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Thursday, December 03, 2020

Xiaomi Mi 4i review: A week with the flagship Mi smartphone

Take part in the detailed week long review of the Xiaomi Mi 4i flagship smartphone.

Written by Debashis Sarkar | New Delhi | Updated: May 21, 2015 4:00:34 pm
Xiaomi, Xiaomi Mi 4i, Xiaomi Mi 4i review,Xiaomi Mi 4i detailed review, Xiaomi Mi 4i sepcs, Xiaomi Mi 4i price, Xiaomi Mi 4i Flipkart, smartphones, technology news Take part in the detailed week long review of the Xiaomi Mi 4i flagship smartphone. (Source: Debashis Sarkar)

The Mi 4i is the first smartphone from Chinese startup Xiaomi which was exclusively launched in India. Xiaomi had left no stone unturned to say how important India is to them. Xiaomi’s VP Hugo Barra explained each and every feature in his hour-long presentation at the launch event which had an audience of nearly 2,000 people – journalists, bloggers and most importantly Mi fans.

READ: Xiaomi Mi 4i launched at Rs 12,999, Mi Band at Rs 999. Here is how it happened

READ: All you need to know about Xiaomi Mi 4i

CHECK out: First look at Xiaomi Mi 4i

While the Mi 4i was introduced in India at a jaw-dropping price of Rs 12,999, most of my journalist friends shared a similar thought: “Xiaomi is back to its comfort pricing-zone of under Rs 15,000.” Xiaomi’s success is only limited in the budget smartphone segment in the country. In fact, the company admitted that its Redmi 1S is the most sold smartphone.

The two versions of Redmi Note phablet couldn’t excite the Indian buyers much. Then the Mi 4 was introduced. The Mi 4 was the first to cross the Rs 15,000 price band for Xiaomi in India. It appeared a bit too early and ambitious for Xiaomi to convince people to buy something in the Rs 20,000 bracket, especially after the success of Mi 3 and Redmi 1S. The Mi 4 couldn’t gather much steam.

Xiaomi was quick to realise this and in order to boost things, it started to sell its Redmi Note 4G and Mi 4 in brick and mortar stores. Also, Xiaomi, somewhat, ended its exclusive partnership with Flipkart and tied up with Amazon.in and Snapdeal to reach more buyers. Meanwhile, the Redmi 2 was launched and tasted success. However, Xiaomi needed something to regain its position in the Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000 market and that is what the Mi 4i is all about.

At first, in the short five minutes that I got to spend with the Mi 4i at the launch event, I got a feeling that it is the plastic version of the Mi 4 and the company is desperately trying to recreate the Mi 3 magic.

After a couple of weeks, Xiaomi has sent me a review unit. Starting May 9, I am going to use the Mi 4i as my primary smartphone for a week.  I plan to test each and every feature that Xiaomi has claimed.

Shoot your queries, doubts, questions, criticisms and experiences to @Debashis_sark. You can also share them in the comment section below.

Xiaomi Mi 4i, Xiaomi Mi 4i review, Xiaomi Mi 4i smartphone, Xiaomi Mi 4 review blog, Technology, Technology news, Xiaomi MI 4i has a polycarbonate unibody.

Summary: Xiaomi Mi 4i Express Review

Day 6 and 7: Performance test and verdict

The device scored around 38,000 in AnTuTu Benchmark 64-bit v 5.7 in performance mode. The benchmark scores placed it above the Google Nexus 5 and LG G3, however, the score was just a bit lower than the Mi 3. Benchmark scores do not reveal the entire picture. After using the device for a week, I did not encounter much of lags or app crashes. Overall, the device is smooth and I was happy with the performance.

Round up:

-Best display for a mid-range smartphone

– It’s a good looking device

– Good camera

– Performance will easily satisfy users

– Battery life is more than other phones in this range

– Gets warm easily. But doesn’t affect performance.

– External speakers are not much loud

– MIUI 6 will take time to get used to

– Storage will be an issue for power users

– Offers great value for money

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Day 5, May 13: Battery and camera test

Round up:

– Battery takes around 2.5 hours to fully charge from 0 to 100%.

