Is this the iPhone 5c?” a friend asks me as I flaunt my review unit for clicking a photograph. “No, this is the Mi Phone 4i,” I reply. (The famous phone brand by Xiaomi, Mi, is pronounced as ‘my’—rhyming with ‘i’—not ‘emm eye’ or ‘me’.) And as I click the photo, we both are surprised at the picture quality the phone has reproduced.
The Mi 4i got a very good customer response when it was first introduced on April 30. In a blink-and-you-miss 15 seconds on Flipkart, as many as 40,000 units of the Mi 4i were sold. Such is the demand for the phone even today that a particular website offered ‘tricks’ to buy the Mi 4i in a flash sale that took place recently, on June 18. Expectedly, the phone is ‘out of stock’ on the company website too.
The Mi 4i is one of the most compact and handy five-inch smartphones available in the India market today—it feels good in the hands and fits most pockets perfectly. Its soft touch matte back cover is coated for extra resistance to fingerprints and grease. The five-inch display can be operated with just one hand for most tasks. With a 1920 x 1080 resolution—the same resolution as several 49-inch Full HD TVs—the Mi 4i offers ultimate clarity by condensing millions of pixels on a five-inch display. So images have a distinct clarity whether you’re browsing the web, reading e-books or even watching a movie. Further, the phone gets a Sunlight Display feature which adjusts contrasts for each pixel in real time, so images are less affected by glare. This improves content clarity significantly.
A notable feature is that the Mi 4i has a wide 178-degree viewing angle with an outstanding in-plane switching (IPS) technology. No matter how you tilt or shift your phone, for instance in a racing game, colours stay vibrant and road conditions, visible. In fact, you can even read your messages from almost any angle. The phone gets a Corning OGS glass, not the tough Gorilla Glass, so I guess it would be a better idea to put on a screen protector if you don’t want to risk scratching the screen.
One of the best things about this phone is its camera. The rear is a full-feature 13MP Sony/Samsung camera with f/2.0 aperture. The camera is really quick to start up. Not only does it reproduces good images, it gets various features such as ‘shoot first, focus later’, using which you can take a shot first and decide later on where the focus and depth of field should be. There are additional features too, such as quick exposure adjustment and burst mode for action shots. You can even snap pictures using sound control. The front camera is 5MP and has a large f/1.8 aperture to let more light in—the result is one of the best selfies on any phone today. There is also a selfie timer that gives you more time to pose; it even prompts you where to look. The front camera gets a tool called ‘Beautify’, which subtly smoothens skin, brightens eyes, slims the jaw and more, automatically.
As far as performance is concerned, the Mi 4i is no powerhouse and has midrange specifications. It gets the Snapdragon 64-bit octa-core processor and 2GB RAM. The GPU (graphics processor unit) is Adreno 405, which isn’t very impressive, especially running at Full HD. My review unit had the tendency to heat up whenever I used too many applications. (The company, however, has said that Mi 4i users will be receiving a new OTA update which is said to fix overheating issues with the device.)
The thin, 7.8-mm frame houses, among other things, a super-large 3120mAh battery. The battery, although it takes time to charge fully, is so impressive that even on heavy usage it will last you more than a day—on regular usage, the battery even lasts more than two days. Some other features of the phone are an electronic compass, gravity sensor, light sensor, gyroscope, hall sensor, proximity sensor, and positioning by GPS, GLONASS and even the Chinese BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System).
Yes it has the tendency to heat up, yes it has midrange specifications, but this 130-gm, dual-SIM Xiaomi Mi 4i performs so well in most other areas that you might just overlook those issues. It may look awfully similar to the iPhone 5c, but at the price of Rs 12,999, it is awfully good value too. Only if you are fortunate enough to buy it any time soon.