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Since Google announced the Nexus4 (LG), the entire worlds speak and write about that Phone.
Unfortunately, the Nexus4 is a rare phone.
It may be in stock in some countries, but in my country (France) it is impossible to get it for a cheap Price.
During that time other “Chinese” devices make their apparition.
These devices may be even cheaper and more powerful than the Nexus4.
At the beginning, I was thinking to replace my Galaxy Nexus with a Nexus 4, but one post on Google+, that complains about the poor camera quality and the constant out of stock status for the French play store made me change my mind.
So I turn to the xiaomi MI2, a smartphone with nearby the same characteristics as the Nexus4, witch runs into MIUI.
For these not knowing what here are the main specs :
- 2GB of RAM
- a quad core CPU at 1.5Ghz
- a 2000mAh removable battery
- a powerful 3D chip capable of running all latest android games
- a 4.3” display, with even more PPI than the iPhone5 !
- no sd slot
- Normal simcard slot
This Chinese phone, made by xiaomi ( the same that created the MIUI Rom) is sold in China for 1999 Yuans (about 245€ )
Unfortunately, xiaomi does not sell worldwide, so you need to buy this phone at other place, where it will naturally cost a little more.
We can find the 16GB version for 300€.
Other website who make even more money with this device propose it for 350-400€.
I bought this device on one of the cheapest website I found: ibuygou
If you wish to buy it there, the best advise I can give you, is to buy it using PayPal.
First the euro change is better, and second, well PayPal is secure, you have 45 days to make a complaint (for example if it was lost or damage during the order, or if you don't get the product you ordered)
I bought the 32GB version, it cost me 369€ with DHL delivery (so the same price as a 16GB Nexus 4)
One interesting thing to know: the package is very resistant, you can also find videos where two people are standing on it, without breaking it content! I tried it (without the phone in ^^) and indeed the package did not break. So the phone is ready for a long transport, nothing can happen ^^.
Because this is an import, on some country you may need to pay Taxes (it was the case in France). This cost me 14€.
Warning: it may cost a lot more, if the customs checks the content of the package.
Indeed a lot of Chinese Website declares less than the real price. This way YOU pay less taxes, and the delivery man is not attempt to lost the package for his own business ^^
In some countries, if the package is a gift, the customs may not make you pay (I never saw this for my orders, but well I may be possible ^^ )
In France, even a gift with a love message on it, needs to pay taxes. At least at DHL ^^
When I saw the package I thought: holly crap, they scam me with style :/
But no, they didn’t, I really received an original MI2 with two gifts: a back cover and an OTG cable (that was really nice ^^ )
As you can see on the package, it is a 32GB Version (yes the phones says that too ^^ )
The phone is really protected, there is even a transparent paper with some Chinese advices on it. I guess it is for telling what the buttons does… well even without knowing Chinese I find this out ^^
Here are the charger (US/Chinese) and the USB Cable (also very well pack)
The free OTG cable gift
And here the blue back cover. I prefer the white one, but it is glossy, so you will see the fingerprints on it, and I hate that.. So in use the blue one
Here you see what it looks like from the side
The orange 2000mAh battery (you can choose the colour of replacement battery, but I don’t know why… you never see the battery of a phone ^^ )
One thing that surprised me: charging the phone, when it was turned off shows the battery percentage level. That’s cool
Don’t take care of the dust, it was only visible because of the flash from my camera. I never saw Dust on it with my eyes ^^
2 Possible weakness or strengths
a) good performances
The first owners of this phone made a lot of benchmarks. And MI2 is much better than the top selling android phone: the galaxy S3.
For info, I made a simple Antutu test, without any customisation, tweaks or overclocking. And I get more than 21 000 points
At normal use, it react really fast, there is no slowness
B) an amazing screen for a really simple usage
Some people may say that a 4.3” display is too small, I think it is the best size to be used with one hand, without needing giant hand or to do finger gymnastic
On my galaxy nexus, I could do everything with one hand, but in some cases I needed to change the phone position do everything with my thumb and in this other position, the phone is not firmly in hand, so this could be dangerous if you don’t stay focused
For the difference between 4.3 and 4.65” it is really MINIMAL. Indeed, the MI2 has all its content on 4.3”, whereas the Nexus has the soft keys in the 4.65”.
Until some rarely apps that run full screen, every app on the nexus will run on a 4.37” surface. So the Nexus has only a really small advantage of 0.07”.
Yet, the MI2 fit better in the hand, because it has less borders than the Nexus.
I went from a phone measuring 135.5x67mm to a phone that measure 125x63mm.
The MI2 is 1 cm less height and almost a half cm less wide. So some actions became easier.
The screen is also a lot better, because of the PPI value. The same image looks a lot sharper on the MI2.
C) a phone not so thin as other rivals
Another possible weakness is the thickness. Indeed the MI2 is not the thinnest of all phones. I was a bit afraid that it might be too big (it is almost as big as the bottom part of the galaxy nexus).
In the end this does not disturb me, the phone fit in the hand, and it does not looks like a BIG FAT phone. Sure with 1 or 2 mm less it would looks even more amazing, but this would be at the cost of a lower battery . Indeed the more a phone is thin, the less place is left for the battery. Less place for battery => less battery capacity.
