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Gone in 38 minutes! The Chinese phone that's taking India by storm

Last updated on: July 24, 2014 21:51 IST

Gone in 38 minutes! The Chinese phone that's taking India by storm

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Zopper.com

Here's why the Xiaomi Mi3 is not just another made-in-China smartphone. An online retailer’s servers crashed when it went on sale recently. Here’s why the Indians are lapping it up!

Xiaomi is finally in India and has been stirring up quite the amount of attention with its Mi3 smartphone. While yet another Chinese manufacturer selling budget devices is nothing new, for India or the world, Xiaomi’s Mi3 offers amazing performance and hardware, a full HD display, stellar battery life, a 13 megapixel rear camera, a magnesium alloy body that is still incredibly sleek and thin, and much more for just Rs 13,999.

Yes, that’s correct -- there’s now a device that’s vastly more powerful than anything that Motorola, Asus, Karbonn, Lava, Samsung, etc. offers at the same price.

Just how much more powerful is it and what else can you expect for this price?

What is there to look forward to in terms of Android functionality especially since the Xiaomi Mi3 sports a custom interface and no KitKat?

Does it really take the best selfies? How long will that hardware last in terms of battery life?

We take a closer look at the Xiaomi Mi3 and examine the top ten things you should know about it.

Make no mistake: it’s not perfect. But you’ll be surprised just how much you’re getting at this price.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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The most powerful budget smartphone

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Karbonn, Micromax, Lava and many more have been working to compete against the Motorola Moto G in terms of performance and value for money. The Moto G sports a Snapdragon 400 CPU with 1 GB of RAM and while the recent Asus Zenfone 5 trumps it successfully in terms of performance, the Xiaomi Mi3 blows away both devices.

This is because it’s the first smartphone at this price point to sport a Snapdragon 800 CPU clocked at 2.3 GHz with 2 GB of RAM and an Adreno 330 GPU.

Considering the Snapdragon 600 hasn’t even begun to make its way to budget smartphones, that’s a significant achievement indeed. There are lots of other ways the Xiaomi Mi3 trumps the Moto G but first and foremost is in terms of performance.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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Snapdragon 801 CPU (Sort of)

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Speaking of the Snapdragon 800, Xiaomi lists the Mi3 as featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8274-AB clocked at 2.3 GHz. This contains a quad-core Krait 400 CPU, arguably one of the fastest mobile processors out there, and is commonly acknowledged as a Snapdragon 800.

However, this chipset is actually a Snapdragon 801 since it’s the only SoC to have that model number.

It’s important to note that the Snapdragon 801 is technically a Snapdragon 800 but with the capacity for higher clock speeds in the CPU and GPU. So it’s likely that Xiaomi didn’t think it important to mention about the difference.

Qualcomm has already confirmed that the 8274-AB comes under the Snapdragon 801 line-up, making Xiaomi’s Mi3 the cheapest Snapdragon 801 smartphone in the world. It would even slightly exceed the Google Nexus 5 in terms of performance due to a higher CPU and GPU clock speed.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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Tougher than you think

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When most people look at ‘tough’ smartphones, it’s often important to seek out the IP-certified devices.

For example, the Sony Xperia Z2 features an IP55 and IP58 rating, making it dust resistant and waterproof up to a certain depth and time frame.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is rated IP67, which means it offers dust and water resistance.

The Xiaomi Mi3 may not have revealed its IP rating (if it even has one) but the sheer build of the device is incredible to behold.

Its entire frame is made of magnesium alloy with each layer -- from the display to the hardware and then the back panel -- coated with thermal graphite. This ensures that it takes a great deal of punishment.

If you’ve seen the HT One M7, you’ll notice the laser-cut speaker grills at the top and bottom.

The Xiaomi Mi3 has those as well with 120 grills at the bottom of the device.

It also measures 8.1 mm, making it one of the thinnest budget smartphones currently available.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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No Android 4.4 KitKat? No problem

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Xiaomi hasn’t yet indicated when the Mi3 will be upgraded from Android 4.2.2 Jellybean to Android 4.4 KitKat. It also includes a custom interface in MIUI v5, which will no doubt annoy those seeking a stock experience.

