Mi 4, analysis

Those of you who follow the world of "Chinese" phones will not be surprised when we dedicate an analysis to a product that is not sold directly in Spain, such as the Mi 4, of the until recently known as Xiaomi. Telephone to telephone the company has shown us that they have nothing to envy to the best of the proposals available in our market, and above all they do it at a good price, and with personality (there is much to discuss here).

Mi 4 has not just been released, it is a product that has been alive for a few months, and in this time it has shown through sales and evaluations that it has managed to improve what seemed complicated, make a product superior to Mi 3. It also has more complicated If we look at the Chinese competition - Oppo, OnePlus, Meizu -, which has managed to create proposals to match, as we have been showing you with our latest analyzes.

With the main phones on the market already presented, even available - we are talking about Samsung, Apple, HTC or LG - the Mi 4 is in great shape to face them, so the analysis will help us understand what level it is at. We already anticipate that it is more a matter of taste, than quality.

The Chinese company has been accused on many occasions of paying too much attention to the current iPhone to conceive its latest phone. The reality is that there are common elements, as many as those that differentiate them, but if we want to say that both have a metallic side, and that the interfaces look alike - especially in MIUI 6 -, it is a fact, but we will see how there is a lot of personality and quality in Mi 4.

My is coming. Its sales figures are already a threat to large companies, and the Mi 4 is a good test of what the Chinese company is capable of.

Before entering to evaluate section by section, the main negative point of the phone we have in its availability, right now the company only operates officially in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and the Philippines. They will continue to grow throughout Asia, and at some point they will be a company that has their phones in Europe. Meanwhile, we have to go to stores that help us learn about the product.

More than two years have passed since I had the opportunity to test his first phone, things have changed too much, for good, let's get to know him better:

Mi 4, technical specifications

Mi 4, technical characteristics Physical dimensions 139.2 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm, 149 grams screen IPS LCD 5.0 ​​inches (JDI or Sharp) Resolution 1080p (441 dpi) Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC), quad-core 2.5 GHz RAM 3GB Memory 16GB / 64GB (not expandable). About 13 GB are free in our 16 GB drive Software version Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) with MIUI 4.9.5 layer (we tested MIUI 6 aspect) Connectivity WiFi 802.11ac, USB 2.0 OTG, BT 4.0 LE, IR port, (LTE in China) Cameras 13 MP (1/3 ") main with 4K recording, 8 MP front (record 1080p) Battery 3,080 mAh (non-removable) Price Our unit is 16GB with a price of 290 euros. The 64GB model rises to 362 euros.

Video analysis of the Mi 4


Design

It is not a novelty to see that manufacturers lower the percentage of plastic in their phones to incorporate metal, they are all doing it, be it a priority, or in a second family of devices. Xiaomi also knew how to see this in time, and is one of the first to follow in the footsteps of Apple or HTC, but in its own way.

The change of the Xiaomi Mi 4 with respect to Mi3 is very large, we are not going to assess what is better, but the previous model was designed in polycarbonate, and now metal - stainless steel - is the protagonist, surrounding the entire phone. Let's say we went from a Lumia look, to something more similar to an iPhone.

The complete dimensions of the phone are 139.2 x 68.5 x 8.9 millimeters, more compact than the model it replaces, and it weighs 149 grams, 4 grams more than the Mi3, something understandable by the new materials chosen. There you have a comparison with the best, and his older brother:

Yes, we can say that there is a lot of iPhone 5 in that framework, but we can also say that it is very similar to a Samsung Galaxy Alpha, which is a terminal more similar by system and size. The main differentiating fact of the Xiaomi is in the back cover, which is made of plastic, but it is interchangeable, which can be a lot of play.

Once you know that the ingredients are good, you have to know how to combine them well, and it is here where Xiaomi gets high marks. The execution is perfect, everything is perfectly united, at the level of the best of the phones. The reality is that we spend 300 euros on a phone that looks like one of 500 euros, on another brand.

Without getting too into the subject of the screen, which will have its section, we can say that the frames are very small, and that the size of the screen - 5 inches - conditions a phone that is still in the margin that many want, comfortable in hand and easily fit in pockets or bags.

See complete gallery »Mi 4 (36 photos)

About the location of the elements, we have some things to tell. First, the camera is slightly centered in the rear, which we appreciate. Following the buttons, a lot of quality - metallic - and good disposition. The navigation buttons you see are always present, but they don't take up too much on the front. In the upper area, highlight the presence of an infrared port.

IPhone-style metal frames, interchangeable plastic back cover, with many designs. We leave behind the Lumia aspect of the Mi 3

The back is easy to remove if we have a pacifier - nothing to pry - which is the way to release the 17 anchors it has. When opening we find a battery that seems replaceable, but is attached to the equipment. There is also no microSD card slot, the SIM card does not have its place there, it goes on the side.

