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Xiaomi Mi4 review

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Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
  • Xiaomi Mi4
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  • Xiaomi Mi4 1
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  • Xiaomi Mi4

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Smart design
  • Outstanding value
  • Very fast

Cons

  • No 4G on this version
  • No microSD slot
  • Import challenges

Key Features

  • Snapdragon 801, 2.5GHz; 5-inch 1080p screen; Adreno 330 GPU; 3GB RAM; 13MP, f1.8 camera
  • Manufacturer: Xiaomi
  • Review Price: £250.00

What is the Xiaomi Mi4?

Imitation is touchy topic in tech circles, but few manufacturers are as slavish as Chinese company Xiaomi. Branded by many as "The Chinese Apple", Xiaomi has adopted many of its rival's tactics with great success.

The Xiaomi Mi4 is possibly the most unashamed copycat phone you'll ever lay eyes on. It looks almost exactly like an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S. But despite the flagrant plagiarism on show, the Mi4 is arguably one of the best Android devices of 2014. It manages to combine incredible power with impeccable build quality and excellent software, and all for around £250.

Price as reviewed is based on import prices but does not include shipping or any additional import duties. Sample kindly supplied by Efox.

Smartphones Buyers Guide

Xiaomi Mi4: Design

There really is no getting around it: the Mi4 looks like an iPhone. But if you're going to emulate another product, you might as well pick the one that looks best. The Mi4's metal chassis exudes a premium feel that is all-too-often missing from Android phones, and the entire device boasts the kind of build quality that most pre-Galaxy Alpha Samsung owners can only dream of.

The back of the phone is where Xiaomi has deviated slightly from the Apple template as it has a convex plastic panel and a centrally-aligned camera. The back of the handset can actually be removed — using a suction cup, we kid you not — and replaced with another to give your Mi4 a more unique feel.

Despite the 5-inch screen, the Mi4 feels thin and tall, just like the iPhone. This is largely thanks to the very narrow bezels either side of the display, which give an almost edge-to-edge screen, at least horizontally. At 8.9mm, the Mi4 is impressively svelte, but the aforementioned bulge on the rear panel makes it feel a little fatter than it actually is.

The sides of the phone showcase the Micro SIM slot, volume key and power button. Compared to most Android devices, the placement of these buttons is switched — the power key resides below the volume rocker. This takes some getting used to, and we found that we often hit the power button by accident when removing the handset from our pocket or when making a call. Along the top edge of the Mi4 is the 3.5mm headphone socket and the IR blaster, which can be used to control your television set, amongst other things.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi3 review

The rear cover is plastic

The bottom edge has a grille for the single speaker and a MicroUSB slot for charging and data transfer. Strangely, Xiaomi has opted for the little-seen MicroUSB-A standard, which boasts a square-shaped connector. You can still use the more common MicroUSB-B lead, but because of the shape of the port there's the danger that you could insert the cable the wrong way around and damage the connection. Needless to say, caution should be taken when trying to top up your battery late at night when you've had one too many naughty beverages.

Below the screen you'll find three touch-sensitive buttons, but with a difference. Unlike most modern Android devices — which have Home, Back and Recent Apps commends — the Mi4 reverts back to the pre-Android 4.0 arrangement of Home, Back and Menu. That means to access the Recent Apps menu — which shows all of your active applications — you'll have to long-press the Home button. It's hardly an elegant solution, but one that you can easily become accustomed to.

The Mi4 comes in two storage flavours — 16GB and 64GB. We're reviewing the former, and when you take into account all of the software that comes pre-loaded which you can't uninstall, the end user has about 11GB to play with. Sadly, like its forerunner the Mi3, the Mi4 lacks a microSD card slot so you can't augment that total with cheap flash media. However, the Mi4 does go one better than the Mi3 by finally moving to the now-ubiquitous Micro SIM standard.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Phones Round-up

The bottom edge — note the odd size USB connection

Xiaomi Mi4: Features

Xiaomi has taken the decision to launch the Mi4 in two basic configurations. The first — which is the one we're reviewing — only supports 3G. A revised model with support for 4G networks is expected any day now, but that hasn't stopped the 3G-only model selling like hot cakes in its native China.

