Decent battery life
Heats up after long usage
No microSD card slot
Xiaomi Mi3 is a full-fledged smartphone especially designed for the one who is looking for the cheapest option with top-of-the-line specifications. However, its limited availability is still an issue which would shift a large number of customers towards inferior options.
As we have seen through the previous pages, Xiaomi Mi3 features solid built quality with premium finish and has high-end camera capabilities. The company claims that the Mi3 can accelerate its users life. So here we are getting deeper to know that how the it can accelerate life in reality.
At first glance, the Mi3 flaunts with a 5-inch display on its front. The display does not have a Super AMOLED screen and instead equipped with an IPS panel, but one cannot easily judge any difference except viewing angles. The company claims it as a Retina display, however, we are quite sure that this claim could only make some conflicts when the Mi3 will reach in the US market. Having said that, the top-notch 1920 x 1080 pixels (full-HD) resolution available on the JDI screen is just perfect when we take a look at the pixel construction. This resolution on the 5-inch screen size makes 441 ppi pixel density which is available across high-end smartphones. When we tested the sunlight legibility, we were quite impressed as the available ambient light sensor gives accurate data to the screen for increasing brightness to the peak and it results visible on-screen content under bright sunlight. Moreover, the viewing angles are also close to perfect but here we cannot make any comparison with Apple’s Retina display or Samsung’s Super AMOLED display.
The display supports multi-touch inputs with up to ten points simultaneously. Aside multi-touch, there is an option to enable glove touch mode which enhances the digitiser sensitivity to get inputs even when users are wearing gloves or using the display through a stylus.
On the software front, Xiaomi has provided Android 4.4 KitKat operating system on the Indian version of its Mi3 smartphone while there was originally Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system available on its Chinese counterpart. There is MIUI version 5 skin on the top of Android operating system to give an iOS-like experience on the Google’s open-source platform. This skin provides a new design over stock Android but consumes a large amount of RAM on regular basis. The company promises to provide future updates, and it had provided several bug fixes and improvements bundled updates on our review unit at the time of our testing. Users can visit Mi forums to request new features and to report bug fixes as well, although we are not sure that uptil when the company will keep its services like today.
When we say iOS, it means that there is no app drawer and four dock icons are available at the bottom – Phone, Contacts, Browser and Messaging. The screen unlocker has a clock widget on the top and users can easily go to Phone, Camera and Messaging apps apart from unlocking the smartphone right from the lockscreen. A few more customisation options are also available on the lockscreen to give a fresh feel over stock Android.
The notification panel on the MIUI skin has two tabs for opening notifications and toggles. Users can easily add or delete toggles from the panel and some customisation options are also available to make alterations on the status bar. On the homescreen, users can easily add widgets and folders apart from app icons, which came up by default. Furthermore, some similarities can be found when comparing with the homescreens on iOS. These similarities include a real-time Calendar icon and Weather icon that provide current information.
Xiaomi has provided some of its pre-installed apps on the Mi3 in India. These apps include Mi Cloud, Mail, Updater, Clock, Recorder, FM Radio, Torch, Calculator, Compass, Downloads, Read Me, PonPonTile, Security and MiTalk. Apart from Xiaomi apps, there is a pre-installed Google apps package which has all the available Google apps such as Gmail, Google Chrome, YouTube, Google+, Google Maps and Google Play Store among others. Unlike its Chinese version, the Mi3 in the Indian market does not have Mi Market for downloading specially designed Mi apps.
For making voice calls and sending text messages, there is nothing new. Here, the Mi3 has a similar Phone app and Messaging app which is available on the stock Android. On some tweaks part, there is an option to record in-call audio, smart dialling keypad and an ability to block calls and messages. Xiaomi believes that Google keyboard is just perfect for the Mi3 and this is the reason that there is Google keyboard apart from SwiftKey keyboard for typing. As the display size is quite fair, long-hour typing is not an issue on the Mi3 and if it is in any case, users can easily plug-in their normal keyboard using a USB On-the-Go (USB OTG) cable. During our testing process, we have not found any issue on the part of call connectivity and signal strength across Indian telecom operators. The smartphone supports mini SIM card, does not have a microSIM card or nanoSIM card slot, but there is a SIM card adapter available in some retail units for easy switching.
