Xiaomi's latest flagship, the Mi4, is a force to be reckoned with in China. With the potential to outsell practically every other flagship phone this year in China, pending the manufacturing of enough units of course, the Mi4 combines killer specs with a killer price and an equally killer build quality. Xiaomi is using premium components and manufacturing to give this a true flagship feel, and along with it will deliver the newest version of its own custom version of Android, MIUI 6, sometime next month. Oddly enough when Xiaomi launched the Mi4 it didn't launch MIUI 6 alongside it, rather packed it with MIUI 5 and allowed users to download and install the MIUI 6 beta until the finishing touches can be made to the OS.
With that beta tag there are a few things to note. First of all you're looking at a completely redesigned UI in many portions, including brand new notification toggle designs, menu reworkings and a new theme that looks very much like iOS 8. Since it's beta though take note that a few key features are going to be missing until Xiaomi is able to work them back into the new code, notably the advanced camera features like Live HDR, slow motion video and plenty of others. If you're not a heavy user of these features or don't mind things being broken for a while, give this a shot! Otherwise you may just want to stick to MIUI 5 for the time being until a more final release comes out. For those that are willing to jump in, let's get started!
First thing's first, let's grab all the files you're going to need for this to work. The easiest way to do this is to just download them onto your Mi4, so head on over to the official MIUI site for the full developer ROM, which at the time of this writing was MIUI 4.9.14 (MIUI 6). Click on the "download full ROM" button and grab the nearly 400MB file. Once the file has finished downloading, navigate to your built-in file explorer and move the MIUI ROM file to the root directory of the internal storage and rename it to "update.zip". Be sure to make the name in all lower case and check the spelling before continuing.
Once you've got your files in place hold down the volume up button and power button until the phone reboots, then make sure to keep it held until the screen gets brighter (it's obvious), and then you can let go. This will boot the phone into Recovery Mode which will let you flash the update.zip by clicking "Install update.zip to System One/Two". Xiaomi designs their phones with two ROM partitions so that in case you get a bad flash you can always revert quickly and easily to the last good configuration, which is why we've broken this tutorial into two steps. The phone will ask you to confirm install of update.zip, click yes and continue. Once it's finished click OK then reboot to the system that's marked "latest."
The phone will take a few minutes to boot up since it's starting a bunch of new stuff from scratch. At this point it should just boot into the OS as you had it configured before, except now it looks brand new. Since we didn't clear any data with the update you should still have all your old stuff, account setup, etc. on the phone without having to reconfigure this stuff. At this point make sure that everything works: phone calls, taking pictures, opening Google apps like Hangouts, the Play Store and others. I ran into a lot of issues when upgrading but it doesn't seem to be consistent per person, so if you're experiencing a lot of force closes and the like head on over to our second step guide for clearing these up and getting Google apps back working again too. If you don't have your own Xiaomi Mi4 you can buy the 16GB version here, and the 64GB version here!