First of all, let’s get it out of the way that this phone will not be coming to the US or likely anywhere outside of China. It’s worth looking at, however, as Xiaomi grabbed the attention of the tech world recently when they hired away prominent Android VP Hugo Barra–something that, as we explained previously, has much farther reaching implications for Xiaomi than for Android. They also unseated Apple from the top spot for Chinese market share. So on their home turf, they are looking tough to beat.
It’ll take time for the new hire to bear any real fruit, but coupled with their existing dominance in China, it does leave Xiaomi as a company of interest in the coming years. Their latest flagship, the Mi-3, seems to confirm that they are a legitimate player.
Pricing is a good place to start with the Mi-3. The 16GB model comes in at the equivalent of just $327 and fairly a reasonable jump up to $408 for 64GB. Now assuming Xiaomi does manage to expand their reach in the future, I wouldn’t expect to see exactly that level of pricing maintained. But, I have little doubt they would put pressure on existing manufacturers.
The natural assumption for that price is going to be that you’re receiving a mid-range phone. But the Mi-3 specs sheet can go toe-to-toe with flagships from Samsung, HTC or LG. The Mi-3 comes with either Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 on China Unicom or with NVIDIA’s Tegra 4, depending on carriers. Any new phone sporting Tegra 4 is a score for NVIDIA in my eyes, as it is fairly scarce in the market. NVIDIA’s own SHIELD is perhaps the highest profile device with the processor, and only a few tablets and phones are utilizing it.
A 5-inch LG screen at full 1080p greets you when you power on the Mi-3. A 13MP Sony camera is in the rear with a dual-LED flash and a 2MP camera up front. A 3050 mAh battery should easily keep you going for a full day.
The downside for the hardcore Android fan will be that the Mi-3 is running Android 4.2.1 with the heavy MIUI skin over the top. It has its fans and is very customizable, but it’s a definite departure from stock Android. If you are interested, you can check out Xiaomi’s site to see what MIUI has to offer and you can even download the ROM for some devices.
All in all, the Mi-3 looks like a device I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection. Perhaps if I could scrap the MIUI interface, anyway. If Xiaomi continues to turn out hardware like this as they eye the global market, it could have a big impact on Android worldwide in the future.
They have also proven to me with this video that they can produce weird ads just like everyone else.
Particularly taking into account the price to spec ratio, do you think Xiaomi could ever convince you to buy into their skinned Android ecosystem?
Show Press Release
Flagship Phone From China’s Xiaomi Is World’s First With Tegra 4, Offers Unrivaled Gaming and Browsing
BEIJING—Sept. 5, 2013—NVIDIA today announced that the NVIDIA® Tegra® 4 mobile processor is powering the Xiaomi Mi3, which was unveiled in a major press event in Beijing.
Delivering superb gaming and lightning-fast web browsing, the flagship phone represents the first collaboration between NVIDIA and Xiaomi, one of China’s most innovative mobile device companies. The Mi3 will launch on China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, in October.
The Mi3 is the first phone powered by Tegra 4 – the world’s fastest mobile processor. It combines premium specs and features with all-day battery life. In addition to Tegra 4, it includes a 5-inch 1080p full HD display with 441ppi, 2GB RAM and up to 64GB of storage. The Tegra 4 processor offers record levels of performance and battery life with its 72-core NVIDIA GeForce® GPU, quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 and fifth battery-saver CPU core, also based on Cortex-A15.
The Tegra 4-PLUS-1™ CPU architecture offers proven battery life savings by progressively powering on each of its four main CPU cores as they’re needed for increasingly more demanding tasks, and relying on its fifth battery-saver CPU core for less demanding tasks and active standby mode.
With the Tegra 4 processor, the Mi3 delivers outstanding web browsing experiences, as well as video playback support with up to 4K resolution. Consumers also get best-in-class gaming performance with more realistic graphics, more challenging gameplay and access to specially optimized games for Tegra.
“The Mi3 with Tegra 4 provides an amazing experience that consumers will absolutely love,” said Lei Jun, Xiaomi founder and CEO. “We wanted it to be fantastic, and that’s why we partnered with NVIDIA. Tegra 4 provides performance and features never before seen in a smartphone.”
“The Mi3’s exceptional innovations demonstrate why Xiaomi has quickly become one of the world’s most important phone makers,” said Deepu Talla, vice president and general manager of the Mobile business at NVIDIA. “Its speed, capabilities and battery life highlight the tremendous experiences that Tegra 4 delivers to leading-edge smartphones.”