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Xiaomi Mi 4i Review

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When Xiaomi arrived in the Indian market last year with the Mi 3, it caused a disruption, thanks to its brilliant pricing and well, it continues to do so. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer recently launched its latest offering in the form of Xiaomi Mi 4i and while it’s no flagship, it’s a winner already at Rs. 12,999.

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The Xiaomi Mi 4i was unveiled in India by company founders in a global keynote and it has arrived in India first unlike other Xiaomi launches, so that reiterates the fact that the company is indeed taking the Indian market seriously. The Mi 4i brings a great value for money for the price but the competition has risen up ever since the Xiaomi disruption, so let’s find out if Xiaomi manages to find strong footing with the Mi 4i.

Xiaomi Mi 4i Specs:

  • 5-inch IPS display
  • Full HD (1920x1080p) resolution
  • 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • 13 MP camera with CMOS stacked sensor and dual tone LED flash
  • 5 MP wide-angle front facing camera
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop with MIUI 6.0
  • measures 138.1 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm
  • weighs 130 grams
  • 3120 mAh battery
  • Dual SIM with dual-standby
  • 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, AGPS, GLONASS

The specifications of the Xiaomi Mi 4i is great, considering the price and on paper, it sounds like an awesome device at the Rs. 12,999 price mark. Well, let’s check out how well it performs in the daily tussles of life.

What’s in the Box

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  • The Xiaomi Mi 4i
  • 2-pin charger
  • microUSB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • booklets with user guide and warranty info

Design and Hardware

The Xiaomi Mi 4i was unveiled in various color options but unfortunately, the white version will be the only version available in India initially. So, obviously, we got the white Mi 4i for review.

To be honest, when the Xiaomi Mi 4i was unveiled, I wasn’t much impressed with the looks of the device. Well, that changed ever since I went hands on with the Mi 4i. The first thing that will take you by surprise is the light weight of the device. The device weighs a mere 130 grams and it feels amazing in the hand. Xiaomi has managed to keep the device very compact and with the soft matte polycarbonate unibody, we love how it feels in the hands. The light weight of the device are a surprise, considering the device packs a 3120 mAh battery.

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Ever since the Mi 4i was unveiled, the device was said to have a resemblance to the iPhone 5c. Well, the device surely doesn’t look much like the iPhone 5c. If you are concerned with the looks, the Xiaomi Mi 4i does look premium, thanks to the sleek unibody matte polycarbonate and simple design. The matte finish makes the device a pleasure to hold and it looks great too. We hope the company brings the other color options to India soon.

The front of the Mi 4i features the 5-inch display, the three usual capacitive buttons on the bottom, the 5 MP front camera on top along with the earpiece and the usual sensors. There’s also the Mi branding on the top.

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The back of the device features the 13 MP camera, which sits flush with the device along with the two-tone LED flash and a microphone. On the bottom of the rear is the Mi branding in silver along with the speaker grill.

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The top of the Mi 4i features the 3.5 mm audio jack, while the bottom features the microUSB port along with a microphone.

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The left side of the device is devoid of any buttons but features the dual SIM packing tray, while the right is busy with volume rockers and power/lock button.

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Overall, the Xiaomi Mi 4i hits just the right chord when it comes the design and built. The built is solid, as we heard any creaking sounds and the device feels and looks great in the hands. We also admire Xiaomi’s job of keeping the device compact and lightweight, which certainly enhances the whole experience. We are certain that anyone buying the Mi 4i won’t be disappointed with its design and build quality.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi 4i packs in a 5-inch IPS display of Full HD (1920x1080p) resolution, which sounds pretty great for the mid-range pricing of the device. The display features a great pixel density of 441 ppi, which assures you that the display will be anything but sharp. The display uses OGS (One Glass Solution), which has helped in keeping the phone thin. The device uses a custom glass solution from Corning, which is said to sustain as well as the Gorilla Glass 3.

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The 5-inch IPS display, which Xiaomi also likes to call the Sunlight display is pretty decent. The color reproduction is great along with the viewing angles. Although the brightness is good too, the display is a little reflective. The visibility of the display is pretty good, as Xiaomi has packed a new tech, which brightens the darker areas of an image when outdoors. While it’s tough to notice, the display is good enough outdoors.

