Planning to buy a Xiaomi MI3? This Short Review might help you!


Welcome to this review of the Xiaomi MI3. Before I get to the device, let me start you a quick overview on this company.

Xiaomi was founded in 2010 and they have reached great heights in just 4 years. They’ve brought together some real smart people from Microsoft, Google, Motorola Yahoo and other big players in the industry with a focus of making great stuffs at affordable prices. Mi 3 is Xiaomi’s highest performing smartphone and has been in news for a while now. They have a philosophy of selling devices directly to customers; that helps them manage to keep the prices competitive

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Hugo speaks about the strength of the leadership team at one of the press meets.

Alright, lets look at the device. First, through the specs.

1. Technical Specifications:

This phone has a 5-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display. Inside the box, you have a 2.3 Ghz Snapdragon processor and a 2GB RAM to match the processing needs. It has a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash and a 2MP front camera. Let’s talk about the camera functions and Battery life in a while. Other bits include a 16GB for storage (with a very good read speed), dual-band WiFi and NFC too. Given the 8.1mm body thickness, the 3,050mAh battery is quite impressive. – For a detailed Tech Spec Sheet, download this PDF.

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The specs looks really brilliant; almost in the lines of any top end Android Smartphones. So in the specs department, this scores a good 4 out of 5.

2. User Experience:

This phone runs on MIUI, An Android-based platform with a very user friendly experience and offering power users a high degree of customisation too. If I can summarize the User Experience in one word, it would be integration. Just have a look at this feature where when you call someone you do have an option of taking a quick note and record the call integrated so well. The presentation mode is yet another killer option. You just need to pull down an app icon and you get a quick preview of the app for easy access.

selective-app-cleanThough KitKat has a great feature of Garbage collectors, this simple trick of selective app kill is a slick one. You can pretty much choose which application to keep it running while you close the rest of them. You do have an option to clear app memory selectively or all together.

There are tons of more features which make this UI special and its definitely worth spending sometime on this.

Many a times it happens, with most of the vendor customizations of Android, the OS turns out to be too slow and less responsive. However, this one looks an exception; the phone is definitely much faster than the other ones in the market, especially in this segment.

security The MIUI gives you an option to control the data transfer on your mobile data; to add its not just about setting up the limit. You can pretty much drill down to specific applications and configure the data utilisation in it.

A very simple interface which shows what type of media is using up the most disk space; its not just disk, but also provides an option with both Application and Hardware Level details on Power usage.

Everything from what runs and what’s visible can be secured. Be it blocking application, or even secret messaging. This is a killer feature. If you scroll down your messages and keep doing it, it takes you to a secret messaging screen; It shows as a private message and sender when you add a contact as a secret contact.  You will see a review video in a couple of days. 

The phone supports themes out of the box, so you can easily customise the look by downloading one of the many themes from the MIUI theme store. The MIUI is currently running on Android 4.4.2 and we can expect a software update in the coming days.

In the UX department, I would rate it a 4 out of 5.

3. Camera

The Mi 3 comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture and dual-LED flash as well as a 2-megapixel front camera. The camera is pretty decent and does click pretty good pictures. The details of the photograph aren’t very sharp and they look a little high on contrast. Hugo was a big fan of the HDR results from this camera and I am quite happy of this camera.

Here are some sample pictures clicked out of this phone.

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The details are pretty impressive.

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In the camera department, I would rate it a 3 out of 5.

4. Display, Look and Feel, Call Quality:

With a 5-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display. The screen is really crisp and has some great viewing angles as well. The device feels very light; and though its made of plastic, it doesn’t make it look cheap at all. The quality still matches with premium smart-phones from other vendors. Most importantly its portable and the 5 inch screen doesn’t feel too big too. The call quality is pretty decent and the music on loudspeakers are good too. Its strange that the headset doesn’t come in the box; you will have to buy one separately for the same.

On the Looks, feel and Display, I would rate it a 4 out of 5 again.

