up a little bit (the back body doesn’t help one bit), but name one device which isn’t susceptible to this problem in this era of powerful machines.
The available storage (internal only) stands at 16 GB out of which 12 GB is usable and that for most of users, will come as a shock. Why Xiaomi couldn’t include microSD slot, may be they wanted to sell two variants of the device (and so it is). Mi 4 breaks the monotony of dual-SIM capability (nothing to boast about) with single-SIM (micro) support and somehow misses out on NFC too (not that it matters). Again, Mi 4 has done more than enough to suggest it can cut with the best, but only if.
Power-wise, Xiaomi has added two-modes on Mi 4; balance and performance and the difference is staggering (number wise). As you can see below, Mi 4 is even-steven with OnePlus One but better than Lenovo’s Vibe X2. Gaming ability has been backed up by 3DMark quite clearly and then work-wise Mi 4 won’t come across as slouch either.
Much to our surprise, Mi 4 was announced in India powered by MiUi 6 (running over Android 4.4 KitKat), compared to the MiUi 5 launched in China. But somehow, it feels as if the company tried to compensate for the delay in bringing this Mi phone to India (we’re not complaining).
MiUi 6 feels like a mirror image of iOS with f Android blending smoothly into the interface. But who are we kidding, there’s more iOS about MiUi 6 that Xiaomi would like to accept. It’s sleek with stress given on keeping the icons minimal in nature, and the overall interface has a slick look about it.
The notification panel has been revamped with transparent effect and font style has a subtle effect. Other big change that we found in the new version is how animation plays part while you delete applications. Hugo Barra gave the perfect explanation at the day of launch and ‘boom’ is how we’d like to describe its effect.
All flagship phones have an excellent snapper in tow and Xiaomi had to make sure Mi 4 had an equal say in the imaging department (for its sake). It comes fitted with a 13MP back camera and that’s where the real value gets established. The camera’s interface for starters has got a revamped look and feel with MiUi 6, making the operations and feature much more user-friendly. Equipped with Sony Exmor sensor, it’s hard not to expect a lot from the Mi 4 and there are reasons to be pleased about the quality aspect of images clicked.
The phone manages to deliver excellent daylight pictures with sharp subject detail, bright colour contours and clarity. Probably one of the best in this segment closely followed by OnePlus One, as per our experience which scores low on the detail segment. Having said that, we’d like Xiaomi to work on the low-light camera symmetrics to alter the haziness and sharp noise output. The selfie-part of the camera is covered by an 8 MP shooter, which is good but is nowhere close to the quality that those megapixels should be delivering.
While Mi 3 was a good value product, we wished its battery life was better. With Mi 4 Xiaomi has managed to offer 3080mAh battery, sufficient enough to last for a day or even more depending on your usage. And that’s exactly what you get. Mi 4 has the power that gets equally backed up by the battery in tow which is paramount for smartphone these days.
So, when you compare Mi 4 with its closest competition in the battery segment, you’ll find it being similar to OnePlus One. In addition to that PCMark Battery made it abundantly clear as well. We used the Mi 4 as our primary phone for around 10 days and the resulting numbers were more than satisfactory.
Using the phone for mails, calling, gaming, browsing, multimedia, and we managed to get more than day’s life out of the battery. If that wasn’t enough, then Xiaomi has made sure that charging up the device isn’t going to pose much strain (or time consuming). Mi 4 gets charged up in quick time from 0-60% in less than 40 minutes and we can pretty much ascertain to those claims. Can anyone go for the Mi4 just on the basis of its battery life? Yes, that should be a no-brainer.
Mi 4 has been made with utmost care for design and finishing. It looks elegant, offers that iPhone-like aura at good value, and represents the higher-rung segment at affordable price point. Powerful hardware and good back snappers with long battery life are major plusses but in a market like India, missing out on external storage and dual-SIM option loses out on brownie points. In addition to that, for Rs 20k you don’t get the future-proofing 4G support for India and there’s only 12 GB usage space for this price. Get the 16 GB if you’re not a power user (not sure how many would fall in that space) and if not, just wait up few more weeks and buy the 64 GB variant which has been priced at Rs 23,999.