Smart form factor is indeed the most aspect of designing a handset. And who knows the art of designing a "good-looking" handset better than Xiaomi?
While Samsung and Huawei dream supersonic hardware specifications, Xiaomi is fully focused on making a desirable phone for mass users residing in emerging countries.
The Xiaomi Mi4i, launched a day before yesterday in New Delhi, is a classic example of industrial-style interior design. This particular design is a style that should appeal to those folks who adore clean approach to design and color.
While the phone is heavily inspired by the original Mi4, the newly introduced Mi4i comes with a ton of long-awaited hardware fixes and speed improvements.
And what fascinates us most is the asking price. The Mi4i is being projected as a "flagship" device, and will be made available for Rs. 12,999, starting April 30 via Flipkart.
Xiaomi's latest Mi4i is a beautiful blend of both old and contemporary to create an overall very modern feel. This is absolutely a perfect example of monolithic design.
We've had a chance to play around with the Mi4i just a day back and here are our first impressions.
Xiaomi Mi4i First Look: Form Factor, Design, Display and Operating System
We love the way Xiaomi pushes sophisticated design with the Mi4i, and its appearance is nothing short of world class. At 7.8-inches and weighing 130 grams, the Mi4i is almost similar to the iPhone 6. The Mi4i is also smaller than the Moto X 2014 (5.2-inches).
The premium looking phone comes with a high quality polycarbonate shell, and needless to say, it caught our eye. To be made available in a ton of vibrant juicy colors, the handset feels absolutely gorgeous despite the plastic chassis.
One of the biggest plus points of the Mi4i is that the device nestles comfortably in your hand. The super compact form factor also ensures one-hand use without any fussy feelings.
Talking about the other aspects of design, the volume rocker and the power/standby button on right hand side is made of metal and has a nice tactile feedback. The 3.5mm headset jack is placed at the top while the micro-USB port sits at the bottom.
The Mi4i uses a 5-inch screen by using a 1920 x 1080 panel supplied by Sharp, as opposed to the more common 1280 x 720 displays seen on the Moto G (2014).
The high resolution 5-inch FHD display panel gives it 441 pixels per inch (ppi). Most importantly, the company has used a new display technology, simply called the Sunlight display. Basically the Sunlight Display technology automatically adjusts the tones to get a rich colorful display in bright sunlight.
Colors looked super bright and details sharp when I watched the Batman vs. Superman trailer. Touch sensitivity was equally good.
The Mi4i runs Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop OS with the MIUI 6 on top. Visually, though, there isn't much difference when compared to the Mi4, which is supported by Android 4.4 KitKat (MIUI 6). The user interface (UI) is simple, and and an app folder solely for Google programs such as Gmail, Chrome and YouTube.
Interestingly, Xiaomi has added support for 6 Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam) and Visual IVR for especially for India.
Basically the Visual IVR allows users to navigate through Interactive Voice Response Systems in a menu-driven approach. Currently, Visual IVR is in beta stage and supports three services (IRCTC, Cleartrip and Indigo). This special feature will made be available with Mi4i for the time being and other Mi handsets should be getting their own versions in the coming days.
Xiaomi Mi4i First Look: Performance, RAM and Connectivity
For a mid-end handset, the Mi4i has some pretty impressive guts. The handset is powered by a 1.7-GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 second-generation processor and 2GB of RAM with 16GB of onboard memory. Unfortunately, you cannot expand the on-board memory, which is completely unacceptable. It should be noted that 9.73 GB of memory is available to the users.
On the positive side, Xiaomi have plans to launch the 32GB version, but nothing has been finalized yet, as per Hugo Barra, Vice President, Global at Xiaomi.
Anyway, we were impressed by how smoothly the Mi4i performed. The phone launched apps launched quickly and ran them swiftly.
On the AnTuTu test, which measures comprehensive performance, the Xiaomi Mi4i scored a solid 38,620. That's much better than any other handset in the same price range. Even though the Mi4i is a powerful device, the original Mi4 beat the newly launched handset, scoring 44,000.
Xiaomi Mi4i First Look: Camera
The Xiaomi Mi4i uses a 13-megapixel CMOS sensor, 5-element lens, f/2.0 aperture, and dual-tone flash similar to iPhone 6. It takes consistently great shots in most lighting conditions, especially in the outdoor settings.
You can also check out a sample from the camera:
The camera UI isn't much different from that seen on the Mi4. The camera improvements are subtle, and the front camera is a 5-megapixel shooter. It won't offer the image quality of a decent 5-megapixel rear shooter- everything gets a bit grainy zoomed-in - but you get far more detail than average smartphone camera.
Xiaomi Mi4i First Look: Battery and Early Verdict
The Mi4i is powered by a 3,120mAh battery which is Xiaomi's highest capacity battery on a 5-inch handset. Xiaomi claims that you can use the phone for over a day and a half on regular usage, which obviously sounds great.
The Mi4i does most things perfectly: it has a solid industrial design, should last a long time, and it delivers a lot of speed. It also takes great shots. The Xiaomi Mi4i is a super affordable handset worth owning. But, again, we will reserve our final word till we do a detailed review of the Mi4i in the coming days.