Xiaomi Mi 4c Review

Introduction


Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
By now, you've probably heard of Xiaomi – the Chinese company, which is in the habit of selling smartphones with some pretty powerful hardware at unbelievably low prices — in eastern Asia, at least. Indeed, trying to get your hands on one of these handsets will usually involve some extra shipping fees and taxes, but even after that, the phones still end up offering some extra value for the money spent.

Earlier this year, the company launched an “affordable flagship” in India – the Xiaomi Mi 4i – which, as always, packed some pretty respectable hardware for its asking price. Later, in September, Xiaomi launched the Mi 4c in China – very similar in appearance to the 4i, and still bearing a bargain price-tag, but with a more powerful processor inside. That managed to peak the interest of Android smartphone fans who follow the more exotic handsets closely.

You can't buy the Mi 4c directly from Xiaomi, but there are a lot of 3rd party websites that sell it worldwide. The base model comes with a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 2 GB of RAM, a 13 MP / 5 MP camera combo, and a 3,080 mAh battery, all for the price of around $240, minus shipping and taxes. The offer sounds quite enticing, and we were quite anxious to see whether it is as good as it sounds. Here's what we found.

In the box:

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
  • Quick start guide (in Chinese)
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Wall charger
  • USB Type-C data cable

Design

Plastic elegance

Being a $240 handset, we can't fault the Mi 4c for not being made out of shiny materials. The phone's body pretty much consists of a glass front and a plastic back panel, which wraps around to its sides. It's a solid build that doesn't creek, crack, or move around when pressured. It does, however, strike us with an elegant and ergonomic design. The back is slightly arched, making it comfortable to hold, while its corners are stark, giving it a very sleek look, but without being sharp to the touch. The plastic is of the matte variety; it has a soft feel when held, but it does attract quite a bit of fingerprint smudges.

On the front, we have the small-ish earpiece grille, which manages to complement the handset's elegant looks. To the right of it, there's the selfie cam and a notification LED. Below the display, we have a trio of capacitive navigational keys, which are invisible when the backlighting is off.


The phone's hardware controls are situated on its right side – a power button sits just north from the phone's center, and the volume rocker is placed above it. The power key is decently clicky, but the rocker feels a tad shallow. It doesn't help that the latter is quite wobbly, too, generally causing us to feel uncomfortable while using it.

On the top of the device, we have the 3.5 mm headphone jack and an IR blaster. On the bottom, there is the USB Type-C charging and data port. The speaker grille is a wide strip, situated in the bottom center of the handset's back. The camera is in the top-left corner, accompanied by a dual-tone LED.

In terms of handling, the _phone_ is pretty easy to operate, with its ergonomic design and average-sized display. It also fits well in pockets and is light enough to not cause any issues.

 

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Front view | Side view
Xiaomi Mi 4c
Xiaomi Mi 4c
5.43 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
138 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm
4.66 oz (132 g)

Xiaomi Mi 4c

OnePlus 2
OnePlus 2
5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches
151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm
6.17 oz (175 g)

OnePlus 2

HTC One A9
HTC One A9
5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One A9

Google Nexus 5X
Google Nexus 5X
5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches
147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
4.80 oz (136 g)

Google Nexus 5X


Xiaomi Mi 4c Review

Display

Colors that pop

The Xiaomi Mi 4c is equipped with a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution. Its pixel-per-inch density lands at 441, which makes the screen pretty sharp. Color temperature measures at 7,844 K, which is quite off from the reference value of 6,500 K. As a result, the display has a bluish — at times leaning towards purple — tint. For the night readers who worry about the blue colors – there is a "reading mode" in the settings, which allows the user to choose how much they wish to warm up the screen via a slider; it goes from regular cold-ish picture to full-on red. Color reproduction is also far from perfect, as the Mi 4c's display manages to miss almost all of the targets on the sRGB scale, and most of the colors are often over-saturated.

All that being said, we didn't find the display to be bad. Yes, some colors do blow up, but we didn't feel them to be as aggressive to our sight as the measurements might suggest. The images look vivid and alive, and we appreciated that. The purple tint of the display was most evident in dark environments, where we did find it kind of annoying.

