The Xiaomi Mi4c release date was September 22 in China. At the time of writing, the Xiaomi Mi4c is available via several retailers across China and Europe. Although it is not officially being released in the US or UK, you can still pick it up through various import sites (Xiaomi sells its device unlocked). As always, just check the LTE bands and so on to ensure it is compatible with your carrier.
The Xiaomi Mi4c price will vary depending on which of the two models you opt for and the specific retailer you choose. In China, the 16 GB version with 2 GB of RAM goes for 1299 Yuan and the 32 GB version with 3 GB of RAM for 1499 Yuan. That's the equivalent of around US$205/£135 and US$235/£155.
The Xiaomi Mi4c is available in several color options, including black, white, yellow, blue and pink. It ships with an included USB Type-C charging cable. We got the European version, which came with a US adapter and a European extension, so the device will work in the US with the original adapter.
It has to be said there's a distinct sense of déjà vu when you see the Mi4c. Meaning: it looks an awful lot like every of Xiaomi phone of recent times which, in turn, takes design cues from several other sources, most notably the iPhone 5c. Is a bit of boring design acceptable on a phone this cheap though?Absolutely.
Don't let the pedestrian exterior fool you however. The Xiaomi Mi4c may look pretty tame, but inside it's a beast. As mentioned above, it shares a very similar (if not better) specs sheet with the newly released Nexus 5X and that phone costs twice as much. The Mi4c won't come with any Google apps installed, but you can add them yourself easily enough (including the Play Store).
The Xiaomi Mi4c has a fully plastic exterior with a non-removable back cover. This of course means that you cannot remove the back to change the battery, nor to add a microSD card slot. While the slightly curved edges of the phone are comfortable in the hand, it is a very slippery beastie. If you're at all clumsy you're going to want to invest in a non-slip cover or bumper.
To give you an idea of its size, it's basically identical to the original nexus 5, albeit a little thinner. The upper edge features an infrared blaster alongside the headphone port and the bottom edge has a centrally located USB Type-C charging port with a pinhole mic. The left hand side has a pop out tray for dual micro-SIM cards and the right hand side has the power and volume buttons.
The speaker is mounted on the back side at the bottom of the device. Like the Sony Xperia range, the camera lens and two-tone LED flash are pushed right up into the corner of the back of the phone and a tiny pinhole mic next to the camera lens picks up audio for video. At 132 grams the Mi4c is nice and light and its plastic construction means it will be decently shock absorbent if dropped.
Taken on face value, the Xiaomi Mi4c is a great looking phone. It may look similar to most other Xiaomi phones, but so too does Sony's Xperia range. The build quality is top notch for a phone in this price range and even small details like an IR blaster, LED notification light and FM radio are all included, showing that Xiaomi has no interest in cutting corners to keep the price down.
Fast charging, dual-SIM support and infrared sensors are hardly unique selling points these days and the Xiaomi Mi4c has all three of these (charging to 40% in one hour via Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 standard). However, USB Type C is the single biggest differentiator in the Mi4c arsenal.
The included USB Type-C cable is like the one shipped with the OnePlus 2 though: a reconfigured USB 2.0 cable rather than a “true” USB Type-C. This means you won't enjoy faster data transfer speeds out of the box, just the convenience of having a reversible charging cable. Of course, if you go out and buy a real Type-C cable, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of this new USB standard.
On a phone at the two hundred dollar mark, you'd probably expect to find a HD display. Not so with the Mi4c, which comes with a 5-inch Full HD display. Not only is it Full HD though, it's a really good Full HD screen.
Colors are very realistic, it's very vibrant and contrast is very well managed and balanced. Outdoors the IPS LCD is clearly visible under direct sunlight and again Xiaomi has delivered extremely good results at a low price point.
With a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch the Mi4c is right in the middle of the pack regarding image sharpness but ahead of the pack in the Full HD gang for quality of the display. The viewing angles are great, the image is stunning and touch responsiveness is top notch.
The Mi4c software is Xiaomi's own MIUI 7 interface running on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. Having said that it's important to note that the Google Play Store and suite of standard Google apps is not pre-installed on this phone. There's nothing stopping you from installing them though, so don't let that deter you in case you were thinking about importing this phone (as long as it will work with your carrier bands) because this phone is a really good buy.
MIUI may not be the best looking manufacturer skin around but it's not the worst either. At the very least Xiaomi puts theming front and center so you can switch the look of things very easily. If you don't like the way MIUI is set up generally you can quickly and easily substitute it for an alternative launcher like the Google Now Launcher to get a more familiar Android experience on your Mi4c.
For fans of MIUI, the latest version is very nice indeed with some great additions and features. Not only is everything nice and flat, but the speed and fluidity of the interface is remarkable. The Mi4c runs faster than many phones that cost double the price. It's easy to change the way a phone looks, but making it faster is harder. Xiaomi certainly got the speed of the Mi4c right.
