It’s mere weeks until the release of the next in the Xiaomi Mi line – more specifically Xiaomi Mi 5 – and what better time to spare a glance to its predecessor, the Xiaomi Mi 4C? Every time a new device is released, the previous one in the hierarchy is more likely to receive a reduction in price, making it more affordable and a decent option, even if it’s not the hippest or newest.
The Xiaomi Mi 4C is yet another production that comes from China and hopes to breach into the western market by employing decent mid-range builds and particularly low prices. But like so many other smartphones that attempt to do the same, it comes with its own ups and downs. Being easily comparable to the Nexus 5X in terms of power and capability, but at about half that unit’s price, it would be highly understandable why the Xiaomi Mi 4C would appeal to anyone.
However, given the fact that it is, after all, a Chinese production, getting yourself one of the Xiaomi Mi 4C phones may prove to be difficult via your usual stores. There’s no way to find it in stores, leaving you with the only option to order it online. But seeing as most of the reliable sources will not be a place where you can find this particular smartphone, you may have to rely on a Chinese website that can deliver to the US.
That will, however, mean you should expect quite the shipping fees and a bit of hassle to get your hands on it so let’s see if what the Xiaomi Mi 4C has to offer is worth the wait.
- Great display
- Upgradeable to Android 6.0 Lollipop
- Sleek design
- USB Type C Charging
- Not stock Android OS
- No microSD slot
- Difficult to get
- Missing some useful features you may not realize you need until you use this phone
Xiaomi Mi 4C Design
While the Xiaomi Mi 4C is not the first successor of the original Mi 4 that was launched in July 2014, it could very well be considered so. Even though the Mi 4i was the first official upgrade that was brought to this particular line of smartphones, the 4c ended up as the true successor to the original Mi model, featuring a lot more capability.
Even though the Xiaomi Mi 4C isn’t that far off from being called a brand new release – it was first launched on the market in September 2015 – it fares very well from a design perspective. And I find that a difficult feat to achieve when you use polycarbonate plastic to build the entire exterior of the phone. Still, the Mi 4C manages to look very much like a well rounded and polished device.
Even though the manufacturer didn’t opt for metal in its build, Xiaomi Mi 4c’s design is defined by a matte finish. That comes with a great grip whenever you hold the phone, preventing it from slipping and making it feel extremely comfortable to the touch. Overall, the build feels sturdy and surprisingly, premium, while not skimping at all on compactness and reliability.
In terms of size, the Xiaomi Mi 4C measures 5.44 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches (138.1 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm). To give you an example that you can scale it with, it is very similar to the LG Nexus 5X. Alternatively, it’s considerably larger than the iPhone 5S for example, but has about the same thickness. The Mi 4C also weighs 132 grams, which is near identical to its LG counterpart, making is quite light and easy to hold.
There are a few questionable downsides for it – for example the non-removable back cover and the lack of a microSD slot. But other than that, the minimal design choices of the Xiaomi Mi 4C offer you great accessibility. The back of the device is where you’ll find the rear camera, with 3 rows of punctured speaker holes all the way at the bottom, right below the Mi logo.
The right hand side of the smartphone hosts the power button and the one-piece volume rocker. The latter seems to have also gained the ability to be used to snap photos which is slightly unusual for what one would normally be accustomed to. Meanwhile, the left hand side is where you’ll find a dual-SIM card tray which can prove to be particularly useful for anyone who finds themselves always having to run around with multiple phones.
The dual-sim feature is one area where the western market doesn’t manage to do a great job, whereas for the Chinese manufacturers it’s quite common and often heard of. The top is where you’ll find a regular 3.5 mm headphone jack, as well as an IR blaster in case you ever need it. The bottom is home to the Type C USB port, which is still something yet to be adopted in all of the new mobile devices, so it’s a good reason to look forward to it.
Still, the Xiaomi Mi 4C seems to lack many of the other newer features that are becoming standard for smartphones in the eyes of the customer. Things such as near field communication, fingerprint scanners or support for contactless Android Pay. This is very likely to be caused by the fact that while these features may be popular in the western market, in China individuals barely make use of them so manufacturers don’t bother to put them in their phones as a result.
