Everything you need to know about the Xiaomi MI3

With the much talked about Xiaomi MI3 mobile going up for sale in the next few hours, let me jump in and discuss a few things in my mind about this device. If you are a power user and you root your Android mobiles for Installing custom ROMs, MIUI is no stranger to you. If not let me introduce MIUI. MIUI is the first product from the startup Xiaomi based in China. It is a custom ROM built on top of the Android platform. Like many other custom ROMs out there, MIUI has a lot of features which the official Android (AOSP) cannot and will not provide you. But MIUI is a class apart from all the other custom ROMs out there. It has customization capabilities like no other. It is very user friendly and user experience has always been at its center of concentration. Official and stable MIUI ROM is available for many leading mobile devices. Unofficial ports are available for almost all the devices in the market. To install the ROM, your device must be rooted and flashed with a recovery tool. If these words sound alien to you, never mind. Just keep in mind that MIUI is a great custom android operating system that can be loaded on any Android device.

Obviously me being a fan of the MIUI ROM and a senior member in the forum, I am completely excited about the MI3 mobile launched and made available. If you want a little history of this device, do read my previous post here.

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Xiaomi MI3 compared to other Chinese mobiles

There are zillion Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean mobiles available in India, including the likes of Samsung,  and Micromax. But whats Xiaomi brings to the table is a stable shelf life. Each device from  Xiaomi has quite a long production time, availability period and support time. The devices are not just supported by Xiaomi, but there are dedicated forums with bunch of enthusiastic developer who have created a healthy community for Xiaomi product users.

Cheap on price but not on quality

Usually Chinese mobiles are known for their substandard hardware and unstable software. Xiaomi is a company which pays attention to details. Every single hardware component used in the MI3 is of utmost quality standards. The processor is a Qualcomm snapdragon 800. The 2 GB RAM is DDR3 and not even DDR2. The internal 16 GB storage is from sandisk. The 13 MP camera sensor is Sony. The display is protected by corning glass. The body is made of metal and feels premium. Needless to say that the MI3 has the best of the best in all its heart and soul. But how did they still manage to peg it at a price point of Rs 13999.

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I met up with Hugo Barra, the Vice President of International operations and asked him the same question and here is what Hugo had to say (not the exact words) about the price of the device.

The MI3 is not a new device, though it may be new to India. It has been on the shelves since 8-9 months now. They have sold quite a number of devices and it is being mass manufactured now. Though it has all the high end specs, it is not the latest and greatest hardware. There are new and upgraded versions of the processor available right now. Also Xiaomi is a very aggressive company and wants to price this device aggressively. It has actually priced it at cost-to-cost in a hope to make it a competitive buy. Xiaomi is not selling this device through the regular sales channel. It is selling it online exclusively through flipkart and this is a major player in the low cost.

Well, that makes sense. Check out the comparison of MI3 with the other high end devices. It falls nothing short of those devices compared and yet it is priced very aggressively and that is an advantage to the buyers.

Flipkart vs Brick’n’Mortar

Flipkart has had some success stories selling mobile exclusively in its online store. Though this is a new trend, it is quite convenient for people who are comfortable buying mobiles online. But still there is a massive percentage of the population in India, who are not comfortable with online purchases. These people, especially from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities currently buy Chinese mobiles compared to big brands, especially for the price. They are ready to compromise on the quality just for the price. They normally don’t understand half the bullet points in a spec sheets. It all boils down to the final cost. This is where brands like Samsung and Micromax have been able to exploit them. My question to Hugo Barra was this and how would he want to reach out to these people.

I completely and whole heartedly agree to your point. Xiaomi is not a mobile device brand. It is a Internet company. We are selling our internet content to the people and the touch points are devices like the MI3. MI3 has had some great success stores in countries with similar economy like India and Xiaomi is here to replicate that. They want to sell a story rather than a device. This is a starting point and let us see where it takes us.

That being said, I hope that Xiaomi will make its devices available through the offline channels in the near future.

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Service centers and MI homes

Xiaomi has opened up 36 service centers in 20 cities at the time of the launch of its first device in India. Of these 2 centers are exclusive service centers. One in Bangalore and the other in Delhi. We all know that Xiaomi is trying hard to replicate Apple in every aspect and these service centers are no different. The MI homes are comparable to the Apple stores. If you have any issue with your Xiaomi device, these exclusive service centers will get it sorted out within a few hours and the other service centers are targeting to get your device back in shape at the least within the next working day. Hugo Barra said

…though this would mean high cost, Xiaomi is willing to pay to get it done. The hardware architecture of devices also make this possible. Xiaomi hardware engineers work closely with the service engineers and every feedback is taken into account…

Apart from Nokia, I have never seen such a commitment to service from any other manufacturer.

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Copying is a form of flattery

I asked Hugo Barra, why does all Xiaomi products look like Apple products? Why does Xiaomi copy Apple in every single step? This is what Hugo Barra has to say about this

When there is something good out there, why not replicate it and make it even better?

Xiaomi devices and software surely does draw a lot of inspiration Apple and that is just at the presentation level. In principle they are totally different. The operation system, MIUI is offers tonnes of features that is not present even Android, forget IOS. It gives the utmost freedom and control to the end user. The customization features, the privacy control and the sense of freedom is totally unmatched and this is coming from a MIUI user.

