Introduction

The Xiaomi Mi 4i was designed to be an affordable semi-flagship, but tries to punch above its weight. The Mi 4i is thinner, lighter and more connected than the original, and lands straight on Android Lollipop.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

The Xiaomi Mi 4i shares plenty of DNA with the original Mi 4, some of the hardware duly scaled down for affordability. The software though genuinely tries to make up for it. The Xiaomi Mi 4i boasts a premium 5" IPS 1080p display and a very capable 13MP camera, both shared with the flagship. The Snapdragon 615 chipset with an octa-core processor integrates Cat. 4 LTE with the added benefit of dual-SIM support.

The Mi 4i has to do without the top-of-the-line dual-glass chassis of the original, but its conventional polycarbonate unibody makes it thinner and lighter, without compromising looks and notably improving the grip. Bottom line, the Mi 4i is built to be cheaper but doesn't look it. Plus, you do get the latest MIUI 6 launcher on top of a buttery-smooth Lollipop OS.

Key features

  • Dual-SIM dual-standby capability
  • 5.0" 1080p IPS capacitive touchscreen, 441ppi
  • Octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU (4x 1.7GHz plus 4x 1.0GHz), 2GB of RAM, Adreno 405 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset
  • 13MP autofocus camera, dual-LED (dual-tone) flash; HDR, Panorama
  • 1080@30fps, 480p@120fps video recording
  • 16GB of built-in storage
  • Cat. 4 LTE (150/50Mbps); Wi-Fi b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.1; GPS/GLONASS; FM radio; microUSB
  • 3,120 mAh battery capacity
  • 3.5mm headphone jack, active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • Android 5.0.2 with MIUI v6.0

Main disadvantages

  • No memory expansion, limited maximum storage
  • No Gorilla Glass protection
  • No NFC; no IR port
  • Non-removable battery

The lack of a microSD slot and non-user-removable battery are bad news, but they come as no surprise given Xiaomi's track record. The lack of Gorilla glass display protection is a bigger concern though Xiaomi promises some scratch resistance for its Corning OGS panels.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i official pictures

Anyway, the Xiaomi Mi 4i wouldn't want to be remembered as the low-cost version of the Mi 4. It'll try and convince users it's a needed addition to the Mi lineup - with a more sensible styling but not entirely lacking appeal, and a level of equipment that's well above average in its price range. Let's see what it's really made of, shall we?

Special thanks to HonorBuy.com for providing the review unit.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Mi 4i

The standard retail box of the Xiaomi Mi 4i doesn't offer anything beyond the bare essentials. You get an A/C adapter and a USB cable, leaving the choice of headset to you.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The retail package

The guys at Honorbuy.com are sugaring the deal with a number of freebies, including a car charger, a compact capacitive stylus and a silicone bumper case if you order from them.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The extra accessories courtesy of Honorbuy.com

Xiaomi Mi 4i 360-degree view

Both Xiaomi Mi 4 and Mi 4i are built around the same 5" 1080p display, but the choice of materials is what made the difference. The Mi 4i stands at 138.1 x 69.6 x 7.8mm and weighs 130g, which is a millimeter thinner and 20g lighter than its dual-glass sibling.

Design and build quality

Xiaomi did its best with the Mi 4 combining curved glass with metal. The Mi 4i didn't qualify for the same premium treatment and got polycarbonate instead. But it works admirably for the Mi 4i, allowing it to be affordable without looking cheap.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i

The black and white combination used on the panels of Xiaomi Mi 4i works nice. The white rear cover somewhat reminds of the Mi 4, but is as good as smudge-proof and the matte finish provides excellent grip. Our only concern is that it might get colored if you put it in your jeans pockets as similar white polycarbonate bodies have shown in the past.

The front glass is of unknown origin, all Xiaomi says is the _phone_ uses Cornign OGS solution, but it's not Gorilla glass. It seems an extra screen protector would be a wise buy if you don't want to risk scratching your screen.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The front of the Mi 4i

5-inchers are commonly regarded as the limit for compactness and pocketability but the Mi 4i is thin enough and so light it doesn't have to worry about those things. Handling the Xiaomi Mi 4i is a pleasure, its matte polycarbonate body is soft and pleasant, while the 5" display can be operated with just one hand for most tasks.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Handling the Xiaomi Mi 4i

Yes, we like what Xiaomi did with the Mi 4i - in fact some of its aspects are better than the original Mi 4. Designed for affordable, the choice of materials is spot on and the _phone_ doesn't feel cheap at all.