The Xiaomi Mi 4C comes in 5 different color variations, which strongly resemble the color palette that was used in the iPhone 5C line of phones. While the plain black and white variants will most likely be to anyone’s liking, it’s safe to know that it also comes in pink, turquoise and yellow shades.
Xiaomi Mi 4C Display
The great design of the Xiaomi Mi 4C is complimented by an ISP LCD display that doesn’t skimp on size or quality. At 5 inches, the screen is marginally smaller than the one incorporated in the LG Nexus 5X. regardless, the display stretches nicely from edge to edge, giving the phone a 71.7% screen to body ratio.
Considering it has a maximum resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, that accounts for a 441 ppi pixel density value, once again offering a slight edge over its LG counterpart. Covered in a layer of oleophobic coating on top of the classic protection that the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 offers makes for a great backup against fingerprints and other types of smudges. However, it would appear that all that protection does not do an amazingly great job at preventing screen scratches so you may want to consider investing in screen protectors or cases if you are to purchase the Xiaomi Mi 4C.
Some users may find that the display is a little shinier and reflective than they would wish for; certainly, it doesn’t do an amazing job at staying clear and crisp when trying to view content in broad daylight (and worse, direct sunlight) but the phone has a sunlight mode that can ease viewing things in brightly lit conditions. Even so, the experience won’t be amazing unless you crank up your brightness levels to the maximum.
The Xiaomi Mi 4C display scores 450 nits on the brightness scale and a 1609:1 contrast ratio, accounting for satisfyingly deep blacks. At an average deltaE for primary colors of 6.6, the Xiaomi Mi 4C has been called on not producing the most accurate colors out there. While the natural tendency of the colors on this phone is to go towards bluish hues, the Mi 4C offers a slider option that will allow you to change the colors to warmer if you like to do so.
Xiaomi Mi 4C Specifications & Performance
In comparison to the previous iteration of the Xiaomi Mi 4, the Mi 4C is a huge upgrade to say the least. With pieces of hardware at least a few generations ahead than the ones found on its predecessor, the latter offers great performance and capability. Even so, however, the Xiaomi Mi 4C should not be considered more than a mid-range device as it won’t come very close to the flagship devices companies such as Samsung or Apple make.
Still, this is the short list of what you can find inside the Xiaomi Mi 4C: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992 chipset, a hex-core CPU, Adreno 418 graphics processing unit, 16/32 GB of hard drive space and 2/3 GB of RAM. There seems to be a slight difference between the specifications you’ll get on the 16GB version than the ones you get on the 32; a bit odd but the differences are far from major.
The hex-core processing unit consists of a quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53, along with a dual-core 1.82 Ghz Cortex-A57. The Adreno 418 GPU that comes with it is what I would call a little old but still loyal piece of technology. There will be a very clear limit to what games you can and cannot play, and the limit is set somewhere around the late 2014 mark. The games that came out up until then should run on high quality with no problem. Take it up a notch with later releases and your experience may not be equally great.
The storage options on the Xiaomi Mi 4C are sadly limited, only offering you either a 16 GB or a 32 GB version. In the absence of micro-SD based storage expansion, things don’t look very well if you’re looking for more. While you do get 1 extra gigabyte of RAM on the 32 GB version, you should take into account the fact that it only really comes into action when you stress the capabilities of your phone.
Unless you’re running an unfeasible amount of apps at a given moment, the 2 GB phone will perform decently throughout the day no matter what you choose to do.
Xiaomi Mi 4C Software & Features
The Xiaomi Mi 4C unfortunately doesn’t use a stock Android operating system, but then again that’s the case with most devices manufactured by Chinese phone makers. While the phone comes with the Android 5.1 Lollipop base OS, Xiaomi uses a custom designed user interface known as MIUI 7. Before we delve into the custom interface in detail, you should know that the Xiaomi Mi 4C can be updated to the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow now, so you should be able to enjoy what that has to offer.
If there’s anything turns out to be a bit of a hindrance on the Mi 4C, it’s the fact that you won’t immediately have access to the standard Google apps such as the Play Store as soon as you take the phone out of the box. However, it’s no end of the world as you can easily download them right away and start setting up your new smartphone home just as easily.
MIUI 7 is a relatively clean user interface that changes the way things look a fair amount, resorting to icons that highly resemble the Apple iOS design. Not only that but the mere way things look when you interact with the operating system also feels a lot like navigating around an iPhone. Not only that everything runs smoothly, but the way the phone responds is very fluid (think about scrolling down through menus on an iPhone).
