Xiaomi introduced MIUI 12 last month in China, and is set to introduce the global version of the ROM in the coming weeks. MIUI 12 comes with a host of exciting new features and much-needed privacy controls, and will be rolling out to devices starting next month.
But one device that has fallen by the wayside is the Mi Mix 3 5G. The phone debuted last year to much fanfare as Xiaomi set its sights on the 5G segment in European markets, but lackluster sales have dampened those ambitions. As a refresher, the Mi Mix 3 5G was announced at last year's Mobile World Congress, and featured a 3800mAh battery and the Snapdragon 855 along with the Snapdragon X50 5G modem.
Xiaomi announced 5G partnerships with Vodafone, TIM, Three, Orange, and Sunrise, and the Mi Mix 3 5G went on sale in May 2019 for €599 ($645). A year later, the phone is still on Android 9.0 Pie, and it doesn't look like it will be updated to Android 10. The regular Mi Mix 3, for instance, has received the stable Android 10 update back in March.
The Mi Mix 3 5G hasn't received MIUI 11 yet, and the lack of its inclusion in the MIUI 12 rollout suggests Xiaomi isn't keen on delivering its latest skin to the phone. While Xiaomi hasn't been great at rolling out platform updates to all of its phones in the past, it at least used to deliver new versions of MIUI to most devices in its portfolio.
Xiaomi's reasoning for this is that as MIUI already offers a lot of the security features that show up in new versions of Android, and that it prioritizes MIUI updates instead of updating the platform version on phones. However, the Mi Mix 3 5G isn't even getting that, with the phone still stuck on MIUI 10. There's now a Change.org petition urging Xiaomi to roll out the MIUI 11 update based on Android 10 to the phone. As of this writing, the petition has garnered over 1,200 votes.
I asked a Xiaomi spokesperson for a comment on the update situation and whether there are plans to roll out Android 10 to the Mi Mix 3 5G, but haven't heard anything back. It is becoming clear that Xiaomi is just brushing the Mi Mix 5G under the rug, which is unfortunate because the phone hasn't received a single platform update.
Adding to the frustration is the fact that the Mi Mix 3 5G was one of 21 phones included in the Android 10 beta program last year. The idea with the beta program is to allow a larger set of users to experience the latest version of Android, and being in the beta usually translates to a quick, stable update once it is available. However, that hasn't materialized for the Mi Mix 3 5G, and to date, it is the only phone included in the Android 10 beta program to not have received the stable update yet.
Xiaomi's lackadaisical attitude with updates doesn't bode well for the brand, particularly now that it is focusing its attention on Western markets. Huawei's continued woes with the U.S. government has created a unique opportunity for the likes of Xiaomi to establish a presence in the UK, Spain, France, and other European markets, but with that comes increased pressure around timely software updates. Xiaomi isn't doing itself any favors by leaving its 2019 5G flagship in the cold.
Of course, this is by no means the first time Xiaomi ran into issues with software updates. Earlier this year, the manufacturer pulled the Android 10 update for the Android One-based Mi A3 after users encountered app crashes and issues with the fingerprint sensor. Xiaomi has just restarted the rollout, but the fact that an Android One phone hasn't picked up the Android 10 update until May 2020 tells you a lot about the brand's continued issues with software updates.
In fact, this is a constant theme with Xiaomi's Android One phones. Just weeks after halting the update for the Mi A3, Xiaomi had to do the same for the Mi A2 Lite after it was found that that particular update was also bricking users' phones. A year ago, the Android 9.0 Pie update for the Mi A1 was similarly laced with bugs. Oh, and the Oreo update for the same phone caused severe battery drain issues.
Thus far, most of Xiaomi's business has centered around the entry-level and budget categories. But the brand is now pushing for the premium segment, and with that comes increased scrutiny over software updates. It's easier to excuse the lack of updates on a $100 budget phone, but for a 5G-enabled flagship that costs over $600 to not receive the Android 10 update in May 2020 is a disgrace. Xiaomi needs to rectify the issue if it wants to be taken seriously in Western markets.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.