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Xiaomi Mi4 review: China’s Answer To Apple Delivers The Goods

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Xiaomi Mi4 review: China’s Answer To Apple Delivers The Goods

The Xiaomi Mi4 is among the largest handset releases in China this yr, so we simply couldn't resist testing one out

Xiaomi won't be a reputation that's immediately acquainted to most western cellular customers, however in its native China, the corporate sells extra smartphones than Apple and Samsung. Despite being fairly a younger agency –– it was solely established in 2010 –– Xiaomi is now the dominant drive in its homeland and it has achieved this beautiful success by emulating the world's most well-known tech model: Apple. 

Xiaomi's try and imitate Apple is nearly slavish; the agency even holds Apple-like press conferences full with a "Just yet one more factor" slide at their conclusion. Xiaomi's Android-based mostly working system MIUI has, in its newest iteration, blatantly ripped off the look of iOS 7 and 8. However, whereas Xiaomi clearly wears its inspiration on its sleeve, it hasn't tried to clone Apple's hardware –– till now, that's. 

Viewed from afar, the Xiaomi Mi4 seems like an enormous iPhone 5s. It has the identical chamfered metallic edges, the identical acquainted entrance format and an similar "Home" button image. This is model worship taken to a hitherto unseen degree, however probably the most superb factor is that Xiaomi has truly pulled it off; the Mi4 is arguably among the best-made Android handsets out there proper now. It additionally manages to mix superb specs with wonderful customized software program and all at a worth which is nearly a 3rd of the price of an precise iPhone.

Xiaomi Mi4 Review: Design & Display 

Ever because the iPhone launched, rival tech companies have taken giant quantities of inspiration from Apple, however the Mi4 actually does take issues to a completely new degree. It's a shameless copy of the iPhone 4 and 5's design, with a metallic chassis fronted by a Gorilla Glass display and backed with a plastic rear panel. Along the underside you will discover a single speaker –– once more wanting just like the one seen on the iPhone 5 –– and a somewhat odd USB port. The telephone makes use of MicroUSB-O, whereas each different cellular on the planet (except for the iPhone, in fact) makes use of MicroUSB-A. The USB-S connection will nonetheless match, nevertheless, however there's the added hazard of inserting it the wrong way up right here. 

Once you've got acquired over how comparable the telephone is to Apple's world-well-known handset, you slowly however certainly start to fall in love with the Mi4. The construct high quality is implausible, and using metallic elevates this to a regular with is not often seen within the Android area (outdoors of HTC's all-metallic units, in fact).

The 5in IPS show can also be hanging and really spectacular, sporting a full HD 1080 x 1920 pixel decision and rock-strong viewing angles. It's additionally straightforward to see in direct daylight, and boasts the type of color replication you'd anticipate from a prime of the road handset. There's no nook-slicing happening right here; this can be a premium display with no shadow of a doubt.

Xiaomi Mi4 Review: Hardware and Performance 

While the Xiaomi Mi4's worth could also be nicely under what you'd pay for an iPhone 6 or Galaxy S5 –– in China, it retails for lower than £200 –– it is rocking some fearsome specs, together with a quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset clocked at 2.5GHz. That's backed by 3GB of RAM, all of which offers a silky-clean consumer expertise and superb efficiency when enjoying 3D video games.

The unit we reviewed solely has 3G-entry and got here with 16GB of storage, however a 4G variant –– armed with sixty four pretty gigabytes –– is predicted any day now, for a slight premium. There's no approach so as to add in additional storage utilizing Micro SD playing cards, so you will have to decide on correctly in the event you like downloading a lot of content material. NFC can also be lacking, which is a disgrace when you think about that the tech is more likely to take off in an enormous approach now that Apple is formally supporting it with its new iPhone fashions. According to Xiaomi, such a small variety of Mi3 house owners made use of the function that it was deemed an pointless extravagance on this sequel gadget. 

Xiaomi Mi4 Review: Software & User Experience

Xiaomi's MIUI (pronounced, “Me-You-Eye”, in case you have been struggling) is predicated on Android. In the case of MIUI 5, which ships with the Mi4, it is constructed on Android 4.3. However, in contrast to different producers (Sony and Samsung, for example) Xiaomi has been fairly aggressive with its UI pores and skin. To a western consumer, one of the crucial apparent variations is that no Google apps are included in any respect; Android telephones bought in China not often include such software program pre-put in, though it's comparatively straightforward to beat this concern. For instance, inside Xiaomi's very personal Mi Market, there is a Google Installer software which lets you load up every little thing you want, from Gmail to Google Play.

While MIUI 5 was the OS that shipped with our evaluate unit, we have since upgraded to MIUI 6 (based mostly on Android 4.4), which is not formally out there as but however can simply be flashed to the telephone utilizing a devoted software. As we said earlier than, MIUI 6 is closely impressed by iOS 7 –– and, extra just lately, iOS 8 –– and takes the entire iPhone clone factor a step additional. Gone are the shaded app icons and skeuomorphic imagery, and of their place you will discover a "flatter" design identical to Jony Ive’s iOS 7. 