Controls

The set of controls on the Xiaomi Mi 4i is pretty standard. Above the display, next to the earpiece, is the 5MP selfie cam alongside a couple of sensors. The front-facer is one of the downgrades from the flagship, which boasted an 8MP selfie camera.

Below the screen we find the traditional capacitive set of Task Switcher, Home and Back keys. The trio has white backlighting, which serves it well in the dark.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

A peek above and below the screen

The left side of the Mi 4i has the dual-SIM tray, ejectable with a small pin. Unfortunately, you can't opt for a microSD card instead of the extra SIM, a solution other makers are offering lately.

The right side features the glossy silver volume rocker and a Power/Lock key.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The left and right sides of the Xiaomi Mi 4i

The 3.5mm audio port is on top of the Mi 4i, while the primary microphone and the microUSB port are at the bottom.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The audio port is at the top, the USB port - at the bottom

Finally, the 13MP rear camera is at the back, accompanied by a dual-LED dual-tone flash. The original Mi 4 came with a single-LED flash, so the Mi 4i is slightly better equipped for low-light photography.

The loudspeaker grille is also at the back, towards the bottom.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The back of the Xiaomi Mi 4i

The rear panel of the Xiaomi Mi 4i isn't removable, which means you can't access the battery and swap it on the go.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi 4i features a similar 5" Full HD IPS display to the one we saw on the Mi 4. It has 441ppi for pleasantly sharp imagery. Unfortunately, the glass covering the display isn't scratch-resistant.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

The 5" IPS display Xiaomi Mi 4i

Taking a closer look at it under our digital microscope reveals a standard RGB arrangement of the sub-pixels that make up the Xiaomi Mi 4i LCD panel.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

The display on the Xiaomi Mi 4i has a lower maximum brightness level compared to the one on Xiaomi Mi 3, while retaining the same good contrast and colors.

Xiaomi is providing options for color temperature and saturation, so you can tweak the display to your liking.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Mi 3 0.18 142 809 0.61 557 907
Xiaomi Mi 4 0.17 164 940 0.73 679 929
Xiaomi Mi Note 0.09 130 1450 0.43 626 1453
Xiaomi Mi 4i 0.15 161 1063 0.51 542 1055
Oppo R1x 0.31 250 816 0.59 490 836
Samsung Galaxy A5 191 398
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 0.17 176 1012 0.74 828 1115
Xiaomi Redmi 2 0.3 273 943 0.58 561 974


The sunlight legibility has been slightly improved and the Xiaomi Mi 4i's screen performs very well outdoors. You will be able to comfortably see what's happening on the screen even on the brightest day.

Xiaomi has also included a display tech for boosting the brightness of darker areas of your screen to make them more visible when there's bright light source present. It's similar to what Sony has been doing with its flagships lately only here it works throughout the interface and not just in the gallery.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    4.485
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Sony Xperia Z3+
    2.824
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • vivo Xshot
    2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One M9
    2.334
  • LG G4
    2.317
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo R1x
    2.281
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
    2.149
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Acer Liquid Jade S
    1.734
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Microsoft Lumia 532
    1.615
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Microsoft Lumia 435
    1.598
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Connectivity

The Xiaomi Mi 4i supports 6 LTE bands and you can tap to an LTE network on either SIM, but the other will default to a GSM band. The Mi 4i also offers quad-band GSM connectivity and tri-band 3G connectivity with HSPA support.

The rest of the connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac support and Wi-Fi Direct. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and GLONASS, plus an FM radio.

A microUSB 2.0 port handles charging and data connections. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory over a USB connection. The microUSB port also supports USB On-the-go for connecting USB peripherals such as pen drives, keyboards or real USB hard drives.

Wireless screen mirroring is available via the Miracast protocol.

Battery life

Xiaomi has put a 3,120mAh battery inside the Mi 4i, a solid capacity for a 5" device. In our battery test the Xiaomi Mi 4i scored a 64h rating, which means you can count on a little over two and a half days if you do an hour each of calling, browsing and video playback a day.

Opting for using the device with just one SIM card active, you can squeeze a little more out of the battery. The single-SIM endurance rating is 67 hours.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

Our proprietary test also measures the battery draw in standby, which is not featured in the scorecard but is calculated in the overall rating.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties.

User interface

The Xiaomi Mi 4i runs on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop skinned with company's latest MIUI v6 launcher. The Xiaomi's customizations run very deep and replace everything including all Google services. In fact, the Mi phones sold in China don't have access to Google's services and those need to be sideloaded one way or the other (some resellers may even do that for you). The models sold officially markets outside of China come with the entire Google package pre-installed.