– Battery last for nearly 32 hours in balance mode and a bit more than 24 hours in performance mode.

– Overall, camera is good.

10 PM: For macros, you will have to be a bit patient while focusing. However, the results are decent. (HDR Normal mode without Flash)

IMG_20150514_193743_HDR IMG_20150514_193833_HDR IMG_20150514_193908_HDR

9 PM: Check out these images below that I had taken on my way to office today morning. These were taken from a bike at a speed of 70 kmph.

IMG_20150514_115641 IMG_20150514_115825

7 PM: What difference can you expect if you use the dual tone Flash under normal indoor lights? Yes, it is not all bright and White. Dual tone is Flash definitely a good to have feature.

IMG_20150510_211930

 

IMG_20150510_211906

6 PM: The Mi 4i comes with a dual tone Flash at the back which emits both White and Yellow light together. This feature boasts to deliver natural images in low lighting situations with Flash. So, let’s test this out.

Flash test: Image taken in complete darkness w/o Flash (HDR normal mode). Flash test: Image taken in complete darkness w/o Flash (HDR normal mode).
Flash test: Image taken in complete darkness with Flash (HDR normal mode). Flash test: Image taken in complete darkness with Flash (HDR normal mode).

3 PM: After the short rain test, all I figured out is that you can use the touchscreen with wet fingers.

2 PM: It is drizzling outside. I know that the Mi 4i is not water-proof, however, Xiaomi had showcased a video to state that the Mi 4i can be used while it’s raining a bit. So, I am taking it out.

1:30 PM: After 2 hours and 27 minutes, the Mi 4i is fully charged.

1 PM: While the charging the Mi 4i, I recorded a maximum temperature of 38°C.

12: 30 PM: I am switching on the device with 80% battery. Time taken to reach 80% charge is 1 hour 22 minutes.

12 PM: After exact 57 minutes, the device is charged to 50%. Note that it is switched off.

11:20 AM: After 20 minutes, the battery is charged to 20%.

11 AM: Battery down. Let’s record the time you need to fully charge the Mi Mi 4i. I am using the charger which comes with the device. The device is switched off. Surprisingly, the battery shows 4% charged from the start.

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Day 4, May 12: Getting used to Mi 4i

Round up:

– 10GB internal memory may or may not be a problem for you.

– MIUI offers a bunch of inbuilt privacy features.

– External speakers are of decent quality, however, may not be loud enough.

8 PM: The call interface comes with a recorder, through which you can directly record calls in good quality. The recording is saved automatically with the name of the person (if listed in your contacts).

5 PM: MIUI offers a range of security and privacy features. You can restrict data usage for each app. The device comes with a Cleaner app, virus scanner, Block-list (in which you can calls and messages from unwanted numbers) along with an app permission manager.

app permission

3PM: A friend wants to check out the Mi 4i for sometime. This is where the Guest mode will come handy. This mode hides messages, notes, pictures and incoming calls. Also, there is an option to lock individual apps. However, once a particular app is unlocked, it remains open unless the screen is locked again.

2 PM: While 2GB RAM looks good on paper, you mostly get less than 1 GB (around 900 MB). MIUI takes up a lot of RAM. No problems while switching apps. You can lock frequently used apps in the Recent Apps menu. It is not always a good idea to kill apps just to see more available RAM as relaunching an app takes more time.

Xiaomi Mi 4i RAM2

1 PM: Time to watch a short documentary. Forgot my earphones, so, I will have to rely on the external speakers. The audio quality is decent, however, it is not loud enough for me to understand dialogues. In fact, I had missed a couple of calls earlier, because I couldn’t hear the default Mi ringtone and I was not wearing the band.

11 AM: Recalling my usage pattern, I usually need 3GB for music, 4 GB for images and videos and around 2 GB for apps. I never store movies on my smartphone and usually plug in my pen drive to watch them. So, it seems 10 GB may be good enough for me, at least initially. However, 10 GB may not be enough for everyone. It totally depends on your usage. To decide better, just see how much storage you are actually using on your current smartphone. I guess 10GB with USB OTG support should work for most users. But there is very little point in limiting storage, especially in the budget price-range.

