Finally the wait is over. Xiaomi’s flagship phablet, the Mi Note, will be available in Malaysia starting on 28th of July. However, there is still no news for the availability for higher-end Mi Note Pro. Both phablets were launched in January 2015 and it took Xiaomi 6 months to bring the Mi Note to Malaysia. It is not hard to imagine why the consumers and the MiFans in Malaysia are getting impatient.
The design of Mi Note is a step forward from the Mi4. The front is covered by 2.5D glass and the back is made of 3D curved glass. A metal frame is sandwiched between two pieces of glasses. I have seen the phone in person and I think that it looks really attractive. It is quite thin and although it has a 5.7″ display, I didn’t feel that it is hard to hold. However, looking at the internals, I can’t help but to feel disappointed.
When it was launched, I commented that the specifications for Mi Note was too outdated for a 2015 flagship phone. 6 months later, I still have the same opinion and the situation can only get worse. Mi Note is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (Quad Core 2.5GHz) with 3GB of RAM. It has a 5.7″ 1080p display with pixel density of 386ppi. The 13MP rear camera and the 4MP front facing camera are good but not great as compared to other flagship phones. You can learn more about Mi Note from their site.
These specifications are excellent… for an early 2014 flagship. However, we are in the middle of 2015 and this phone really does not feel appealing to me at all. The additional features like Hi Fi audio system will be great for audiophiles. However, for most people who are using cheap earphones, like me for example, this feature is quite meaningless. In addition, there is no micro SD card supported. The MIUI also does not provide additional value to the large display. No multi window or stylus like S Pen to allow you to do more with the huge display.
The 64GB Xiaomi Mi Note was priced at RM1549 and there is no 16GB version available yet (or ever). Unless you are a MiFan or you really like the design, it is hard for me to recommend anyone to buy it. The OnePlus One with very similar hardware costs a few hundred RInggit less. The ASUS ZenFone 2 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage can be yours at RM1299 . The ASUS PadFone S we reviewed earlier has very similar specifications with the Mi Note and it cost only half a Mi Note. Even if you choose the PadFone S Plus with 64GB of storage and 3GB of RAM and add in the optional PadFone Station to convert the phone into a tablet, it will still cost less than a Mi Note. You can even get LG G3, which has a Quad HD display, with a similar price.
What made Xiaomi successful in the past is its attractive price to specifications ratio. No other companies can match what they offer with the same price. Today, we have companies like OnePlus, ASUS, Honor and the rest to fight for the budget flagship market and suddenly Xiaomi does not look so special anymore. I really think that Xiaomi needs to rethink its position in the market or review its strategy. They can either bring in their devices earlier while they are still hot, or provide additional features that is not available on other brands, like the S Pen support on Galaxy Note series. Xiaomi also can go back to the old strategy by bringing down the price too. I understand that it is very easy for me to complain all the time while doing nothing here. But I really had high hope for Xiaomi and I really think that they need a differentiator to stand out from the crowd or else they will become “just another phone company” and nothing more.