Xiaomi MIUI v6 completely overhauls the user interface and thus the Material Design is barely noticeable, though it keeps much of the layout and operational logic. Xiaomi make the UI flat and has put a huge effort to simplify it as much as possible without sacrificing much functionality.

The lockscreen has a clock in the top left corner - gone are the lockscreen widgets. To unlock the phone you swipe upwards and if you want a quick access to the camera - just swipe from the right side.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The MIUI v6 lockscreen

Beyond the lockscreen is the Android homescreen with four customizable shortcuts docked at the bottom by default, but you can dock up to five items. You can have any app there or even folders with multiple items if you will.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The MIUI homescreens • there is no app drawer

There is no app drawer - anything you install pops up on your homescreen, which can have unlimited panes. There're no shortcuts and the usual routine of removing icons (dragging them up to a recycle bin at the top of the screen) will uninstall the corresponding app. There is a pop-up for confirming the action though, so you can't accidentally uninstall apps.

Homescreen widgets are available, too - tap and hold on the homescreen, then choose Widgets. There are few options available, but of course, you can get even more from the Play Store.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Editing the homescreens • adding widgets

Homescreen effects are available and you can change themes, too. A theme will change your homescreen wallpaper, lockscreen style, system icons, system font and the sound profile (you can disable changing the sound profile from settings).

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Applying a new theme

The notification area has two semi-transparent tabs - the first one hosts all notifications, while the second one (swipe left to access) offers customizable quick toggles and a Settings shortcut. Unfortunately, you can't directly bring the toggles page with two-finger swipe from the top as it is with other Android devices.

An enhanced task switcher with Clear All option is available, too.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Notifications • Toggles • Task Switcher

Xiaomi provides its own cloud service for content syncing between devices. Each Mi Cloud account is granted 5GB of free storage. You can use it to backup contacts, messages, your entire gallery, call log, notes, settings, voice recordings, Browser content (history, tabs, webapp data) and your music library.

Xiaomi's sync and backup service shares lots of similarities with the Apple iCloud. There is even a free Cloud Messaging option that allows you to exchange messages over the internet connection instead of being billed for SMS, but that only works between Xiaomi devices.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Configuring Mi Cloud

Finally, if you signed in with your Mi Cloud account, you can opt for the Find device function - a handy feature in case you misplace your Xiaomi Mi 4i or someone steals it.

Xiaomi preinstalls Google Now only on its phones outside China, when they prepare them for international markets. At the time of writing this review the Mi 4i is only officially available in China, so all units you may come across lack Google Now.

We did get our review unit with pre-installed Google Play Store plus Google sync for app data, contacts, and browser data but perhaps they've been sideloaded by the reseller providing this review unit.

Of course, you can sideload them yourself one way or the other if they don't come pre-installed on your unit. And once you have those, you can easily download all other Google apps such as Google Now straight from the Play Store.

Performance

The Xiaomi Mi 4i is no powerhouse and its specs shout mid-range all-around, but it packs a high-res 1080p display, which may be a bit too taxing on the GPU. The Mi 4i is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC, which was created for the mid-range market. It consists of a total of eight Cortex A53 cores, four clocked at 1.7 GHz and the other four at 1.1 GHz. The GPU in charge of graphics is Adreno 405, which isn't very impressive, especially running at Full HD. Finally, there is 2GB of RAM.

Xiaomi pushed a major firmware update already, which should be fixing the widespread overheating issues. Indeed we tested the device before the update and it got so hot under CPU pressure that we became concerned for its well-being. The update tunes down the processor, when it reaches a temperature threshold and prevents the device for getting too hot. The Mi 4i still gets really warm, but now we are not afraid it will catch fire in our hands.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

It seems the latest generation Snapdragon chips are plagued by overheating issues and the only solutions is CPU throttling. While the 8-core CPU seems like a great on paper, especially with the high core clocks in the Mi 4i, it can only be unleashed to show its full potential for very short time periods.