Another function of MIUI that makes it really feel like iOS is the shortage of an app drawer. This is not new to MIUI 6, and seasoned Android followers might discover it onerous to get used to. You can nonetheless use widgets as regular, however all your apps are dumped on your property screens. Whether or not this works for you is a matter of private style, however we discovered that having the apps entrance and middle all the time was a combined blessing; it reduces the period of time it takes to launch one thing, however we did miss having every thing saved away neatly in a special a part of the UI.

Android has all the time been praised for its strong notification system, which is why the stripped-down model witnessed in MIUI is probably a bit jarring. The notification bar on the prime of the display not shows any icons, and as an alternative you need to slide down the notification panel to see what messages you've. It's a minor change however one which could be very disorientating in case you've used Android up to now; we discovered we frequently missed notifications or ignored them purely as a result of they did not flash up within the bar. To compensate, notifications now pop up on the prime of the display it doesn't matter what exercise you are concerned in –– identical to they do in iOS. 

Overall although, the additions and enhancements in MIUI 6 are very welcome. It has a "Do Not Disturb" choice constructed into the OS itself, and there are little customizations to mess around with, together with a menu which lets you management the color temperature of the display. 

Most of all although, MIUI is quick; maybe not as swift as inventory Android on a Nexus 5, however definitely very nippy. MIUI 6 continues to be in beta however Xiaomi is exclusive in that it releases weekly updates for the software program that cope with numerous bugs and add new features. Considering that it isn't the ultimate product simply but, it's extremely polished certainly. 

Xiaomi Mi4 Review: Battery and Camera 

The Mi4 has a big 3080mAh battery, which is greater than the one seen within the Galaxy S5. However, the elevated measurement cannot completely take credit score for the telephone's unimaginable stamina; there's clearly a bit of labor happening behind the scenes to make sure that the Mi4 lasts longer than most of its huge-display rivals.

We have been capable of get virtually three whole days out of the telephone through the evaluate interval, one thing which hasn't occurred on an Android telephone in fairly a while. While it is potential to pick from totally different battery profiles, we caught with the "Balanced" mode that left most options operating and intact, presumably dialing down the Snapdragon 801 chipset with a view to save on the juice. Regardless of what techniques Xiaomi is adopting to protect battery life, the Mi4's stamina is exceptional. 

The telephone's Sony-made 13MP digital camera is equally spectacular, providing wonderful image high quality and quick focus occasions. The regular points with capturing in low-mild stay, however once you've acquired a nicely-lit setting the Mi4 is able to producing some spectacular photographs,  even when it does sometimes wrestle with excessive-distinction areas. 

Xiaomi Mi4 evaluation: Conclusion 

Xiaomi's virtually overbearing want to ape Apple may depart a nasty style within the mouths of some tech shoppers, however for those who're an Android consumer who has lengthy admired the skills of Jony Ive and his workforce at Cupertino, then this might present the right answer. The Mi4 combines Apple's design philosophy with the software program flexibility of Android, making for what some will regard as the right cellular union. 

There are drawbacks –– no Micro SD card slot being probably the obvious –– and the shortage of 4G on this launch mannequin can also be a problem. Not together with NFC appears very shortsighted, even when the tech hasn't taken off in China over the previous few years. All such considerations dissolve away whenever you check out the worth. Nothing else comes near the Mi4 on this regard. NOTHING. For occasion, even in the event you order from the Far East and incur a worth hike and customized costs (as we did), you are still solely taking a look at round £260 (UK-based mostly resellers are providing models for over £300 on public sale websites). That's fairly a worth leap from the Chinese RRP, however nonetheless properly under what you'd usually pay for a telephone of this energy and construct high quality.

The telephone's origins may show to be extra of a stumbling block for potential consumers; though the OS helps a number of languages, it is nonetheless clearly aimed toward shoppers on the Chinese mainland. Even when utilizing the English language choice elements of the UI stay in Chinese, and core parts such because the Mi Market and video providers comply with go well with. Xiaomi is presently testing a world model of MIUI 6, which reinstates the Google apps and removes the China-solely parts, however in its default setting, it is fairly clear that this can be a Chinese handset aimed on the Chinese market. Whether or not you are snug with this example could be very a lot down to non-public style, nevertheless it's value placing up with it simply to personal one of many quickest and most aesthetically pleasing Android handsets we have ever seen.

Review unit kindly provided by Efox Shop  

Typical Price: 
£240.00
Reviews
Pros: 
Amazing construct high quality, Fast software program, Excellent hardware
Damien McFerran
Cons: 
No Micro SD card slot, Design is a transparent copy of the iPhone
15:27, 23 Sep 2014
Verdict: 
Incredible energy and a stunning design make this top-of-the-line telephones of 2014, so long as you'll be able to put up with snatches of Chinese textual content
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