The burgeoning giant in the smartphone space, Xiaomi, today finally launched its flagship handset in India. Dubbed the Mi4, it is the successor to the very popular and usually sold out Mi3 handset that was launched in India earlier last year. It’s been a long while coming and today we finally got a chance to touch and feel the handset in our own grubby paws. Does the phone stand out amongst its competitors? Can it make as big a dent as the original Mi3 did? We’ll test that out in our review but for now here are our first impressions.
The phone has a dramatically different facade when compared to the original handset. Gone is the relatively bulky build with large bezels and aluminum construction. Instead you get a glass and stainless steel shell. The front has a 5inch 1080p display manufactured by JDI with Sharp as a backup supplier. The screen pixel density is 441ppi and Xiaomi claims that the panel covers 95% of the NTSC gamut. In our brief time with the phone, we certainly weren’t able to test that claim however the screen is quite a beauty. Outdoor visibility was perfectly good with nice and punchy colors throughout. What we can foresee being a problem is the super glossy nature of the handset and the display in particular.
The company is very proud of the stainless steel shell that goes around the phone and gives it an uncanny iPhone like appearance, more so because of the chamfered edges. Drilled holes for the speaker grille are placed along the bottom edge right next to the microUSB port. Xiaomi claims that the production process for the stainless steel metal frame involves 40 steps and 193 processes with the CNC milling alone requiring 8 different steps. The final chamfer process requires about 6 hours of processing time over 13 steps. We certainly appreciate the attention to detail here but frankly speaking, the far more original design of the Xiaomi Note appears much more eye catching.
Over at the back of the phone you’ll spot a 13MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture. The same goes for the front facing camera which drops the resolution to 8MP but still keeps the f1.8 lens. Both the cameras have Sony’s stacked sensors. We’ll have more on the camera in our full review. The rest of the back of the phone is rather unremarkable. Xiaomi will be selling back panels with nifty design patterns that make your phone stand out should you decide to opt for one.
And that brings us to the internals of the handset. Powered by a Snapdragon 801 chipset clocked at 2.5Ghz, it is not the absolute latest in Qualcomm’s line of smartphone processors but it is certainly high end enough. This is paired with 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM and you’ll realize that you won’t be left wanting for power on this phone. Powering all of that is a 3080 Li-Po battery that is rated for about 1.5days of mixed use. Since the phone supports Qualcomm’s QuickCharge technology, you’ll be able to top off your battery to about 60% within 1 hour. The Indian variant of the Mi4 will not support LTE which is quite disappointing. However a bigger disappointment is that you’ll only be getting the 16GB variant in India. And since the Mi4 does not support memory expansion, avid media & gaming buffs are in for a lot of frustration. The available 12GB of free storage is just not sufficient.
All in all, the phone is a decent offering that unfortunately has competition that offers more for about the same amount of money. Do I like the Mi4? Yes. Would I buy it? I would personally wait for the 64GB variant but that’s just me. The Xiaomi Mi4 is priced at Rs. 19,999 in India and goes on sale on 10th Feb with registrations opening today. Let us know in the comments section if the phone excites you or if you’d rather go for something like the OnePlus One.