We ran GeekBench 3 CPU test before and after the firmware update and we found out a firm 15% drop in the score. The Mi 4i still does OK - it offers almost the same CPU performance as other Snapdragon 615 devices (Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, Oppo R1x, HTC Desire 820). Yet four Krait 400 within the Xiaomi Mi 4 (Snapdragon 801) still do better than those 8 Cortex-A53 cores in the Mi 4i.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    3647
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    3175
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    2968
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    2880
  • Oppo R5
    2806
  • HTC Desire 820
    2586
  • Oppo R1x
    2507
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2375
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2336
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    1468

The compound AnTuTu puts the Xiaomi Mi 4i once again very closely to the rest of the Snapdragon 615 gang, though beating it by a hair.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    46666
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    34491
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    32217
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    31436
  • Oppo R5
    31417
  • Oppo R1x
    30187
  • HTC Desire 820
    27070
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    21562

Another compound benchmark we ran was the Basemark OS II. The Mi 4i did fine here, scoring the same as its chipset stablemates. The Sony M4 Aqua did slightly better, but it has the advantage of lower-res display.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    1324
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    930
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    883
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    843
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    786
  • Oppo R5
    772
  • Oppo R1x
    745
  • HTC Desire 820
    725
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    600

The Cortex-A53 per-core performance is similar to others available in this price range, beaten only by the faster Krait (Mi 4, Xperia Z1 Compact) and Cortex-A17 (Vibe X2). The multi-core score is rather disappointing for an 8-core processor though.

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2573
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    2571
  • HTC Desire 820
    1812
  • Oppo R1x
    1664
  • Oppo R5
    1657
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    1651
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    1572
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    1514
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    1453

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    13999
  • Oppo R5
    10000
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    9508
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    9284
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    8592
  • HTC Desire 820
    8453
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    7749
  • Oppo R1x
    7508
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    6172

GPU tests confirmed our suspicions - Adreno 405 is not cut out for high-end gaming on a 1080p screen. Here the Adreno 330 GPU performs twice as well. Look at the 1080p onscreen tests as the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua has a 720p screen, while the Xiaomi Mi 4i needs to render at 1080p natively.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    27.6
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    22
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    17.8
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Octa
    17.1
  • Oppo R5
    15.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    15
  • HTC Desire 820
    15
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    14.9
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    14
  • Oppo R1x
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    5.3

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    11.6
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    9
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    6.2
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6.1
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    5.84
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    5.8
  • Oppo R5
    5.8
  • HTC Desire 820
    5.7
  • Oppo R1x
    4.9
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    1.8

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    34
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    28.2
  • HTC Desire 820
    26
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    25.8
  • Oppo R1x
    20
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    15
  • Oppo R5
    14.8
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    9.6

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    17
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    12.2
  • HTC Desire 820
    12
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    11.3
  • Oppo R1x
    9.6
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    6.2
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    5.8
  • Oppo R5
    5.8
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    3.9

The Basemark X GPU tests gauges only the offscreen performance, where the Adreno 405 in the Xiaomi Mi 4i isn't at disadvantage. The competitors are not doing much better here.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6512
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    5105
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    4875
  • HTC Desire 820
    4859
  • Oppo R5
    4855
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    4802
  • Oppo R1x
    4018
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    1915

Moving on to web browsing tests, JavaScript performance is not spectacular, but it's OK.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    4747
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    6137
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    11439
  • Oppo R5
    11656
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    12266
  • Oppo R1x
    12826
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    13462
  • HTC Desire 820
    13568
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    13609

Still, general browsing the web is generally smooth and fast as BrowserMark 2.1 confirms. It puts the Mi 4i above a good number of quite powerful devices.

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    2211
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    1655
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    1396
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    1344
  • Oppo R5
    1319
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    1171
  • HTC Desire 820
    991
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    744
  • Oppo R1x
    627

The Mi 4i handles processor intensive apps well, though it does get rather warm. However for gaming we'd look for an alternative - the Adreno 405 is just not up to the 1080p task. The web browsing experience is solid, while the overall Android+MIUI experience is very smooth.

Contacts and telephony

The dialer and the phonebook share a single app although there are two shortcuts, bringing you straight to the tab you need. The app has been updated with the new flat looks, but everything else is the same. The app uses a tabbed interface - recent with dialer on the first and the contact list on the second.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The Phonebook

Contact info is displayed as a list of all available details. Custom ringtones can be selected for each contact and duplicate contacts can easily be merged into a single entry.

The dialer supports Smart dialing and works great - it's looking up both names and phone numbers so you always find what you need.

Xiaomi Mi 4i supports voice call recording and it can do it automatically on each call if you like. You can also assign an answer gesture, pre-define quick responses upon reject, there is even support for internet calling.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The Dialer

There are even more call settings if you dig deeper into the menu - flip to mute the ringer, turn on/off the proximity sensor, lock automatically once slipped in a pocket, it can even mute calls from unknown numbers.

Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Mi 4i scored a Below Average mark on our loudspeaker loudness tests, meaning you may miss some calls and notifications if you don't keep a close eye on it. The loudspeaker sound quality seems rather poor too.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 60.2 57.2 64.5 Below Average
Xiaomi Mi 4 62 62.1 66.6 Below Average
Xiaomi Mi 4i 63.7 65.7 68 Below Average
Oppo R1x 66.5 66.6 69.2 Average
HTC Desire 820 65.6 61.1 75.7 Average
Samsung Galaxy A7 64.8 66.3 73.5 Average
Lenovo Vibe X2 66 67.7 71.8 Average
Oppo R5 66.6 66.2 75.3 Good
Xiaomi Redmi 2 70.8 70.9 77.4 Very Good
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent


Messaging and email

The messaging department is pretty standard - there's a list of all bubble-styled conversations organized in threads, with New Message and Search keys at the bottom and a settings button next to it.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Messaging

Attaching multimedia to a message will automatically turn it into an MMS. You can add everything from photos, videos, audio to general files. There's even a full blown slide editor if you want to make full use of the MMS standard. The Attach location option is pretty nice too.

The Gmail app is pre-installed, but you can opt for Inbox, if you prefer, from the Play Store. The generic Mail app is capable of handling all kind of mail accounts, including Gmail, and it can handle multiple Exchange, POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Email

MIUI offers Google keyboard by default - it has always been pleasure to use and is one of the most preferred Android keyboards out there. On the Mi 4i screen the keys are comfortably large in both portrait and landscape mode. There is support for gesture typing, handwriting and voice input. Themes are available, too.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Google keyboard

Image gallery

The Xiaomi Mi 4i comes with a custom Gallery app with slightly updated flat looks compared to MIUI v5. It defaults to your camera roll with two shortcuts at the top that will take you to album view of your local images and album view of your cloud pictures. You can't change this view, nor can you customize the default folders.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Gallery

The available features when viewing a single image are pretty standard - share it, delete it, enter edit mode or just get more info.

The integrated editor offers various effects, frames, tools (crop, mirror, straighten, rotate, fisheye, doodle) plus light adjustments that let you bring out the shadows or the highlights.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Editing an image

Music player

The MIUI music player is a custom app with a well laid out, easy to navigate interface. It features twotabs - the first one is cloud music, similar to Google Music service provided by Xiaomi. It has similar subscription plans.

The second tab has your own local and cloud music.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Music Player

The player has cool effects, transitions and transparent elements, especially on the expandable Now Playing section.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Now Playing screen • Lyrics

Xiaomi's Music app offers customizable equalizers with a few default presets already available for use. You can also try Xiaomi's MiSound enhancer, which comes into play when you use headphones, and especially, a Xiaomi-branded set.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Audio enhancements and equalizers

Finally, you can edit song info and you can also enable automatic song info download in case the ID3 tags are empty. Lyrics can be downloaded, too.

Video player

Xiaomi Mi 4i doesn't features a separate video app, but you can use Explorer to find all of your videos.

The video player interface is very basic but there is rich video codec support. It managed to play everything we threw at it (including MKV and WMV files). The AC3 audio codec is supported too.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Video player

Subtitles and pop-up play are not supported by the MIUI's video player, though, so you might want to look around the Play Store if you need a more capable alternative.

Audio output is a very good

The Xiaomi Mi 4i did excellently when connected to an active external amplifier. Matching above average volume levels with spotlessly clean output, the Chinese midranger is certainly among the better performers out there.

Plugging in a pair of headphones lead to a moderate hike in stereo crosstalk but no other issues with the audio quality. Volume remains above average too, rounding up an overall very solid performance for the price range.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Xiaomi Mi 4i +0.02, -0.07 -92.2 90.4 0.0041 0.011 -93.5
Xiaomi Mi 4i (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.07 -92.3 90.4 0.010 0.039 -50.1
Oppo R1x +0.01, -0.04 -93.5 92.9 0.0010 0.400 -94.7
Oppo R1x (headphones attached) +0.22, -0.03 -92.6 90.4 0.0029 1.144 -69.8
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua +0.02, -0.06 -89.0 90.1 0.0031 0.0096 -90.6
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua (headphones attached) +0.12, -0.03 -83.6 90.2 0.017 0.081 -56.2
Samsung Galaxy A5 +0.02, -0.07 -94.5 91.4 0.0044 0.012 -93.8
Samsung Galaxy A5 (headphones attached) +0.23, -0.11 -92.4 90.4 0.017 0.190 -44.1
Samsung Galaxy Alpha +0.01, -0.04 -96.6 92.8 0.0058 0.0091 -97.1
Samsung Galaxy Alpha (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.01 -95.7 92.7 0.013 0.033 -65.6

