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Xiaomi Mi 4i Review: A Flagship For Emerging Markets

Xiaomi Mi 4i 02

Ready for global domination!

After launching several premium phones which targeted the higher market (Mi4, Mi Note, Mi Note Pro), Xiaomi has renewed its focus on the mid-end with their Mi 4i. The Xiaomi Mi 4i holds the distinction of being the first major device that the company launched outside of China, intended to be sold and marketed in the global market, starting with India. The Mi 4i signifies Xiaomi’s intent to conquer other markets outside of China.

Xiaomi Mi 4i specs

  • Second gen 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 5-inch full HD OGS Sharp/JDI, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 16GB of storage
  • 13-megapixel rear camera by Sony/Samsung
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Dual-SIM, Dual LTE
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • Android Lollipop 5.0 with MIUI 6
  • 3030mAh battery

Xiaomi Mi 4i 09

Innovation Made Compact

Xiaomi decided to go with a simplistic design with the Mi 4i in sharp contrast with their previous releases, the Mi Note (and the Note Pro). The Mi 4i uses a very simple rectangle design that utilizes a polycarbonate battery cover that is non-removable. Its soft touch matte design feels very smooth and luxurious for a phone at its price range. Xiaomi says that the rear of the Mi 4i has an anti-grease coating that won’t stain even if you mark it with a permanent pen, though we opted not to test this out.

Xiaomi Mi 4i 11

The layout of the phone is typical, with the 3.5mm audio jack on top and the power and volume keys on the right. The dual SIM card slots are located on the left side of the phone. The USB port is on the bottom, and aside from charging, the port also allows you to use thumb drives via OTG capability.

Xiaomi Mi 4i 12

The position of the loudspeaker is similar to the Redmi 2, which places it on the back – the only problem is that you can’t hear it ring when the back is lying flat on the table. The front panel sports the MI logo on the upper left corner of the unit, while the sensor is located on top of the earpiece, notification lights on left of the earpiece and the 5 MP selfie camera with an f/1.8 aperture is located at its opposite side. The bottom of the display has lighted capacitive keys. The 13-megapixel rear camera is located at the upper left of the back panel and beside it is the dual led flash. The camera lacks image stabilization which can cause blurred pictures with shaky hands.

Xiaomi Mi 4i 01

 

The Xiaomi Mi 4i features a 5-inch, full HD IPS display with 441ppi (pixels per inch). The Mi 4i is equipped with the sunlight display technology, which essentially means it lets you view images easier outdoors. We compared the Mi 4i’s display with the Mi 4 and saw that its older sibling displays more vibrant colors and overall better color definition. Despite that, everything looks sharp and crisp, with good color reproduction and vibrant images. It is certainly not cheaply made, and it isn’t just a nerfed edition of the Mi 4.

Xiaomi Mi 4i 03

Even a new version of the 615 processor still can’t solve the overheating issues

Xiaomi uses the Snapdragon 615 processor, which the company says was especially tweaked by Qualcomm for the Mi 4i. The second generation version of the 615 uses a slightly faster main cores (four cores running at 1.7GHz) and four 1.1GHz lower energy consumption cores for mundane tasks. Paired with the 615 processor is 2GB of RAM plus the 16GB of non-expandable storage. Xiaomi VP for Global Hugo Barra said that non-expandable storage will be the norm for all Mi phones, the only exception being the Redmi category which is targeted at the lower-end market.

Xiaomi Mi 4i 14

The Mi 4i got a score of 40418 via Antutu, which is a pretty decent score for a phone at its price range. This phone is a notch higher than the Mi3 but trails Mi4 by quite a few points. For the LTE/4G connection, our sample unit could only connect to Globe’s LTE band as it’s labeled as only having Band 3, similar to that of the Redmi 2 offered by Mi Philippines. Smart LTE requires Band 1, and, as a result, can only hit H+ or 3.5G with this handset. Both SIMs are LTE enabled.

Our initial encounters with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 processor left a bad impression as we found that devices using the SoC had overheating issues under heavy load. The Mi 4i is no exception – under full throttle, the phone registered a very hot 44.5 degree Celsius. This left it uncomfortably hot to hold, much like the Mi Note Pro. With normal browsing, the phone reaches up to 36 degrees Celsius, dropping to 33 in standby Mode.

Outdoor shot
Outdoor shot
Outdoor shot
Outdoor shot
Indoor shot with ambient sunlight
Indoor shot with ambient sunlight
Indoor shot with artificial light
Indoor shot with artificial light
Indoor shot
Indoor shot

Great picture-taking capability, but photos suffer without OIS

Xiaomi Mi 4i is equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, along with a f/1.8 aperture. This uses the same module as the Mi Note though it lacks a dedicated OIS system.Pictures taken are pretty decent but a little blurry when your hands are shaky due to the lack of OIS. The front 5-megapixel camera takes pretty good selfie pictures too.

Good battery life

Xiaomi has equipped the Mi 4i with a 3,030mAh battery. This allows the phone to go around 23 hours of normal use with browsing, calling and watching videos in Facebook.