However, MIUI isn’t as bad as one would think. It actually bestows a custom skin on Android Jellybean, allowing you to choose your own themes and manage apps.

An anti-virus , back up programme and block list are also included to allow more control but aside from the lack of an app drawer, it still feels very much like Android.

You’re also capable of modifying typefaces and font sizes while installing whatever apps you’d like. If that’s not enough, you can do away with MIUI v5 altogether and use your own launcher.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3
Tags: MIUI , Xiaomi

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Rocking the 1080p

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Another budget smartphone with a 1920x1080 resolution, 5 inch backlit screen? What else is new?

For one, you won’t find any other smartphone at this price offering a full HD display with this kind of hardware.

Thankfully, Xiaomi recognised that having so much power in one place would result in the battery draining fast.

Along with IPS technology for better viewing angles, the Xiaomi boasts Content Adaptive Backlight Control or CABC which adjusts brightness depending on the content. The Xiaomi Mi3 also takes advantage of a pressure-sensitive screen that can be operated even when you’re using gloves.

Connectivity options

There aren’t a lot of budget smartphones in the market that support Near Field Communication or NFC, which allows you connect to another smartphone by simply tapping on it.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G are the big name connectivity functions but the Xiaomi Mi3 also includes NFC.

You can now take advantage of Android Beam to instantly share content to other Android users rather than relying on Bluetooth.

The Mi3 also allows for Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi Display, the latter allowing you to beam your smartphone’s image to your HDTV.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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Can't stop, won't stop

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One of the major issues about any smartphone is its battery life. The more powerful devices are often scrutinised more because you can never be sure if they’ll last beyond a handful of hours.

The Xiaomi Mi3 features a 3050 mAh battery and the manufacturer claims it can run for 21 hours while using 3G while offering 25 hours of talk time.

But for overall usage that includes watching media, browsing the Internet, playing games and so on, the Mi3 is capable of lasting a good long day.

It all depends on what you run, with games obviously consuming more life but in terms of longevity, this is the best budget smartphone out there.

The Mi3 even includes different profiles for power management allowing you to either conserve energy by limiting performance or maximise performance in lieu of battery life.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3
Tags: 1

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Wide angle rear view lens

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Fans of photography often know better than to rely on smartphones for high quality shots -- though the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom and Nokia Lumia 1020 offer excellent optics.

That being said, the Xiaomi Mi3 allows for some very good performance thanks to its 13 megapixel CMOS sensor. Not only does it have an f/2.2 aperture but the lens is a 28mm wide angle lens, allowing you to fit more into a single image.

It’s still good for close-ups though and the HDR mode is surprisingly good even in low light settings.

Speaking of low light shots, there’s a dual LED flash for whenever you venture out into the night time and though it may not be as great as some of the more premium devices, it certainly beats the Asus Zenfone 5 and Motorola Moto G.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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Did you say selfies?

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Of course, in accordance with today’s trends, the Xiaomi Mi3 includes a 2 megapixel front camera.

Most devices are going crazy with various selfie clicking modes but the Mi3 keeps it simple. It has a wide-angle 30mm lens and Skin Tone Highlights, which helps in automatically removing blemishes and dark circles on one’s face.

It’s not the Mi3’s strongest feature but it works and works well.

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Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3
Tags: 1

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After sales and unit shortage

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Here’s where we lay some slightly bad news on you.

You’ve heard all the great things about Xiaomi and the Mi3 but it’s important to note that the company is still completely new in India. Despite promising great after sales service, the infrastructure still needs to be created and that takes time.

At least with Samsung and Motorola, you can count on your device being repaired or replaced quickly. It may just take longer with the Xiaomi Mi3.

Also, the device has seen 100,000 registrations since being launched with Flipkart reporting that the Mi3 sold out in just 38 minutes and 40 seconds (while crashing their site to boot). Even Google faced shortage issues with the Nexus 5 but considering that Xiaomi is a smaller company, it may be a while before you can get your own Mi3.

That being said, the Xiaomi Mi3 is still the perfect budget smartphone and more than warrants a look. Custom interface and customer service aside, it helps push the envelope for what one should expect from a budget smartphone in India.


Image: Xiaomi Mi3
Photographs: mi.com/en/mi3

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