Xiaomi Mi 4i frequency response

Xiaomi Mi 4i frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Great 13MP snapper

Xiaomi Mi 4i features a 13MP camera, equipped with a dual-tone LED flash, a somewhat surpring upgrade over the Mi 4's basic LED flash.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

The camera interface is fairly simple, though it has certainly changed since MIUI v.5. Now you have three panes - the default one shows the viewfinder with a virtual shutter, flash trigger and front camera key. Slide to the top pane and you'll get a choice of 12 filters with live previews. A slide to the bottom hides the advanced modes such as Panorama, Refocus, Delay Shutter, Highlight tones, Hand-hand twilight, and Manual.

The HDR switch is now placed next to the virtual camera shutter and offers Live HDR, Enhanced HDR, and Off modes.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Camera UI

The Manual Mode offers you manual settings for white balance and ISO. The Face Detection switch is within the additional settings.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

More camera settings

The Xiaomi Mi 4i resolves plenty of detail and the noise levels are kept very low. The white balance is pretty accurate and we like the lively color rendition. The dynamic range is above average, too. Overall the processing is really mature and we consider those samples among the best 13MP ones we've seen so far.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i camera samples

The HDR mode is available in Live and Enhanced modes, but we suggest using only Enhanced. While you won't be seeing the HDR effect in real time, the results are much better. The Enhanced mode is conservative enough and rescues both the highlights and shadows without making a flat contrastless mess out of the image. Those aren't the best HDR photos we've seen, but they certainly are among the better ones.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

HDR off • HDR live • HDR enhanced

Panorama shots are available too. You can capture both landscape and portrait panoramic photos with a 180 degree field of view. Shooting is easy but the stitching takes a while to complete. The end result is rather disappointing though - the landscape shots come in 2250x400px pixels while shooting in portrait mode results in the more usable 1980x720px. The image quality is quite poor.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i panorama samples in landscape and portrait modes

Xiaomi Mi 4i features a 5MP front-facing camera for high-res selfies. The images come out nicely detailed. This camera is among the best front snappers we've met - with excellent color rendition and the high level of resolved detail.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

A 5MP camera sample taken with the front camera

Photo comparison tool

The Xiaomi Mi 4i is more than capable of pulling its own weight in our Photo Comparison tool. You can see it puts up an excellent fight against the other snappers we've tested and comes on top even against some far pricier options.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Xiaomi Mi 4i in our photo quality comparison tool

1080p video recording

Xiaomi Mi 4i camcorder has the same UI as the still camera. It supports slow-mo (the result is a 720p@16fps video) and time-lapse videos with customizable snapping interval.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Camcorder UI

The Xiaomi Mi 4i is capable or recording up to 1080p@30fps. The bitrate of the video recordings is poor at about 15 Mbps, while audio is captured at 96 Kbps with 2 channels (stereo).

The resolved detail in the videos is modest at best. The colors and contrast are good and the framerate is smooth and consistent at 30fps. The dynamic range is above average.

And here is a 1080p video we've uploaded on YouTube.

You can also download the 1080p video sample taken straight off the Xiaomi Mi 4i.

Video quality comparison tool

Here the Xiaomi Mi 4i enters our video comparison tool. There are plenty of 1080p camcorders you can compare it with. It resolves an average level of detail, but contrast and colors are good.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Xiaomi Mi 4i in our Video quality comparison

MIUI Browser

The Xiaomi Mi 4i comes with the feature-rich MIUI Browser, now with new flatter looks. It does a great job browsing, it syncs with your Google account and supports downloads, there is a night mode, too. It is as almost fast as Chrome, but does not support Find on Page.

On the positive side, it has a built-in Reading mode, which isn't available in Chrome. It enlarges the text font and strips away unneeded elements, leaving only the article you are reading in focus.

The aforementioned Night Mode, which is something we really miss in Chrome. It inverts the background and font colors and is easier on the eyes at dark rooms.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Mi Browser • Night Mode • Reading Mode

Unfortunately, the MIUI Browser, even though updated, still had issues with some pages and our battery-test browsing script. That's why we suggest you install Chrome, at least as a backup, just in case you need to avoid crashes or you need to find something on a page. Plus it can sync with your Google account easily.

