Although Xiaomi is stepping out of its homeland China and making its mark, its 2013 flagship, the very popular Mi3 is no longer good enough to compete with the rest of the market anymore. It was clearly reflected in the recent price cut for Mi3 so this will be an excellent opportunity for Xiaomi to release their new flagship phone, which turn out to be named Xiaomi Mi4.

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Xiaomi has upgraded almost every part of the newly announced phone. The Mi4 has a Snapdragon 801 Quad-Core processor which runs up to 2.5GHz and a whopping 3GB of RAM. While 2GB of RAM is quite sufficient for a smooth UI experience, 3GB of RAM will be very useful for multitasking applications as your processes will not be killed off by the system. Also for the first time, Xiaomi’s smartphone will support up to 4G LTE. The 3,080mAh battery is about the same with Mi3 but Xiaomi has included faster charging standard at 9V 1.2A. This means you can charge up your battery to 60% in just one hour.

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Xiaomi has also included a new IR blaster for you to control your TV. However, no memory expansion is available for the Mi4. The cameras in the phone was improved greatly too.  Both the front and rear cameras have much larger apertures at f/1.8, which will improve the performance in low light conditions.  The camera software has been improved as well. Individually, the rear camera has kept the same pixel count but it can now capture 4K videos and the front camera got bumped to 8 megapixels too.

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The Mi4 was teased at their launching event as an “Artistic Journey of a Steel Plate” and it is a no brainer that steel is used in Mi4. To be exact, the frame of the phone is made of stainless steel. During the event, Lei Jun, the CEO of Xiaomi, spent quite a considerable amount of time talking about their manufacturing process of the Mi4 steel frame. The number of processes indicated the amount of effort Xiaomi had spent on the build quality of the phone. I cannot comment anything here about the feel in hand until I seen it in person. However, I do trust that it will be great.

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The phone is available in black and white. Its design is simple but I do have the feeling that it looks very similar to other phones. Personally, I feel that the design is a mixture between iPhone 5 and Lumia 930. As I like the design of both phones, I find the appearance of this phone very appealing as well. The back cover of the phone is slightly curved and removable. You can also choose a cover with specially themed textures such as wood, bamboo or leather. The front is quite normal but I am amazed by the thinness of the bezel, which contributes to a smaller footprint. While keeping the same screen size, Xiaomi managed to cut down the length and width by a significant amount but the trade off here is the small increase in weight and thickness.

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In my opinion, Mi4 is a worthy upgrade over Mi3. The specifications are amazingly top of the line and the improvement in design and build is significant. Almost every aspect that I do not like on Mi3 that I mentioned in my review has been addressed such as thick bezel, no 4G LTE, slow charging rate and uninspiring design in the new iteration. Most importantly, Xiaomi has managed to keep the launching price the same. This is very, very important as price is always Xiaomi’s most lethal weapon. The only phone that has similar price and specifications will be the OnePlus One, which is almost impossible to get as it can only be obtained by invitation. Hence, I think Mi4 will have a rather nice share of the market.

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The 3G version is priced at RMB1999 (RM1020 or USD320) for 16GB model and RMB 2499 ( RM1280 or USD400) for the 64GB model. It will be available on 29 July. You can also buy special “insurance” for your phone to cover for phone damage including water damage and cracked screen for RMB99 (RM50 or USD16 per year. However, there is no word on price and availability for the 4G LTE version yet. It should be slightly more expensive than the 3G version. So stay tuned for more updates of the phone!  You can visit the official page for Mi4 for more information. (Too bad only Mandarin version is live now)