The display's maximum brightness measures at 456 nits and we found it pretty usable out in broad daylight. The lowest it would go is 1 nit, which is excellent for night-time usage.

We do wish that Xiaomi had gotten the colors a bit more spot-on with the Mi 4c's panel. However, for its class, we really can't fault it too much. The resolution is super-crisp, colors jump out vividly from behind the glass, and the screen is usable in any type of environment – there's not much more one could ask from a midrange-priced phone.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
OnePlus 2 564
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:2091
(Excellent)
7554
(Average)
2.46
2.18
(Good)
4.7
(Average)
Google Nexus 5X 487
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1498
(Excellent)
6799
(Excellent)
2.31
2.06
(Good)
3.54
(Good)
Xiaomi Mi 4c 456
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
1:1845
(Excellent)
7844
(Average)
1.94
6.07
(Average)
6.28
(Average)
HTC One A9 345
(Average)
11
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6829
(Excellent)
2.1
2.42
(Good)
3.01
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
HTC One A9 48.4%
45.5%
unmeasurable
12.9%
1%
44.6%
110%
Google Nexus 5X 77.6%
50%
81.7%
6.1%
10.8%
43.2%
0.3%
OnePlus 2 79.3%
85%
80.4%
11.1%
5.3%
58.7%
50.9%
Xiaomi Mi 4c 89.9%
0%
86.7%
0.6%
10.3%
1.3%
9.7%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Xiaomi Mi 4c Review

Introduction


Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
By now, you've probably heard of Xiaomi – the Chinese company, which is in the habit of selling smartphones with some pretty powerful hardware at unbelievably low prices — in eastern Asia, at least. Indeed, trying to get your hands on one of these handsets will usually involve some extra shipping fees and taxes, but even after that, the phones still end up offering some extra value for the money spent.

Earlier this year, the company launched an “affordable flagship” in India – the Xiaomi Mi 4i – which, as always, packed some pretty respectable hardware for its asking price. Later, in September, Xiaomi launched the Mi 4c in China – very similar in appearance to the 4i, and still bearing a bargain price-tag, but with a more powerful processor inside. That managed to peak the interest of Android smartphone fans who follow the more exotic handsets closely.

You can't buy the Mi 4c directly from Xiaomi, but there are a lot of 3rd party websites that sell it worldwide. The base model comes with a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 2 GB of RAM, a 13 MP / 5 MP camera combo, and a 3,080 mAh battery, all for the price of around $240, minus shipping and taxes. The offer sounds quite enticing, and we were quite anxious to see whether it is as good as it sounds. Here's what we found.

In the box:

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
  • Quick start guide (in Chinese)
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Wall charger
  • USB Type-C data cable

Design

Plastic elegance

Being a $240 handset, we can't fault the Mi 4c for not being made out of shiny materials. The phone's body pretty much consists of a glass front and a plastic back panel, which wraps around to its sides. It's a solid build that doesn't creek, crack, or move around when pressured. It does, however, strike us with an elegant and ergonomic design. The back is slightly arched, making it comfortable to hold, while its corners are stark, giving it a very sleek look, but without being sharp to the touch. The plastic is of the matte variety; it has a soft feel when held, but it does attract quite a bit of fingerprint smudges.

On the front, we have the small-ish earpiece grille, which manages to complement the handset's elegant looks. To the right of it, there's the selfie cam and a notification LED. Below the display, we have a trio of capacitive navigational keys, which are invisible when the backlighting is off.


The phone's hardware controls are situated on its right side – a power button sits just north from the phone's center, and the volume rocker is placed above it. The power key is decently clicky, but the rocker feels a tad shallow. It doesn't help that the latter is quite wobbly, too, generally causing us to feel uncomfortable while using it.

On the top of the device, we have the 3.5 mm headphone jack and an IR blaster. On the bottom, there is the USB Type-C charging and data port. The speaker grille is a wide strip, situated in the bottom center of the handset's back. The camera is in the top-left corner, accompanied by a dual-tone LED.

In terms of handling, the _phone_ is pretty easy to operate, with its ergonomic design and average-sized display. It also fits well in pockets and is light enough to not cause any issues.


