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Xiaomi Mi4 Review

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Xiaomi Mi4 was an eagerly awaited offering from Xiaomi since the last year’s launch of the record-breaking Xiaomi Mi 3. Well, much has changed since the launch of Xiaomi’s predecessor, and some of the credit for this change does go to Xiaomi.

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The Xiaomi Mi4 is the company’s stake at creating a well-built mid-range phone with a premium form factor. The Xiaomi Mi4 was launched back in July last year. It has, therefore, come a little late to the country, something in which Xiaomi’e legal tangles had a role to play. While the Xiaomi Mi3 was released with absolutely no competition, the Xiaomi Mi4 releases after the launch of phones such as the OnePlus One.

The Xiaomi Mi4 is loaded in terms of the specs, but, as far as the pricing is concerned, the company has definitely stepped away from what the Xiaomi Mi3 offered. While the Xiaomi Mi3 offered something that wasn’t offered at that price tag up till then, the Xiaomi Mi4 does have competition in that respect. Not just that, the price tag is different – while the Xiaomi Mi3 was a phone created for the aspirational low-range consumer, who could have a good phone by spending a little more, the Xiaomi Mi4 has been designed for the aspirational mid-range consumer in the same fashion.

Xiaomi Mi4 Specs:

  • 5-inch OGS full lamination display
  • Full HD (1920x1080p) resolution
  • 2.5 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 3 GB LP-DDR3 RAM
  • 16/64 GB eMMC 5.0 storage
  • 13 MP rear camera with flash
  • 8 MP front-facing camera
  • 3080 mAh battery

We have had the Xiaomi Mi4 for some time now and here’s what we think about it.

Hardware

Xiaomi has been called the ‘Apple of China’. While the Xiaomi Mi3 was something different in terms of form factor, the Xiaomi Mi4 literally proves this term right. The Xiaomi Mi4 looks downright inspired from the Apple iPhone 5S. The Xiaomi Mi4 has been receiving brickbats for looking just like the iPhone and unfortunately we do not have a different opinion about it. The Xiaomi Mi4 has a similar metallic frame, complete with the steel band wrapped around the edges. The Xiaomi Mi4 is a rectangular block of steel.

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As far as the build quality is concerned, Xiaomi has definitely outdone itself. Xiaomi has claimed that the steel chassis has been created through 40 different steps and 193 different steps. Well, the attention to detail with this phone is definitely there.

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At 149g, the Xiaomi Mi4 is a little heavy. But, for that weight, you do get a solid phone. Even the SIM tray is built from steel. The build quality is solid, the Xiaomi Mi4 doesn’t creak or squeak. But, with pros, come the cons. The glossy back is something, you definitely do not want to go for.

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As far as the internals are concerned, Xiaomi definitely impresses here. The Xiaomi Mi4 definitely has some high-end specs on offer. It comes with a Snapdragon 801 processor with a 2.5-GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU and an Adreno 330 GPU. The Xiaomi Mi4 comes with 3GB RAM inside along 16 GB internal memory. (The 64 GB version hasn’t been released yet)

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The Xiaomi Mi4’s 13-megapixel rear cam, capable of recording 4K videos. The front cam rests at an impressive 8 megapixels.

Xiaomi has definitely lived up to its reputation of creating phones with excellent hardware. Even though we weren’t as impressed by the design as we were on the Xiaomi Mi3, the build quality more than makes up for it.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi4 display is definitely something impressive. The 5-inch full HD display comes with an impressive 441ppi display density. Some colors do better than others, but the blacks and whites are well-managed. The display is also sufficiently bright, though a little smudgy, but endowed with good sunlight visibility.

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The Xiaomi Mi4 display is definitely a gorgeous one.

Software

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We weren’t kidding when we called Xiaomi a little inspired by Apple. Just like Apple, Xiaomi also has come out with the next version of its UI, with its flagship phone – the Xiaomi Mi4 launch has been accompanied with the launch of the MiUi 6.

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The Xiaomi Mi4 runs Android 4.4 loaded with Xiaomi MiUi 6. Just like the phone, the software too builds on the success of its predecessor. The Xiaomi MiUi 6 takes the good stuff from the Xiaomi MiUi 5 and enhances it. The MiUi 6 is flatter and little more colorful in terms of presentation.

