Xiaomi Mi 4 is an unlucky phone and an underachiever. But not because it’s bad phone. It’s just that the fate, or in this case some peculiar market conditions and consumer perception, always worked against the Mi 4. Yet, interestingly at a time when a phone doesn’t last more than six months in the Indian market, the Mi 4 has been on sale here since January last year. So it surely has something in it. Just that it has also not hogged the limelight the way some other Xiaomi phones have done in the last one year, Redmi Note 3, for example.
But as the Mi 4 inches towards its end of life in India, it seems Xiaomi has a plan for it. The company probably wants it to go into the sunset all guns blazing and with a bang. Hence, the heavy discount of Rs 4,000, which effectively makes its price Rs 10,999. This is nearly half of its debut price. Great value for money, you would say! Or will you?
Despite the huge price cut, the case for or against the Mi 4 is not clear cut. Even at a price of Rs 14,999, it is a phenomenally good phone. But there is one fatal flaw that holds it back. So, let’s see what you get with the Mi 4 and what you don’t.
Good design and build quality: At a time when every phone seems to be designed for Hulk, the Mi 4 is a relatively small and compact phone. It also has fantastic build quality with a very sturdy metal frame and good quality plastic, which gives it premium looks. It may not be an “all-metal phone” but put it in front of some of these metal phones and you will realise that it not only looks more attractive but has a finish that gives it more premium appeal.
Good performance: The Mi 4 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB RAM. The processor is surely old but it is still theoretically as fast as most of the newer mid-range processor that you get in phones at this price bracket. In fact, it is fairly good processor in the sense that it doesn’t heat up that much and provides relatively more stable performance. The Mi 4 doesn’t lag, deals with open apps well-enough and runs games, even demanding ones like Implosion, with ease.
Good battery life: The smaller screen size and a processor that is frugal with power use ensures fairly good battery life on the Mi 4. In fact, the Mi 4 is one of the best small phones you can get if you want more battery life without going the large-screen route.
Great camera for the price: The 13-megapixel camera in the Mi 4 is still one of the best we have seen this side of Rs 20,000. It is not as good as the camera in the Moto G4 Plus but the difference is negligible. For Rs 11,000 you can’t get any other phone with this good camera.
Very nice screen: The 5-inches LCD screen with FullHD (1080p) resolution is sharp and vibrant. The brightness, however, is on the lower side — the Mi 4i for example is better — but when compared to its peers, the Mi 4 more than matches the competition.
Updated MIUI: One problem with Xiaomi is that you don’t get all those lovely Google updates that users of Moto or Nexus phones get. Instead you get the MIUI, which uses Android as its base but with modified user interface and with some added features. Many people don’t mind the lack of stock Android. In fact, many even prefer MIUI over the pure Android. And when it comes to MIUI, even though the Mi 4 is an old phone, Xiaomi is still bringing latest MIUI updates to it.
As you can infer, the Mi 4 is a sort of all-rounder. It does almost everything well enough and that at a price of Rs 11,000 means something. In fact, if you like smaller phones, you will love the Mi 4. So what’s the catch? There is one.
You lose out on…
4G connectivity: This is the one big problem with the Mi 4. It doesn’t support 4G in India. Now, at a time when it was launched in January 2015, this wasn’t much of a concern. Even now, it’s not that big a deal because with most operators neither 3G nor 4G works all that well and the speed difference between 3G and 3G is minor. But Jio launch is round the corner and that may bring better 4G to India. Also, once Jio launches, other operators are expected to improve 4G services. With Mi 4, you won’t be able to use the 4G and will have to stick to just 3G.
Now, this won’t be an issue for people who use data connection in their phones frugally or for just checking emails, social media updates etc. But if you the sort of user who wants fast fast fast internet in your phone, the Mi 4 is not a future proof device. For you the Redmi Note 3 could be a better deal.