Xiaomi Mi Mix 4, Best Android Hardware Built like iPhone

Xiaomi Mi Mix 4, Best Android Hardware Built like iPhone

Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 is a best android hardware consist of steel frame with chamfered(transitional edge between two faces of an object) edges, thin bezels and impeccable construction, just like a big iPhone.

The Xiaomi Mi4 packs strong hardware quad core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, 16 or 64GB of internal storage, a 3080mAh battery. Xiaomi even managed to out-spec-sheet Samsung’s Galaxy S5 with more RAM (3GB vs 2GB) and a bigger battery (3080mAh vs 2800 mAh). A Galaxy S5 costs $700 unlocked, but the MSRP on a Mi4 is only about $320 (1999 Yuan).

Xiaomi calls itself an “Internet company,” more readily likening itself to Google or Amazon’s Kindle Fire line. Xiaomi sells the devices for close to cost and makes money off of the ecosystem. That’s why Xiaomi can sell a device with better specs than the Galaxy S5 for less than half the price.

Xiaomi doesn’t just sell phones; it also makes tablets, smart TVs, Wi-Fi routers, and wearable fitness trackers. Xiaomi has its own software store, the Mi Market, which houses the usual apps and games. MIUI is highly customizable, and the company sells themes that completely change the look of the phone. Like with Google, users can make a “Mi account” and use Xiaomi-provided cloud services to sync contacts, photos, settings, and files across devices. There is even a “find my phone” feature.

The front design of the Mi4 is a little too close to the iPhone design for comfort. It also looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Xiaomi uses a rounded square icon for the home and identical earpiece, which prevents the copyright arguments. The back looks identical to a Samsung device. When everything is basically a rectangle, there aren’t many areas where companies can really be different.

The stainless steel frame surrounds Mi4 and it is about three times heavier than aluminum, which gives the Mi4 a satisfying weight.

The build quality on the Mi4 is great. The seams on everything are very tight, and there are no squeaks or creaks here. This $320 device feels just as expensive as a $600 device from other companies. We can’t find a single area where Xiaomi has cut corners other than the welcome omission of silly gimmicks like a or a second rear camera for faux depth-of-field.

The 5-inch, 1080p LCD on the Mi4 is gorgeous. The panel is bright with accurate colors, and it has excellent viewing angles. The display looks just as good as a 1080p screen on any other flagship, and it should, because it’s made by the same display manufacturers. Xiaomi sources LCDs from Sharp and JDI (a joint venture of Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi) just like everyone else in the smartphone industry.

Xiaomi’s software allows you to switch the display temperature between three different temperature presets: cool, standard, and warm, and you can change the saturation between brilliant and standard. Importing a phone from China has resulted so far in a surprisingly normal device. Take a close look at the port on the bottom of the phone. It’s a Micro USB port, but it isn’t the usual trapezoid shape; it’s a big rectangle.

We commonly refer to as a “Micro USB” port or plug, is really a “Micro USB-B” connector. Micro USB-B uses the familiar trapezoid shape, while Micro USB-A is rectangle shaped. The Mi4 has a Micro USB A/B port, which accepts both connectors, and it ships with a Micro USB-B plug.

The downside to the A/B port is that it’s possible to fit a Micro USB-B plug backward into the opening of the port. How far down you go while backward depends on how brave/forceful you are, but it’s probably possible to damage the pins in the middle of the port.

The top half of the Mi4 has Xiaomi’s “Mi” logo, brightness and proximity sensors, an earpiece, and a massive 8MP front-facing camera. The front camera is a Sony IMX219, the first of many Sony components. Unfortunately, Mi4 is still using the same tiny pinhole lens that most front cameras use. There really isn’t much room on the front of the device for anything bigger, but the tiny lens seems to negate most of the gain from the bigger sensor, producing the same muddy images you normally get from a front-facing camera.

The bottom of the front has three capacitive buttons are backward. The normal layout, from left-to-right, is Back, Home, then Recents, but Xiaomi chose to flip the order. The menu button is redundant, given that modern apps have put the menu on screen since 2011. The zombie menu button sticks around on Xiaomi devices because MIUI, the company’s Android skin, requires it to bring up the menu in most apps. Until Xiaomi gets around to modernizing its packed-in apps, it looks like the menu button isn’t going anywhere.

Menu buttons are not as bad as they used to be. In older versions of Android, having a menu button would hide the on-screen menu button in every app. Despite going on for several versions, this was apparently a bug that Google fixed. Now a Menu button doesn’t hide the on-screen button, and the only real downside to it is harder access to Recent Apps. Apps that put options in the menu and then don’t display an on-screen menu button are still a problem in MIUI, but that is the software’s fault. With no recent button, you’re down to having to long press on the home button to bring up the recent apps list.

The back of the Mi4 has squared-circle lens and LED placement and a little hole above the camera, for the noise canceling microphone. The rear camera is Sony Exmor IMX214, with 13MP. The back is a glossy but good plastic. Plastic is a little disappointing given the steel frame, but Xiaomi is using a decent species of plastic that doesn’t detract much from the premium feel of the device. The back has a faint diamond pattern embedded in it which shows up when the light hits the back just right.

The back panel of Mi4 comes off, although not the way you would normally expect as there is no slot you can stick a fingernail in. The whole unit is very sturdy and feels like a solid brick that doesn’t come apart. In order to open the Mi4, you need a suction cup. Since the metal rim extends slightly above the back and the gaps are so tight, there really is no other way to get the back off. Just slap on a (not included) suction cup, up, and the back will come off. The Mi4 doesn’t have a MicroSD slot, and despite the battery being exposed when you the back cover off, the battery isn’t removable.

