Xiaomi’s low-cost iPhone rival – the Mi Note – is finally making its way to Singapore on July 28, months after it was unveiled in China to rave reviews.
The high-end smartphone from the Chinese electronics maker will cost S$569, usually the price of a mid-end smartphone, but will come with a number of much-desired features often found in more expensive flagship models.
Though it is slimmer than an Apple iPhone 6 Plus, the Mi Note comes with a handy 5.7-inch screen boasting Full HD resolution.
Just 6.95mm thin, it is easy to hold despite the relatively large screen, going by a quick hands-on test today at the Singapore launch.
The slim bezels help make it look sleek and the design is reminiscent of Apple. That’s a good thing, because there are clean lines and curved edges for a unified look.
For sure, this is not a cheap-looking phone. The Mi Note is on par with many flagship phones in terms of its look and feel.
The hardware inside isn’t shabby either. The new phone sports a proven Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, a good 3GB of RAM and useful 64GB of storage.
Like many Xiaomi phones before, the Mi Note supports two SIM cards. The Mi Note lets you pop in two 4G SIM cards, so you can connect to the fast lane when available.
What Xiaomi folks were also keen to highlight today in Singapore is the company’s Mi UI interface that runs on the Android operating system. As before, it is one of the cleanest around and is quick and intuitive.
The new phone also boasts an improved camera over the plain vanilla versions found on cheaper Xiaomi phones.
The Mi Note uses a 13-megapixel Sony sensor for its camera. It is helped by optical image stabilisation that compensates for hand shakes and keeps images sharp, especially in low light.
Xiaomi also touts the Mi Note’s hi-fi prowess. Out of the box, it will support popular lossless formats such as APE, FLAC, DSD and WAV, so audiophiles will be glad they don’t have to rely only on poor-sounding MP3s.
The company has used independent decoders and tuned the op-amp so the phone can drive larger headphones and produce higher quality.
Two crystal oscillators promise to ensure that the sampling rate is accurate. Add low-noise film resistors and this seems like a well-built portable music player as well.
We have yet to try this out extensively, because there wasn’t a better pair of headphones at the launch today than Xiaomi’s own budget offerings. We’d say more when we have a review unit on hand later.
Still, going by early impressions, the Chinese company seems to have come up with a competitive product to push up against larger rivals such as Apple or Samsung.
Certainly, the Mi Note’s price of S$569 is cheaper than the $1,000 or so asked for by rivals for similar “flagship” features.
The only thing it might lose out on is its screen, if you can tell the difference. At Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), it pumps out fewer pixels than the Quad HD displays (2,560 x 1,440) on the LG G4 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
There’s a Mi Note Pro that has the sharper Quad HD screen, but Xiaomi doesn’t have plans to bring this top-end model to Singapore for now. It’s still only for the domestic Chinese market.
As for the regular Mi Note, Singtel is the only telecom operator selling it in Singapore at a subsidised rate. The deal is exclusive for the lifetime of the product, say Xiaomi and Singtel executives.
Sign up for a Singtel combo plan that costs S$62.90 or more a month, and you’d get the Mi Note for free.
Alternatively, you can buy it at the full price by ordering online from the Xiaomi website. As usual, expect a crazy rush early on July 28.
You can get a head start if you are an Uber user though. “Limited quantities” of the phone can be ordered on the taxi booking app a day before, on July 27, thanks to a tie-up between the companies. You’d get the phone sent to you by Uber.