The MIUI 7 doesn’t employ the use of app drawers like regular Android phones do, and instead chooses to arrange your apps and shortcuts on your homescreen. Once again highly resembling the iOS model, the user interface will display tiny badges to let you know certain apps have unchecked notifications on them – such as unread messages, missed calls and so on.
But while the entire operating system may feel like it’s downright copied after what makes iOS what it is, it still adds a great amount of Android user favorite features. To name a couple, that would be a high degree of customization and the entire notification system.
But MIUI 7 has its own say in the matter as well, bringing a few neat tricks for you to make use of and transform your experience using this phone into an easy to use and comfortable one. What Xiaomi calls ‘Edge Controls’ is the particular feature that allows you to perform different action by tapping on the side of your phone a certain number of times. The phone also allows you to change the default application of the edge controls the way you like it, opting out of using them for things such as moving back through the interface or snapping photos when the camera app is open.
Last but not least, you should know that MIUI 7 allows you to unroot the phone. If you choose to flash the global stable ROM, all you need to do is download the file to the phone’s storage and then run the MIUI 7 Updater. This will remove your previously installed non-core apps along with the original bloatware that comes with the system, but you can easily get them back afterwards via a program that you can find on the Mi Market.
Xiaomi Mi 4C Camera
Although I realize it’s purely biased of me to say that the presence of cameras on phones has become purely trivial and not something that people still give too much credit to. It’s common knowledge that good photos will never be the result of a phone camera, and yet – seeing that it’s more likely that wherever you go, you’ll have your phone on you and not your professional DSLR, chances are you’ll use the Xiaomi Mi 4C camera at least several times.
And that is one aspect where you should feel relieved at least. The way that Chinese manufacturers manage to reduce the price on their units so much is by cutting corners on particular pieces in their builds; sometimes it’s the display, other times it’s the chipset or even the materials used in its construction. More often than not however, it’s the camera that gets the brunt of that. Well, not in Xiaomi Mi 4C’s case.
The quality of the photos taken with the 13 megapixel rear camera was surprising to say the least, featuring rich colors, a great amount of detail and sharpness. To compare it to its western brother, the LG Nexus 5X, the camera on the Mi 4C is greatly superior in almost every perspective. Starting with the time it takes for the autofocus to kick in, even in harsher light conditions and ending with the fact that it can shoot in 1080p, its performance is top notch given the price class of the phone.
There’s a whole lot of editing and control packed in the camera software that the Xiaomi Mi 4C offers. On top of the regular shooting modes and filters, you also get to adjust white balance, ISO and much more.
Xiaomi Mi 4C Battery Life
Although it’s non-removable, the battery pack that comes with the Xiaomi Mi 4C is surprisingly powerful. The 3,080 mAh battery will keep your phone going for outstanding periods of time if you’re a light user. If you just use it to reply to texts, make an occasional call, check your email and maybe look something up on the internet, the phone could easily last almost 2 days on a single, full charge.
Video playback can last you up to 6 hours on default screen brightness. There is a number of software features that allow you to reduce your battery usage; while reducing the brightness of the display is your easiest, go-to option to save up some battery, you can also set the phone to cut down a little on performance in order to also consume less.
And of course, because the Xiaomi Mi 4C uses a Type-C USB cable that is capable of fast charging, you can actually get a full charge going in 1.5 – 2 hours.
Xiaomi Mi 4C Verdict
So far and by all means, almost everything contained in this phone is definitely a good reason for you to purchase it, especially if you’re not looking for the high end flagships and the state of the art devices on the market. The manufacturer seems to have managed to pull off creating a great device without cutting too many corners, that is both responsive and quite sleek.
The problem with the Xiaomi Mi 4C is, however, the fact that it is after all a device designed for the Chinese market. That being said, it may have some features that you’re not very accustomed to and at the same time lack some things that you feel like you can’t live without in 2016 anymore. Not to mention that in order to get things as comfortable as you can, you will need to do some manual tweaking.
You can purchase the Xiaomi Mi 4C for roughly $229 from select retailers in both the United States (when in stock) or, alternatively, from Chinese online stores.