The back comes off so that the panel can be replaced. Xiaomi produces replacement plastic backs in a variety of styles, like wood, leather, and fur, and Xiaomi’s devices are popular enough that other companies will make Mi4 backs, too. Customization is a core selling point of Xiaomi phones, and this extends all the way down to the software, which lets you theme just about any element of the Android-based OS. Once you do have the back off, you will notice that Sony makes the battery but there is no wireless charging.

The top of the Mi4 has an IR blaster and headphone jack. The IR blaster will control just about any of your home theater electronics via a remote control app.

Camera: It is a perfectly serviceable high-end camera with quick autofocus. In low light it performs about as well as any other Android camera, but it still can’t keep up with the iPhone 5s in a dark environment. Shots usually come out a little on the warm side.

MIUI: A hybrid of iOS and Android, based on Android 4.4.2, but it works a lot like iOS. For starters, there’s no app drawer. All apps have icons on the home screen. They can be moved around, but every installed app must be on the home screen, just like iOS. The icons are very reminiscent of iOS as well, with a rounded rectangle background, which is even given to third-party icons.

The most striking thing about MIUI is the speed: it’s ridiculously fast. Faster even than stock Android. All the scrolling is buttery smooth, all the time. Even Google’s apps feel faster on MIUI. While most Android skins add bloat and feel like they slow the phone down, MIUI adds speed.

Notifications can be swiped away from the notification panel, and buttons in a notification are supported. While it supports the expanded notifications, MIUI seems to break all of the thumbnail stuff. Gmail should show thumbnails instead of the app logo, and the screenshot notification should show a preview of the picture instead of a black box.

By default there’s a second page dedicated to power toggles, which is completely customizable. Pressing the “more” button will bring up a settings page that will let you pick from about 25 different power toggles to promote to the main page. If you prefer your toggles Samsung-style, on the same page as your notifications, there’s an option for that which toggles the scroll horizontally.

You can swipe down on the icon to bring up a little music player. The music player flips out of the icon and onto the screen, giving you access to controls. This is really neat eye candy, but we aren’t sure how it is any faster or better than just tapping on an icon.

The terms of the Google Play license agreement, called “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” (or “MADA” for short), forbid an OEM from selling both Google and non-Google devices. “Devices may only be distributed if all Google Applications authorized for distribution in the applicable territory are pre-installed on the device.” You’re generally either all-in with Google or all-out.

MADA demands that OEMs bundle all Google services for “the applicable territory,” but it just so happens that Google doesn’t do much business in China. The required number of Google apps in China is zero. If you bought a Mi4 from China, it will not have the Google Play Apps installed. Mi4s purchased from regions that Google supports, like India or Singapore, will have Google’s apps pre-installed.

If you bought a phone from China and still want Google apps, there is a shady app from the Mi Market to help. “Google Installer” is a kind of a mini app store just for Google stuff. the app gives you a list of Google apps you can install from.

Google apps aren’t single APKs, instead relying on functionality embedded in other apps like Google Play Services. The Google Installer is slick enough to detect that and offer to also install any dependencies. Outside of China, you only really need this app for the Google Play Store, but it turns out that requires three additional Google APKs to work. The install will go smoothly and securely.

Performance: The Mi4 comes with 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 and a whopping 3GB of RAM. MIUI has power settings. Under the battery settings, there are modes labeled “High Performance” and “Balanced,” with “Balanced” being the default.

Balanced mode doesn’t feel like it makes much of a difference in normal app usage, but it will slow down a game or benchmark. The benefit of Balanced mode is a longer battery life. “High Performance” seems to be closer to the normal mode that most other phones run in. In this mode, the Mi4 gets similar benchmark scores to other devices but has a below-average battery life.

Xiaomi started in China, but it plans to set up an international HQ in Singapore. It currently sells devices in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and India, and later the company will be moving to Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico. Moving to America and the rest of the litigious West is a problem for Xiaomi because of how derivative the company’s products are. Cloning designs in China goes without punishment, but here the company would be sued into oblivion.

Pros:

  • Impeccable build quality. One of the most premium feeling Android phones out there.
  • The gorgeous 1080p screen with excellent viewing angles.
  • The price
  • MIUI is extremely quick and smooth. It feels faster than stock Android.
  • Themes
  • Complete control over app permissions.
  • Speed and battery life is always a tradeoff, but MIUI makes the interesting move of letting the consumer choose between power modes, just like on a laptop.

Cons:

  • Unoriginal design. Everything looks like something else, usually something from Apple.
  • The Micro USB-A/B port makes plugging the device in difficult.
  • A horizontal strip of four icons is, not an acceptable Recent Apps screen.
  • MIUI likes to hide options behind a menu button, which makes features hard to discover.
  • The “High Performance” battery mode should probably last a little longer with a 3080mAh battery.
  • Xiaomi would do great in the West, except that the derivative design would possibly get it sued out of existence.

Credits: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/08/xiaomi-mi4-review-chinas-iphone-killer-is-unoriginal-but-amazing/

 

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 4, Best Android Hardware Built like iPhone
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Xiaomi Mi Mix 4, Best Android Hardware Built like iPhone
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Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 is a best android hardware consist of steel frame with chamfered(transitional edge between two faces of an object) edges, thin bezels and impeccable construction, just like a big iPhone.
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