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[First Impressions] Xiaomi Mi 4

Chinese smartphone-maker Xiaomi today launched the Mi 4 in India, its flagship device that was released last year in July in China. Given that earlier there were reports that the Mi 4 would launch in India post-Diwali 2014 itself, the January 2015 release is rather late. The Mi 4 will follow the registration/flash sale format that Xiaomi has gone with in India and while registrations have already opened on Flipkart, Mi 4 will go on sale on 10th February.


The Xiaomi smartphone might be coming to India a year late, but it’s also coming at a significantly higher price, well at least by Xiaomi standards. If you remember the Mi 3 launched in India for Rs 13,999, while the Redmi 4G Note launched at Rs 9,999.

The Mi 4 might be a slightly outdated flagship for Xiaomi (considering it had announced the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro earlier this month) but the company has priced it at Rs 19,999 in India, meaning that Xiaomi’s new India flagship is no longer a budget-device. It’s definitely in the higher mid-budget range, and the 20k pricing won’t come as good news for India’s budget-conscious consumers who’ve been wanting to get their hands on the device.

So what’s the Xiaomi Mi 4 smartphone like? We spent sometime with the phone during the launch and here’s our first impression of this new phone.

Design and Screen: 

The Xiaomi Mi 4 has a metal frame, a 5-inch screen full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS display with 441 ppi resolution, and comes with a layer of Corning One Glass Solution (OGS) Technology, which allows the device to be super slim. This doesn’t come with Gorilla Glass 3, and while the screen is scratch and shatter-resistant, it doesn’t mean that it will be completely scratch-proof. The screen will function even if your fingers are wet or you are wearing gloves, which is a good plus point.

The one big problem with the screen are the smudges and the fact that it’s tough to read on the device under sunlight due to the reflection, though increasing brightness did help rectify this to some extent.

As far as the back cover is concerned, it’s a plastic one and frankly nothing new or great. The metal frame with gold colour does look nice, but what really doesn’t help the phone is the back cover. The white polycarbonate will remind you of many Samsung, Micromax, or other smartphones you might have seen before. The design and position of speaker on the bottom will remind you of an iPhone, as does the gold colour on the side.

The smartphone weighs 149g and Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra took quite some time trying to explain how they made the metal frame of this smartphone.

Processor, Storage and Battery: 

The Xiaomi Mi 4 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset with a 2.5GHz quad-core processor, Adreno 330 GPU, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory and runs on a 3,080 mAh battery. The phone had a little over 12 GB of usable space, which is fairly good.

The Mi 4 smartphone has a 3080 mAh Lithium-ion polymer battery and according to the company, it will last 1.5 days easily, which is a very strong claim. Again we can say more on this once we test it out. There’s also a fast charging mode, which brings the phone to 60% battery capacity in less than an hour and the phone takes 2.5 hours to charge to full capacity.

One of the things that needs to be appreciated about Xiaomi’s Mi 4 is that despite the device running MIUI 6 on Android 4.4.4, which has it’s own set of customisations and features, it didn’t feel slow or even over-crowded with software from the Chinese brand. Mi 4 seemed fairly zippy to us, at least as far as switching between apps, taking pictures, etc., was concerned. Again we can comment on this more once we’ve handled the device for longer.

Camera: 

The Mi 4 has a 13 megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and an 8 megapixel front camera. Mi 4 has the Sony CMOS sensor, f/1.8 aperture and built in real-time HDR along with 4K video recording support as well.

The Mi 4 also has Chroma flash aka Intelligent built-in flash which basically combines photos taken with and without flash, thus blending them into a more natural photo, giving it an HDR-like effect. The front camera has an 80 degree wide angle lens and a timer as well so that you know when to smile during selfies.

We tried out both the front and rear camera briefly and experienced no lag. In the rear camera, you can even choose exposure for a photo (similar to how Lumia devices first offered it) and this will help users take sharper pictures say in sunlight. Another feature of the Mi 4’s camera allows user to combine five photos with different points of focus in each.

The ton of features and the 8 mp front camera will definitely make the Mi 4 an appealing option for those who are addicted to taking pictures from their smartphone.

MIUI 6 : 

The MIUI 6 is definitely one of the most important aspect of this smartphone and we’ll look at it now. The rollout for the MIUI 6 will also begin from February for other Xiaomi phones in India like the Mi 3, Redmi Note, etc.

Key features of the MIUI 6 are: Motion, Colour Content, Customisation and Security. If you are one of those users who want every little detail of his/her phone customised, the MIUI 6 is catering just to that.

Where Motion goes, MiUI 6 will see animation in some apps like Clock, Weather, and Device unlock, etc.

In Content, MiUI 6 will allow floating notifications, which has been seen in the past, where say if you get a call you don’t have to leave the app to attend to the call. There’s also a division of Notifications on the basis of important and unimportant ones and users can choose which apps go on which side of the line.

This is actually quite a neat feature as it will make sure a lot of game or news alerts, notifications that you might not want all the time will go into the unimportant folder. Users can also choose certain notifications that they would like to see in the Locked Screen mode as well.

Perhaps one of the coolest MIUI 6 feature is that when setting your email in the native email app, you don’t have enter server details, etc. You can just type your password and user ID and it will automatically do the rest. Currently it supports over 120,000 domains. The email client will also show your attachments in one place in the app. For those who face constant trouble when setting up email on a new phone, this could be a god-send, provided theirs is a supported domain name.

Other actions supported in the MIUI 6 are that you can move an app with one finger, while switching the screens with another. If your apps are all cluttered, you can just go in edit mode, and shake the phone and it will align the apps perfectly. You can also bulk delete and move many apps in one go as well.

Of course themes are an important feature of the MIUI 6 where customisation is concerned, but there’s nothing drastically new on this front. The other great bit of MIUI 6 is where security is concerned. Users can now deny certain apps specific permissions by going into Permissions Manager. Given how apps these days want access to pretty much everything, this is a great addition.

As far as the MIUI 6 is concerned, this is the USP of the Xiaomi smartphone. What works in its favour is that doesn’t feel like bloatware and gives users ample options where customisations are concerned.

Conclusion: 

The Mi 4 is an important launch for Xiaomi in India, even though it is taking place long after its China launch. This is Xiaomi’s smartphone that shows that the company isn’t always going to be a budget or mid-budget smartphone-maker. The Mi 4 is priced higher at Rs 19,999 and for Xiaomi it’s a big leap in a market like India where they launched just last year and one that tends to be highly budget-conscious.

The big question is whether the Mi 4 help them sell another 1 million smartphones in India? There’s no doubt that this is one feature-packed device, but will its price hold it back? We will only be able to answer that question after a detailed review of the Mi 4.

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Shubham Mishra

Founder and Chief Editor at PaidFreeDroid. Shubham likes to keep on top of the tech world and loves to help people around him who face day to day trouble with technology.

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