Xiaomi Mi3, the much hyped phone arrived to my doorstep a few days ago and this phone is selling like hot cakes on Flipkart. Recently, this phone was out of stock in 2 seconds on Flipkart, why? Jaw-dropping specs at low price. Who wouldn’t buy a phone which has high-end specs similar to Nexus 5 and costs half than Nexus 5.
I have spared enough time to test this device and found many positive points and a few negative ones too. In this post I have written my opinion/views as a review and should help you decide whether to buy this phone or not.
- 5.0 inch Full HD IPS LCD capacitive display (441 ppi screen density)
- 13 MP rear camera with image stabilisation. 2 MP front facing camera. Full HD 1080p video recording.
- 2.3 Ghz Krait 400 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.
- Adreno 330 GPU.
- Android 4.2.2 (MIUI).
- Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
- 16/64 GB storage models. Only 16 GB available in India.
- 2 GB RAM.
- USB OTG support.
- 8.1 mm thin. Premium build quality and looks.
- Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer.
- Dual Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G
- 3050 mAh battery capacity.
- No external memory card slot.
- Heats up a lot.
- Mediocre camera performance in low-light.
- No 4G.
- Strange error discovered.
Unboxing and Design
This phone is a premium build. Most of us believe that it’s an aluminium build but it’s plastic over aluminium, you will never feel it plastic-y like Samsung phones. The phone comes with power brick, USB cable and manual in the box. You have to buy earphones separately!
Design: The phone is very sturdy to hold and impressive to looks. On the front side, there’s no hardware button. Three touch capacitive buttons are at the bottom. As its backside feels metallic, the phone is very slippery. The bezel is very big if compared to Nexus 5 which has 5.0″ display too. Phone has three hardware keys: 2 volume rockers and a power button. Power button feels soft and loose, this might be the case with my Mi 3W. With just 8.1 mm thickness with weight of 145g, the phone feels very light in hands. On the bottom there’s a laser-drilled speaker grill and a re-inforced MicroUSB port with steel plate.
I was very much impressed with the build quality of this device and it’s breath-taking to see this at this price. Mi3 is available in three colors: Black, grey and white. But in India, there’s no second option to Metallic grey. Watch the time-lapse/stop-motion unboxing video of this phone below.
Display and User Interface
Display: Mi3W has a vibrant IPS LCD display. With resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and pixel density of 441 ppi, the display is very sharp and clear. Display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and uses Single Glass laminating technology which delivers same brightness at less power.
As the phone has got ultra-sensitive touch-screen, you can use it while wearing gloves (Tested: You have to press the display harder, This should be used occasionally). Glove mode can be enabled in Settings, Don’t use it more as this consumes more battery power. One more point to be added: When the screen is dimmed to the lowest at night, it feels pleasant for eyes and I didn’t have to install Screen Filter app for this purpose. Also, as far as screen brightness is considered, Display was very dim at the max brightness under sunlight.
Interface: MIUI, which you can rightfully say an iPhone rip off. It looks similar to iOS but obviously, it’s running on Android KitKat. MIUI is beautiful and snappier than Samsung and LG’s UI. If you don’t like the current theme of MIUI you can change it completely by downloading new themes.
It comes with a “Security” app pre-installed which is pretty nifty as it’s backed by Clean Master. There tons of additional features and apps which come pre-installed with MIUI. One of the very interesting, IMO, is “Connection speed” in notification bar. I could also customise my capacitive buttons, Now pressing and holding home button opens multitasking menu and holding back button force closes an app.
Even after configuring animations scale to .5x, Slow animations are irritating at many times. In short, Not as snappier as LG Nexus 5. With the current update (or I have noticed it lately), I have discovered a very annoying bug with its Display which I will discuss at the end of this post.
This 13 MP camera does its job very well in daytime. Low-light performance of mobile camera has always been an issue, and this device is not an exception. Camera app has got two modes to choose from: Simple mode and Advanced mode. Simple mode is for those who want to get the job done and Advanced mode boasts a few more yet professional features. From focus mode to Exposure time, you can set the setting for the best image quality. 2 MP Front camera has a fascinating feature. When you hold your phone to take a selfie, it guesses person’s age and gender. Definitely it doesn’t work accurately but it’s a fun addon.
- Panorama shot.
- Real time HDR.
- Filters and voice capture.
- Focus modes: Auto, Macro and Manual.
