Two of the hottest Android smartphones to arrive of late are both made by Chinese manufacturers, and both can be had for around $300- $350 price point. Mobile Geeks compare the new Xiaomi Mi4 and the OnePlus One, letting you know which one is really worth the money.
If ever there were two companies that represent the truly disruptive force of Chinese manufacturing, without doubt I would point to Xiaomi and OnePlus. Both of these companies are designing, manufacturing and retailing what we have now come to regard as ‘Flagship Killer’ smartphones. As you may have guessed the term ‘Flagship Killer’ refers to a smartphone that has all the bells and whistles in hardware terms that you would expect to find on a flagship device like the Samsung Galaxy S5, but retailed for a price that is considerably less than you would expect.
Xiaomi are actually based in Beijing and have been around since 2010, making a name for themselves initially with incredible value smartphone offerings like the iconic Mi1 and RedMi smartphones which combined decent hardware and an excellent Android UI experience, with ruthlessly aggressive pricing.
OnePlus have only been in existence for a few months and are closely connected and backed by Oppo, a major player in the smartphone market of China. The OnePlus One was launched as a ‘Flagship Killer’ in the company’s viral social media campaign, touted as a genuinely outstanding device that would compete with the current crop of Galaxy S5s and Xperia Z2s – but retailing at a substantially lower price of only $299.
Xiaomi Mi4 vs OnePlus One: Video Comparison
Check out the video below where our buddy Sascha dissects the pros and cons of the two devices in some detail:
Arguably the OnePlus One stole some of Xiaomi’s thunder, with the One smartphone putting the Xiaomi Mi3 in the shade somewhat. We see the new Mi4 from Xiaomi as their new weapon in the battle for ‘Flagship Killer’ supremacy. The Mi4 is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor (currently the fastest mobile chip around), packed with a generous 3GB of RAM, plus a 13MP camera on the rear and a 8MP camera on the front. On paper the Mi4 looks like a great phone.
For a more detailed breakdown of where the Mi4 sits in terms of the current crop of top tier phone, check out the full specifications table below which shows all the key specs of the Xiaomi Mi4 side by side with the OnePlus One and the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2.
Xiaomi Mi4 - Flagship Specifications Comparison
|Xiaomi Mi4||OnePlus One||Samsung Galaxy S5||Sony Xperia Z2|
|Display||5.0" 1080p IPS LCD|
|5.5" 1080p IPS LCD|
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|5.1" 1080p Super AMOLED|
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|5.2" 1080p IPS LCD|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801|
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 801|
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 801|
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 801|
|RAM||3GB DDR3l||3GB DDR3l||2GB DDR3l||3GB DDR3l|
|Storage||16GB / 64GB||16GB / 64GB||16GB / 32GB||16GB / 32GB|
|microSD||No microSD Support||No microSD Support||Up to 128GB||Up to 128GB|
|Cameras||13MP & 8MP||13MP & 5MP||16MP & 2MP||20.7MP & 2.2MP|
|Dimensions||139.2mm x 68.5mm x 8.9 mm||152.9mm x 75.9mm x 8.9mm||142mm x 72.5mm x 8.1mm||146.8mm x 73.3mm x 8.2mm|
|Weight||149 grams||162 grams||145 grams||163 grams|
|OS||Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat||Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat||Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat||Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat|
|UI||MIUI v5||CyanogenMod 11S||TouchWiz||Sony Xperia UI|
Design and Build Quality
When it comes to device design and build quality, Xiaomi and OnePlus are both displaying some serious talent. The OnePlus features a quite unique finish on the back cover which on the Sandstone Black version we have here in the office, is actually reminiscent of fluffy stone. The white version uses a coating made from cashew nuts and kind of feels like a babies ass. I know that will sound odd, but in truth the back cover of the One is incredible to the touch, certainly one of the best feeling phones we have tested. The One feels exceptional in the hand – truly professional, really well made.
Like-wise the Xiaomi Mi4 is a great feeling device too, even if it does actually border on iPhone clone territory. The chassis carved from one piece of aluminum, backed by a metal frame, so we end up with a solid device that will indeed remind you of the iPhone and its signature uni-body design. It is a very attractive and well made device, but it does kind feel a bit too Apple-inspired for me personally.
Result: OnePlus One Wins
In previous years a Chinese-made handset of any kind would not be expected to compete too well on the basis of raw processing power. Many of the earlier devices we saw arrive from the Mainland used inferior processors from RockChip, MediaTek and others. Today’s crop of top-tier smartphones from China are an altogether different kind of beast. The Mi4 and the OnePlus One both use the current performance leader in the mobile processing space in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.