Little things matter and Xiaomi knows that. For example, the lockscreen has been revamped – you can swipe left to access the camera and swipe up to unlock. A little circle with notifications will pop up when you have one.

The homescreen is similar to the previous version, there is no app drawer and you will find all icons right on the homescreen. But, there is definitely a nice collection of widgets on board. Swiping down will bring you the notification and toggles. The themes app works well, just like it did on the MiUi 5.

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But, if you really want to know where things have changed, head to the camera app. The camera app now runs in the fully immersive mode by default, which is a good development. Swiping up will let you move between the front cam and the rear cam, while swiping right will bring you the filters, with around 12 filter modes. Swiping left gives you the camera settings. You can also keep swiping in the gallery to see pictures.

The security center is the same as the Xiaomi MiUi 5 and you can have a look at our Xiaomi Mi3 review to know more about it.

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But, then there are little changes here and there – the notification panel has been revamped and it looks smoother and cleaner than the earlier one. Swiping right will give you the toggles screen. There is a new addition of permanent music control in this panel, which is great. Which brings me to the music app. The music player has been revamped to play both online music and music on the phone. It is synced with the notification panel in such a way that you can see the track name and playing time right in the notification panel, with no need to head to the music app again and again.

Overall, the Xiaomi MiUi 6 functions smooth and well. The software isn’t too heavy which makes your battery last more than you would expect – the phone can easily make it through a day’s usage on a full charge.

Last thing, we did ask Xiaomi people why they did not base MiUi 6 on Android Lollipop instead of KitKat – the answer we got was that there wasn’t much they had to offer by putting in such efforts, since they would use MiUi rather than the material design.

Camera

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The Xiaomi Mi4 has the a 13-megapixel rear snapper just like the Xiaomi Mi3. But the difference is that of the camera sensor. The Xiaomi Mi4 is endowed with a Sony IMX214 sensor and has additional modes such as Highlight Tones, Handheld Twillight (HHT) and refocus in addition to the usual HDR, Panorama, Manual and Burst Shot modes.

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Refocus app

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Refocussed images

The Refocus is not too great compared with the leading phones with refocus, but you have to keep in mind that they come for around double the price of this handset.

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Camera Images

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Front Cam Image

Highlight Tones works well in highlighting colors in a photo, while the  HHT mode does well. Xiaomi has endowed the Mi4 with a well-performing single LED flash instead of the dual LED Flash on the Xiaomi Mi3.

As for the front cam, despite being an 8-megapixel front cam, we weren’t too impressed with the shots.

The Xiaomi Mi4’s camera works well, but the photos are sometimes over saturated and that is a problem. The details are great though, but I liked the Mi3 for its more natural looking photos.

Performance and Battery Life

Performance is something Xiaomi has consistently delivered on, and the Xiaomi Mi4 is no different. The Snapdragon 801 processor and optimized MiUi 6 play a good role in providing you with smooth, lag-free experience.

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Benchmark scores were great, but not at par with the level of Mi3, which in its heyday actually outdid most phones priced above its range.

The speaker on the bottom sounds good, but we have already stepped in an era of front facing speakers and it is definitely a problem in playback since the sound becomes muffled sometimes, especially when the phone is in your pocket.

In terms of connectivity, the phone does okay. It does need lose the data connection when you are on the move and needs an open environment to have a proper data connection.

The battery life though was something we found great, but it does need a little playing around in the battery settings in the Security Center to get it right.

Overall, the Xiaomi Mi4 does okay in terms of peformance and battery usage.

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi4 is definitely priced a little steep at Rs. 19,990 especially since it evokes comparisons with its awesomely priced predecessor. It definitely looks and feels great and the MiUi 6 does deliver in terms of the UI. No MicroSD card slot with just 16 GB on board memory is something that will definitely be a concern for a perspective consumer.

Overall, We still can’t rate this as a bad phone – in fact it is an excellent one in many respects, but just falls short of expectations of fireworks like the Xioami Mi3.

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