Today saw the official launch of the new Xiaomi flagship smartphone, the Mi4. Allow Mobile Geeks to bring you all the details from the launch in Beijing which, while yielding some minor disappointments, also showcased one really beautiful looking device. Introducing the Xiaomi Mi4 in all its glory!
We have heard plenty of rumors about the device in the last few days, but in a press conference in Beijing just moments ago, Xiaomi top brass took to the stage to launch the latest effort, and also bring us all up to speed regarding what the Chinese manufacturer has achieved in the last few months in terms of sales and market share.
CEO Lei Jun Sets the Scene
The event kicked off with some quite abstract ideas, just to get us in the mood and remind us why many commentators regard Xiaomi as the Apple of Asia. Founder and Xiaomi icon Lei Jun, took to the stage in his signature, Steve Jobs-inspired outfit:
To get us deeper in the mood we have some very inspirational slides that remind us that Xiaomi are a new breed of disruptive technology manufacturer – as if we would ever forget. Anyway, some interesting marketing going on for a Chinese company. The central philosophy of the company is to forge broadening access to a high quality Internet experience, so that everyone can use high-quality devices that Xiaomi make available at very low prices.
Lei outlined the path to success that Xiaomi have enjoyed, with steady and aggressive growth for both units sold and revenue. The latter may well a response to critics of the company who have questioned actual sales revenue in the past.
Then we were presented by a slide highlighting the positive sales figures in H1 of this year, making comparisons with the same period last year. In terms of phones sold, the company saw a 271% increase, with revenue increased of 149% for the same period. A strong message to investors and competitors alike.
Then we were treated to information regarding market share. According to Xiaomi the company now enjoys a 50% share of the top ten Android brands. I think the point they are trying to make is that in terms of popularity, they are doing very well. I’m not sure I fully believe a slide that tells me that half of the top ten smartphones is a Mi device, the other half are Samsung. Stats can be misleading, no?
So finally we get to the main even with a preamble that talks about Xiaomi’s previous smartphone designs. Interesting to see that the RedMi is still their most successful device at 17.9M devices sold.
Xiaomi Mi4 Takes a Bow – No QHD Display, No Snapdragon 805
So we finally get to confirm a few specifications that have been leaking across the web these last few days with our first full and detailed run down of the new Xiaomi flagship the Mi4. At first glance we are actually a touch disappointed. The rumors of a 2560 x 1440, QHD display were clearly a bit premature as we see the Mi4 adorned with a more standard 5 inch 1080p panel. The display is a made by JDI (the same guys who are responsible for the OnePlus One 5.5 inch display) and is fully laminated. In terms of processor, here too we feel a little down-hearted to see the current top-end Snapdragon 801 take pride of place. The Snapdragon 805 will display just have to wait.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 however is regarded as the best performing SoC on the market right now, so we shouldn’t be too miffed. It’s also backed by a generous 3GB of DDR3L and supports eMMC memory meaning the that 16GB and 64GB models will enjoy really fast read and write speeds compared to previous generation devices.
Xiaomi Mi4 Camera
In regards to the camera setup on the Mi4, we had been led to believe that the rear facing sensor would be a high-end 16MP, but in fact we see that we are getting a 13MP rear facing camera backed by a very healthy selfie cam in the form of a 8MP cam on the front.
The Mi4 supports a high dynamic, intelligent flash, which flashes twice before synthesizing a single shot using both. The photos can then enjoy dynamic lighting effects, restoring the environment with the real color enhancement. The idea is that the target object and background can be captured at optimal brightness.
The Mi4 has a 13 million pixels Sony IMX214 stacked II camera, rear 6P lens, F1.8 large aperture, plus hardware-level real-time HDR and support for 4K video recording. Pretty slick.
Here we have some example photos of the Xiaomi Mi4, which look great. They are of course marketing photos however, so as stunning as they look, we should see them for what are. But hey, it is all good marketing in my book. Nothing wrong with showing stunning photos.
As regards the battery,we also learned that Xiaomi are also talking up a fast charging feature that allows 9v 1.2A charger to charge up to 60% in just one hour and a full 100% charge in 2.5 hours. This is compared to achieving only a 40% charge in one hour and a full charge taking 3 hours on a standard 5v 2A charger. Quick charging chargers will be available from Xiaomi of course.
So now can finally appraise the device in terms of its overall design and build. We can see from these marketing pics that the actual design of the Mi4 is very much a departure from the Mi3. The Mi3 had very distinctive rounded edges, but the Mi4 has edges and corners that on first glance seem to be almost Apple inspired.
Xiaomi Mi4 Full Specifications
- 5 inch 1080p display (1920 x 1080)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core 2.5GHz
- 3GB RAM
- 16/64GB eMMC Internal Storage
- 13MP Rear Facing Camera
- 8MP Front facing Camera
- 3G plus Global LTE Support
- Micro SIM
- 3,080mAh battery
- Android 4.4
- MIUI V5
It is good to see, as a regular and loyal Xiaomi Mi3 user that the power and volume rocker switches have again been placed on the right-hand edge of the device. Consitency is a powerful thing and I appreciate the efforts to remain consistent with this decision.
Xiaomi Mi4 Photo Gallery
Xiaomi Mi4: Stylish Back Cover Options
One other cool feature, which again kind of feels a touch borrowed from OnePlus, is the idea of replaceable back covers. These include a range of very attractive designs that simply look great.
There is also a feature that means you can operate the Xiaomi Mi4 when wearing gloves. Very useful in most of Asia, which enjoy some pretty harsh Winters. It’s kind of similar to what we saw demoed on the Nokia Lumia 920 last year. Full details about this feature have yet to emerge, but we are guessing it has its origins with the JDI panel.
The company also included a slide that talks about ‘wet finger tracking’ technology which allows you to operate the touch screen of the Mi4 even with wet hands. Great for use in bathrooms obviously.
Plus there is the integration of a more powerful IR laser which promises to be able to control several devices around the home including the TV, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi and even power outlets and lighting. We sense the digital home here.
Xiaomi also launched their debut wearable fitness wristband. The Mi Band is the first digital wearable from the company and it will be available for only US$12.80. Apart from that we don’t have too many other details.
The Mi4 will retail for RMB 1,999 in China (US$322) for the 16GB version and RMB 2,499 (US$400) for the 64GB version of the Mi4. These are very similar prices we saw for the Mi3 when it first arrived. It has subsequently been slashed to as low as $235 since launch, so perhaps we can expect the same thing to happen in the coming months to these Mi4 prices. Demand will be high for the Mi4, but I hope that we can still get our hands on one ASAP.