Xiaomi Mi 4i review2

10 AM: Okay, after three days of procrastination, I need to copy songs and videos to Mi 4i, as it doesn’t come with a microSD card slot. Until now, I was relying on USB OTG to watch movies or listen to music.  Xiaomi could have included a card slot, but whatever may be the reasons for not including it, I will have to live with it. So, is 10GB storage enough?

9 AM: Got to charge the Mi Band. Until now, I was skipping the pattern lock by using Mi Band to unlock the smartphone. To unlock your smartphone via Mi Band, you do not necessarily need to wear the band. You just have to keep your smartphone within the Bluetooth range.

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Day 3, May 11: Busy day in texts and calls

Round up:

– Battery life over 24 hours

– No issues with performance

– Mi 4i doesn’t heat up unusually.

9 PM: On the performance front, this is a smooth smartphone. I personally don’t buy benchmark scores because I feel good scores may not necessarily translate into better experience. However, will share benchmark scores in my full review later.

8 PM: Coming to battery life. It’s been three days already and I am yet to run out of battery midway. While going to sleep, there’s always around 5% to 6% left and I wake to see around 3% still left. The Mi 4i delivers more than 24 hours for sure, at least initially. I am yet to do a full battery test to know the exact battery life.

6 PM:  I recorded a max of  42°C while using the torch for 30 minutes. While gaming I recorded 40°C and 28°C in idle state. I did not use any IR gun or thermometer of any kind. I just dialed *#*#4636#*#* to record the battery temperature. As per standards, these temperature recordings can be considered normal, especially 28°C. Given this harsh summer, it would be unfair to say the device heats up more when other smartphones also record similar readings. Plus, I did not witness any sort of lag or performance issues even at 42°C when I was gaming with the flashlight switched on.

5 PM: Time to check Twitter. Since, the time I started this blog, the queries I received can be broadly divided into three categories: Battery life, heating issues and performance. So, let’s take a deeper look.

3 PM: Battery down to 64% after using the Mi 4i for mostly texts and calls. The device did heat up a bit during the long conference call.

12:45 PM: Joining a conference call for around an hour or so.

11 AM: The battery is down to 88% on WiFi.

9 AM: Headed to a local store under scorching sunlight. Now, the real test for Sunlight Display . Usually, its very difficult to dial a number or type under direct sunlight. Initially, I felt that the Mi 4i is too glossy on the front and it would make things more difficult.

However, the device surprised me. I had simply kept the display at Auto Brightness and under direct sunlight, it suddenly became easy to view and operate the phone. Yes, the sunlight display actually works.

8 AM: A busy Monday starts with emails and calender notifications. The battery is fully charged. Going through tweets and news notifications. Everything seems smooth as long as my mobile Internet wants to.

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Day 2, May 10: Getting to know Mi 4i

10:30 PM: I am back home and my phone still has 12% battery remaining on it. On my way, I was again gaming. This time I noticed something cool. While you are gaming and you happen to get a call, the call interface doesn’t take over the game. A notification pops out on the top and you can tap it to take the call or ignore it to continue playing.

xiaomi mi4i test

7:30 PM: The party is on. The room is dimly lit and this picture (below) should say it all. Focusing on a subject in an almost dark room is difficult. This is where the torch inside the camera UI came handy. Also, the dual tone LED Flash gave a natural look to the mug.

Xiaomi cam test3

6 PM: Time to socialise. Heading to a friend’s place with 33% battery left on my phone.

4:30 PM: The two-hour movie via USB-OTG drained the battery to 37%. The device did not heat up much. The sound quality of the external speakers is good too. But what impressed me the most was the display quality. Also, I did not witness any sort of lag while watching the movie and even while scrolling down the timeline.

2 PM: The battery was down to 66% after browsing for almost 90 minutes on WiFi. So, what’s next after lunch on a Sunday afternoon? Maybe it is time to watch a movie all alone on the Mi 4i. I connected my pen drive and Mi Piston 2 earphones to the phone to watch it.

