Mobiles & Tablets

Mi4 review: Second helpings of a Chinese delicacy

R Dinakaran | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on February 04, 2015





With flagship specs at mid-range pricing, the Xiaomi Mi4 makes a strong impression

When Xiaomi launched the Mi3 in India, the phone was sold out in minutes (or maybe seconds). Many of those who got their hands on the first batch were techies. For the others, it took some time to clear the ‘Chinese phone’ mental block. Some were stumped by the way Xiaomi sold their phones - a process that involved registration and the actual purchase weeks later, only at a specified date and time, which sometimes proved irritating.

But now, months later, as the company launches its Mi4, the scenario is different. The sale process is still the same, but Xiaomi has been able to shed the ‘Chinese’ tag to a large extent - because of its quality and also because of other Chinese phones like Oppo and Gionee that have entered the arena with high quality devices.

Design and build

It is evident that Xiaomi has taken pains to give a premium look to the Mi4, though in the process, has made it look like the iPhone. The stainless steel frame, which Xiaomi claims, is the result of a “40-step process” is a treat, and the phone itself fits in snugly in the hand.

The white back cover takes away the premium feel to some extent, but you have the option of buying back covers with designs of your choice. You have to keep in mind that the cover can be removed only with a suction pump. The only reason for removing the back cover will be to replace it with a different one, may be to have a different design, as nothing much else can be done.

The Mi4 has a 5-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and claims a NTSC colour gamut of up to 84 per cent. The display is crystal clear and the colours so vibrant that other high-priced phones that try to justify the price because of the display have to watch out. The flipside is there is no Gorilla Glass.

Specs and performance

The phone features 3 GB RAM, powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801, 2.5GHz processor and Adreno 330 GPU. The Mi4 has 16 GB internal memory, with no expandable memory slot. There is reportedly a 64 GB version, which may not see the light of the day soon, at least in India. The phone comes with Android 4.4.4 out of the box. The camera again, is a top-end Sony (sensor) 13MP, with 6-element lens and Chroma flash. What saves the day again is the manual mode that allows tweaking of almost all settings like ISO, shutter speed, focus and white balance.

One aspect that is striking while using the camera is that there is absolutely no shutter lag. For someone used to experiencing shutter lags, I sometimes wondered whether I had even pressed the shutter while using the Mi4 camera.

Mi4 scores over other phones in the front camera department - a full 8 MP one - you may be inspired to take more selfies. There is also a countdown for the front camera so that you can be prepared. The countdown is also thoughtfully provided near the camera lens so that even if you watch the countdown, it will be like you are looking at the camera. This is especially useful when you take group selfies, and each one of you don’t end up looking at different directions trying to locate the camera.

The picture quality keeps up with the Sony reputation, except for some noise. The panorama mode also leaves much to be desired.


The phone comes with a MiUi6 firmware. The design is subdued and the navigation smooth.

The one aspect where MiUi differs from other Android phones is that there is no app drawer. This is another area where the Mi4 and other Xiaomi devices resemble iPhones. Similar apps can be clubbed together in a folder, but that’s it.

The MiUi email client, at the first glance, literally scares you. As you enter your email ID to set up an account, there is a drop-down menu that lists your email ID with all the available email providers and even exchange accounts. Even your exchange account, which you think is not quite available easily, may show up. This is because the email crowdsources the email settings. If someone from your company had used an Mi phone to set up his email, Xiaomi uses the stored info to make your email setup easier.

Emails by default open in conversation view, almost like chat bubbles. Even the default reply option at the bottom resembles a chat window, with the button on the left giving you other options like reply all or forward. It also has a quick reply option like ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Sounds good to me’. So the next time you receive a reply within seconds, then the other user could well be using a Mi phone!

The home screens can also be customised using themes. Xiaomi’s focus on India has made it create themes focussed on India - including one called Thalaivaa, based on - yes you guessed it right - Rajinikant.

MiUi also has a cloud service - again resembling iCloud where you can sync your messages, contacts and photos.

The Mi browser is quick and fast and also comes with night mode, where the screen turns dark. But if you are a Chrome user, it is better to install one as you will be able to sync across all your devices.


The massive 3080 battery lasted almost two days with at least four or five three minute calls, occasional browsing and with two emails, including one exchange, set to ‘push’. The battery performance may diminish substantially on a 4G network (which we haven’t tested).

The Mi4 is definitely a worthy successor to the Mi3, and is bound to offer good competition to OnePlus, Huawei and other brands that offer similar specs in the same price bracket.


Love - Affordable; MiUi interface; camera; big RAM

Hate - No expandable memory slot; only 16 GB memory

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Published on February 04, 2015
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