This phone is running Android, but not stock Android! It is running MIUI (a graphical change that may look a little more like iOS)
It has also a dual Boot (you need to choose it in the recovery)… So if you break you first boot, you can use the second one. I tried it, but it seams that I have some kind of conflict (maybe because system one is up to date French and system two is the default Chinese rom… maybe they both need to have the same language or version)
I admit that a always installed MIUI on my phones, so having one that came out with it was a good point for me. This phone is like a Nexus for MIUI ^^
But this is like everything, you like it or not… I can’t choose for you
Some people will say: MIUI = iOS on android, that is not true..
MIUI is a graphical evolution, with some nice features.
If you look at Android 4.2, you may noticed that Google introduced some icons in the notification bar for setting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on… Most ROMS increase the ability to toggle on click or go to the settings on long click… this kind of feature exists on MIUI since android 2.3 !
3 : Testing some stuffs
On internet there are a lot of review or test for the MI2, but most of them only test the performance and nothing else . So I’ll test some useful points :
I’m not a specialist in these domains, but I had a few android phones (every time high end models) and I must admit, that I was never 100% happy with them
If there is ONE phone that was a real peace of crap, it was the HTC Desire HD!
The audio level is like a buzzer. The music was awful. I had a lot of trouble hearing what my contacts told me, this was even worse if you were in your car or a noisy environment.
The GPS was REALLY the worse I ever had, the precision was bad, it jumps from street to street and needed a lot time for the fix. Telling me to turn left 30 meters AFTER I should turn…
Having a high end smartphone, that is not good in these 3 points, is really not a high end one!
A) The audio
I replaced my HTC Desire HD with a Galaxy Nexus, it was better, but yet not was I was searching for.
On Galaxy Nexus you need to install a mod or software to boost the volume because it is too low by default.
The MI2 is doing A LOT better at this point. You can play a movie with volume max and the full room will hear it The GPS vocal navigation is clearly audible even in a noisy car.
There are still phones that does even better (like the Sony Ericson neo my wife uses, but this one is really too loud ^^ )
The Dolby equaliser of the MI2 has nice effects and you direct hear the difference.
Calling sound is also super clear. Even with noise you hear your contact well.
The only little weakness could be the vibrate level. I think it is a little too low.
B) the Camera
The software part surprised me, (ok I was used of the stock camera, so it was not difficult to do something that looks better). Here everything is clear and on the right place, there are a lot of settings also.
The photo and video quality on low light is a lot better than my galaxy nexus. Indeed; the
Galaxy Nexus does good pictures, but only by daylight. If it is a little dark, or if the light is artificial, the quality decreases fast.
Here are two picture of my dog (click on picture to see the full size picture)
In normal mode:
In HDR mode:
Unfortunately it is raining so I can’t test good daylight picture. I May add them later if the sun will shine again ^^
The video is also excellent. You can save 1080p videos and you can also set 90images per seconds (useful when you film something that moves)
C) the GPS
As most of the latest high-end devices, the MI2 is also compatible with Glanoss (the Russian GPS). This should help having faster and better GPS performance (indeed the more sat your phone sees, the better it can know where you are)
Testing a GPS in a house is … useless
A GPS should find it position (the fix) but also guide you right (not too early and not too late), it should not jump from one street to the other or position you in the middle of nowhere.
People saying that a GPS is amazing because it fix in less than 10 seconds in there room are noobs ! (Yes a lot of people said that the Desire HD had an amazing GPS … whereas a blind could guide you better than this phone! )
So I did a quick ride with my car to test it
I went in my car, turned the GPS and run Cygic (my software)
Fix in less than 2 seconds (my nexus needed more than 1 min, sometimes I also needed to open the window and hand it out to boost the fix time)
But as said fix alone is useless, so I told my GPS to bring me to the nearest town.
It guided me well, not a single error, every order was given on the correct time (not too early or too late).
Then I run GPS Status and GPS Test to know the signal quality and the amount of satellites.
Unfortunately, I did not succeed to do a screenshot for GPS Test ( I was still in my car needing to drive when the fire turn green )
But it find me about 10 green sat that had values between 37 and 42.
For GPS Status I succeeded doing a screenshot: we see directly that it uses a LOT of satellites (so it uses both GPS and Glanoss)
It finds about 21 sats and used between 13-15 of them.
The error precision is 3-5m, whereas my Nexus had 5-10m
If the weather change, I may test it in the forest, but I don’t like going in the forest when it is wet…
D) the OTG Cable
For every tests here, I needed to connect the USB device to the OTG cable first, and then the OTG Cable to the smartphone, other way it did not works :/
Here are some tests I did :
- FAT32 USB stick => works (I may test NTFS and Ext4 in future)
- 2.5” self powered hard drive => did not works, the phone does not give enough power
- Nikon Coolpix S3300 Camera => did not work, maybe the same issue
- USB PS3 controller => it works (the game needs to be compatible)
- USB Keyboard => it works and you can configure the keyboard layout in the menu
- USB Mice => It works a cursor appears on screen
edit from January 11 :
The 6 januray i asked ibuygou if they can make this kind of test (Xperia) :
The support answered me than i can do this test, and if it break they will send me a new MI2.
Unfortunatly i declined the offer, i did not wish to wait for a new phone ore pay more taxes.
But to MY SURPRISE, ibuygou did this video (they also said my name in it ^^)
here is the video (warning : at the begining there is a screen protection on the phone so don't be afraid
So I hope you find these review useful.
If there is something specific you wish me to test, just ask me
ps: sorry if there are some errors in the text, i'm French and i tried my best to do an English review as good as i could. (if corrections are needed please feel free to pm me the correction so i'll edit this post)