Disclaimer: This is not a paid review, this is just my personal review of the phone after a few days using it. Fyi, I am a fan of Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson’s way of reviewing things, so you can count on this review to be nothing short of useless.
I have to be honest, I have not really spent that much time exploring this new phone of mine. I have been busy working even over the weekends and holidays after all. For a few seconds, I contemplated whether to put off reviewing this phone until I know more. But then, I figured if I do not know much by now, I probably would not know much even if I wait for 2 more months. So, I will just tell you what I know. And whatever comparisons I make below is only between this new phone and my old generation one Galaxy Note. I was never a fan of the fruit brand and have never used their phones, so I have no idea how they compare.
One thing immediately apparent is the difference in size between my old Note and this new phone.
The height of both the phones are the same, but the width is smaller for Mi3. This means it is easier for me to hold it securely in my hand.
Actually, I don’t think I’m going to show you how the phone looks like physically. There are so many photos doing that job out there.
I also don’t think I will tell you about the technical specs in detail. They are all boring stuff and you can read them on the official website. Let’s just say in terms of hardware, Mi3 has comparable specs with Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 5.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRICE?:
I wanted to say dirt cheap, but that’s not going to cut it. No gadget companies will sell anything at dirt cheap price. I would say, the Mi3 is sold at a reasonable price to seduce potential customers, while still remaining profitable. Okay, screw the politically correct wordings. Let’s get to the point. Mi3 has comparable hardware specs with the Note 3 and iPhone 5, at less than half the price.
IS IT ANDROID?
This Mi3 phone is powered by MIUI, which Xiaomi claims is developed based on Android. A lot of my peers claim that this MIUI is actually Xiaomi taking Android and trying to make it seem more like iOS (iPhone system). I personally have never used any iPhones before, so I cannot know for sure. But I do feel this phone does not operate entirely like my old Galaxy Note.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE PHONE SO FAR?
I like their screen saver. When you want to unlock the phone, you only need to slide on a small circular area of the screen. Perfect for Lazy Man, Lazy Man no like too much finger sliding movement, especially since the screen is big. And instead of just unlocking the screen, you can slide in 4 directions to get quick access to different things: Phone, Message, Camera and Unlock. I don’t remember my Note has this feature.
They have a General settings tab, which is 100% identical to Android’s Settings, but they also have a Quick settings tab, where the few settings that we generally use more frequently are placed.
Again, this is a Lazy Man friendly feature. Saves me more time and even more finger sliding movement to get to the stuff that I want.
I always love it when my phone comes with built-in tools that I like. Apps like recorder, calculator and clock are things that I use on a day to day basis. FM Radio is handy when I am traveling overseas and wants some local music. Compass is super useful on Chinese New Year’s Eve when we want to set the praying table up outside the house 😉 . It’s not like these are groundbreaking stuff, I know my Note has them, I am just glad that Mi3 has them too. Not all phones have these stuff built-in. My old HTC for one has nothing.
4. Web Browser
The default web browser on this guy does something that my Note’s browser does not, something which I need to install the Dolphin browser to get. It auto adjusts the alignment of websites that does not have mobile friendly version.
This is a very important feature for me. You know, I hate mobile version of websites. Even when viewing through phone, I prefer to view web version of websites. I like the full experience.
5. Photo Gallery
With the Note, when you press the Gallery button, it opens up the folders view, and then you select which folder you want to access, be it Camera, Instagram, Screenshots etc. With this Mi3 however, the Camera folder is loaded by default. This is another smart feature that Lazy Man approves. I mean, most of the time, we access the Photo Gallery to see photos that we shoot. If we want to view Instagram photos, we open Instagram. 90% of the time, we won’t open our Photo Gallery to view Instagram photos. So why make us work our fingers more to reach our Camera photos, right?
You know the photos that you previously see in my blog? Those were mostly taken using my Note. Let me confess, when I took the photos, they looked awesome on the phone’s screen. But once I transferred them to the laptop, all of them needed to go through Windows Picture Manager’s Auto Adjust before I dare to post them online.
With this new phone, I have not done that so far. The original photos does not look terrible enough to warrant that extra effort. Lazy Man will not spend extra effort to make photos look nicer unless it is absolutely necessary.
When the phone was launched, there were people who stripped this phone apart and discovered that the 13 megapixel rear camera is actually Sony’s camera. Xiaomi did not claim it on their official website though. I guess maybe only the early batch (or China only batch) uses Sony’s camera.
And then there’s the camera settings. Again Xiaomi has been smart with predicting which features we will most frequently use.
Seriously, when we snap photos with a phone, it is always Auto mode. Who cares about those stuff under that Advanced settings?
WHAT DO YOU NOT LIKE ABOUT THE PHONE SO FAR?
None with the phone so far. The thing that I don’t like is Xiaomi’s marketing gimmicks. I hate how they try to pretend that their devices are selling like hot cakes when the fact is they are not producing enough phones to sell. I hate how they toy with potential customers’ emotions and internet connections. I hate how they even attempts to delay my phone’s delivery by requesting for future delivery option with the shipping company. What? You think I am stupid and do not know how to check the package’s status with a tracking number?
The only reason I bought this phone is because Samsung and Apple have priced their phones out of my budget in recent years. I bought this phone not because of the marketing gimmicks. I bought this phone despite the marketing stunts.
My verdict? Yeah, I think I will like this new phone quite a lot. I hope it will stick with me for a long time without breaking down. I’m aiming for at least 2 years, like my Note.