Other pre-installed apps

The Xiaomi Mi 4i offers a great file managing app called Explorer, which lets you browse the files in its internal storage and groups them by type.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Explorer

The MIUI v6 also offers a Security app. It can scan your phone for malware, manage your blocklist, manage or restrict your data usage, configure battery behavior, clean some RAM, it can also manage the permissions of your installed apps.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Security app

The custom and now flat Calendar looks good, syncs with your accounts including Google, and offers Day and Month views.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Calendar

Xiaomi Mi 4i features the WPS Office suite, which supports creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt).

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

WPS Office

There are also the standard sound recorder, notes, flashlight, calculator, clock, and weather apps, among others, that are a given in any self-respecting Android package nowadays.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Voice recorder • Notes • Calculator • Weather

We really liked the new Compass app. It has very nice and clean interface, shows the directions and doubles as level. If you lift the phone up then you'll get a nice augmented reality view with real-time directions.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Compass app - compass, level, VR directions

Once again, if Google Maps, Drive, or any other Google-related app isn't installed on your unit, you can get it for free from the Play Store.

Final words

The Xiaomi Mi 4i bridges the gap between the flagship Mi series and the Redmi lot, a likable gadget but not in the sense of a pet - it may be an affordable phone but not underpowered and full of compromise. No, on paper everything seems near perfect for the Mi 4i.

And for the most part, the Xiaomi Mi 4i lives up to its promise. Its 5" 1080p screen is great and the imaging department is quite capable as well. Both the 13MP primary unit and the 5MP selfie cam produce good images with great detail and subtle processing. The thoughtful design results in a great handling experience, the connectivity options are above average, and the battery backup is solid.

Xiaomi Mi 4i

Among the few things the Mi 4i didn't get right video recording stands out, alongside the speaker quality and loudness. The higher clock speed of the CPU cores is causing some excessive heating. Occasionally, the Mi 4i would get dangerously hot and Xiaomi must've been aware of that. A firmware update arrived while we were testing, which did slightly improve the situation although at the expense of some performance.

This is the first Xiaomi phone to run Lollipop, but the MIUI 6.0 skins it inside out , so you'll be hard-pressed to spot many differences compared to, say, a Mi Note running KitKat and MIUI 5. The new stuff is under the hood, battery and performance optimizations. The OS is silky-smooth, while the latest MIUI is beautiful and capable.

Let's check out our key test findings.

  • The Xiaomi Mi 4i has great build quality and attractive design.
  • The 5.0" IPS screen is bright and offers great contrast and colors, and the sunlight legibility is above average.
  • We rated the dual-SIM battery endurance at 64h, while the single-SIM rating is 67h.
  • Great connectivity options including LTE and dual-SIM. NFC is missing though.
  • The simplified MIUI interface is based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, has better flat looks, and offers rich customization and security options. You may need to download Google's default apps separately though.
  • The Snapdragon 615 chipset isn't top of the line, but sounds great for a mid-ranger. Unfortunately, the high-res screen cripples the overall GPU performance - this isn't a phone for gaming.
  • We rated the loudspeaker loudness and quality as below average.
  • Video player has rich video codec support, as well as seamless 1080p video playback. It only lacks subtitles support.
  • Audio output quality is excellent, the Hi-Fi output is the loudest we've met
  • The camera is quite good, with sharp and detailed images, great dynamic range and noise is kept in check. Built-in HDR mode does a nice job, too.
  • Video recording quality is so-so: passable 1080p videos, no 60fps option.
  • The front 5MP camera is great for selfies, but lacks auto-focus - that's not necessarily a bad thing as it allows for a much shorter shot-to-shot time.

Snapdragon 615-powered smartphones are multiplying by the day and the Mi 4i isn't short of competition. We've had the chance to test a few of those and we can say choosing the right one isn't a simple task.

Recently we reviewed the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, a water and dust proof 5-incher, with great design, powered by same S615 chip and matching the camera - but not the screen - resolution. While the 13MP images aren't as good as Xiaomi Mi 4i's, you can shoot underwater too, which is nice.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual

The stunning Oppo R1x is another 5" smartphone running on a S615 chip, with unique gemstone effect on its back and superb handling. It is a near perfect match for the Xiaomi Mi 4i, except it cannot quite meet its bargain price and thus you must really like the premium design to consider it.

Oppo R1x

Oppo R1x

The Samsung Galaxy A5 will give you a 5" Super AMOLED screen, but it comes with sub-par resolution and a less capable Snapdragon 410 chipset. The camera, video recording and multimedia performances are excellent, as is the battery life. The slim design with metal frame is nice, but we aren't sure those are worth the sharpness sacrifice.