Front view | Side view
Xiaomi Mi 4c
Xiaomi Mi 4c
5.43 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
138 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm
4.66 oz (132 g)

Xiaomi Mi 4c

OnePlus 2
OnePlus 2
5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches
151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm
6.17 oz (175 g)

OnePlus 2

HTC One A9
HTC One A9
5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One A9

Google Nexus 5X
Google Nexus 5X
5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches
147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
4.80 oz (136 g)

Google Nexus 5X


Xiaomi Mi 4c Review

Display

Colors that pop

The Xiaomi Mi 4c is equipped with a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution. Its pixel-per-inch density lands at 441, which makes the screen pretty sharp. Color temperature measures at 7,844 K, which is quite off from the reference value of 6,500 K. As a result, the display has a bluish — at times leaning towards purple — tint. For the night readers who worry about the blue colors – there is a "reading mode" in the settings, which allows the user to choose how much they wish to warm up the screen via a slider; it goes from regular cold-ish picture to full-on red. Color reproduction is also far from perfect, as the Mi 4c's display manages to miss almost all of the targets on the sRGB scale, and most of the colors are often over-saturated.

All that being said, we didn't find the display to be bad. Yes, some colors do blow up, but we didn't feel them to be as aggressive to our sight as the measurements might suggest. The images look vivid and alive, and we appreciated that. The purple tint of the display was most evident in dark environments, where we did find it kind of annoying.

The display's maximum brightness measures at 456 nits and we found it pretty usable out in broad daylight. The lowest it would go is 1 nit, which is excellent for night-time usage.

We do wish that Xiaomi had gotten the colors a bit more spot-on with the Mi 4c's panel. However, for its class, we really can't fault it too much. The resolution is super-crisp, colors jump out vividly from behind the glass, and the screen is usable in any type of environment – there's not much more one could ask from a midrange-priced phone.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
OnePlus 2 564
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:2091
(Excellent)
7554
(Average)
2.46
2.18
(Good)
4.7
(Average)
Google Nexus 5X 487
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1498
(Excellent)
6799
(Excellent)
2.31
2.06
(Good)
3.54
(Good)
Xiaomi Mi 4c 456
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
1:1845
(Excellent)
7844
(Average)
1.94
6.07
(Average)
6.28
(Average)
HTC One A9 345
(Average)
11
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6829
(Excellent)
2.1
2.42
(Good)
3.01
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
HTC One A9 48.4%
45.5%
unmeasurable
12.9%
1%
44.6%
110%
Google Nexus 5X 77.6%
50%
81.7%
6.1%
10.8%
43.2%
0.3%
OnePlus 2 79.3%
85%
80.4%
11.1%
5.3%
58.7%
50.9%
Xiaomi Mi 4c 89.9%
0%
86.7%
0.6%
10.3%
1.3%
9.7%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and functionality

Removing malware never felt so good

Let's start with a very huge point we wish to make about the Xiaomi Mi 4c. If you are situated somewhere in the Western world and are to buy this handset, chances are you will be getting it from a 3rd party retailer, since Xiaomi does not sell directly outside of Asia. It appears, however, that Xiaomi phones sold from 3rd party web stores are often tampered with. We can't know where in the supply line this happens, but our unit was malware-infested. Other user reports on the Internet shared similar observations.

Our phone had a variety of problems – the anti-virus app that it came with immediately warned us that half of the other pre-installed apps were trojans. There was a KKBrowser, which we would constantly disable, but it would re-install itself after a couple of hours. There was a YouTube app, which had a very old interface — probably pre-Ice Cream Sandwich era — and there was no way to replace this app with the official one from the Play Store. Said YouTube app oddly had permissions to install and delete other apps on the device. Last, but most certainly not least, the phone was constantly warm, and it would burn through 40-50% of battery in 8 hours of standby alone.

