It is not often that we get astounded by new devices. The Xiaomi Mi 3 is therefore a bit of a rare breed. Its spec sheet puts it right alongside – and in some cases, even ahead – of the best devices in the business, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8 and the Sony Xperia Z2. But its price… well, its price is in Moto G territory. Yes, you read that right: the Xiaomi Mi3 comes with a 5.0-inch full HD display, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, a 3050 mAh battery, a 13.0-megapixel camera and Android 4.4.2. And its price – in India at least, is on par with the 16 GB version of the Moto G: Rs 13,999. The closest thing to it perhaps is the Gionee Elife E7 which is priced at close to Rs 26,000 and the Nexus 5 itself which carries a price tag of Rs 27,999. In essence, this is a bit like getting a Ferrari for the price of a very good motorbike!
Whether any corners have been cut in terms of performance to reach that price tag is something that we will know only after having used the device extensively (a review will be up in the coming days, we promise). But our initial hands-on experience has been…well, just as surprising as the price of the device: very pleasant indeed.
For, unlike some other high-specced and relatively low priced devices, the Mi 3 does not seem to have cut any corners in design terms. No, we are not saying that it will make people turn around and look at you every time you pull the phone out, but it certainly is a good-looking device, albeit more Gary Cooper than George Clooney. It is a mere 8.1mm thin (thinner than the Nexus 5 and Xperia Z2 and as thin as the Galaxy S5) and although at 145 grammes, it is not featherweight, there is a reassuring solidity to it. The front is buttonless and plain with the 5.0-inch display holding centrestage, with a speaker and a 2.0-megapixel camera above it. The sides are rounded in a manner that is reminiscent of the early Lumias and the body is metallic, giving it a nice solid feel (and justifying the weight!). If we had to nitpick, we would say that the edges are sharp and do tend to jut into one’s palm a bit, but all in all, this is a comfortable device to hold.
The volume rocker and the power/display on/off buttons are on the right, the left side is totally plain, the micro-USB port and a speaker grille are at the base of the phone and bang on the top are the 3.5 mm audio jack and the SIM card tray. Speaking of the latter, there is a bit of a surprise here, as the Mi 3 takes standard sized SIM, rather than a micro or nano SIM. Also making that tray pop out is a bit of a task, but reviewers apart, we don’t see too many people doing that too often, so it is unlikely to be a deterrent. The back is plain metal and has the 13.0-megapixel camera with dual LED flash (a surprise again) in the lop left corner. If anything, it is a bit too plain – a few people thought it was a portable charger when the phone was lying face-down on our table – but again, hardly a deal-breaker.
The Mi 3 runs Android 4.4.2 with Xiaomi’s MIUI interface. And it is here that we feel that the device will face its real test, as many high-specced Android devices have brought to their knees by an interface that tends to hog their resources rather than leverage them. That does not seem to have happened so far as the phone has responded with splendid speed to our initial touches and taps, but what does the future have in store? Ah, wait for our review to find out. In the meantime, what we CAN confirm is that the Xiaomi Mi 3 definitely has not only the specs and price going for it, but the looks and feels too.