The Lenovo Vibe X2 is another stand-out mid-ranger with enough horsepower under the hood. It's another match for the Mi 4i - a 5" 1080p display, a 13MP rear camera, an 8-core processor and Android Lollipop. Lenovo has been giving us a lot of great phones lately, so the tri-color Vibe X2 is a must-check before making any decisions.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos

Samsung Galaxy A5 • Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos

Finally, if you need an even more affordable Xiaomi, the Redmi 2 would serve you great too. Opting for the original and more expensive Mi 4 is also an option, but it heats up too, so you won't be avoiding those issues.

Xiaomi Redmi 2
Xiaomi Mi 4

Xiaomi Redmi 2 • Xiaomi Mi 4

Overall, most people are likely to have relatively low expectations of a phone like the Xiaomi Mi 4i. Some of them will probably be surprised at it actually over-delivering. Not if you've had any experience with Chinese brands of Xiaomi's level. Affordable without feeling cheap, the phone does most things quite well: design, including the interface, connectivity with dual-SIM support and excellent still images. Not everything is perfect but when you're not paying over the odds mistakes are very easy to forgive.

Special thanks to HonorBuy.com for providing the review unit.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Mi 4i

The standard retail box of the Xiaomi Mi 4i doesn't offer anything beyond the bare essentials. You get an A/C adapter and a USB cable, leaving the choice of headset to you.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The retail package

The guys at Honorbuy.com are sugaring the deal with a number of freebies, including a car charger, a compact capacitive stylus and a silicone bumper case if you order from them.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The extra accessories courtesy of Honorbuy.com

Xiaomi Mi 4i 360-degree view

Both Xiaomi Mi 4 and Mi 4i are built around the same 5" 1080p display, but the choice of materials is what made the difference. The Mi 4i stands at 138.1 x 69.6 x 7.8mm and weighs 130g, which is a millimeter thinner and 20g lighter than its dual-glass sibling.

Design and build quality

Xiaomi did its best with the Mi 4 combining curved glass with metal. The Mi 4i didn't qualify for the same premium treatment and got polycarbonate instead. But it works admirably for the Mi 4i, allowing it to be affordable without looking cheap.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Xiaomi Mi 4i

The black and white combination used on the panels of Xiaomi Mi 4i works nice. The white rear cover somewhat reminds of the Mi 4, but is as good as smudge-proof and the matte finish provides excellent grip. Our only concern is that it might get colored if you put it in your jeans pockets as similar white polycarbonate bodies have shown in the past.

The front glass is of unknown origin, all Xiaomi says is the phone uses Cornign OGS solution, but it's not Gorilla glass. It seems an extra screen protector would be a wise buy if you don't want to risk scratching your screen.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The front of the Mi 4i

5-inchers are commonly regarded as the limit for compactness and pocketability but the Mi 4i is thin enough and so light it doesn't have to worry about those things. Handling the Xiaomi Mi 4i is a pleasure, its matte polycarbonate body is soft and pleasant, while the 5" display can be operated with just one hand for most tasks.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

Handling the Xiaomi Mi 4i

Yes, we like what Xiaomi did with the Mi 4i - in fact some of its aspects are better than the original Mi 4. Designed for affordable, the choice of materials is spot on and the phone doesn't feel cheap at all.

Controls

The set of controls on the Xiaomi Mi 4i is pretty standard. Above the display, next to the earpiece, is the 5MP selfie cam alongside a couple of sensors. The front-facer is one of the downgrades from the flagship, which boasted an 8MP selfie camera.

Below the screen we find the traditional capacitive set of Task Switcher, Home and Back keys. The trio has white backlighting, which serves it well in the dark.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

A peek above and below the screen

The left side of the Mi 4i has the dual-SIM tray, ejectable with a small pin. Unfortunately, you can't opt for a microSD card instead of the extra SIM, a solution other makers are offering lately.

The right side features the glossy silver volume rocker and a Power/Lock key.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The left and right sides of the Xiaomi Mi 4i

The 3.5mm audio port is on top of the Mi 4i, while the primary microphone and the microUSB port are at the bottom.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The audio port is at the top, the USB port - at the bottom

Finally, the 13MP rear camera is at the back, accompanied by a dual-LED dual-tone flash. The original Mi 4 came with a single-LED flash, so the Mi 4i is slightly better equipped for low-light photography.

The loudspeaker grille is also at the back, towards the bottom.

Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i
Xiaomi Mi 4i

The back of the Xiaomi Mi 4i

The rear panel of the Xiaomi Mi 4i isn't removable, which means you can't access the battery and swap it on the go.

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