Stay with us, however, as the good part starts here. We usually do our best to review a phone in the state that you, the end user, would get it if you bought it from the store right now. However, as you can probably imagine, the handset we had was in a next-to-unusable state, and we don't think any customer would agree to operate it as-is. So, we took to Xiaomi's MIUI forums to look for official ROMs and solutions. We would like to give praise where praise is due – there are one-click tools for everything. Within a couple of hours of careful reading, downloading, and installing the right files – we had a fresh, stock MIUI 7, with Google framework and Google Play installed. And all that – without needing to root the device! The downside is that the Play Store still needed to be updated manually to the latest version, and we suppose we're going to have to do it again when a new version rolls out.

Now that this nightmare is out of the way, we can talk about Xiaomi's MIUI 7. The interface is often called an iOS clone, though we'd say that's a bit harsh. While it is obvious that it drew inspiration from Apple's iOS – most visible in its status bar and tray, settings menu, and camera app – it is far from the worst offender that we've seen in recent times (*ahem* vivo X5pro). So, MIUI 7 is a complete Android 5.1 Lollipop reskin, inspired, but barely copying, iOS' elegant looks.

The stock MIUI 7 was also riddled with quite a lot of bloat – we immediately got to disabling and uninstalling Mi Chat, news apps, shopping apps such as Tmall, Amaps, and many other Chinese-centric apps. Even after this, there were a lot more left that were just non-removable, so we had to stick them in a folder and hide them on an unused homescreen.

In terms of aesthetics, MIUI just drips with attention to detail. Every little graphic and animation looks like it has been built with the kind of dedication needed to make it look good. The Calendar, Clock, and Weather stock apps have dynamic icons, and the apps themselves look very polished and elegant. There isn't a thing in MIUI 7 that you would open up and feel it “doesn't belong” or “doesn't gel well” with the rest of the interface.

Even being such a fundamental re-skin, the interface runs pretty solid on the Mi 4c. There are no tear-ups and no inconsistent lagspikes. There is, however, a very consistent sluggishness to be felt during usage. Not one that slows operation down, no. But we can't help but feel that the phone always takes a few milliseconds too long to respond to our touch. This takes some getting used to for someone who's used to a snappier interface.

There are a couple of features that help single-handed operation – one is the classic one-handed mode, which shrinks the screen down to a 3.5- or 4-inch diagonal. This one is activated in a pretty cool manner – the user has to tap the home button and immediately slide left or right to the neighboring capacitive key. The direction one swipes to determines which corner the display will shrink to. There is also an “Edge control” function, which allows one to navigate “back” by double-tapping on any of the phone's sides. We disabled this one, however, as it often registered “back” commands when we were just handling the phone, switching grips.

MIUI 7 is also pretty adept at zealously killing background processes and saving your mobile data. So much so that we often missed chat texts because the phone would have killed the process, which is responsible for the push notifications. There are plenty of options to dig into — like the battery profiles and the network settings — but no matter what toggle we flipped, we just couldn't find a remedy for this. Basically, if the phone is left in standby for a long time, it stops notifying us of chats. SMS texts and calls come through fine, but Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, and Viber we had to refresh manually every hour, just out of paranoia that someone might be trying to reach us. A similar problem would also come up when we leave our Wi-Fi area and just trust that the Mi 4c would automatically switch to data. Well, while the status bar did show us an active data connection, the handset would actually refuse to connect to the Internet unless we performed a “close all apps” action, and re-opened the ones we needed to use.

Update: After some more tinkering, we actually found a way to get our notifications fairly regularly. Тo allow pop-ups for apps like Facebook's Messenger, one needs to go to Settings -> Installed apps -> choose the app in question -> scroll down to Permissions manager -> and allow Display pop-up window. This is disabled by default for every app you install, which means that every time you install a new chat client, you will need to do this. Afterwards we had to make sure that the app doesn't get blocked by the Security manager - go in the Security app -> Persmissions -> Autostart, and allow the chat apps to autostart their background processes.

After completing these two steps, however, we still had an issue with the phone not receiving chat notifications. Calls and SMS texts were OK, but we found that if the phone spends some time in Standby it just clears some background processes, which stops us from getting push notifications. And yes, we did create a custom battery profile, with the "clean memory" option set to Never.

