Xiaomi launched its new flagship device, the Mi 4i, this week at a global premiere in New Delhi, India, and the mega event saw over 1,500 members of the Mi India community along with media and business partners. While Hugo Barra, Vice President of Xiaomi Global, took the wraps off the Mi 4i, Xiaomi founder and CEO, Lei Jun also made his maiden appearance in the country.
The Mi 4i will go on sale in India first, and starting in May will launch in Xiaomi's other markets — Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. We had some time to use the Mi 4i at the launch event, and here are our first impressions.
Hardware and design
The Mi 4i features a non-removable polycarbonate back cover that wraps around the edges, giving the phone smooth feel all around. The metallic volume rocker and power buttons are placed at the right edge for easy reach, and offer good tactile feedback.
Despite fitting in a 5-inch display, the phone is compact. The bezels on top and bottom are pretty thin, and the unibody frame allows the phone to fit in the hand very nicely. One-handed use is not much of a problem. It's also pretty slim at 7.8mm and lightweight at 130 grams. Despite the plastic body, the phone feels very premium not just in looks but also the build quality, especially at its price point — around $200.
Powered by the second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz with 2GB RAM, the Mi 4i packs quite a punch for a mid-range smartphone. In the quick hands-on, there weren't any lags while navigating across the UI, but we'll have to dig in more to get an idea of the real-world performance. The Xiaomi Mi 4i comes with 16GB of on board memory, and while that should suffice for most users here, there isn't a way to add in a microSD card to expand the storage.
The Mi 4i is a dual SIM smartphone and can take in 4G/3G SIM cards in either of the slots. It is powered by a large 3,120mAh battery that is more than what we generally see on 5-inch devices, and also comes with Quick Charge, which charges the phone to 40 percent in an hour and takes only three hours for a full charge.
The Mi 4i comes with a 5-inch full HD (1920x1080) IPS display, which adds up to a pixel density of 441 ppi. It's a pretty good display and offers vibrant colors and sharp text. The blacks also appeared to be quite good and the viewing angles are impressive in the little time we spent with the device. The phone boasts of OGS (One Glass Solution) that leaves no air-gap between the touchscreen and the display, giving it a more fluid touch experience.
Xiaomi packs in a new Sunlight Display technology that dynamically adjusts the tones to get a balanced display in bright sunlight. There's also Gorilla Glass 3 to ensure protection against scratches.
The Mi 4i runs MIUI 6, the company's customized UI, but is the first Xiaomi smartphone to pack in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Despite the underlying change, the UI isn't any different from what we've seen on Xiaomi's other devices, including the Mi 4. MIUI has its fans, and the nifty features and utilities it builds on top of the Android platform offer a great user experience.
The Mi 4i packs in almost the same camera as the one seen in the Mi 4. There's the same 13MP Sony sensor, but the one on Mi 4i has a 5-element f/2.0 lens. The front camera is a very capable 5MP shooter with an f/1.8 lens.
The phone features a two-tone flash that intelligently adapts to room color temperature and sports HDR with automatic gamma and contrast tuning. There's also a Beautify feature (first seen on Mi 4) that enhances selfies and portraits using one of the 36 beauty profiles.
Impressions are positive
The Xiaomi Mi 4i packs in quite a punch in terms of specifications and is nicely designed as well. A 5-inch compact phone could be the ideal phone size for a lot of people. At INR 12,999 (~ $205), it's tough to find faults particularly when similarly-appointed phones are selling for double the price in the market.
The Mi 4i is available in five colors — black, white, blue, yellow, and pink. Registration to buy the Mi 4i has already started on Flipkart, India's leading online retailer, and the sale will begin April 30, 2015. Would you be looking to pick one up?