“Got questions about the new Xiaomi Mi 4i? We’ve got the answers”
The ‘i’ in Mi 4i stands for India, as per Xiaomi’s Global VP Hugo Barra. He also said that the Mi 4i was the first project he worked upon when he joined the company, and the device is the result of 18 months of work. Xiaomi’s emphasising quite a bit on the quality of components used inside the smartphone, and the attention to detail is mind-numbing. We were among the 2,000 or so in attendance at the global unveiling of the Xiaomi Mi 4i (unboxing | first impressions) in New Delhi, and the excitement in the massive hall was so palpable one could almost reach out and touch it.
Hysterical fans clad in Mi’s signature orange cheered and applauded as Barra revealed the new smartphone and took the audience through its specs and features. We’d be lying if we say we weren’t excited ourselves – new gadgets always have that effect on us, but the rapturous crowd and the fact that it was a device that was being showcased to the world for the very first time took things to a different level. It was easy for to get carried away then, but looking at the Mi 4i and considering what it brings to the table with a calmer mind, we’d still say it’s a solid offering for its asking price. Hopefully, our upcoming review based on real-life usage won’t change our belief, but for now, we want to clear the cobwebs in your mind about Xiaomi’s new baby. Let’s get started.
Can you touch upon the specs again please?
Since you’re asking so nicely, we will certainly oblige. The Xiaomi Mi 4i is powered by a second-gen Snapdragon 615 SoC, which uses a 64-bit, octa-core processor consisting of a pair of quad-core clusters ticking at 1.7GHz and 1.1GHz each. An Adreno 405 GPU handles graphics and you’ll also find 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 16 gigs of storage inside. The 5-inch OGS screen from Sharp / JDI offers full HD resolution (441ppi), and a 3,120mAh battery makes sure jaunts to power sources are kept to a minimum. The 4.4V battery utilises a 700Wh/L polymer cell, and supports Quick Charge… reaching 40 percent levels with an hour of charging. A full charge takes up to 3 hours.
Does the screen on the Xiaomi Mi 4i come with a layer of Gorilla Glass?
The answer to that question is no. From what we understand, Gorilla Glass isn’t compatible with OGS technology, so the Mi 4i’s display comes with a layer of Corning Concore glass instead… just like the current flagship from the brand, the Mi 4 (review). This layer is responsible for making sure the screen doesn’t get scratched easily.
Any details on the design? What colours does the Mi 4i come in?
The Xiaomi Mi 4i comes clad in a soft-touch matte polycarbonate body, and features a unibody design. This means that the battery is non-removable. Measurin 138×69.6×7.8mm and weighing 130 grams, the Mi 4i is one of the most compact devices with 5-inch screens. In fact, the dense battery, the dual-sided printed circuit board and the ultra-thin display are custom built to save space as much as possible.
As far as colours are concerned, the Mi 4i has been announced in four shades, covering white, black/grey, pink and blue. However, only the white version is being made available to begin with, while the black/grey variant will come later. There’s no confirmation yet on the blue and pink models, but we sure hope they come soon as well.
What SIM card(s) does the Mi 4i accept? Does it support 4G?
The smartphone is a dual-SIM dual standby device, and accepts a pair of micro-SIM cards in a tray on the left. Both 4G bands in India, the current band 40, and the upcoming band 3 are supported, and that too on both SIM slots. In fact, 16 LTE bands across the globe are supported, so you can roam freely and still stay connected at high speeds… provided the service is available of course.
What about USB OTG?
Yup, the Mi 4i supports USB OTG and allows you to plug in OTG flash drives directly (or regular ones via an adapter).
Does the Xiaomi Mi 4i support NFC? What are the other connectivity options?
No, the device doesn’t come with NFC support. You do get dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth 4.1, along with navigation features like GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou.
How much storage does the Mi 4i offer? Can I add more?
Out of the 16GB storage on offer, you get almost 11GB to use out of the box. There’s no microSD slot, alas, so you can’t add more.
What are the sensors available?
The sensors available on the Mi 4i include a gyroscope, light sensor, accelerometer, eCompass, and a proximity sensor.
How are the cameras on the Mi 4i?
The Mi 4i comes with a 13-megapixel camera at the rear with a stacked CMOS sensor from Sony or Samsung, f/2.0 aperture, and a 5-element lens. There’s a two-tone flash for more natural-looking flash photography as well. The front camera features a resolution of 5-megapixels, and comes with a special Beautify mode that uses one from 36 smart profiles to make your mug look better in selfies.
The camera app is the same we’ve seen on MIUI earlier, offering a minimalistic interface and modes like panorama, refocus, manual, Beautify and HHT (which stands for handheld twilight). A bunch of filters with real-time previews are also available. While our in-depth camera review (coming up shortly) will have more details, we can tell you that judging from the shots we’ve captured so far, the image quality of the Xiaomi Mi4i’s snapper looks pretty good. Here are a couple of samples as a teaser.
What about the platform?
The Mi 4i runs the latest version of Xiaomi’s custom ROM, i.e., MIUI 6. Interestingly, this is the first device from the brand to use Android Lollipop as the base, but the custom ROM hides many aspects of Mountain View’s latest mobile platform, as it doesn’t use the Material Design UI. However, apps such as those part of Google’s suit and others that have been refreshed with Material Design do offer the new look. Otherwise, MIUI is the same feature-rich platform we’ve come to know and love, with tons of customisation options, theme support and useful features such as call recording, private area for SMSes, a full-blown security suite and control over notifications and privacy. Apart from Google Keyboard, you also get SwiftKey and Fleksy as alternatives for text input preloaded on the device.
Any other features I should know about?
Oh yes. A new feature called Visual IVR will be coming, and this aims to simplify dealing with interactive voice response (IVR) systems… the recorded voice menu systems you have to deal with when you call customer service numbers. Instead of having to listen to the entire recording and then tapping a number on the keypad to choose an option, the Visual IVR feature presents the available menu options as a list on the screen, and you can just tap the desired option. As you can fathom, this speeds up the process significantly. For enabling this feature, Xiaomi is working with fans to crowdsource the IVR menus for as many services and organisations in India as possible, so that they can be mapped. However, Visual IVR isn’t available publicly yet and is only there in beta builds of MIUI 6. The Xiaomi Mi 4i should get the feature as an update in some time, along with other smartphones from the brand.
What you do get on the Mi 4i is another new feature called Sunlight Display. This attempts to enhance readability of the screen under bright light by brightening up the darker parts of the image, and leaving the rest more or less unchanged. The ambient light sensor usually cranks up brightness for the whole screen if it detects bright lighting, making the display look washed out. However, Sunlight Display tries to change that by making the screen look more even and natural.
What are the damages involved, and how can I get one?
The Xiaomi Mi 4i can be yours for Rs 12,999, but to get one, you’ll need to go through a flash sales process on Flipkart. The registration is on till midnight of April 29th, and the flash sale is scheduled for 2 pm on Thursday April 30th. While we’re waiting for the exact figures to be confirmed, we’re told that there will be about 30,000 to 40,000 units available in the first lot, but you’ll need to be on your toes to snag one… as over 300,000 people have already registered for the sale. Get set, go…
Photos by Raj Rout