Some of our avid readers have pointed us towards yet another option that needs to be enabled, in order for a simple chat app to work as expected. We had to go to Settings -> Additional settings -> Battery and performance -> Manage apps battery usage -> Choose apps to restrict. In this menu, we had to make sure that our desired apps are not restricted.


This constant need to pamper the device and double-check whether everything is OK not only detracts from user experience, but really shakes up the faith one has in the handset as an actual communications device. Obviously, the interface suffers from some white-hot issues that need to be corrected in this regard.

MIUI also displays iOS-style notification badges. These are the little red circles that appear on top of certain apps, telling the user how many notifications they have missed. Unfortunately, MIUI will put a badge on anything and everything. What we mean is that if you pause a song in Play Music – you will see a badge on top of the app's icon; if you install a new app, you will see a badge on top of Play Store. And, just in the style of iOS, even if you clear a notification from the tray, the badge will stay on its respective app until the user opens it. This can be disabled for each separate app from Settings → Notifications and, seeing as it's “on” by default for every app you install – it gets pretty annoying pretty fast.

There are also some other nuisances spread across the MIUI's user experience – having to manually “allow” chat apps to auto-start their processes from the phone's security center (not that it helps most of the time), or the fact that the auto brightness is often slow to respond, or off from where it's supposed to hit.

So, the general taste that Xiaomi's interface on the Mi 4c left in our mouths was that it's solid and stable, looks beautiful, but has a slightly sluggish response throughout, and a number of user experience issues that need to be corrected, especially in the notifications department. We could really live with the smaller problems, so long as we can feel confident that every text sent to us will actually push through. Unfortunately, that is not the case as of right now.

Processor and memory

Not exactly a midranger

The Xiaomi Mi 4c looks like and is priced like a mid-range smartphone. However, it's equipped well enough to contend with some high-enders. The handset comes in two variants – Standard edition and Advanced edition – with the latter offering 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. Our unit is of the Standard variety – under its sleek plastic hood, it has a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 clocked at 1.8 GHz and coupled with 2 GB of RAM. The very same CPU can be found under LG's premium G4 smartphone, in a pricier package, but sans the bag of bloat and unreliable notifications issues, of course. We suppose the powerful SoC and healthy amount of RAM played their part in the handset's stable performance throughout – we genuinely couldn't get the Xiaomi Mi 4c to stutter and pant.

We did find downloading and installation of apps to take too long, however, and we can't be sure what causes this, but it's definitely a nuisance at times — especially when installing large games. There is also, of course, the ever-present sluggishness of the interface, which we mentioned earlier. It could be either the result of bad software optimization, bad implementation of Qualcomm's processor at work, or a mix of both.

Whether you choose the 16 GB or 32 GB option, know that you are stuck with it – the Xiaomi Mi 4c does not offer an SD card slot and the MIUI interface takes up around 4 GB of the storage space. So, effectively, the Standard edition has 12 GB available to the user, and the Advanced edition offers around 28 GB.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 53178
Xiaomi Mi 4c 51603.3
OnePlus 2 50188
HTC One A9 40632
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 2161
Xiaomi Mi 4c 2297.6
OnePlus 2 2258
HTC One A9 1078
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 4220
Xiaomi Mi 4c 4436.3
OnePlus 2 3479
HTC One A9 2331
Sunspider
Lower is better
Google Nexus 5X 650.5
Xiaomi Mi 4c 599.7
OnePlus 2 1236.9
HTC One A9 1712
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 38
Xiaomi Mi 4c 35
OnePlus 2 45
HTC One A9 16
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 16
Xiaomi Mi 4c 10
OnePlus 2 15
HTC One A9 6.6
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 1537
Xiaomi Mi 4c 1246.3
OnePlus 2 1068
HTC One A9 957
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 1179
Xiaomi Mi 4c 1251.3
OnePlus 2 876
HTC One A9 738
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 3379
Xiaomi Mi 4c 3093.3
OnePlus 2 3673
HTC One A9 3063
View all

Internet and connectivity


We found the Mi 4c's stock browser to cope pretty well with heavy, mobile-unfriendly websites. It also looks nice and navigates well – it's certainly a nice alternative if one doesn't plan to use the all-famous Google Chrome. Generally, web surfing is a stable experience, and we found we had faith in the Mi 4c's capability to take us through some heavy website-related tasks.