We finish by commenting that the purchase package is quite basic, in addition to being simple when using the increasingly used recycled cardboard boxes. Inside is a power adapter, instructions, and a phone. Nothing else.

screen

5 inch screen

Full HD resolution, made by JDI. One of the best sections of the Chinese phone. Negative point: the absence of Gorilla Glass

Now yes, turn for the screen. We have a five-inch IPS panel with Full HD resolution, which achieves a pixel density of 441ppi. So far nothing new, in the line of a high-end. And so far a logical decision, since after having tested phones with QHD screens, they do not give me a difference in quality, and imply more processing power and consumption.

According to Xiaomi, the color gamut it is capable of reproducing reaches 84%, 17% more than an iPhone 5S. I don't have the tools to measure numbers, nor am I an expert in screen color, but I've been testing all kinds of phones for years, and the Mi 4 has one of the best screens on the market in this regard.

The color rendering is fantastic, the level and uniformity of brightness too - much better than in Mi 3 -, and although it is not its most prominent factor, it performs well outdoors. The viewing angles are excellent. For those who do not like the way it represents the color, you can play with three profiles of temperature and saturation.

For those who are curious about the type of panel used, we are facing an LCD / IPS in which its pixels are built with an RGB matrix. Behind all this is an increasingly well-known company in the middle, which is managing to annoy Koreans, we are talking about JDI -Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi-. Other units are built by Sharp, which we have no doubt is up to.

On the negative side, the protection does not seem to be at the level of others as they do not have Gorilla Glass 3. We understand that it has another type of protection, but it is not information that they have publicized.

Performance and autonomy

On paper there is no doubt that this section will have a good note: Full HD screen and one of the most modern hardware solutions that Qualcomm has, and that it shares with the competition (Galaxy S5, Xperia Z3 ...), in its most extensive range. high.

Nearly perfect hardware

The lack of LTE connectivity in our market tarnishes the whole. They highlight its 3GB of RAM or the most powerful Snapdragon 801

Not only are we dealing with a Snapdragon 801 in its most powerful version - the one that works at 2.5GHz -, we also have 3GB of RAM, something that guarantees us to be left over for the moment, and prepared for the future.Without going into too technical data, it's fair to know that all four cores are built with Krait 400 designs, and that the GPU is an Adreno 330.

Curious is the choice of internal memory, which can be 16 or 64GB. In an identical case to the OnePlus One, the people of Xiaomi have decided that to give 32, they give 64 at the same price. Taking into account the difference in price, and how fast it fills up when we start recording video in high quality, better opt for the 64GB one. Also, memory is not expandable in any way.

The main negative point that this phone has, the one that I am testing, is the absence of LTE connectivity in our market. My model is marked on its back as WCDMA, or what is the same, here it works in 3G, and in China it does connect to 4G networks. Solution, at the end of the month a version that does connect to our networks should appear, and that would be the most interesting to acquire. Patience for those interested.

Actually, since the Snapdragon 800 appeared, the performance jump has not been too great, so the Mi 4 is not really much better than a Mi 3, with which it shares screen resolution. A striking detail, which may be conditioned by its new construction: the phone heats up when we are in demanding operations, and it shows a lot.

That said, the most important change with respect to the Mi 3 has to do with the design, as we have discussed in the corresponding section. Logically we think that it is better optimized and prepared for the future. Here are some benchmarks, comparing differences between Performance and Balanced modes:

See complete gallery »Benchmarks (7 photos)

Before going on to talk about the battery, it is important to comment that the GPS works perfectly, at the level of any high-end, something that usually worries many users. What I have found a failure on the part of Xiaomi is the fact of not putting NFC, a connectivity that is gradually becoming useful. It is not because they decided it was not necessary, not because it was impossible to include it.

The battery is another of their strengths, since they have placed a 3,080 mAh in a 5-inch phone, which is quite good. In fact, above we only found an Xperia Z2 with its 3,200 mAh (the Z3 drops to 3,100 mAh).

I can not share the sensations of the phone with a regular use on LTE, but with 3G I can say that the autonomy is very good. With the same hardware as many other top-of-the-line phones, the differences are small, marked by the optimization that manufacturers can do with their customizations. Here you can see that MIUI is very worked.

Speaker in the lower area

It is not the most outstanding element of the phone, we also cover them easily. Of course, its design is very successful

Without problems we spend the day and a half with moderate use, and for those who want to keep an eye on what their phone consumes, there are predefined profiles in MIUI that will help us adjust it to the needs: Balanced, which is the one that comes by default, and Performance, which eats up the battery earlier, and doesn't really offer much of a difference in performance (it does show in benchmarks). With the Performance, it lasts more than a day, spending five hours on screen on.