11 AM: After an hour-long call with my mom on Mother’s Day, it was now time to get online and know what’s happening around me. Battery 100% to 89%; single SIM 3G; Call duration: 59 minutes. I connected to my home WiFi and started browsing on the default MiUI browser. The browser reminded me of using UC Browser. It looks neat. It has got all features you need, including Night Mode to offer a good experience.

10 AM: A lazy Sunday starts. The Mi 4i is fully charged. However, I couldn’t record the time the battery took to reach 100% from 2 % as I had left it overnight to charge.

9 AM: Why is the alarm ringing? I had switched off the device last night. So, even if the Mi 4i is switched off , the device will automatically wake up to ring the alarm for you. A very useful feature and not common to many smartphones.

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DAY 1, May 9: First look and feel

First impression: 

Great display.

-Got to be patient with the camera.

-MIUI 6 has everything in store for you out-of-the-box.

-Decent call quality.

-Smooth performance.

-Mi 4i does heats up. Whom to blame? The phone or Delhi summers? 

10 PM: After playing 1965 War for almost 30 minutes, the Mi 4i heated up considerably, that too inside an air-conditioned train. However, the device is still smooth. No lags or performance issues. Battery is down to just 7%

9:30 PM: Headed home after a long day. Time to play some games to make my boring Delhi Metro travel a bit happening. So, my colleague talked about this FPS game called 1965 War. Trying it out. Meanwhile, let’s check how fast the camera of Mi 4i can respond to an approaching train.

Xioami ca test2

8:35 PM: I guess I had demanded a bit too much from the Mi 4i as I believed that the camera is good. How can you expect sharp images from a smartphone camera when it is zoomed to its max? In reply, I showed my friends a selfie that I took with the device at my office.

(Click to see the full size.)

 

8:30 PM: The camera test is about to start. I walked in a bit late. The show had already started and I had to sit at the back. This is bad news for me as well the Mi 4i. I had to focus on multiple subjects seated on a brightly lit stage inside a dimly lit audi. As I was seated at the back, I had to use zoom. Also, I cannot afford to disturb others by using Flash.

Tough scenario indeed. The image below is the best that I could capture and it really did not impress my friends as it was not sharp. (Battery 26%; Clicked around 12 images, 5 minutes of video recording at 720p resolution.) The device has heated up.

Xiaomi Mi4i camera test

8 PM: After office, I had to attend a small function to celebrate Rabindra Jayanti in an auditorium. As a proud Bengali, my mission was clear- capture the event. So, let’s see whether the camera could actually deliver what Xiaomi promises.  But before I walked into the auditorium, I had to remove this ugly ‘Hi!’ on the back of the Mi 4i. I used my thumb to clean it. After rubbing for nearly 5 minutes, I was finally successful in bidding goodbye to ‘Hi!’. (Battery 35%; Auto Brightness; using one SIM card with 3G mobile Internet; Bluetooth paired with Mi Band. Yet to fully charge the device.)

The rear of Mi 4i is as good as new. No scratches or ink. The rear of Mi 4i is as good as new. No scratches or ink.

7 PM: Who works after 7 pm on a Saturday? Signing out. Stay tuned for more updates. Will be back again. Do you think the ‘Hi!’ will disappear completely without any sort of scratches at all?

We decided to write with a ball-point pen on the Mi 4i We decided to write with a ball-point pen on the Mi 4i

6:45 PM: The front of the device is completely Black while the rear and sides are pure White. The display is pretty bright and crisp. The soft matte finish at the back feels good. Just a minute. Xiaomi claimed that the rear comes with an anti-grease coating. Hugo Barra did demonstrate this through a video at the launch event. Before I go any further, let’s put the “anti-grease” claim to test.

You will never write ‘Hi!’ on your smartphone. I know it. But, if this can be removed then almost any kind of dirt or smudge can be cleaned.

6:30 PM: The new Mi 4i comes with the same plain old box with just a USB cable and a charging adapter. I got the White colour variant of the Mi 4i. The device feels good to hold. It’s light and compact.

Summary: Xiaomi Mi 4i Express Review

Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

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