High-end specs and the mid-range pricing is what defines Xiaomi’s lineup of flagship devices, and Xiaomi Mi4 is no different, and this smartphone defines what the entire web has been recently claiming of Xiaomi – ripping off / taking inspiration from Apple’s design strategy. At the first look, the phone doesn’t look any different from the Apple iPhone, thanks to the beveled edges on the sides and the entire side panel being made to look like a dull metallic one. Still, there isn’t everything really good that you would feel you are getting a cheap Apple iPhone lookalike – because the back panel disappoints at the first look itself.
Xiaomi hasn’t made any changes to its thoughts of using a plastic material to make the back panel, just like was the case with Mi3, but at least the color in Mi3 didn’t make it look obvious. Here, the back cover on the Xiaomi Mi4 makes it easily guessable that cheap plastic is what makes the exterior, although the company has tried to give the cross squarish finish to it, which is visible against a source of light. Still, this is the white variant that we are trying out, thus are such thoughts. We might be seeing something different on the Black and wood covers.
While retaining the 5-inch Full HD display on the front, Xiaomi has managed to reduce the bezel thickness on the sides of it, and making the device even more comfortable to hold. A change that I appreciate is the edges on the sides which make it non-slippery unlike the Mi3’s curved sides which didn’t let users risk holding the phone without a firm grip. On another note, the branding on the front top left and the back bottom look pretty neat. Below the display, there are three touch system buttons, while above the display, you get to see the front facing camera alongside the earpiece and house for sensors.
On the sides, the bottom has a speaker grill and the thin white lines extending from front to back just like you see on the iPhone 4, and alongside these, there is a MicroUSB port. The right side has both, power and volume rocker buttons. On the left side, the pocket for SIM card is placed, and again if you have used an iPhone user earlier, this should be the easiest and no different part for you to place the SIM card. On the top, there’s the 3.5mm headset jack and an IR blaster. Something I quickly notice and don’t like – no option for storage expansion.
With regards to the OS, it is no different from the Mi3 and the MIUI is quite interesting. It runs the latest Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS, and the MIUI version is v5, and there’s no app drawer and this again reminds me of Apple’s iOS where you see similar icons for a few apps, but at least, there is a widget for clock and I can add widgets wherever I wish, on empty spaces or on an extra home screen. This is where the MIUI from Xiaomi is quite better than several other ROMs although it doesn’t come with a separate section to show the list of apps at one place. For example, the Amigo UI in Gionee Android smartphones have no app drawer, but that restricts the usage of home screen and you cannot place any widgets.
The performance is very much snappy on the first usage and this isn’t the phone out of the box, but the one used for some time. Out of 3GB RAM that is included, about 2.2GB was available, not bad at all. The pre-installed apps in the Xiaomi Mi4 include Calender, Notes, Weather, File Explorer, Video Player, Google Play Store, Music Player, Gallery and a large list of useful apps that are under the “Tools” folder, and a couple important ones in them – Mi Cloud and Updater.
Overall for the initial impressions, the Xiaomi Mi4 is a very beautiful and not a newly designed device in the smartphone arena, and the performance is snappy while the UI is interesting. The back area is the only disappointment in the design, being plastic as well as a big fingerprint magnet, and these fingerprints are visible on any angle.