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Xiaomi Mi-3 Review Part 1 - The Hardware

Introduction
Finally Xiaomi Mi-3 is launched in Singapore on 7th March 2014. The phone has been much talk about in the past few months. As you might already know, Xiaomi has been growing from strength to strength doubling it's sales year to year. Their phones have been selling like hotcakes and sold out every time it is out for sales in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. When they launched the Hongmi during the past 2 launches here in Singapore, it's sold out within minutes. Mi-3 launches this time round is no difference, it's sold out in 2 minute. Well, the number of Mi-3 phones put out for sales is unknown...
Design
First thing you will noticed when you get your Mi-3 is that the phone is beautifully packaged in a slim brown box. When you opened the box, you will see the much waited Mi-3. 
Xiaomi’s flagship phone is an extremely slim and light device. It measures 5-inches with a thickness of a mere 8.1mm and weighing at only 145 grams. The design looks like a hybrid of Nokia Lumia 800 and Sony Xperia Z. The aluminium looking polycarbonate body looks good. Since it is not real aluminium, you wouldn't need to worry that it will get dents easily. The Corning Gorilla glass fronting the IPS LCD makes the screen looks gorgeous. The combination of the faux aluminium body and gorilla glass gives the phone a premium feel. My only grip is that the rectangular phone is a bit clunky and doesn’t sit well in my hands. I wish it had the slightly rounded corners of the Mi-2S.

Performance
The 16GB Singapore version of Mi-3 is equipped with a quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Based on AnTuTu benchmark, the Mi-3 is ranked number one in terms of speed, easily outperforming high-end competing phones like Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One.
Video performance is as impressive. The phone plays 1080p video beautifully sharp and clear. Games from less graphics intensive one such Pet Rescue Saga to the heavily intensive one such as Real Racing 3 play smoothly and speedy. It is extremely responsive without any lag at all. 
Battery life sits pretty well with me during the past 2 days. I had a full charge in the morning at 6:30am and by 9:30pm, I am left with 6% charge giving me about 15 hours of usage. During this time, I play about 2 hours of games on and off. I had my company push mails and I am checking the Straits Times breaking news regularly. In between, I had surf about an hour of internet and taking about 20 photographs. I also had the honour of demoing and introducing the phone to my curious colleagues.
Camera
Camera performance with the 13 megapixels Sony Exmor sensor under broad daylight is excellent. The camera has a bright f2.2 lens and a wide angle of 28mm. Even photo taken under undesired lighting condition didn't disappoint.
The photos shown below are taken from the Mi-3 without any editing other than the resizing.
(c) 2014 Tech Wonders

(C) 2014 Tech Wonders

In terms of the front facing camera, it is a 2 megapixel camera with the same bright f2.2 and 28mm wide lens as the rear camera. Ladies will love this front facing camera because the camera software provides an automatic brightening and smoothening of the skin tones.

Sound

The speaker of the phone is located at the bottom of the phone. When you are playing games or watching video in landscape mode, you will unintentionally covered the output and blocked the sound. Thus a earphones is necessary. This is where the Dirac SFX surround sound employed in Mi-3 comes in to optimise the audio output quality and provides theatrical like surround sound with your earphones. It is impressive!
Call/Data/GPS
Call quality is good with Mi-3. You can configure the phone to reduce background noise either by using the rear mic and/or main mic. The data connection is quite disappointing though. I kept having drop connection in 3.5G mobile network. However when it's not dropping, the HSPA+ speed is still acceptable.
5G and 2.4G wifi connection is fast without any issue.
The GPS locking is fast if you have a good network connection. Else it will take a much longer time to hook-up to the satellites. Also, I noticed that my GPS tends to "hang". This causes the compass app to fail to work, and also the camera app to hang as well. Only a reboot of the phone fixes the problem.
Maybe I might have a lemon... 

NFC (updated)

This might not be a big thing, but Mi-3 has NFC built-in. The NFC chip is located around the mi logo on the back of the phone. I tested it with my Sony SRSTV5 speaker and it works seamlessly. I simply touch the speaker with the phone's back mi logo while playing my song and voila, the speaker is paired and the sound plays out from the speaker.
Wrap-up
The Mi-3 is a premium Android that performs exceptionally beyond the S$419 no-contract price that you have paid. It makes one wonder why Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia and HTC One with equivalent specs are slapped with a premium price range.
If you are not put away by a 5-inches screen size big phone and the lack of LTE, you should look no further. 
I will provide a review of the OS in my next write-up.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Excellent review
Anonymous said…
Hi, I noticed that my mi3 phone gets heated up pretty quickly. Do you experience the same issue?
p.tan said…
It get heated up when I am playing games, otherwise it seems ok.
DarKScoRpioN said…
Great news. MOL is giiving away a free Xiaomi powerbank with the 2014 Hari Raya Promo.

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