Xiaomi’s 2014 flagship smartphone, Mi 4, goes on sale in the Indian market on February 10. The phone priced around Rs 20,000, brings high-end hardware specifications to the mid-range segment, similar to Mi 3 smartphone launched in July last year.
However, the landscape has changed radically and surprisingly, consumers have other options to choose from.
Xiaomi pitted the phone against these and other high-end offerings and even showcased a related slide at a launch event in New Delhi. One name that appears to one up the Mi 4, at least in some counts, is the OnePlus One.
Priced slightly higher at Rs 21,990, the ‘flagship killer’ is Mi 4’s biggest rival. Should you buy the new Mi 4 or go for the OnePlus One?
We try to help you make a buying decision…
1. BUILD & DESIGN
Build & design
Mi 4 has a softer persona, thanks to rounded corners and looks premium with the steel frame and chamfered edges. It also has a comparatively smaller form factor. The OnePlus One on the other hand falls in phablet territory but doesn't feel very bulky, thanks to the optimum weight to dimension ratio.
The One is made largely from high-quality polycarbonate materials and the clean lines and subtle curves dominate the minimalist design philosophy of the phone.
Both of the phones are slightly curved at the back, enhancing ergonomics but the OnePlus One comes with a sandstone grey finish which is very unique; it is resistant to smudges and even grime stains are less apparent.
Xiaomi Mi 4 looks more premium but the OnePlus One scores higher when it comes to day-to-day use. However, users who want better one-hand use experience may prefer Mi 4.
Xiaomi Mi 4 is powered by a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB RAM. Interestingly, the OnePlus One also features the same chip and RAM configuration.
Both of the phones don’t feature external storage slots but the OnePlus One has an edge over the Mi 4 as it comes with 64GB of storage space. The Mi 4 offers just 16GB so you’ll need to think twice before storing your music library or transferring a movie.
The Mi 4 also doesn’t come with support for 4G. The OnePlus One on the other hand, supports Band 3 or FD-LTE 1800MHz which will be used by network providers in India for future deployments as well as TD-LTE Band 40 2300MHz, which is being currently used. So, OnePlus One will be able to support all 4G networks in India, when they’re rolled out.
Mi 4 comes with a 3080mAh battery and according to Xiaomi, the battery would last one and a half day with normal use. OnePlus One comes with a 3100mAh battery and the phone lasts a full day with heavy use.
Xiaomi Mi 4 runs MIUI 6, a new version of the company's operating system, based on Android 4.4 KitKat. The OnePlus One comes with CyanogenMod 11S, a custom after-market version of Android 4.4 KitKat developed by Cyanogen. While OnePlus One’s interface is extremely close to Stock Android, MIUI resembles Apple’s iOS in design and navigation and doesn’t come with a separate app drawer.
CyanogenMod is known for its customisability, enhanced security and additional features, while MIUI focuses on ease of use in addition to offering enhanced native apps, better notifications and things like call recording and call blocking.
Both operating systems support themes and let users customize all UI elements. Of the two, Xiaomi’s MIUI content store has richer themes and wallpapers. It’s worth pointing out that there’s an ongoing dispute between OnePlus and Cyanogen due to which OnePlus One will not receive any software updates in the future.
However, OnePlus is working on its own Android ROM (based on Android Lollipop) which is expected to release in February. The new software may be devoid of some CyanogenMod features.
The Xiaomi Mi 4 sports a 13MP rear camera featuring Sony Exmor RS stacked image sensor, 6-element lens, f/1.8 aperture, real-time HDR and 4K UHD video recording with an LED flash.
The phone’s front camera also features an 8MP tracking Exmor RS back-illuminated image sensor, 80 degree wide-angle 5-element lens, and f/1.8 aperture. The phone’s front camera lens is one of the best among the current crop of devices and the rear camera also takes good quality pictures in sufficient light.
The OnePlus One also features a 13MP rear camera with Sony Exmor IMX 214 sensor, 6 lenses, f/2.0 aperture, 4K video with stereo recording, support for RAW files (in DNG format), Slow Motion — 720p video at 120fps,and a dual LED flash. The phone’s front camera has a 5MP sensor.
The OnePlus One has a great camera and takes low-light shots with the same elan as it captures daylight shots. Both of the phones offer good camera features and hardware.
5. PRICING AND CONCLUSION
Pricing and conclusion
Xiaomi Mi 4 has been priced at Rs 19,999, while OnePlus One retails at Rs 21,999. The Mi 4 will be exclusively available on Flipkart through weekly flash sales. The OnePlus One on the other hand is an Amazon India exclusive. It’s invite-based and to get your hands on one, you’ll first need to get hold of an invite.
Both the phones are difficult to acquire and you’ll need to go through the hassle of fetching for an invite or trying your luck in the flash sale.
So which one should you be buying? If you can make do with limited storage, aren’t looking forward to try 4G (to be realistic, it’ll take some time before going mainstream) and don’t want a phablet-sized device, the Mi 4 is your best bet. If you want to store your entire music library on your phone, want a big phone and like stock Android with high customisability, look no further: the OnePlus One it is.