We do not want to finish the performance section without dedicating a few words to the call and sound quality of the phone. Without any problem in the calls that I have made, they have listened to me well, and I have listened loud and clear. Nothing surprising around here, but with the peace of mind that it works. As a curiosity, while we have a conversation, we can record it with the push of a button.

With a battery of greater capacity than its direct competition, the autonomy records are very good. Two operating modes: Balanced and Performance

We have a single speaker in the lower area of ​​the phone, with the standard quality of this type of solutions and low volume, one step behind those who place a couple of units in the front. The fact that it is on the side also causes us to cover it on some occasions, such as playing.

Whenever possible, best to pull headphones, although the speaker is fully usable. Speaking of headphones, profiles are contemplated for the different types that we can use, so that the system adapts to the needs. By the way, headphones are not included with the phone. For some it may be a detail to make it cheaper, to me, if they do not give me good headphones, I prefer not to have to pay an extra for them.

software

MIUI 6

Although the final version of MIUI 6 will not arrive for a couple of months, we have had the opportunity to test its new look and some functionalities. Flatter, more attractive

If you like Android, but you also like iOS, in MIUI we can find the first, with a little bit of the second. If we go to the MIUI 6 version, even the appearance is even more similar, or at least follows the trend of simplifying elements.

An important clarification, we do not have MIUI 6, but a package with the interface and some applications that works on version 4.9.5 of MIUI. The final version is expected in October. For the test we needed to make two versions work, an older one in which we could test the camera and other functionalities, and another with the new interface. With Mi 4 it is possible thanks to the fact that it has a double ROM system.

The operating system on which the version that I am testing is based is Android 4.4.4, and it is cooked by the guys from MIUI.es, who are responsible - with enough frequency - to shape the product to fit our tastes. For those who are wondering, in Xiaomi they promise Android L.

For you to appreciate the graphic change in MIUI 6, and the occasional image of the interface, take a look at the following gallery (on the left MIUI 6):

See complete gallery »MIUI 4 vs 6 (23 photos)

The first thing is that they isolate us a little from the strong customization generated for the Chinese market, with its own applications and services, and open the device to a normal Android, Google Play through.

For those who do not know how this is going, here there is no section for applications, all the icons are on the desktop, with the possibility of being grouped into folders, they can be anchored in the fixed bar in the lower area, such as the rest of icons. The idea that there is no section for them is the same as iOS.

From Android it takes the rest of the possibilities, such as widgets, or the much exploited notification bar, which in this case also opens the way to the settings.

The best thing about MIUI is that it is updated weekly, it is not that they are going to revolutionize the system, but there are always fixes and news. If by the way we have a community of developers like MIUI.es that locate the topic, well much better. In a Xiaomi you have to get used to it that updates come to you, something not usual in other brands.

Speaking of operation, it has always been characterized by being simple and fast, with the most powerful hardware of the Mi 4, and the simplicity of MIUI 6, we can not expect anything else. Speed ​​is a point to value in Xiaomi products.

One of its attractions lies in the possibilities of customization and configuration, rummaging through the menus we find that we can tap almost everything, like configuring a guest mode, what the buttons do when left pressed, playing with the LED notifier, etc.

As for customization, temps a theme store, with paid content, or free. We can change from the backgrounds, sounds, startup animations, applications, lock screen, etc. In the Xiaomi universe there is a currency called MiCredit.

Regarding Xiaomi services and applications, the cloud they set up - Mi Cloud - is striking, with 5GB that can be accessed from the different devices of the brand that we have, and in which we can make backup copies of our teams.

There is also a messaging service that is supported in that cloud, or a Find my phone-style system, with which you can perform actions remotely. Its app store is called My Market, and it even has a voice assistant - in Chinese - Siri-style or Google Now.

If at the end of all this, you do not like MIUI, you can always place another known launcher.

Camera

The Xiaomi camera has two modes of operation, one simple and one advanced, but this does not happen with MIUI 6, which is quite green in these features, so we have to reload the previous version to see how many things can be done. .

13 and 8 megapixels

The front camera is 8 megapixels, and the rear is signed by Sony. In both cases we have lenses with f / 1.8 aperture. The software has many interesting tricks

With that said, let's get to know a bit about the chosen hardware. The sensor is a well-known and proven one, developed by Sony, and used in a lot of high-end phones: Oppo Find 7, 7a, OnePlus One, and I think some Xperia Z.

The specific model is the IMX214, and it has 13 megapixels, in a size of 1/3 inches (1.12µm for each pixel). It is the top model, or that replaces, the IMX135, used in a large number of important phones: Samsung Galaxy S4, LG G3, or LG G2.

Turning to the lens, it is striking that it has a maximum aperture of f / 1.8. Finally, we have an LED flash that simply does its job.

On paper, good hardware, but as we have seen on many occasions, that does not guarantee a good final quality. In fact, we found deficiencies in some sections, yes, it is better than the camera of the Mi 3, which was one of its obligations.

