Xiaomi Mi4 Unboxing and Hardware Impressions

September 15, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Today in the mail I received a rather unsuspecting brown cardboard box, one that was obviously phone shaped but didn’t feature much in the way of pomp and circumstance in design.  On the box you’ll just see the words “mi” written on the front and back, along with the obligatory tech specs and serial numbers of course, but not much else.  It’s minimalist in every sense of the word and it almost feels like they’ve gone for a green look and feel for the packaging.  Opening the top cover reveals the phone, which has all the aesthetics of an iPhone without all those nasty bezels and physical home button.  Xiaomi instead uses capacitive buttons as many other Chinese manufacturers like to, which may or may not be your thing.  Underneath the phone in the box you’ll find the charger and micro USB cable, as well as some manuals and a SIM eject tool inside of a nice little notebook style holder.  Mine came with an additional adapter for the wall charger since the US plugs look a little different from Chinese plugs.

The phone itself is super slick and represents just about everything that looks like an iPhone 5/5s, even the chamfered edges around the metal edge on the phone.  The build of the phone is incredibly solid too, and is a joy to hold; not too light, but not too heavy either, and it feels really excellent in the hand.  The device feels small too compared with similarly sized devices like the Galaxy S4 or S5, and features a 5-inch screen that nearly fills the front of the face.  It’s a little taller than some 5-inch devices out there (except the HTC One) but is more narrow, and because of this feels like a smaller device.

Coming from phablet phones I was surprised that the screen actually felt big enough for every day use; something I don’t normally feel about any screen size smaller than 5.5-inches.  Likely the small bezels on each side coupled with the very small top and bottom  bezels really help that quite a bit, and keeping the keys capacitive gives a little more screen real estate than on-screen keys would.  The back of the phone is covered in that normal slick Samsung-y plastic that many loath, but given all the customizable backs that Xiaomi sells for the phone, it’s not like there aren’t options out there.  The 13-megapixel camera and single-LED flash sit near the top of the backside of the phone, and the MI logo and stickers sit near the bottom.

Looking around the sides of the device you’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right side, with the volume rocker being placed above the power button.  Moving to the bottom you’ll see a single speaker and micro USB port, and nothing but a SIM card tray on the left side of the phone.    The top of the phone features a 3.5mm audio jack, which almost doesn’t fit given how thin the phone is, as well as an IR blaster for TV remote functionality.  Aesthetically there’s absolutely no denying the iPhone inspired look of the device.  Cover up the capacitive buttons and the MI logo that sits just above the top left corner of the screen and you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and practically any iPhone apart from the physical size (which is still larger than the standard iPhone 6) and the super small bezels.

Overall the hardware of the phone feels very impressive, and holds that same quality feeling build that an iPhone does.  If you’re in the market for a device that feels like that but is still uniquely Android, the Mi4 might just be the phone to get. We’ll have more on the Xiaomi Mi4 in the coming weeks as we work up to our full review of the phone, but in the meantime if you don’t feel like waiting or already have your mind made up that you want the device, you can buy the 16GB version here, and the 64GB version here.