The Bottom Line
- It’s a well-built smartphone
- The phone is thin
- The camera is nice
- The battery life is great
- The screen is vivid
- Software is intuitive
- Not available in US yet
The hardware of the Xiaomi Mi Note is very well-built and its fast performance would satisfy those who love phablets but unfortunately, it has not been available in the US market.
Xiaomi has once introduced an accessory shop for the US market in a press event, in which every attendee could have a chance to hold the phone in hands. What is the reason that the Xiaomi Note has not been released into the US market? Let’s find more detailed information in this review article on this recently released model.
As you can see in its name, the Xiaomi Note is obviously one of the phablets, both in terms of the design as well as the construction quality. This is a very nice-looking smartphone. The front is made of 2.5D glass, together with sophisticated curves alongside the phone sides. The back is supported by 3D glass with much more noticeable curves surround its edges. And the outmost frame is a metal one, which helps the phone fit your hands well.
Although it’s pretty large, it still feels comfortable when holding in hands, thanks to the slim bezels along the edges of the screen as well as the impressive thickness which is kept at 7mm only. Through some hand testing, the fact proves that the phone is pretty easy to be managed for most of the parts.
As the back’s built by glass, it will be easy for it to get smudgy and the fingerprints become more seeable on it. But if you select the white option, these things become less noticeable, except the case that you look into it carefully. However, it’s a bit different for the back option, so it’s something that should be put into consideration before deciding on one.
The right side is where the power as well as volume button is located at. This location enables users to use these buttons very easily, both in terms of touching and pressing the buttons. On the top, you will see the headphone jack while the single speaker and microUSB port is located at the bottom. The SIM card slot is on the right inside the phone. The capacitive menu, home app or back keys all are on the front interface of the phone. Together with them, there is a multi-colored LED notification light, earpiece and front camera are located at their common place above the screen.
The IPS LCD screen of the Mi Note measures 5.7 inches, which is pretty large. It has a 1080p resolution and 386 ppi pixel density. The colors are accurate, the brightness is good and the viewing angles are nice. And, it’s easy to view the screen outdoors. Especially, this phone brings out the great user experience for such commonly-used task as: browsing the webs, watching movies, and playing games.
You can make adjustments on the color of the screen in the configurations so that its contrast or the warmth can be changed to a proper level. Actually, the default configurations are nice enough, and for most of the time, it seems to be that you don’t need to change anything. If you want to have a higher touchscreen sensitivity, you can make use of the “glove mode” while the reading mode will be nice for making the display more visible. It’s similar to the way that the flux application is used for windows and mac, and you can even select an application to activate this feature.
The Mi Note is operated by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processing unit. It storage capability is up to 3GB and it uses a Adreno 330 graphics processing unit. Expect the storage space, the above feature seems to a little out of date compared to the improvements from last year, but the phone still can deal with processor-intensive task well.
You’ll find the performance very nice when you swipe, scroll, open, close, switch between applications and interface navigation. It is good even for playing games. Although after a moment of gaming, you may find it uncomfortable when the phone becomes warm, this does not affect the performance at all.
And keep in mind that the reviewed model is just a pre-production version. Consequently, it was not strange that some instances might be caused by the beta version of software. However, the phone still performed pretty smoothly and certainly, the final version will be thorough examined before launching into the market.
The image sensor is nice. The Mi Note support 4G LTE connecting option but what a pity that it does not support US LTE bands. There are two available storage capabilities, including: 64 GB and 16 GB and you can’t expand the storage space through microSD card. Among these two options, people seem to prefer the 64 GB version.
The volume of the speaker is pretty loud and the sound is nice. Because this speaker is located at the bottom, when you use the phone in the horizontal alignment, you will find the audio firing in the side. In this situation, you may find your palm spread over the speaker and affect the sound.
