Xiaomi’s Mi 4 is finally here. Offering its trademark combination of high-performance hardware with exceptionally low retail prices, the Mi 4 looks set to be yet another winning product from the Chinese company. After the launch event, Xiaomi invited members of the media to the experience zone, where we could see, touch and feel the Mi 4 for ourselves.
Read more for our first impressions of the Xiaomi Mi 4.
Xiaomi proudly states that the Mi 4 has a steel frame, adding rigidity and strength to the outer plastic chassis. For the most part, the Mi 4’s first impressions can be summarised as an amalgamation of many different ideas from competing devices: the chamfered edges from the iPhone 5, the blocky square form factor with rounded sides like the Nokia Lumia 930, and the StyleSwap interchangeable back covers with various textures from the OnePlus One.
And for the most part, Xiaomi succeeded in making this combination work. The device feels very solid and yet simultaneously light, while the rounded sides doesn’t poke uncomfortably in the palms like the Mi 3 does. The screen to display ratio is also amazingly high, ensuring the compact size of the Mi 4.
However, one cannot help but notice that the Mi 4 doesn’t quite stand out in terms of design. First impressions matter a lot, and when it comes to smartphones, while the geeks will naturally go gaga over the Mi 4’s internals, the common user would find it difficult to pick this phone up in a store compared to, say, the HTC One M8 or even the iconic design of the iPhone 5s. Perhaps this was the reason why a large portion of the launch event was spent on co-founder Lei Jun going to great lengths to discuss about the manufacturing process of the Mi 4, which was admittedly impressive.
If design isn’t a big issue for you, however, the Mi 4 is certainly a very compelling device. Xiaomi has fitted a 5-inch Full HD screen into a body that is a lot more compact that other 5-inch flagships in the market, and I’m very happy about that. It was perhaps a relief for many that Xiaomi stuck to a 5-inch display rather than the rumoured 5.5-inch one. As for the display itself, the IPS screen made by JDI is amazingly crisp, with punchy colour reproduction that’s almost similar to a Super AMOLED display.
Not to forget, the Mi 4 also packs the most powerful hardware available in the market today. There’s a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM, 13MP Sony IMX 214 rear and 8MP Sony IMX 219 front camera sensors, and a large 3080mAh battery with its own rapid charge technology.
One thing to note with the Mi 4 is the fact that this device is not running on MIUI v6, but rather the older v5 but is based on a newer version of Android; specifically, version 4.4.3 which is pretty recent. As such, there aren’t many changes to the UI, with notable ones including the camera app which has a slightly tweaked interface. More profound changes to the UI will come in MIUI v6, which will be available next month.
As for the camera itself, Xiaomi has fitted two large Sony sensors for its rear and front cameras. The famous IMX 214 13MP sensor from Sony makes an appearance here, while the front-facing camera is a Sony IMX 219 8MP sensor. Xiaomi has added several software tweaks to both camera sensors, such as the Ubi Focus mode for the rear camera as well as some enhancements to the front shooter’s Beauty Mode to er, enhance the subject’s face for selfies.
Sample image from the Mi 4. Open in new tab for full resolution. For more sample images, head on here.
In all, though, our brief moment with the Xiaomi Mi 4 is a positive one. The biggest pulling factor that Xiaomi’s products has is with its prices, and if what we saw on the Mi 3 is any indication, the Mi 4 could prove to receive even better reception.
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