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Xiaomi also lets you fiddle with display options. There’s ability to increase responsiveness with Glove mode, which as the name suggests lets you use the display with gloves on. You can also tinker with contrast and color saturation options.

We are pleased with the display of the Mi 4i and we are glad Xiaomi allows users to tinker with saturation settings, as not everyone would like the saturated colors the display offers. To sum it up, we believe the Mi 4i has a great display and when you consider the price, the love for that display goes some notches ahead.

User Interface

The Xiaomi Mi 4i is the first device to come with MIUI 6.0 on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Sadly, Xiaomi has not incorporated the Material Design UI from Lollipop and there are not many changes visually. The interface looks a lot like what we have seen on the likes of Redmi 2. There’s no colored status bar or the new notifications, so people hoping for a Android 5.0 Lollipop makeover of MIUI might be disappointed.

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Even though we would have wanted Material Design, MIUI is still one of the most feature rich experiences out there. Xiaomi has updated some of its apps too, which should add to the experience. We all know that MIUI is loved by people who love to tinker and that is indeed true. If you love to tinker, you will love Xiaomi’s software offering. There are a plethora of features for almost everything.

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As with every previous MIUI version, the version 6.0 too does not include an app drawer, instead you get all the apps right on your homescreen. The notification center is also what we’ve seen previously.

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The settings screen is sorted according to the type and with the rich feature list, there are a plethora of listings. Some settings like Display, Date & Time are hidden under ‘Additional Settings’, which might be confusing on the first go. We love the Android 5.0 Lollipop multitasking interface but sadly, Xiaomi still uses its own implementation.

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MIUI also brings you Themes, which let you alter your interface according to your liking. There are a number of cool themes available for download on the Themes store, so you can surely try them out. There are also a number of other Xiaomi specific features we know and love. Xiaomi also showcased a new VisualIVR feature, which isn’t available on Mi phones in India right now but it should arrive later this year.

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While we love the features MIUI packs, we love the Material Design UI of Android 5.0 Lollipop. From our time of use, the latest MIUI version isn’t the most stable build we have used, with a number of reboots and app crashes, which surely derails the user experience. We are pretty sure Xiaomi will be fix things up in the next update. Well, the conclusion is if you love the features of MIUI, you should be pretty satisfied with MIUI 6.0.

Performance

The Xiaomi Mi 4i is not equipped with a high-end chipset but the 64-bit Octa-core Snapdragon 615 is pretty capable. There’s also 2 GB RAM for all your multitasking needs. We all know MIUI is a resource hungry ROM, so it is good to see Xiaomi packing in the resources. So, how does the Mi 4i performed? Well, find out:

Although, we aren’t really into benchmarks, we did a test anyway for your viewing pleasure. The results were in line with the chipset powering the device.

Xiaomi Mi 4i Review Benchmark 1

Now, coming to the real world performance, the Mi 4i is a good performer, no doubt about that but there are times when it feels inconsistent. There are app crashes and random reboots but we guess it has to do more with the software than the hardware. Other than that, the device performs admirably with consistent performance throughout.

The Mi 4i handles processor intensive apps and games pretty well and while the device does get a little warm, it’s not really a deal breaker at all. While the performance is not flagship level, it is adequate for a mid-range smartphone.

Telephony and Audio Performance

The audio quality of the Xiaomi Mi 4i is what we expect from a mid-range smartphone. The speakers on the rear of the device are nothing but ordinary. While the volume is adequate, the audio quality is a little underwhelming. Xiaomi doesn’t bundle any earphones with the device but the audio quality was good when we tested with some other pair of earphones.

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The call quality on the device is top notch and we found the earpiece sound and the clarity pretty good. People on the other side of calls also said we sounded fine, so yes the ‘phone’ in the Mi 4i smartphone works as we expected.

Battery Performance

We applaud the Xiaomi engineering team for packing a 3120 mAh battery yet keeping the Mi 4i so light and compact. Now, let’s see how well the battery performs in day to day usage.