Pros and Cons:

Great hardware, a fantastic User Experience and most importantly an attractive price are the Pros of this device. Talking about Cons, well, one thing which stands out is the lack of the external micro-sd cards and only 16GB version is available in India right now. With 16GB storage, the usable memory is just about 12 Gigs. I dont see this to be too big a problem, considering the options of OTGs and Cloud Storage. However, if you love using lots of apps and end up installing the same on this phone, you may see a little lag or disk space issues.

Value for Money:

Well, if you do a list check on the specs and the price, this phone sounds fantastic. Ofcourse, the bench-mark scores are also in its favour too.

The USP of this device is not its price; but the User Experience what the MIUI has to offer!

However, You can never buy a phone just because it has great specs. You buy it for its reliability, design, style and most importantly, the user-experience. I would say, the USP of this device is not its price; but the User Experience what the MIUI has to offer. Xiaomi has made a great hardware which runs their MIUI better; and they have managed to make something at a lesser price. I wont call it cheap, because the phone definitely doesn’t feel cheap at all.

So Summing up, this device scores a good 3.5 out of 5. If you are considering for more options, then OnePlus One is definitely another great device which you should look at. Read the detailed review of the OnePlus One to understand why its called a Flagship Killer.

Suggestion to Xiaomi:

  • In India, Most of us love to experience the device and then buy it. It becomes hard for people to just buy a cell-phone online with just its vibes or reviews. As much as I understand the users can be the best evangelists for Xiaomi, we will need to see more experience zones/stores where people can try these phones.
  • Smart Marketing of having a fixed set of units/slots is pretty good in creating a strong vibes and curiosity in the market; however, in a country like India where we have new devices coming in market almost every other day, people may lose interest in waiting to buy a Xiaomi MI3. So heaping up the stocks may certainly help.
  • Would love to see a Micro-SIM than a standard one in the next versions; and preferably a dual sim.
  • With the news of MI4 already in rumours, some people may just end up waiting for the next version to come up in the market. We need a little more focus on product launches and their timelines so that, it matches the global market.
  • We will need to see more service centers coming in different parts of the country to manage the problems if any. I would also love to see some statistics on how safe this phone is going to be.
  • Somewhere the entire product lines is impressed with Apple; be it the design, names or even the fonts. You need to have a differentiator to stand out in the market; that cannot be just the price. It has to be something more which you folks have to come up with. Otherwise, people are just going to call you, ‘Afforable Apple’.

btw, here are some questions which you folks had posted on Facebook.

  1. Native Fonts:  We are going to have support and translation for various Indian Languages. The forum has lots of information on that and how can you contribute in this effort. So if you are a language expert, you may be of a help there.
  2. Service Centers: Xiaomi has also set up 35+ service centers, with a quite a few more to come, across India including two exclusive Mi service centers in Delhi and Bangalore to ensure a robust after-sale service and a hassle-free customer experience. For the complete list of Service Centers, click here
  3. Updates – Android L :The Company is working on the latest kitkat update for their MIUI; and they are going to roll it out as soon as possible. They did accept that, they aren’t in the front seat on OS updates; but they are not behind.. when you compare it with other vendors.
  4. When are we getting 32gb and 64 GB versions of Mi3 in India?: NO, for MI3 we may just see the 16GB models. However, on the future releases we may see more variants coming up.
  5. Does the Phone have a Gorilla Glass? – Yes, the MI3 in India is going to come with a Corning Gorilla Glass.
  6. Chinese Texts in Presentations: The product team is now notified and they would update their presentation materials and videos to other languages to match the audience.
  7. Flipkart only or retail markets?: Well, if you are in India, you can buy a MI3 only through Flipkart. Flipkart is the launch partner for Xiaomi in India and I’m not sure if Xiaomi will be keen to have some retailers in India. at least, not right now. You can buy it from Flipkart here.

Here are some of the accessories for the MI3 and other phones from Xiaomi. Not all of them are available in India at this point of time.

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Additional Lens attachment for Wide Angle and Macro pictures.
Additional Lens attachment for Wide Angle and Macro pictures.

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Hopefully this quick review would’ve helped you in making a decision about this phone. Do let me know your thoughts and questions if any.