See complete gallery »Camera interface (4 photos)

Changing the version teaches us more, but not everything is ready, possibly due to the cocoa of updates that we have on the device. For example, slow motion is poorly translated, you have to turn it inside out - fast - to be able to use it (it works with 720p resolution).

We go with the main modes of operation and behaviors:

  • In good lighting conditions the camera is fantastic, it records a lot of detail and the color reproduction is true to reality, the automatic white balance also works very well. It is especially valuable that in all modes the camera is fast, both when it comes to focusing and taking the photo, as well as when applying the corresponding algorithms.
  • HDR is a basic specification on almost every phone today, and the Xiaomi does a good job with it. On many occasions with different light situations in the scene, it helps us to get more detailed shots, without exaggerating or contrasting the results too much.

See complete gallery »HDR (1 photos)

  • Low light conditions. Despite having an f / 1.8 lens, recording content in low light is not its strong point, or at least it makes noise too obvious, and the colors are desaturated. Possibly the lack of image stabilization hurts in this regard. Sometimes it is better to pull HDR in these cases.

  • Magic focus. It will sound to some, HTC, Nokia and other companies are working on this to be able to focus after taking the shot. Without going into the depth of HTC, it allows us to record images with objects that are located relatively close, and to change the focus between them. The good thing is that if we like one of the approaches, we can export it in full size.

  • Follow an item on the screen. We can, with a gesture from left to right on an element of the scene, make the camera continue to focus on it, even when it is in motion.

  • Tactile exposure. In both the front and main cameras, we can change the exposure using a dial that appears around the touch focus point that we have chosen. Very useful.

  • Panorama, we can make the typical panoramas, this time up to 180 degrees, and with a decent quality, in fact it even takes a while to make the final result.

See complete gallery »Panoramas (2 photos)

Although it is not comparable with a good 8 megapixel camera, that this is the figure of the front camera is a statement of intent. Selfies and video conferences are important to me

It is surprising to see that the front camera is 8 megapixels, also with a very fast lens, with the same f / 1.8 aperture. It is undoubtedly one of the best solutions on the market for those who are going to shoot selfies, or make video conferences with the mobile.

Not only for the megapixels or the lens, the results prove it (although it really has a very small sensor, let's not ask for pears to the elm). Autofocus is fast, as is facial recognition, which even plays to tell you how old you are, your gender, and improves the appearance of your skin on a couple of levels.

See complete gallery »Frontal (3 photos)

As expected, it is somewhat more angular than a rear camera, and it also has some interesting software options, such as countdown or live filters.

I would not like to have to value the camera as I have it in the version I am testing, since it records strange sounds that have nothing to do with reality. According to the specifications, it records stereo audio at 96 Kbps. The operating modes in video are:

  • 4K or 2160p, at 30 frames per second and a 40 Mbps bitrate:

Another 4K example

  • Full HD at 30 images per second, with a rate of 15 Mbps. It stands out for high detail:


  • 720p at 120 frames per second. I've had trouble getting this option to work, as soon as I have a sample I share it.

In 4K and 1080p modes we can use HDR. During video recording, we can take photos, which will be saved in files with 6 megapixels.

The opinion and note of the Mi 4 in Xataka

Xiaomi / Mi has gestated the renovation of its latest high-end phone in less than a year, and so it seems that it will follow the wheel, but in between we expect a version of the Mi 4 best adapted to our market. Also that they continue to grow beyond Asia, but it seems that Europe is not a priority in the medium term.

In case you have gone directly to this section, and you want to know what they offer us, as the Mi 4 is a latest generation device with first-class design and materials, in proportions that do not follow the market trend of creating giant phones.

I am sure that if the product were to be sold directly in Europe, officially, the prices would be higher, but it would not change too much the perception that I have that the consolidated manufacturers sell too expensive. With any luck - if they have availability - they ask us for 360 euros for the 64 GB model.

My 4 offers a lot for a fair price, in fact, even import, I would expect to get the expected model compatible with our LTE networks. Here are our evaluations, which are highly conditioned in the performance section, in which we include the aforementioned connectivity:

8,4

Design8.25 screen Performance8 Camera8.5 Software8.25 Autonomy8,25

In favor

  • Build quality and materials, interchangeable housings
  • One of the best screens on the market
  • Above average autonomy
  • MIUI: simple in execution, fast in operation, complete in possibilities and customization
  • The price, even considering that it is imported

Against

  • Does not have LTE connectivity (yes in China), nor NFC
  • There is no Gorilla Glass protection, we do not know the substitute
  • No microSD slot, better choose 64GB
  • Battery attached to the phone
  • It gets quite hot, yes, the benchmarks are excellent

Pedro Santamaría has collaborated in this article with the making of the video.

The phone has been loaned for testing by the Lenteen store. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises

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