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Xiaomi MI3: user experience and review

I brought a small souvenir from China: smartphone MI3. Flagship of currently raising company Xiaomi. After hard bargaining I got to price 1650 kwai including a case (i.e. roughly US$250). What can do a smartphone for price this low?

In China new smartphone companies are popping like mushrooms after rain (as we Czech would say). Some sell their products with more and some with less success. Xiaomi is trying to imitate the image of Apple as a "design" company in China. Yet, it doesn't do it through copying iPhone as other major companies did. It rather copies Nokia :-).

Xiaomi MI3

Xiaomi caters for Chinese market. Its phones are cheap, with extremely good hardware, software prepared for Chinese speaking customers, and rather cheap chassis (no one here cares for chassis, everyone uses a cover anyway).

The company only sells its smartphones online. Yet, when you are in China you can buy it through various resellers. Chinese still go shopping in person often.

Design, build, hardware

The phone in itself looks good and actually original. It may remind the design of Nokia Lumia. Yet with plastic back it may feel a bit cheap. But only until you put it into a leather or leatherette case. Awesome 5" display with resolution 1920x1080 resolution covered by Gorilla Glass takes the outlook one level up.

With HW specs it can easily compete with flagships: I want to highlight Snapdragon 800, compass and barometer, and 3050 mAh battery. There was still 40% of batter when I finished my three day hike along Great Wall using the phone as a GPS tracker and as a map(but turning off GSM).

Software

Lots of people around were concerned with software as the MIUI is made specially for Chinese market (which means no Google services). In fact you can run Google Play store and all Google apps. I have stuck with MIUI launcher and I quite like it. It is minimalistic and in fact very pretty.

Great advantage and the reason why I opted for Xiaomi instead of Meizu is growing overseas community as Xiaomi already expanded to Singapore and Malaysia. I think they even plan going to India.

Conclusion

I am quite happy with the smartphone.  Now I carry it all around to break the cliché and to show people that China has changed: it is not anymore only a place for imitation, it is a place of innovation. First question I get from people I meet: "What is the new phone you got?" They wouldn't ask if I had iPhone... 

Update:The era when China was the place where you could get only fake iPhones or Samsung smartphones is perhaps over. Xiaomi is now capable of doing branding and it, actually, can do it well. Better than ZTE, Asus, Lenovo, or Huawei have done. Using efficient business model Xiaomi is now in the stage of expansion to developing markets. Bad protection of IP in these markets is definitely great help. I am curious how Chinese companies will move the smartphone market in the future.

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