Xiaomi is the 5th largest smartphone manufacturer and is very well known as the Apple of China. It has made a DABANGG entry in the Indian smartphone market by launching MI 3 through the Indian Retailer, Flipkart. The phone went out of sale within 5 seconds. However no one knows how many were actually sold. So it’s not wise to comment on whether its one of the means to create hype in the market. Anyways, its always better to know the phone well before we actually buy it. Let’s find out what the buzz is all about.
MI 3 has a metallic body with rounded surface on the sides and flat surface on top and bottom. The device has robust build quality. It is quite thick compared to other smartphones. The surface of the device provides a pretty good grip. But the phone does feel bulky at times to hold. The device has a LED indicator on top, next to the front camera. On the right side, we have volume rockers and power button. On the top, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack and a standard SIM Card slot. At the bottom we have the speaker and a standard micro-USB charging slot.
MI 3 has a 5 inch, 1080p display which is absolutely stunning. I won’t say it is the best but it is definitely comparable to the best. The viewing angles are great and even the touch is good. However, the phone is quite tall. It is taller than most of the flagship devices from other smartphone vendors. The length can sometimes, make it difficult to hold the device in the hand with ease.
Like all other Xiaomi smartphones and tablets, MI 3 also runs MIUI v5. MIUI is a rom developed by several developers. There are several regional based versions of MIUI rom which are available online. The Xiaomi smartphones, get regular updates which may be weekly or monthly. These updates will majorly fix minor or major bugs of the previous software. Major updates, such as KitKat upgrade won’t be released immediately. But something is better than nothing.
My device runs Jellybean but the Indian MI 3 comes pre-installed with Android KitKat.
Xiaomi brings in a touch of Apple in almost everything that they do. The MIUI rom is very similar to iOS. On the lock screen, we can get instant access to music or we can even open the phone, camera or messages app directly. There are no app drawers. The MIUI rom features number of home screens. All the applications are spread throughout various home screens, depending on the number of applications. This is very similar to iOS. Just like spotlight in iOS and Mac OS X, there is search bar in one of the home screen, which can be used to search anything on the device.
The folders look just like the folders on iOS 4. There are several system apps, such as MI Cloud, MI Credits, Updater, etc which come pre-installed. The Updater app allows user to update the ROM or install another ROM supported by the MI device. Since my device is a Chinese model, there are number of Chinese applications which come pre-installed. One of them is the Xiaomi Market, which is very popular in China. An application named Themes, comes pre-installed. It can be used to download new themes and change the look and feel of the device.
Multitasking on MIUI is different. No app previews are shown. Only application icons are displayed. A single kill all switch is also provided. Applications can be pulled down and locked. This prevents the application from getting killed, in case the kill all button is pressed. Applications can be killed separately by sliding the application up.
Notification Center has two tabs, i.e. Notifications and Toggles. Toggles can be changed based on your preferences selected in the Settings. Notifications tab shows all the notifications as and when they arrive.
- Games – The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 or NVIDIA Tegra 4 chip. Both these chips are very powerful and are capable of playing any game. I tried playing Asphalt 8, Don’t Touch the Spikes and Stick Tennis. All the games worked like a charm. There was no lag and the graphics looked stunning.
- Battery – MI 3 is packed with a 3050MAh battery. The device does total justice to the 3050MAh battery. It is large enough to suffice for a day with heavy gaming, internet, watching HD content, etc.
- Multimedia – The 5 inch, 1080p display, with 16:9 aspect ratio makes watching videos a mesmerising experience. The video looks great and the audio output is good. Video is rendered without any lags. Fast forwarding or rewinding the video is quick and I could hardly discern any lags.
- Browser – When I tested the browser, I opened around 8, multimedia rich websites. Scrolling was buttery smooth, all thanks to the Tegra 4 chip. The browser even handled the tabs very effectively. Switching between tabs was smooth and almost no lags at all. Overall, browsing on MI 3 was simply awesome.
- Camera – The rear camera may be 13MP but it decent. Nothing extraordinary. I know there are several factors affecting picture quality but somehow this camera did not perform well. During broad daylight, pictures are great but during low light, there is lot of noise in the image and the image lacks sharpness. Even it was very slow at auto focussing. Videos are of average quality. Contrast changes were too extreme I felt. But anyways, the cost also needs to kept in mind. For the cost this is a great camera.
MI 3 is a device with specifications which is comparable to most of the flagship phones, but what makes it uniques, is its price. At ₹14,000 ($232), no other smartphone vendor provides a smartphone with one of the best processor and one of the best display. MIUI ROM is great. Regular updates are provided. Although the camera is not that great, but it is pretty decent for the price at which we are getting the phone. MI 3 is definitely, one device which needs to be considered while buying a new phone.