Mobiles & Tablets

Mi4i review: More than what meets the ‘i’

R Dinakaran | Updated on: May 13, 2015
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Xiaomi follows up on the Mi4 with a handset that is more value and better build

When Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Vice-President International launched the Mi4i, he described it as the ‘Mi for India’. The global launch of the device was in India, but we’re not exactly sure what he meant by ‘for India’. May be he was just playing with the model name ‘Mi4i’, which is the successor to the Mi4 launched a few months ago.

Though Mi4i is a successor to the Mi4, it has lesser RAM (2GB against 3GB in Mi4) and a lower megapixel front camera. But Hugo went on to emphasise the high quality components that go into the Mi4i. Even the processor is the second gen version of Snapdragon 615. Though Xiaomi disappointed its fans with the predecessor, it has come back with aplomb with the Mi4i - at a price that’s perfect to take on the competition.

Design The Mi4i has a unibody design and as with its other products, Xiaomi has managed to keep its reputation for good build quality. Mi4i has a 5-inch screen, but the device doesn’t look big. This is because the phone makes very good use of the screen real estate. The display-to-body ratio is excellent.

The dual SIM tray is on the left hand side. At the right are the volume rockers and power buttons. The rear has a long speaker grill. The back panel is not removable. The main camera is at the top left on the rear of the Mi4i. Devices that have the camera at the corners have one issue - our fingers blocked the lens more than once. At the bottom are the back-lit capacitive buttons.

As with all its recent releases, the device comes without a slot for an external memory card. Xiaomi has taken pains to explain why microSD cards are bad for phones. Agreed, but for a mid-range phone without memory cards, is 16GB really enough considering that the OS itself takes up 4GB. One of the reasons for the subdued response for the Mi4 was the low inbuilt memory without an expandable memory slot. Xiaomi compensated later with the release of a 64 GB version. Will it do the same for Mi4i?

The phone has a 3120 mAh battery. Xiaomi says it ensured space for the huge battery by collaborating with Foxconn to produce a motherboard “that is one of the smallest and thinnest found in a phone this size”. This is one of the reasons the phone appears so compact with a battery of this size. If you are 4G user, Mi4i will make you smile - it is the only phone, as far as we are aware, that accepts 4G SIMs in both the slots, but using two 4G SIMs is likely to take a heavy toll on the battery. This is the first phone from the Xiaomi family to run Android Lollipop, but the heavy MiUi6 doesn’t really allow us to savour the Android 5 features.

Display and performance The 5-inch phone has a 1080 full HD display. The new Sunlight Display technology introduced in Mi4i increases the clarity of the already brilliant screen under sunlight. The Mi4i is also one of the first phones to have the second gen Snapdragon 615 octa-core 64-bit processor with Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB LPDDR3 RAM. All these ensure that whatever you throw at the phone - hi-res videos or graphic intensive games - the Mi4i shows no performance lag. Though there are phones available with 2GB RAM at prices lower than that of MiUi, the performance is far superior because of the better processor. But occasionally, we found some lag in screen animations, which we feel cannot be because of the hardware, but has something to do with the MIUI design itself.

One good aspect about Xiaomi is the constant updates to MIUI. The device runs the same MIUI 6 found in Mi4, but most of the apps have undergone fine changes and look more rounded. We are not sure if the same changes (in the apps) are available on the older Mi4.

As with Mi4, the 13MP camera is a strong point for Mi4i. Just like in the Mi4, the camera in the Mi4i too also suffers in low light, but is brilliant in normal light conditions. The camera also has HDR mode. With the timer and filters, taking selfies is also a joy with the device. The massive 3120 mAh battery lasted more than 16 hours - with 20 minutes of voice calls, four videos of around 10 minutes each and two games - one of them graphic intensive - of 10 minutes each. The Mi4i has been able to squeeze more juice with the battery because of the smaller screen size of 5 inches. The best part of the Mi4i is the price, which at ₹12,999 is a steal considering the specifications.

Love : Build, screen quality, battery, MIUI6

Hate : No expandable memory slot; lag in screen animation

Published on January 23, 2018

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