The Xiao Mi Note includes a 3,000 mAh battery. In comparison with the batteries of other smartphones of the similar sizes, this battery is just at the average level. But it has proven to be very solid in my test. The battery life could be up to one day and a half when you use the phone to send messages, browse webs, enter social networks, as well as play light games or view Youtube videos, with the screen-on duration of slightly more than five hours. For other processor-intensive such as capturing images or playing a lot of games, this duration was reduced to four hours, but the phone still can be used for the whole day.
One more thing that contributes to the impressiveness of this battery is the ability to save the power through saving profile when one or two percent of the battery is left. When the battery reach this point, the above profiles can help phone disconnect all networks to prolong the battery. The good point here is that you can set these automatic profiles whenever the phone’s gonna out of the battery.
The camera in the back has the resolution of 13 megapixels. It supports optical IS as well as a dual tone LED flash, both of which are not commonly found in smartphone these days. It’s pretty easy to use the camera user interface. The shutter button’s in the white color and there are a lot of modes and features, which are not difficult to use.
You can reach some various modes such as: manual, refocus, or panorama and some other ones when you swipe upward or to the right while there are live filters when you swipe downwards or to the left. These filters brings some fun to your image capturing. There is a digital ring on the screen, which can be manually turned on for setting the exposure. This ring is nice and very intuitive. The refocus feature is a nice feature. Although it is not a very impressive feature, it performs well, as long as you focus on a clear subject and background.
The images shot with the Mi Note are of good sharpness and nice colors for both indoor and outdoor lighting conditions. The shutter speed is quick. You can try shooting photos in the HDR mode to make your photos more interesting. This mode brings back some details while it also add more warmth and colors into the photos. The noise problems do occur when you shoot photos under inadequate lighting conditions, but it’s the optical IS and ISO kept at 3200 only which help produce better results. The sharpness and detail of those images have been significantly lowered, but in general, this camera still performs very well.
The camera in the front has the resolution of 4 megapixels. If you like taking sefie photos, this camera is very nice, which can help make you more beautify by defining your age and gender. It performs greatly and the image quality is nice, but sometimes, it cannot guess the age accurately.
The Xiao Mi Note is operated by the Android 4.4 Kitkat system, with Mi User Interface on top. As it’s common for many original equipment manufacturer and their custom running systems, this interface is not included with the app drawer. Consequently, you have no choice but use folders as the only way to get organized.
The icons are square and colorful, and so are the pre-loaded wallpapers, that actually look great on this display, without being gaudy or overbearing. In this review unit, there were a lot of Chinese applications pre-installed, and the Google Play Store isn’t available by default, but it was very quick and easy to install it and then download all the applications that I needed.
The appearance of the icons, pre-loaded wallpaper is all nice-looking on the screen. In this tested model, the manufacturer mainly pre-installed Chinese apps, and the Google Play Store is not set to be the default, but it does not take time to have it installed at all. Then, it’s also easy for downloading the needed apps through this store.
With the MIUI interface, you can find a variety of great features on setting the audio or themes. The audio quality can be enhanced through setting the Hi-Fi audio. In addition, there is a wide range of interesting themes that you can apply, in which you can change the wallpapers, icons, lock screen or some default apps. The phone also enables you to use one-handed mode. To have this mode activated, you just need to swipe from the home button outward in the left or right direction, then shrink down the display from anywhere in the range of 4.5-inches to 3.5-inches. Overall, this interface is very nice, but actually, it also take you some certain time to get used to it.
The price of the Xiaomi Mi Note in China is about $370. This smartphone has not been available in the US, but you can buy it through eBay, which increase the total cost for buying this phone up to about $500.
The above review has answered the question that’s spoken out in the beginning of this article. The Xiao Mi Note has been a strong model that can compete with many smartphones in the US market, but unfortunately, it has not been released in this market. Overall, this is a great smartphone, both in regard of the hardware and software, and especially, it brings enjoyable using experiences pretty often. The device is worth our Editor’s Choice Award.