Xiaomi only entered India a year ago, but boy have they changed the mobile scene in the sub-continent.
After all, India is a value-for-money market and nobody does value-for-money better than Xiaomi. From the Xiaomi Mi Pad, to the Xiaomi Redmi 2, they’ve been pumping out products that offer a lotta bang for the buck, including their own flagship, the Xiaomi Mi4. Heck, they’re even the number one smartphone maker in China, and the third biggest smartphone maker in the world, only behind Samsung and Apple. They even hold the Guinness World Record for most smartphones sold in 24 hours on an online platform (2.1 million, which is about 24 phones sold per second!).
So it was very interesting last week, when Xiaomi chose to announce a brand new product, right here in India. At a press conference in new Delhi, the company announced a new “flagship for India” smartphone, called the Xiaomi Mi 4i.
The Design:-Unlike the Mi4, the Xiaomi Mi4i is made out of a single piece of very durable polycarbonate.
Instead of the chamfered edges, are soft squared edges and a soft-touch matte finish that apparently has an anti-grease coating.
That finish on the unibody is quite nice, and the coating can apparently resist fingerprints or stains, as is evident from this video where Xiaomi uses a marker to write something on the back of the Mi4i, and then just rubs it off:
All in all, it doesn’t feel like cheap plastic, and that itself is quite impressive. I’ve held both the matte and glossy coloured versions, and they both felt like a device that should have cost significantly more.
This is also because underneath that polycarbonate, is a tough magnesium alloy support structure, which means build quality is pretty darn good.
Personally, I liked the glossy versions more, but I got the white colour version to review. The Mi4i will be on sale in white first, following which the black/grey colour version will go on sale, and then the colours including blue, pink, and yellow.
Measuring 138.1 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm and weighing just 130 grams, the Mi4i is both thinner and lighter than the Mi4, and is very comfortable to use one-handed. The rounded corners and soft-touch matte finish definitely help.
Xiaomi stressed that they opted to make a more pocketable, user-friendly sized device instead of something huge, and this is much-appreciated. My thumb was very easily able to reach all corners of the screen.
Speaking of which, at the front of the Xiaomi Mi4i is a 5 inch, 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution (441 ppi pixel density) IPS LCD display made by either Sharp or JDI (a joint venture between Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi). The glass itself is a fully laminated Corning Concore OGS glass. The OGS (One Glass Solution) means there is no air-gap between the touchscreen and the display. This in-turn means the display looks better, and the touch-response is better as well.
Xiaomi has used a way better quality screen this time around, so the Mi4i display has much deeper blacks than the LCD screen on the regular Mi4. The company is also using a new ’Sunlight Display’ technology, that dynamically brightens certain parts of the display, and adjusts the tones of whatever is onscreen, to get a more legible, balanced display in bright sunlight outdoors. This works well, as most other phones just boost the brightness of the entire display to compensate for bright situations.
Moving on to the rest of the phone, above the display you’ll find the centrally located earpiece, with the 5 megapixel front facing camera and LED notification light on the right side, and the ambient light sensor and proximity sensor on the left side of it. You’ll also see the “Mi” branding situated here towards the left.
Below the display, you’ll find the usual three capacitive Android touch keys for recent apps, home, and back. The keys work well enough and are white-backlit so they’re easy to use.
It is worth pointing out that the Mi4i has no microSD card slot unfortunately, but it is a Dual-SIM device. Both SIM card slots also have support for Indian LTE bands and some global bands (upto 16 bands including support for both FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE).
The most obvious comparison, would be to say that it looks like an iPhone 5C, which it does. But that doesn’t take away from that fact that this is a somewhat attractive smartphone that feels very solid in terms of build quality.
Unfortunately, the Mi 4i does not have a microSD card slot so you can’t get more storage. If space is not an issue for you, this will be manageable, but because the only variant available (at the time of this post) is the 16GB version, if you want more storage space this might be a potential deal breaker. Hopefully Xiaomi will release a 64GB version, someday.
In terms of performance, the Xiaomi Mi4i isn’t really a slouch at all, and generally navigation is smooth and lag-free. Graphics-intensive games like Asphalt 8 played just fine, though there were some frame-drops during intense moments.
But that being said, there are occasional bits of sluggishness, which I’m hoping a firmware update will fix soon enough. I say this because the original Mi4 was also a little sluggish at first, but got a firmware update that dramatically improved performance.
Since some of y’all are going to ask this question: The Mi4i and the Snapdragon 615 does not overheat. The term “Overheating”, would imply that it gets so hot that it is unusable, which is not the case at all. The only time the Mi4i got somewhat warm, was when charging, or when downloading something huge over 3G. Playing a game for over ten minutes, or running a benchmark in performance mode, does make the phone very warm, but not more so than any other Snapdragon smartphone (Yu Yureka, HTC One M8, etc). Plus that’s not really “normal” usage either.
I should also note that just like the Mi 4, the Xiaomi Mi4i has two performance ‘modes’ available. In the battery menu, there’s a “Balanced” mode (which is the default), and a “Performance” mode.
As you can tell from the name, the balanced mode is more conservative and caps the maximum clock speed of the processor cores, so as to conserve battery life. Then there’s the performance mode, which basically frees the processor do whatever it wants to do.
Xiomi Mi 4i is now available for 12,999/-
It is also available on Amazon without registration.