The Snapdragon 801 is a quad-core system-on-chip with peak clock frequencies of 2.5GHz for each of its four Krait cores accompanied quite possibly by the best performing integrated graphics chip with the Adreno 330. You are also getting a substantial 3GB of RAM on both devices. In our experience the Snapdragon 801 will give you the best mobile experience in terms of general performance and also in terms of 3D gaming. In a side by side comparison between the two, our benchmark testing revealed very little difference between the Mi4 and the One. Check out the benchmark scores below:
There are plenty of new battery technologies on the horizon, including True Lithium batteries, flexible batteries and more, but for the here and now, we will have to make do with the more mature Lithium-Ion technology that we have been using for quite a while.
The Xiaomi Mi4 (3080mAh) and the OnePlus One (3100mAh) have almost the same battery life, but we found the OnePlus One to have the edge in our testing despite the OnePlus device having a slightly larger 5.5″ screen. In our test we ran a 1080p MP4 video in a loop for one hour using MX Player. WiFi was turned off, brightness was at full and the hardware acceleration was enabled in the media player. The result was that after one hour the OnePlus One had 90% battery remaining, while the Mi4 had only 87%.
Result: OnePlus One Wins
The topic of the rear mounted cameras can be rather complex and is one that we plan to explore in more detail in subsequent article. In general however, neither of the cameras arrays on offer here can be said to be truly industry-leading. After using the Sony Xperia Z2, LG G3 and Nokia Lumia 930, we can’t help but feel a little disappointed by these 13MP cameras.
Check out the comparison pics taken with the 13MP rear cameras:
Xiaomi Mi4 Front Camera
OnePlus One Front Camera
The original photos can be downloaded here.
Both smartphones rely on Full HD IPS LCD panels and are actually quite close in terms of quality. They are extremely luminous and easy to read even in bright sunny conditions, plus the viewing angles are also great on both the One and Mi4. I can not complain at all here with either of these displays, but ultimately the display of Mi4 seems a little more colorful and, of course, due to its slightly smaller size, the pixel density is also higher, making the Xiaomi just a touch crisper than the One.
Result: Xiaomi Mi4 Wins
Software: MIUI vs CyanogenMod 11s
In the past Chinese manufacturing often took an almost indifferent approach to the Android UI, with most handsets using a very basic vanilla flavor that lacked the attention to detail and flair of the Google Nexus experience for example. The Mi4 and the OnePlus One however, are great examples of how that has all changed. The Mi4 has its MIUI while the OnePlus One has its CyanogenMod 11S – both of these UIs look fantastic, offer plenty of cool customization options and a solid collection of installed apps without any bloatware.
In terms of a winner, I find almost impossible to decide. I have been a long term fan of CyanogenMod, and although the 11S version of the One is touch sensitive when it comes to gesture control, it is a great UI that I would recommend. The MIUI has been the UI have used most in 2014 thanks to the Xiaomi Mi3. I really like it and cannot praise the efforts of Xiaomi enough. The themes are wicked, the security is tight, apps look great – it’s a great all-round Android experience.
Price / Performance Ratio
The pricing on both of these devices is the key reason why we refer to them as ‘Flagship Killers’. The OnePlus can be difficult to get hold of directly from the company itself who still persist with an invite scheme that has infuriated some potential buyers – but at $299 for the 16GB version (64GB is $349), you may well be inclined to persist. It’s an absolute bargain.
The Xiaomi Mi4 is available in China for 1,999RMB ($325) for the 16GB, 2,499RMB ($405) of the 64GB version, so a little pricier than the One. Xiaomi do have a reputation for slashing prices after launch however, so you can expect those prices to come down as the months go by. It can be had from 3rd party vendors online, but will cost a bit more than the advertised price in China.
Either way both these devices are very, very aggressively priced and well worth the asking price.
The OnePlus One wins our comparison with 7 points compared to the 5 points of the Xiaomi, and is also my very personal favorite. This does not mean that the Xiaomi Mi4 would be bad choice – indeed it is just a shade behind the One. In truth both of these smartphones are absolutely sensational and show that the future of high quality and affordable handsets is looking good with Chinese companies like OnePlus and Xiaomi shaking up the high-end market with these incredible offerings. Long live the Flagship Killer!