Xiaomi Mi 4i 21

A solid, reliable mid-range phone for the mass market

Xiaomi says that the Mi 4i was designed to be a flagship phone for the “emerging markets”. The entire package is good enough for most people looking for a powerful mid-range phone, but the inclusion of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 processor may turn away potential customers. Xiaomi is walking the path of Apple, imitating its way of producing a lower version of its flagship phone, with the Mi 4 being the iPhone 5s and Mi 4i being the iPhone 5c. The company’s attempt to produce a lower-cost flagship is partly successful, evidenced by the fact of our difficulty to acquire our own review unit during the first 3 weeks of the flash sale at Xiaomi Taiwan. The only issue we can see (aside from the overheating problems) is the lack of expandable storage for the phone. If you are in the hunt for a reliable and compact Android Lollipop without shelling out too much cash, the Xiaomi Mi 4i is probably one of your best bet to date. This handset could easily be the phone that put Xiaomi back on track after releasing several premium phones and jumpstart their sales for the emerging markets in 2015. This phone could be bought for 6499 NT or roughly 9900 Pesos from Xiaomi Taiwan.

 

Richmond Tan

A licensed mechanical engineer, a masters of business administration graduate, a businessman at day, and a tech enthusiast at night. Loves to explore new gadgets available in the market, always strives to be the first to land something new in the Philippines.

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25 Comments

  1. I doubt this device will be a big seller if it hit the market locally. With all the bang-for-the-buck phones already in the market, this phone will be priced to high and arrive too late. For sure, Xiaomi will priced it higher than 9,990. What with their other products priced higher (here) than in their home or other Asian market.

    Even at 9,990, taob na sila ng Meizu m1 Note, Lenovo A7000 or K3 Note, Firefox Allure 64, Alcatel Flash Plus, Cherry Mobile Flare X. Almost same performance lang with expandable memory, 3GB RAM, or other extras pa iyung iba.

    They should have at least sell this locally a month ago. Then it would have created some buzz (like Alcatel Flash plus did), but now, I doubt it unless they could price it at something like 6,999. Even at 7,499, I doubt it will be a big seller, look at lenovo A7000, hindi na-se-sell out sa Lazada….

    1. Thank you for your kind words Sir William C.
      I also think that this will not be a bit hit, unlike its predecessor the Mi3.
      The Mi3 was simply a marked down price to welcome the Mi4. It was originally priced at 14999 Pesos.

      This is pretty similar to Iphone 5c, which did not really capture much of the attention Apple wanted it to. Simple, for just a few thousand pesos more, we can opt for the more powerful, more premium, more good looking Iphone 5s.

      Same goes for Mi4i, which the pricing is not really far from Mi4. Btw, Mi4 is not available anywhere else except China, and Mi4i is not available in China.

      I believe the local Mi Philippines is still having some trouble bringing in the good stuff from Xiaomi.

      1. Thanks for the great review, but with this price range and not expandable… they’ll probably fail on our market here. also taking note their track records of selling Xiaomi Mi phones arriving too late.

      2. Sir, ive seen/read in other reviews that the mi4 and mi4i are already (months ago) available in other countries. We are the only country with an official xiaomi company presence that do not sell the mi4i. Which is sad.

  2. I bet it will arrive here next year. Mi note and mi note pro wala pa. Not to mention the mi4.

  3. Snapdragon fail
    RAM fail
    Gorilla glass fail (as usual)
    Lollipop fail
    SD card fail
    Price fail
    Availability fail

    1. How the mighty have fallen. Snapdragon, that is. Just a year or so ago, Snapdragon chips commanded a premium, and people look down on chips by other makers. Now, Snapdragons have become synonymous with dragon breathing fire… Overheating issues.

        1. Qualcomm has peaked, kung hindi nila kayang kontrolin yung thermal restraints ng 810, eh paano i-eexpect ng mga OEM na mas improved ang Snapdragon 820……..

          Snapdragon 820 is their last ditch effort to win the hearts of major OEMs like Samsung, Sony and LG…..kung meron pa ring overheating issues yan, siguradong bagsak na sila at MEDIATEK na at iNTEL and maghahari

          1. Agree! Epic fail for Qualcomm’s SD810 overheating issues. It is even well documented for Sony Xperia Z4 users, that’s why Samsung opted for Exynos and LG chose SD808

            Meditatek’s problem however is opening up their kernel to OEM’s/ODM’s for faster Android OS updates.

            Intel’s problem is the battery performance when it comes to their chipset.

  4. 16 GB and no expandable storage slot won’t attract too many buyers these days, it should be 64 GB or nothing…….andami nang naglipanang bang for buck phones ngayon na expandable, dapat baguhin na ng Xiaomi ang kanilang design principle.

    1. i would strongly agree with you, 16GB is pretty small these days. plus without the expansion slot for a micro sd card, it pretty much cramped up the unit. but there is always the cloud storage and the OTG drive. Xiaomi is pretty much pushing itself to level up with Samsung and Apple. I dont think they will give a nudge at the likes of Cherry Mobile or My Phone. Just my opinion.

      1. Yeah, anybody who says 10 GB-usable space is enough for them are just fooling themselves, A couple of colleagues of mine who bought the 16 GB Meizu M1 Note barely 3 months ago , nagpadala kasi sa bugso ng hype at ngayon, nganga sila at talagang regretful sobra , and in anticipation for the Flare X ”for sale” na pareho yung unit ahahaha …. andami kayang Meizu M1 note na 4 sale sa OLX ngayon lol

  5. Now that the Mi4i is here, it looks like is selling quite well. (in the scope of my knowledge at least) Some factors that I think helped is that
    1. They sold it cheaper here than expected
    2. We cannot dis-count the fact the Mi has a fan-base for their products in PH. Fans that hunt like they’re pokemon masters (gotta catch ’em all!)
    3. Well IT really is a value product even with it’s imperfections.

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