In our usage, which featured an hour of calls, half an hour of music playback, some gaming, lots of browsing and social media, some pictures from the camera, we got a day of usage. While the battery performance is not extra ordinary, it is pretty decent. If you use the device moderatly, the device should easily give you more than a day of battery life. But if you are heavy user, you will be done with Mi 4i battery by the end of the day.

Xiaomi Mi 4i Review battery

Xiaomi has a cool power setting, which lets you choose between two modes: Performance and Balanced. As the names suggest, Performance will bring you great performance at the cost of battery life while Balanced should take your battery into accout too.

While we surely expected some great battery life from the massive 3120 mAh battery, we got some decent results.

Camera

The Mi 4i is no slouch when it comes to the camera, as the device packs in a 13 MP CMOS stacked camera sensor with 5-elements lens and f/2.0 aperture. There’s also a two tone LED flash for better lighting in pictures at night. The front is graced with a wide-angle 5 MP camera, which sounds good for selfies. Previous Xiaomi devices have packed some good camera for their price and we expected the same from Mi 4i and well, we weren’t disappointed.

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The MIUI camera viewfinder is a pretty simple camera interface but it packs a number of features. The main screen features the capture button, along with buttons for Gallery and to switch to video mode. There are also smaller buttons for HDR mode, flash and a button to switch to the front cam. A swipe to the left brings up the various other modes like Panorama, Timer, Refocus, HHT, Beautify and Manual. There’s also a settings button for more camera settings. A swipe to the right from the main viewfinder will bring you to the various filters on offer.

We have used the Xiaomi Mi 4i camera for a few days now and well, we have been pleased with it. The shots taken from the rear cam are pretty good with good amount of detail and sharpness. The color reproduction could have been better through and the images captured in low light feature  noise. The two tone dual LED flash is pretty good and photos taken with the flash turned on are pretty good. The videos taken with the 13 MP rear camera feature plenty of detail and are very sharp.

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The front-facing 5 MP camera churns out some great selfies when there’s adequate light but it suffers the same fate as its rear camera when it comes to low light. Even then, the shots are pretty good for your social media needs.

Overall, the camera units on the Mi 4i are pretty good at the price point. Both the cameras perform admirably in well lit conditions but fail to impress in low light. If you keep your expectations in check, the Mi 4i camera should be good enough for you. For its price point, the Mi 4i has a great camera and you surely won’t be disappointed.

Connectivity

The Xiaomi Mi 4i might be a mid-range smartphone but its connectivity specs tell a different story. One of the highlights of the Xiaomi Mi 4i is the 4G connectivity support it comes with. The device comes with Dual SIM with dual standby support and the good news is both the slots support 4G SIM cards. The device supports both TD-LTE and FDD-LTE 4G bands, so it should be good enough for most regions in Asia.

Other connectivity features of the device include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct,WiFi Display, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, AGPS, GLONASS and Beiduo.

The Mi 4i certainly packs a punch when it comes to the connectivity features and the 4G support itself make the smartphone an impressive package.

Conclusion

At Rs. 12,999, we all know the Xiaomi Mi 4i is a great device and we have known that ever since it was unveiled. Well, a few days of using it reaffirms that opinion. For its price, the Mi 4i brings a beautiful display, great build quality, good camera, decent battery life and dual SIM 4G support. The device is already a winner and we are pretty sure it is going to be a huge hit in India.

No device is perfect and nor is the Mi 4i, the device features 16 GB of fixed storage (12.9 GB available), which might be a deal breaker for some and MIUI could use some fixing and we’re pretty sure Xiaomi is already working on it. Having said that, the Mi 4i easily trumps the competition in the display, design, camera and the connectivity department.

So, people looking for a smartphone in the sub-Rs. 15,000 price range should be pleased with the arrival of the Mi 4i. Anyone looking to buy a great smartphone at this price should just go ahead and register for the next Mi 4i sale.

Pros:

  • Lovely design and build
  • Great display
  • Good camera
  • Decent battery performance
  • Dual SIM 4G

Cons:

  • 16 GB of non-expandable storage
  • MIUI issues

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