Having recently been asked to look a little into Xiaomi, the company that regularly gets called the “Chinese Apple” I thought I’d take a glance at their latest mobile offering.
Taking a look at photos of the device, it’s pretty clear that it’s an aesthetically pleasing thing to behold. To my eyes it looks like a more grown up version of the Iphone 5c range. Oh, yes it comes in an assortment of colours, you want a pink phone? Knock yourself out. Personally I’m rather liking that yellow looking one though I’m not sure I wouldn’t actually just go for black if it were my pennies at stake.
Looking past its exterior, or rather looking at the spec sheet it’s priced in the “mid-range” category, where the likes of the Moto G have reigned but there is a fair old jump in what it has to offer. For starters the screen takes a leap form G’s 720p to a full 1080p and the CPU jumps not only to a newer version but up a category too, from a Snapdragon 400 to a Snapdragon 615. Likewise the RAM goes from 1GB to 2GB. It’s pretty clear that by numbers alone this “mid-range” offering is spitting out some impressive figures. Add in things like the 13 MP camera, 4G, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, 16GB ROM storage and it looks like it has the potential to be a seriously compelling alternative to more mainstream brands.
So sounds great right, still there are couple of things that I think really start to set it apart somewhat from the things that we are used to seeing here in the UK. First of all, is that it has dual sim support. WTF is that you might be thinking? Well that’s that you can have two sim cards in the phone at the same time and they both work. In western markets where handset sales are driven mostly by mobile phone networks, they buy the phones and they then give you them “free” with a contract you’ll be paying for the next two years. This networks love and it completely disguises the cost of a phone. In markets where the norm is where you actually pay for the phone, with your own money, people are more price sensitive and so might have two sim cards to take advantage of the best deals. Not to say you couldn’t do the same, but I think more likely you could have your personal number and a work number. Your home country sim and one for the country you’re in for travellers? Hey, maybe one sim for the wife and one for the girlfriend, or boyfriend, I’m not judging. You know, just saying you have options.
The other thing I find really interesting is that Xiaomi put a lot of effort into their custom UI. They in fact offer a custom ROM for a bunch of devices. Their aptly name MiUI (Mi User Interface, get it?) So they have a whole community of people developing and providing feedback for what they do. For me, a bit of a tech nerd, I love that a company is so involved and supportive of such endeavours. They actively help developers make the best out of their devices and want to see them kept up to date with OS updates. Other big name brands mostly are pretty terrible at providing updates to Android and if they do ever come, they take forever and roll out painfully slowly. Xiaomi have up on their MiUI site Rom’s right there for you to download and install. They even offer a specific “Developer ROM” which just floors me. Can you imagine the likes of Apple or Samsung being so open and interactive with their users??? [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Xiaomi have just released the kernel source for the Mi4i.”[/pullquote]
I hope to be getting one in for review sometime soon and if/when that happens you can be assured that an in-depth review will be forthcoming.