Mi4 Review: High Value at a premium

Once in a while you see inspired work!

The Mi4 is a brilliantly designed device with Top Notch specifications. It looks and works like a dream. Packs a lot of power, comes with the brand new MIUI6 and has nearly flawless camera optics. The device comes a little bit late to India and some say that the pricing vis-a-vis the specs is a bit on the higher side and that storage capacity is a bit underwhelming. But you know me! I won’t take anyone’s word for anything. Here is my review of the latest Xiaomi flagship to hit India’s shores – The Mi4

Quick Specifications

Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz, Adreno 330 GPU, 3GB LPDDR3 RAM, 16GB eMMC 5.0 Flash, 5″ IPS Full HD 441 PPI, Gorilla Glass OGS, 13MP f1.8 rear, 8MP f1.8 front 80° wide camera, 3080mAh lithium-ion battery, Quick Charge 2.0
MIUI 6

Build and Feel

The phone definitely looks classy and feels premium. It has a high glossy polishing 0.3mm narrow and flat edge chamfer. You hardly see the bezel. The metal casing is sturdy and gives a very premium feel to hold. It is non-slippery due to the advanced sand blasting and various other intricate fabrication methods employed. 7 types of sand with 5 particle sizes blasted for 100 rounds! And it feels like silk.

IMG_20150202_082620
Mi4

 

There is no glass rubber frame, there is just good edge coating done. This makes the bezel super narrow at 2.63mm. You hardly notice it. The back cover with grating pattern design is sturdy but the glossy finish is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. The rear is slightly arched to ensure that the camera does not project out of the frame. The cover is non-removable and battery is sealed inside.

Mi-4-Lying

The handset weighs 149g and is not the lightest but at the same time not too heavy. Given the power that is packed inside, that is not a big issue. The steel frame is just 19g. That means that all the other stuff together weighs 130g. The craftmanship and attention to detail is evident in the design.

Hardware

The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz processor.Comes with 3GB LPDDR3 RAM, this means better performance and a lower battery utilization. The internal storage is 16 GB eMMC 5.0. This is non expandable as there is no slot for a microSD or MMC card. This is a bit of a let down for power users and road warriors who carry around data and media on their device.

The display is 5-inch, 1080p screen by JDI. It has been treated with Corning OGS and laminated fully. The rear camera is 13 MP/ f1.8 and the front camera is 8 MP/ f1.8. Both are equipped with Sony stacked CMOS. The rear is a 6P lens and the front is a 5P lens. The front camera has a 80 degree wide angle and produces brilliant selfies. The battery is a 3080 mAH Li-Ion polymer battery. The back up is satisfactory and I did not see any prominent overheating or other issues. Runs for about one and half days on full charge. Supports Fast Charge where, the device charges to 60% in one hour and gets fully charged in 2.5 hours.

IMG_20150202_082634

Display

The display is 1920x1080p, 441 PI IPS Display by JDI. 5′ Corning OGS Glass. It is super thin at 0.55mm and is shatter and scratch resistant. The colors are vivid and the depth, saturation, hue and tone are all configurable. The quality is good and it looks crisp and clear. Supports a color gamut of NTSC 95%. Here is a sample

Screenshot_2015-02-01-16-35-21

The touchscreen is good, sensitive and responsive. I tried it even with wet hands and it worked fine. As usual there are settings to allow you to use it with gloves or clothing.

Camera

The 13 MP rear camera has a Sony IMX214 stacked CMOS 6P lens. f1.8 aperture, built in real time 4k HDR video recording. It has a nifty chroma flash feature that intelligently combines photos with and without flash to make them more like high definition. This makes the photos very natural and sharp. The most important thing is there is zero shutter lag, point and shoot, the photo is instant.

The 8 MP front camera has Sony IMX 219 sensor, f1.8 aperture and 80 degree wide angle. In simple words – incredible selfies. It also has a face detection and sensing facility. The face beautification option is also a very useful feature for folks like me who are a shade lesser.

Here are some photos I shot with the Mi4

Hugo Barra talking about MIUI6
Hugo Barra talking about MIUI6
Me and Mi
Me and Mi

 

MIUI6

One of the best things about the Mi4 is that it comes with MIUI6, by far the best Android fork that I have seen. As a full platform that has it’s own ecosystem comprising of neatly written apps and a multitude of themes. There are many brilliant things about the MIUI6. A total of 9784 themes as of when I am writing this article. The attention to detail is very evident in the apps and widgets. Even the uninstall animations are brilliant. Butter smooth and already has a lot of improvements in the Notifications, App Permissions, Theme customizations and many more such things. The splash of vivid colors and fast and nifty transitions is brilliant. Even a simple clock widget has animations that make it stand out. By far the best ROM after CM that I have seen

Here are a few examples of MIUI6 at work

Screenshot_2015-01-30-17-36-17

Screenshot_2015-02-01-10-24-04

Screenshot_2015-02-01-10-24-30

Performance

Here are the benchmark results for the Mi4 that we ran on it

Screenshot_2015-02-02-14-17-04

Screenshot_2015-02-02-14-15-23

 

Screenshot_2015-02-02-14-24-59

Verdict

The Mi4 is a brilliant flagship device, build well, good specs, brilliant camera, excellent MIUI6. The form factor is excellent. A nearly perfect device. But there are a few issues, the first one is the fact that it has only 16 GB internal storage. The next is the fact that it is priced at Rs 19,999/- while I do not dispute Mi’s pricing, it is a problem with the One Plus and other similar brands which are offering better and bigger specs at almost the same or a slightly higher price. The non-availability of the black Mi4 is also an issue. The biggest one is the fact that there is no 4G support. I am sure that Mi will address these soon enough. That being said, I am buying this phone for sure!