Xiaomi Mi 4i

When the Xiaomi Redmi 2 made its debut in March, my chief complaint was that having locked down the price for Redmi devices at $169, Xiaomi had no leeway to bring in better hardware for people like me, who are willing to pay a little more to get a whole lot more.

Now, two months later, Xiaomi has released the dual-SIM Mi 4i to cater to this very group.

It has a faster processor, bigger screen, bigger battery, better camera, twice the RAM, and more software features, all packed in a small lightweight package - for $110 more.

This gives the Mi 4i the most bang for your buck in any smartphone available. Singapore and Hong Kong are the first markets - outside of India - that the Mi 4i is available in.

The shell is polycarbonate and unapologetically plain. The power and volume controls sit at the right edge of the phone, with the camera and dual LED flash at the top left corner on the back.

A pin is required to extract the dual SIM card tray. Once both cards have been inserted, they can be organised by renaming the networks to something more familiar, to better manage the use of data, SMSes and calls.

Most notable of the improvements are the Live and Normal HDR modes. HDR, which involves taking a rapid-fire blast of multiple shots and blending them to form one image in which light and shadow are perfectly balanced, is now achieved almost instantaneously with software.

Of course, nothing beats the traditional way of actually taking the time for the hardware to snap several shots under different settings. Here, users get to choose speed if they do not mind losing out on quality (Live), or less software enhancement of pictures taken at a slower speed (Normal).

For selfie lovers, there is also a feature that attempts to determine your age using facial software. Everyone wants to look younger and the ongoing readout, which changes when you smile or turn your head, is a neat way to find a pose that registers a younger age when taking a selfie

The colours are not as intense as they should be, and you will get flare popping up from time to time when lights are in the frame.

If you are keen on the coloured Mi 4s launched in India, you are out of luck, as only the white will be released here for now.

The Mi 4i continues Xiaomi's efforts to create an affordable yet powerful smartphone.


This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.