Apart from usual text messaging, Xiaomi has provided its Mi Cloud integration to give MIUI Cloud Messaging support. This is somewhere similar to Apple’s iMessage, but on the contrary part it stores user data on a Chinese server. Users can either use their phone number or an email ID for signing up on the MIUI Cloud Messaging and can thereafter easily start their conversations without even spending a single penny from their tariff plans. The cloud integration also helps users in taking schedule backups.
To give real feel of MIUI skin, Xiaomi has provided its Themes app on the Mi3. This app connects with a web store that has several themes for the Mi3. These themes include special regional themes and even has an iOS6 theme to give complete iOS-like experience. Furthermore, users can also make some alterations with adding their own sound profiles.
For multimedia entertainment, the Mi3 has pre-installed Music and Videos apps. These apps can easily play almost all the available audio and video formats. The speaker at the bottom produces enough loud audio after getting commands from Texas Instrument-made 2W audio amplifier to give decent audio experience in a silent environment. But users could require an external audio output to add their friends in the list of listeners.
The Mi3 has a pre-installed Explorer app for exploring internal storage as well as external devices or thumb drives which are connected via USB OTG cable. The app provides users an option to easily move content from one place to another and it also comes with KuaiPan sync support for syncing their content across multiple devices.
Xiaomi has provided its Security app on the Mi3 which allows users to clean RAM and internal storage, to view and track data usage, to set a block list, to enable power saving options, to scan for app permissions and to scan for viruses. In short, Security app on the Mi3 is a one-stop place to provide all the security features.
For web browsing, the Mi3 has a pre-installed proprietary Browser app as well as Google Chrome. Both the web browsers support almost all the web formats and come with multi-tabbing support. The web browsing experience on the Mi3 during our testing process was just buttery smooth with no issue or glitch even when we surfed some heavy websites. Users can also use incognito browsing on any of the two browsers to hide their web browsing history. Lastly, the large-sized display helps in providing all content clearly visible on the screen.
Though we believe on actual performance rather than benchmark apps, some of our readers may quite interested in knowing the benchmark results of the Mi3. For all those readers, we installed some popular benchmark apps on our Mi3 unit to bring out its results. We installed AnTuTu 4 Benchmark, Quadrant Standard Edition, Vellamo Metal benchmark, RealPi Benchmark, NenaMark 2.4 and 3DMark. On AnTuTu 4 Benchmark, the Mi3 overall scored 27040. When tested on Quadrant Standard Edition, the total scores of the Mi3 stood at 13630. On Vellamo Metal, the smartphone resulted 1280. On RealPi Benchmark, the total elapsed time recorded at 10.37 seconds. When tested on NenaMark 2.4, the Mi3 resulted 60fps frame rate. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, the total scores were 14978. Overall, the Mi3 gave high-end performance across all these benchmark apps.
On the part of actual performance, we tested the Mi3 by playing some high-end games which require heavy graphics. These games include Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour and Need for Speed Undercover among various others. We have not found any lag on playing these titles which are enough for testing a mid-range smartphone.
The specifications of Xiaomi Mi3 includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8274AB) SoC which is equipped with a 2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU, Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of SK Hynix DDR3 RAM. There is non-expandable 16GB SanDisk eMMC storage on the Indian version Mi3 while a 64GB version is also available in the Chinese market. The chipset is connected with some high-end antennas to provide high-end connectivity options, including Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, NFC and a microUSB port. With these specifications, the smartphone can easily stood in line of some high-end smartphones.
The Mi3 packs with a non-removable 3050mAh lithium-ion battery which provides enough juice for about two days against mixed usage. Considering the high-end specifications, the battery backup on the Mi3 is fair enough.
That said, the Mi3 has all the things which are required in high-end smartphone, starting from MIUI skin to high-end specifications. The affordable price tag is another aspect of the Mi3 which is the main reason behind its enhancing demand in the global markets.