The handset supports dual-SIM, with both slots being situated on the same tray. Seeing as it's not built to be directly exported to the West, don't expect to be able to make use of its LTE connectivity in the States, due to band incompatibility. The supported LTE bands are FDD 1800/2100/2600, which means that the handset's 4G connectivity should work in most countries in Europe. 3G should work fine anywhere, however, as the handset supports WCDMA bands 850/900/1900/2100MHz.

Additional connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 n, A-GPS with GLONASS, and, of course, the USB Type-C port.

Camera

This was taken with a $240 phone?

The Xiaomi Mi 4c has a 13 MP sensor with an F2.0 aperture on its rear-facing camera, assisted by a dual-LED flash off to its side. There is no image stabilization to be found, but we can barely fault it for that, considering the device's price point and sleek form.

The camera's app offers a limited amount of shooting modes and some filters on top. Among the modes, we have panorama, HDR, manual mode, gradient (attempts to always keep the shot horizontal, no matter how you spin the phone), and HHT (for twilight shots). The app also offers manual exposure adjustment, though, this one is not the most comfortable to use. Basically, once a focus point has been set, the user has to spin the focus circle as a wheel in order to set exposure correction. This is a problem, because the camera app accepts a lot of swiping gestures — swipe left to get to filters, swipe right to get to modes, swipe up or down to change to front camera — so, often times trying to adjust exposure may result in an unwanted action. Last bad point about the interface – the camera app's sounds are very, very annoying.


On to image quality – we were pleasantly surprised by what the Xiaomi Mi 4c had to offer. Details in shots are often preserved very naturally, without a huge amount of sharpening going on. The pictures tend to look a bit cold, but colors are fairly close to what we see in reality. The sky will more often than not appear in its natural blue color, instead of looking like an over-burned white blotch in the background.

HDR mode definitely helps with the tougher scenes, where we have a mixture between light sources and dark spots. It tends to consistently oversaturate colors, but in most cases, the end effect is actually pleasant to the eye, giving one the option to get an "epic" look out of a scene (check photos 10 HDR and 11). Of course, there are also moments where it ends up looking a bit too fake – as can be seen in samples 3 HDR and 4.

The camera needs very steady hands once the sun goes down, however. It tends to keep the shutter open for a bit too long in dark scenarios, and if one is shooting in an uncomfortable pose, a low-quality, blurred photo is guaranteed, as can be seen in samples 31 and 32. In those shots, the photographer was standing still, hands as steady as possible — as one normally would — and we still got quite a bit of blur. We didn't get a chance to shoot a sample with the dedicated HHT mode (hand-held twilight), but we did manage to catch a very nice shot of a lava-hot sunset with the help of Manual mode – check out photos 29 Manual Mode and 30 to see what the snapper can do in such scenarios.

The selfie cam also performs quite well, giving us a very honest skin tone and a very good detail reproduction. Not only that, but it can hold its own in moments when there is light blasting in from behind the subject. As can be seen in photo 37, the fact that the sun was coming in through the window did not cause the camera to darken the subject's face to a point it's unrecognizable.

The panorama feature will remain mostly unused, we imagine – it covers a 180-degree spin and the end image has noticeable stitching all over.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 2.8
3.2
623
568
Xiaomi Mi 4c 2.8
4
No data
No data
HTC One A9 3.1
No data
662
459
OnePlus 2 3.7
4.3
No data
No data
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The Mi 4c can shoot videos with a resolution of up to 1080x1920 pixels. Just as with pictures, we have nice details mostly accurate, albeit a bit oversaturated, colors. The lack of stabilization hurts the camera here, as clips can very easily turn up to be shaky and nauseating to watch. The phone supports continuous autofocus, but we found it to be a bit too slow to work, and it often gets confused by different light sources. The same can be said about the tap-to-focus mode, but it is at least a bit more stable. The focusing issues can be observed in both of the outdoor sample clips below.