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The MIUI is a custom ROM that is built on top of Android. Though it is found by default in all Xiaomi devices, it is also available to any other Android device. It is currently on version 5 and with every version is there notable change to the user interface and loads of features added. The MIUI is known for its regular updates. It is as regular as every friday. Apart from those tonnes of themes and customization options, the MIUI brings in a lot of bold new features to your mobile. With a MIUI on your mobile you have the control of the apps that are running the background. You have the control over the permissions that each of the apps have on your mobile. You can fine tune and control them according to your preference. Even if you are not sure, MIUI can take care of it intelligently for you. With MIUI on your mobile you wont be needing additional software like Anti-virus, clean master, anti-theft, device locator, cloud sync, etc,. All these and more are built in to the ROM by default and if you don’t like them, you are free to uninstall any application. Go ahead, install the MIUI on your Android difference and feel the difference.

I would say that MI3 is a great device to buy, not just for the price, but also for the features, values and commitments it brings along. Incase you have missed the links mentioned in the article, here is it.

Xiaomi MI3 launched in India

MI3 compared to HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G2

Flipkart – Buy it online / MI India

MIUI India forum

Frequently Asked Questions – MI3

Xiaomi enters India, launching MI3 through Flipkart

Xiaomi (pronounced She-oh-me) is a Chinese mobile company that is known for its quality products priced to be affordable. Xiaomi is known for its propitiatory Android ROM, called the MIUI, among the developer community. Since the launch of the first Xiaomi mobile, they have made huge waves globally, epicentered in China. Though, Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi is known for replicating the Apple model right from Steve Jobs attire to the icons in his products, he is an icon of anti-consumerism in the mind of many business and tech pundits. His philosophy is that, one doesn’t need to burn his pockets to own a high end device.

Following the successful reception for the Android based custom ROM – MIUI, Xiaomo launched MI1 in August 2011. It was succeeded by MI2 in August 2012. It was a huge success. Xiaomi has sold over 10 million units in 11 months. Later in March 2014, the MI3 device was launched. It was a roaring success in countries like China, Singalore, Malaysia, Philippines. Following the MI3, 2 new low end smartphones and a tablet was launched. The RedMI 1S, RedMI Note and the MI Pad. The RedMI 1S is the little brother of MI3 and the RedMI Note is a 5.5 inch phablet.

Fun Fact #1: Xiaomi products are manufacture by Inventec and Foxconn, which manufactures Apple devices

Following its success in most of the Asian countries, Xiaomi has now landed in India. It aims to replicate the success by starting with the MI3, followed by the RedMI One, RedMI Note and also a host of other Xiaomi products.

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The MI3 is an exciting device. Though it is priced at just Rs 13999, its spec sheet matches most of the high end flagship devices. It runs on MIUI v5, which is based on Android 4.3. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad Core Krait 400 processor clocked at 2.3GHz. It has a dedicated graphics processing unit Adreno 330. It is 8.1 mm thin and weights just 145 grams, Its 5.0 inch IPS LCD full HD display has a high pixel density of 441 ppi. It has no memory card slot. Internally it has 16 and 64 GB memory variants. It has a 2 GB of RAM. It supports Bluetooth V4.0 with A2DP and has NFC and other standard connectivity capabilities. It’s primary camera is capable of 13 MP assisted by a dual LED Flash. It can shoot videos at 1080p@30fps. Its front facing camera is 2MP. It is powered by a non-removable 3050 mAh battery.

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Fun Fact #2: Xiaomi recently purchased mi.com domain for a whooping 3.6 million dollars, making the most expensive domain name in China.

Pre-registration for the purchase of Xiaomi MI3 starts today (July 14th) in India exclusively through Flipkart. The registration will close by July 21st and the device will be available for sale to everyone who registered, starting from July 22nd.

In addition to the MI3, the RedMI 1S and RedMI Note will also be available in India soon. They are priced at Rs 6999 and Rs 9999 respectively.

Here is a quick comparison of the MI3, RedMI 1S and RedMI Note specs.

 

Xiaomi MI3 Xiaomi RedMI 1S Xiaomi RedMI Note
SIM Mini-SIM Dual SIM (Micro-SIM, dual stand-by) Dual SIM
Dimensions 144 x 73.6 x 8.1 mm 137 x 69 x 9.9 mm 154 x 78.7 x 9.5 mm
Weight 145 g (5.11 oz) 158 g (5.57 oz) 199 g (7.02 oz)
Display Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Display Size 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.0 inches (~441 ppi pixel density) 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~312 ppi pixel density) 720 x 1280 pixels, 5.5 inches (~267 ppi pixel density)
Card slot No microSD, up to 32 GB microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal Memory 16/64 GB 8 GB 8 GB
RAM 2 GB 1 GB 1 GB
Bluetooth v4.0, A2DP v4.0, A2DP, LE v4.0, A2DP, LE
NFC Yes No No
Primary Camera 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Secondary Camera 2 MP, 1080p@30fps 1.3 MP, 720p@30fps 5 MP
OS MIUI MIUI MIUI
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8274AB Snapdragon 800 Qualcomm MSM8228 Snapdragon Mediatek MT6592
CPU Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A7 Octa-core 1.4/1.7 GHz Cortex-A7
GPU Adreno 330 Adreno 305 Mali-450MP4
FM Radio Yes Yes No
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3050 mAh battery Li-Po 2000 mAh battery Li-Po 3200 mAh battery
Price Rs 13999 Rs 6999 Rs 9999

The aggressive pricing of these devices are sure to send chills down the spine of other mobile manufactures. It has bought joy to most of us and if you are also really excited about the Xiaomi MI3, go ahead and register here. One thing is for sure. If you are an MIUI lover, like me, you will definitely love the user experience using the Xiaomi mobiles.

Hugo Bara, Vice President of Xiaomi Global, who is an ex-Google VP of Android platform will be in town and he is meeting us, a bunch of bloggers. If you have any questions or comments, do share you thoughts here and I will get it through to Hugo Barra and team MI India.