Over time, MIUI has matured to sit comfortably alongside its competition, offering nifty features like edge controls, whereby you can go back by double tapping the left side of the phone (not the screen) with your thumb, or to shoot photos in the camera app (where you can also use the on-screen shutter button or use the volume button).
In addition to providing all the basic functions of Android, Xiaomi has done a lot where customization is concerned. As if that were not enough, the Chinese firm also provides some nice features you might not expect to find on a two hundred dollar phone like an infrared blaster, FM radio and LED notification light.
But what it all boils down to is how fluid and responsive is the interface, regardless of which launcher you use. And Xiaomi has once again proven it knows how to build fast phones, even on a very tight budget. I couldn't say the Mi4c is as fast as a Nexus 5 on Android Marshmallow, but it's not too far off. It's definitely punching above its weight though.
In terms of power, the performance produced by the Xiaomi Mi4c is staggering. In AnTuTu it consistently posts mid-50K results, and solid results in Geekbench as well. The Xiaomi Mi4c specs include the Snapdragon 808 CPU, the processor of choice in 2015 for all those manufacturers trying to avoid the issues of the Snapdragon 810.
The Snapdragon 808 is a hexa-core processor that has also appeared in the LG G4, Moto X Style and Nexus 5X. It has four cores clocked at 1.4 GHz and two high-performance cores clocked at 1.82 GHz. It may not be the fastest processor available right now, but to find the same CPU in a two hundred dollar phone as that found in high-end flagships is a very rare thing indeed.
The two versions of Mi4c (16 GB and 32 GB) also offer different amounts of RAM, with the smaller capacity offering 2 GB of RAM and the larger internal storage option providing 3 GB of RAM. Considering the minor price difference (only around thirty dollars), you may as well opt for more storage and RAM. (Just to be clear, the version we're testing is the 2 GB model).
Considering how solid the 808 performs with 2 GB of RAM, we can only expect even better multitasking and app switching from the 3 GB version. Pushing pixels around a 5-inch Full HD display doesn't tax the processor so much and the battery benefits as a result as well.
Looking beyond basic speed and responsiveness, the Xiaomi Mi4c performs well in other areas too. Wi-Fi connectivity is very stable and fast, connecting to LTE where you'd expect it to and providing reliable download speeds. The inclusion of dual SIM cards is a bonus for those juggling multiple SIMs.
We got some crackling during phone calls but that is more likely a fault of mismatched carrier frequencies than a hardware problem. Subsequent calls performed better though (when cellular reception was at full strength) and audio quality was good. Again: we remind you to check your carrier's bands against the Mi4c before buying one.
In terms of multimedia, Xiaomi has demonstrated its ability to place the bar very high even at a low price. That said, you can't expect the Mi4c to provide $700 results forever. The speaker is one of these areas.
The speaker's positioning on the back of the Mi4c makes it easy to muffle with a finger and the sound quality is not up to scratch, especially at higher volumes. If you're not obsessed with speaker quality you won't mind – it's much the same as most other tinny smartphone speakers – but don't expect anything too impressive.
The Mi4c camera shoots at 13 MP with the main camera and 5MP on the front-facing camera. Not bad for a cheap phone. But resolution isn't everything, as we've discovered time and time again with other flagship devices. Software makes all the difference, so how does the Mi4c compare?
Very well. I wouldn't go quite so far as to say the Mi4c produces comparable results to high-end smartphones like the LG G4 and Galaxy S6, but it's not far off. An incredibly impressive feat for a phone that costs a third as much. Compared to other mid-range phones though, the Mi4c blows them all out of the water.
Interestingly, Xiaomi uses two different sensors interchangeably in the Mi4c, a Sony sensor (IMX258) and a Samsung (S5K3M2). Both are good but the Sony sensor will provide slightly more detailed and sharp images. More importantly, the Mi4c auto-focus speed is less than 0.1 second. Take a look at these sample photos and judge for yourself.
So, Xiaomi got performance and camera right, how about the battery? Not surprisingly, once again the Xiaomi Mi4c outperforms its price point. With a 3,080 mAh battery the Mi4c looks good on paper, but the software and hardware optimization are also up to the task in reality, with easy full day battery life.
Of course, a lower resolution display and high-end processor combined with a good-sized battery is always going to produce good results (a fact we wish other manufacturers would learn, especially those that keep shrinking battery capacities in their latest phones).
The Mi4c is also the first USB Type-C device to support Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 standard, providing faster charging speeds than the OnePlus 2 for example. If you're not as heavy a user as we are here at AndroidPIT you can likely drag that battery life out to two days.
Anyone looking for a top-tier Android experience is unlikely to expect to find it in a device under the $250 mark. But those people would be missing out on one of the best budget phones of the year in the Xiaomi Mi4c. With a specs sheet equivalent to many flagship phones at two or three times the price, the Mi4c delivers incredible performance at an unheard of price.
In truth, this smartphone really does have it all: solid hardware, great performance, good camera and battery and a rock bottom price. Sure, the speakers aren't great and there's no microSD expansion, but you can't have everything. For this price you'd be hard-pressed to find anything better.