There are hyperlapse and slow motion modes for video shooting. The latter will only work if the video quality is knocked down to 720x1280 and will not record sound, nor will it let the user choose a part of the clip to run in normal speed, and a part of it to slow down.



Bottom line – we'd have to say that this is among the best cameras one can find on a $240 smartphone. Details are well represented, colors pop out, the skies remain visible, and there is a lot of control given to the user. Impressive!

Multimedia


The 5-inch screen on the Mi 4c is probably not the best choice for prolonged movie watching. However, for YouTube or social media clips, it does a good job, with its crisp ppi density and vivid colors. We also found it great for image browsing, for the same reasons.

The speaker also sounds quite balanced. It will not blow you away with bass, but it will thankfully not pierce through your eardrums with pronounced upper-range frequencies – something that a lot of smartphones tend to do. In extreme situations, where you have no dedicated speaker or headphones, you can listen to music on the Mi 4c and get a satisfying sound out of it.



Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
HTC One A9 0.928
OnePlus 2 0.91
Xiaomi Mi 4c 0.32
Google Nexus 5X 0.287
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
HTC One A9 72.3
OnePlus 2 76
Xiaomi Mi 4c 81
Google Nexus 5X 69.2
View all


Call quality


Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
We had no trouble understanding callers while using the Mi 4c. Voices would come through the earpiece loud and mostly clear, with minimum digitalization, and a slight lack of high frequencies.

On the other end, however, things were a bit worse. The Mi 4c's microphone delivers a weak sound, with a hefty dose of digitalization. As a result, words could get garbled. Making sure to speak loud and articulate fixed that issue, but we were ever-mindful of it.

Battery life

Slight letdown

Xiaomi Mi 4c Review
The Xiaomi Mi 4c packs a 3,080 mAh battery under its hood. One would think that a phablet-class battery would power the modestly-sized handset for a huge amount of time, but that didn't turn out to be the case in our battery life test. The Mi 4c lasted only 6 hours and 16 minutes, which is just about an average performance.

Now, in real life, the phone actually lasted for quite some time on a single charge. As we previously mentioned – it loves to clean up background processes when it sleeps for a while, so as a result, the handset is pretty good at keeping its charge while in standby. This means that with modest use, we could easily reach a 2-day battery life. With heavy use – we still felt very confident that the phone will manage to hold out through the day and have enough charge to make it to the wall socket at home.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
OnePlus 2 6h 38 min (Average)
Google Nexus 5X 6h 25 min (Average)
Xiaomi Mi 4c 6h 16 min (Average)
HTC One A9 6h 3 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
OnePlus 2 150
Google Nexus 5X 100
Xiaomi Mi 4c 142
HTC One A9 110
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Conclusion


The Xiaomi Mi 4c has certainly earned its number of praises – it's sleek and elegant, its user interface looks great, it packs some pretty respectable hardware, and has a very good camera, all for a price-tag of $240, sans shipping and tax. However, there are also a few downsides that we can't easily overlook. Now, we will not judge the handset based on the malware-infested ROM it arrived with, but we will have to make the point that buying it from a 3rd party retailer means that there is a good chance one will need to do a lot of tinkering with the handset before it becomes fully functional. There's also a lot of manual maintenance required if you wish the phone to work at its best – all things that knock off points from user-friendliness. Last, but certainly not least, we find the fact that the phone often refuses to accept push notifications a pretty serious offense, seeing as it's a device that's meant to work first and foremost as a tool for communication.

All that said, when it works – it works great, and when one puts the time and effort required to get the Xioami Mi 4c to function as required, it's nothing short of a bargain. However, due to the issues of chat and email notifications often not coming through, the amount of bloat that comes with the stock MIUI 7, and sluggish navigation response throughout the whole interface, we can't give it too much praise, or at least not at this stage. All that's left is to hope that some of these issues will be addressed in future updates.

The bottom line is this: If you are on a budget, want the best bang-for-buck, and don't mind to manually pamper the phone on a regular basis, the Mi 4c is certainly a hard choice to overlook.

Software version at time of review: Android 5.1.1 with MIUI 7.0.10.0

Thanks to GearBest.com for kindly providing us with a review unit.

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