Xiaomi Mi 3
Price: Rs 13,999
Specs: 5-inch display; 13MP camera; 2.3GHz quad core processor; 2GB RAM; 16GB onboard storage; Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, GPS, 3G, 3050 mAh battery
Wondering why there is so much buzz around Xiaomi (pronounced as "Shao-me")? Why 10,000 people pre-registered to purchase this phone? Why the Xiaomi Mi 3 was sold out within 40 minutes of going on sale on Flipkart? Well, the questions are many with just a simple answer.
Xiaomi, the brand
It isn't a decade old brand as the company was founded only four years ago. But within a short span of time, it has managed to be called as the 'Apple of China'. The company comes up with good quality Android smartphones and sells them at almost cost. Xiaomi phones don't go out of market within six months of the launch. The company earns money over the life cycle of the product as the components get cheap. They also make money by selling accessories.
Xiaomi Mi 3
This smartphone was announced in China in September last year. Xiaomi has launched it in India for Rs 13,999. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with a quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 1080p IPS display with Gorilla Glass protection, a 13-megapixel camera and 16GB of internal storage. Normally smartphones with similar specifications are priced around Rs 30,000. It also competes against the Motorola Moto G, which did amazingly well when launched in India in February this year.
Love them or hate them, they all look alike. The Mi 3 resembles the high end Lumia smartphones, minus plastic. It has got an aluminium magnesium chassis and the matt silver finish looks nice. The 3.5mm port along with micro-SIM tray is on the top edge with volume controls and power key on the right panel. The speaker grill and charging port are at the bottom. The 13 MP camera along with the dual flash sits on the top left of the back panel. The overall design is pleasing. However, I felt the device was slightly slippery and had to be handled with care.
Display and Touch
The five-inch IPS panel with full HD resolution is great to work on. The colours appear bright and the text is crisp. While it is claimed to have Gorilla Glass Protection that saves it from scratches, my review unit had quite a few. The touch is responsive and I was comfortable with a single hand. For display, other than the default themes, Xiaomi gives access to its Theme Store, from where one can download free themes designed for Mi smartphones. The MiUI adopts some UI features from iPhone as well where all the apps are on the home screen and there isn't an app launcher tray. Apps can also be arranged in the folders.
This smartphone runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 chipset, the same chipset which the flagship smartphones such as LG G2 and Sony Xperia Z1 had and are still retailing for over Rs 30,000. The Mi 3 has got a quad core processor clocked at 2.3Ghz and is paired with 2GB of RAM. This ensures a lag free performance but at times I did notice that the phone froze for a couple of seconds while charging. This could be an issue particularly with my unit. The phone handled heavy graphic apps with ease. Playing Asphalt 8 and Dead Trigger 2 was a treat on this phone. Web browsing was smooth. Overall, the experience was fluid.
The mid-budget smartphones often compromise on camera but Xiaomi hasn't. The Mi 3 packs in a 13MP camera, which is the best in its price category. What other smartphone cameras lack is low light photography. The Mi 3 does a great job in low light environment too. Turn on the HDR and it further enhances the captured shot. The images are neither washed out, nor burnt and offer good details. The camera has a QR code built-in.
Xiaomi has worked on small, little features that make it special. For instance, Xiaomi has its own store from where free themes have been uploaded for free, which adds a refreshing look to this phone. However, here some of the themes used Chinese language at a few places along with English. A few themes even froze the phone. Xiaomi has also added private messaging option to the phone where one does not need to install a third party app. Just by sliding down the message app, one can enter into the private messaging mode. Xiaomi also allows customers to get rid of the pre-installed apps that they do not wish to use, a much needed feature in all smartphones. The Android based platform, MIUI is a live operating system which constantly improves with frequent software updates being pushed to the customers.
Battery: With the increasing display size of the smartphones, battery plays a vital role. The Mi 3 has got a 3050mAh battery that lasted me over a day on a full charge with heavy usage.
Bag it or Junk it: Irrespective of the few glitches that I faced, Xiaomi's Mi 3 is quite impressive for its price.