A Rather Affordable Flagship Smartphone
Xiaomi Mi 3
Upon first handling the Mi 3, we felt that it had an uncanny resemblance to certain phones we’ve reviewed. The curvy sides of the Mi 3 and the speaker grille at the center bottom section are design trademarks of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones, especially the older Lumia 800 and 900. Its handling however, is good, perhaps even a tad better than the Lumia phones due to the fact that the Mi 3 is quite thin at 8.1mm and weighs 145g.
As Xiaomi’s flagship device, the Mi 3 obviously ranks better than the Redmi in design and build quality. It rivals most Android flagship smartphones except the ASUS PadFone Infinity and HTC One, which have an aluminum unibody. The Mi 3 has an outer shell made of plastic, with an internal magnesium alloy structure encased in three layers of graphite, giving it a solid feel and metallic appearance. Sandblasted finishing keeps the Mi 3 clean of fingerprints and smudges.
Unlike the Redmi though, the Mi 3 does not have a removable back cover, a removable battery, dual-SIM support or memory card slot. The model sold in Singapore comes with 16GB internal storage, though actual available space is about 12.28GB.
The Mi 3 is equipped with a 5-inch Full-HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) IPS display, which is on-par with almost all Android flagship smartphones we’ve seen so far including the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2. While the display is generally as good as most of its rivals, we find its brightness to be a little lower than the rest.
Preloaded on the Mi 3 is Xiaomi’s MIUI V5, a customized operating system (OS) based on Google Android. One key selling feature of MIUI is its huge list of features that allows you to have total control over your phone. Themes are no doubt the most popular and perhaps, the most defining feature of MIUI.
There are over 4,000 themes to choose from, and the degree of attention and details poured into them are jaw dropping. When using themes, you have to take note of their file sizes as graphic intensive themes usually take up more space. In addition, they tend to slow down the phone significantly because more system resources are needed to run these themes.
MIUI also offers you the options to grant permissions
for every app on the phone. By doing so, you can control how your apps behave on your devices. Fine grain app permissions can be set such as whether to allow an app service to start up on boot, or its access to contacts, networks and system services.
The Mi 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8274AB) quad-core 2.3GHz processor with 2GB RAM. The key difference between this processor and that of the LG Nexus 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4 with LTE+ is network support; the 8274AB does not support 4G LTE connectivity.
While the Mi 3 runs more smoothly than the Redmi, it still feels a tad slower than Nexus devices. If you change the power mode on the Mi 3 to Power Saving, the slow-down in operation is noticeable.
Its 13-megapixel rear camera delivers good image quality with plenty of details and minimal noise, thanks to its f/2.2 aperture, 28mm wide angle lens and 5-element lens construction.
Even though the Mi 3 has a 3,050mAh battery, its mileage is only average with an uptime of 5 hours and 44 minutes in our battery test. Under real world usage conditions though, it had no problems lasting us through a day at work.
Priced at $419, the Mi 3 offers great performance with all the required basic features at an affordable price tag. Aside from the lack of 4G and memory card slot, the Mi 3 is a great deal for consumers who want flagship specs and advanced customizability without burning a hole in their pockets.
Xiaomi designed the Singapore theme specifically for its international launch here.