- Manual Exposure and ISO settings.
- Custom exposure and white balance.
- Face detection and face recognition.
- Volume buttons work as camera shutter.
Video: Recording video on MI3 is a good experience. It can capture video at Full HD resolution and sound quality is very good. Capturing images while recording a video isn’t a big deal these days. It can shoot time lapse videos at different intervals. Even the front facing camera can shoot Full HD videos.
Antutu score at the time of first boot was 32413 but at present, After installing tons of apps/games and filling this phone with music and videos to test its performance to core, Antutu score saw a fall by 6k, placing it at 26219.
Performance scores are just technical terms, real fun is in actually using the device. I could easily browse 16 tabs without any straggle. Till date, I haven’t found any lag in performance or game rendering except that strange bug which I am going to discuss later in this post. Backed by 2 GB of RAM and a powerful Snapdragon 800 chip, the phone is blazingly fast. You can’t call it a mid-segment device as far as performance is considered. Playing intensive games (Asphalt 8, Blitz Brigade, Clash of clans, Shadowgun) was a butter-smooth experience. Thanks to Adreno 330 GPU!
When harnessing Mi3 to do intensive tasks, phone gets heated up on top, near earpiece. While playing the low-end games or using apps like Instagram, phone gets heated upto 70 degree Celsius which is unbearable. With that much heat, you cannot make or receive calls with phone’s earpiece. You can choose from 2 (earlier 3) performance options: Normal and Perform.
Mi3 produces decent sound through its laser-drilled speaker grill. But for your information, only left half serves the purpose as a speaker. Dirac sound for earphones works well with a few earphones. I tested Dirac sound enhancer with my Nexus 5 earphone, Apple iPod earbud and Audio Technica M50. I didn’t feel any huge or impressive effect with ATH-M50 and Apple earbuds with any of the seven settings.
But Nexus 5’s in-earphones from LG worked wonders with “Xiaomi earbuds” setting. Bass was just fantastic. Conclusion: Dirac sound works with selected and very few earphones.
Call clarity: Surprisingly, dual-mic noise suppression works impressively well. Unfortunately, vibration isn’t that strong as it should be.
MIUI Built-in Apps and Features
It has got Mi Cloud app which is extremely very similar to Apple’s iCloud. Apps like Clock, Recorder, FM Radio (works without AUX cable), Calculator, Compass and contacts are exceptionally beautiful. Built-in support for USB OTG is an addon as you don’t have to root and install any third party apps to connect a pendrive or mouse to Mi3.
There’s a very good feature in MIUI, called Guest Mode. Upon tapping Guest app icon, you enter guest mode, in which user can’t view calls, pictures, messages, notes and launcher settings. A must-have feauture for those who share their phone with friends for showing something.
This phone can last whole day with normal to aggressive use. 3050 mAh battery capacity has made this phone a beast. Technically its stand-by time is 500 hours. In my case during tests, It lasted more than 24 hours with 10% battery left. Refer screenshot.
A very strange activity on Mi3’s display
This is a very strange bug and I am seeing this for the first time in any Android device. This must be a hardware issue, looking forward to Xiaomi’s answer to this strange error. Update: On 10th Aug, I received an update (12 MB) which solved this issue and left Mi3 with another weird bug.
Sturdy build, impressive looks, super-charged specs, heavy duty battery and cheap price. You cannot ask for more now. Maybe that’s why this phone went out of stock in 2 seconds on Flipkart’s latest sale. Xiaomi’s Mi3 is a must-have phone for those who want high-end specs, premium design at very low price. Seriously, If you are looking for a mobile phone under Rs. 25k (400 USD approx), Mi3 should be your first choice. Specs are similar to LG Nexus 5, MIUI is butter smooth (until I hit that strange activity) and 13 MP camera make this phone a fair deal.
There’s still a mentality that Chinese phones do not last long. Those were unbranded, local stuff without warranty. Xiaomi is China’s one of the leading mobile phone and accessory manufacturer.
Considering everything in mind, I give this phone 3.5/5 stars. Deducted one star mainly because I experienced that
strange activity on screen time bug on lock screen, heats up a lot and half because it doesn’t sport a Micro-SD card slot.
Verdict: Strongly recommended at this price, unless it’s bug-free. Make sure you can contact Xiaomi service centres if you experience any hardware issue. Do write your views about this review in comments section below.