Smartphones have come a long way in the last few years and one big trend is that they have become more stylish and affordable. Especially in a country like India, budget smartphones are hot these days, thanks to Chinese and Taiwanese brands such as Lenovo, Asus, ZTE, Gionee, Huawei; they have introduced high-end devices at relatively low prices—in classy designs. Xiaomi, a leading mobile internet company from China, is the latest to descend on the Indian soil. The first Mi smartphone that Xiaomi has launched here is the Mi 3, attractively priced at Rs 13,999. It has tied up with Flipkart for sale and delivery of this product.
Xiaomi has also announced it will launch Redmi 1S and Redmi Note over the next few weeks. Like the flagship Mi3, these Mi smartphones deliver high performance at affordable prices. The 4.7-inch Redmi 1S will retail at Rs 6,999, while the 5.5-inch octa-core Redmi Note will go for Rs 9,999. In addition, Xiaomi plans to build India-specific features for its phones and set up a local team to help penetrate one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets.
For the uninitiated, Xiaomi is better known globally as China’s answer to Apple, an image that billionaire Lei Jun had fostered initially when he founded the company in 2010 by dressing in the black tops, jeans and sneakers favoured by the late Steve Jobs. In China, Xiaomi has built a fan base much like Apple. Let us see whether its products are able to become popular in the price-conscious Indian mobile phone market.
Since the first Mi phone released three years ago, Xiaomi has gained a reputation for making good-quality Android devices, and the Mi 3 is no exception. Out of the box, the Mi 3 is quite the looker. It comes with an aluminum-magnesium chassis and has a beautiful face with a 5-inch full-HD display covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Compared with other budget phones with plastic builds, the Mi3 looks like an expensive phone. In sync with the Xiaomi founder’s belief that high-quality technology doesn’t need to cost a fortune, the company designers have paid attention to the details of the construction, which you can see easily from the machined speaker holes to the seamless joining of the plastic but metallic-looking body and glass front. Believe me, once you get your hands on it, you’ll be impressed with the build quality and feel. At 145g, the Mi3 is light in your hand and comfortable to grip.
Probing further, you’ll find the speaker holes and the micro-USB port located at the bottom of the device. On the right side, reside the the conveniently placed power button, with the volume rockers a little higher up. And, at the top are the speaker jack and the SIM-card slot.
Switched on, the Mi 3’s screen comes to life with its 5-inch full HD 1080p IPS display enabling super crisp details and incredible viewing angles. You’ll find the touch-sensitive menu buttons in their usual place below the screen. Packing 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the Mi 3’s screen is capable of handling full-HD video. I streamed some movie clippings from YouTube and the visual experience was outstanding.
Internally, the phone packs a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of on-board storage. In actual usage, the phone is pretty smooth, fast and responsive, and I did not notice any lagging. Its user interface is also stable and the phone didn’t stall on any occasion in my use. Phone calls were crisp and clear, and I had no issues with the phone.
However, I must mention that the storage space on the Mi 3, like all other smartphone devices, uses some capacity for operating system and system applications. Total storage capacity: 16 GB, available storage capacity: 13.22 GB. In addition, other factors, such as pre-installed systems or other software and media, may be updated and will also use part of the available storage capacity on the drive.
Connectivity-wise, the Mi 3 packs all you need to connect to any 3G GSM network around the world. It has Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity as well. Its Android-based platform—MIUI—is a live operating system constantly improving with frequent software updates. MIUI is incredibly intuitive and user friendly while offering power users a high degree of customisation. It also makes it easy for you to move apps around, you can do a pinch-out action to show the home screens, flick an app downward to collect them, swipe over to a new screen and move all the collected apps there.
The Xiaomi Mi 3 has a 13-megapixel camera, similar in pixel count to those found in other flagship phones. The image quality is good, and the shutter is rather snappy. You get the standard panorama, HDR, and filters.
There’s a extra large 3050 mAh internal battery too. In my usage, the Mi 3 easily lasted more more than a day of moderate use. The phone also comes with various different power modes, so you can select the battery saving option to stretch the uptime further.
My takeaways: Don’t settle for the same old slab of a smartphone. The Mi 3 is a beautiful, classy device and a top-notch Android phone. The best part is, it doesn’t cost a bomb. Highly recommended!
* Dimensions: 144 x 73.6 x 8.1 mm
(H x W x D)
* Display: 5-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display
* Processor: 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800AB processor
* Operating system: Android 4.4.2 optimised with MIUI version 5
* Camera: 13 MP (rear); 2 MP (front)
* Storage & memory: 2 GB RAM, 16 GB Flash memory
* Connectivity: 3G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
* Weight: 145g
Estimated street price: Rs 13,999