A top of the line smartphone that lacks 4G is rather strange in 2014, and if you're thinking of ordering a Mi4 from abroad you'll almost certainly want to take this into account - especially if you're already signed up to an expensive 4G contract in the UK. For the record, the 3G model works flawlessly on UK networks - we didn't experience any issues with signal strength or reception quality.

Elsewhere the Mi4 has dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, an IR blaster, GPS and DLNA support, but it lacks an NFC chip — something which was present in the Mi3. According to Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, only one percent of existing Mi3 users actually make use of the contactless tech, and the feature was removed from the Mi4 to keep costs low.

While NFC is still clearly in its infancy, it could well take off in 2015 — especially now that Apple has put it into the iPhone 6. Not having NFC could be a real drawback for Mi4 owners moving forwards.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

DPLight

September 18, 2014, 7:21 am

Good review,I have the basic model .. Hong mi ( red rice) works flawless.. I don't mind not to have 4G or NFC for the very fact 4G is eye watering expensive NFC I have that on my VISA debit card and that does not need a battery ( don't really get the hype of NFC) . I can only strongly recommend this brand

Michael Hastings

November 1, 2014, 5:52 pm

Excellent write-up, However I disagree with you on a couple of points, the reason the google services have been stripped out of the android source tree is not because Xiaomi want to sell access to their own services, its because Google are known to spy on chinese citizens, they are after all affiliated with the NSA. what's at stake here is more than just a little rivalry with Apple, the technology sector is vitally important to Chinese national security and its continued growth economically.

I distrust US technology giants and welcome Xiaomi offering a safe alternative to the usual spyware ridden services offered by the likes of Apple Facebook Google Adobe etc.

We must all support Xiaomi in its efforts to usurp Apple, lest we continue to be the exploited sheeple where our every movement, heart-rate, personal interest, our inner most thoughts, medical records, pictures of us in various states of undress. Now courtesy of NSA and GCHQ and its dragnet surveillance, these are pilfered from our devices which we carry everywhere.

The absence of the 4G LTE baseband chip from qualcomm, is by design, the LTE basebands from Qualcomm have all been back doored by the NSA to facilitate the easy installation of their remote spying implant (code name: drop out Jeep), leaving this out until a clean alternative is found was a no-brainer for Xiaomi.

What is at stake here is much more than just a simple smart phone, we need a strong china to reign in american excesses, and bullish violations of our privacy.

Alien Antler Farm

November 8, 2014, 5:44 am

Good post Michael.

AndreaS

November 9, 2014, 7:00 pm

Amazing post! I have had my Mi4 for 3 days and realize thats its one awesome device!

Personally I think it should have been rated a 9.5/10!

Bailey

December 17, 2014, 1:43 pm

It is very easy to order and buy this phone and people really make to much of import duties the maxium that you may get charged with DHL is about £3-5 there are only 1 place that i would buy a phone from china and that is 1949deal.comn why because i have bought many a phone from china from them and they have been spot on.

IreMinMon

April 7, 2015, 3:11 pm

I agree with you and can do nothing but upvote you on your comment, but I don't see stereo speakers and gorilla glass cover as a privacy violation threat.

jaye ho

May 20, 2015, 3:35 am

this device any problem with imac on wifi hotspot and tethering?

Lennald

May 12, 2016, 9:37 am

Good budget smartphone around $160. The other phones should be Letv Le 1S, Oukitel K10000 and K6000 Pro, I think.

Jonesblake

September 14, 2016, 10:52 am

vkworld T1 Plus with 6.0 inch display is now with almost same price with this one, good choice.

Marie

September 22, 2016, 1:25 pm

Xiaomi phones are now available for a discount only at AndroidSmartphoneDeals;com

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