Image via Android Authority
Xiaomi just unveiled the Mi 4i — a discount Mi 4, if you will — in New Delhi, India, where the Chinese tech juggernaut has recently made its products available to leading electronics retailers in an effort to reach more consumers and drive sales. And what better way to announce to the rest of the world that it has embraced the traditional (read: offline) retail model than to launch a new phone to coincide with its backpedaling.
A cheaper and watered-down version of the Mi 4, the Mi 4i will retail for 12,999 INR or about P9,000 when it goes on sale, making it the middle child of Xiaomi’s growing family of handsets. Yes, you read correctly. The company now has a mid-ranger, which is quite unexpected given its track record of taking aim at both extremes of the market. The Redmi Note, for all its appeal, is a fringe interest for consumers at large, after all.
So how did Xiaomi bring the Mi 4i’s price down to a reasonable sum?
Compromises on both its hardware and specifications. The Mi 4i doesn’t bear the premium elements that made the Mi 4 far easier on the eyes than many of its pricier rivals. Instead of metal and glass, you get a generous serving of plastic on the front, back, and sides. The processor has been downgraded from a mighty Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 silicon to a Snapdragon 615 CPU paired with an Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of RAM.
However, the phone should still pack a solid punch if it performs anywhere near the level of the Oppo R5, to which it shares many things under the hood.
The rest of the specs are pretty much in line with other devices in the category: 5-inch, 1080p IPS display; 13- and 5-megapixel rear and front cameras; 3,120mAh battery; and Android Lollipop 5.0. The device also accepts two SIM cards, with both slots capable of connecting to 4G LTE networks. Its limited storage capacity, which is only made worse by the lack of microSD expansion, is perhaps the biggest sticking point here.
Arriving first in India later this month, the Xiaomi Mi 4i will ship to select countries, including the Philippines.
Specs of the Xiaomi Mi 4i (Price in India: 12,999 INR or about P9,000):
* Dual SIM
* Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor
* Adreno 405 GPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* 5-inch IPS display (1,080 x 1,920 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,120mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0
RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: While it’s great to see Xiaomi throwing its hat in the ring to compete with the likes of Samsung, LG, and HTC, I’m skeptical about the chances of the Mi 4i ever seeing the light of day in the Philippines sometime over the next few months. Xiaomi doesn’t even sell the Mi 4 locally — and it’s been almost a year since the outgoing flagship hit stores in its native China.
I’m skeptical about the chances of the Mi 4i ever seeing the light of day in the Philippines sometime over the next few months. Xiaomi doesn’t even sell the Mi 4 locally.
Quite simply, I don’t think the Philippines is a priority for the Chinese start-up, at least not anymore after the embarrassingly slow sales of the Mi 3 in the country. Let’s face it: Filipinos in general aren’t ready to buy stuff online yet. We’re getting there, but a lot of us are still reluctant to give up the retail-store experience and jump aboard e-commerce platforms even if the opportunity presents itself all too often.
Perhaps there’s hope yet, as Xiaomi proved by pursuing all kinds of retail opportunities in India. But it doesn’t follow that it will be as receptive to offline selling here. Adding a middle man (in this case, other cogs in the retail distribution channel) eats up profit margins that would otherwise go to the company. Which is exactly what Xiaomi wants to avoid, hence its “online only” strategy.
I hope Xiaomi proves me wrong.
VIDEOS YOU MAY WANT TO WATCH
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Xiaomi Mi 4i intro
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How tough is the Xiaomi Mi 4i?
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Xiaomi Mi 4i’s Sunlight Display feature
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Anti-grease coating on the Xiaomi Mi 4i