With the much talked about Xiaomi MI3 mobile going up for sale in the next few hours, let me jump in and discuss a few things in my mind about this device. If you are a power user and you root your Android mobiles for Installing custom ROMs, MIUI is no stranger to you. If not let me introduce MIUI. MIUI is the first product from the startup Xiaomi based in China. It is a custom ROM built on top of the Android platform. Like many other custom ROMs out there, MIUI has a lot of features which the official Android (AOSP) cannot and will not provide you. But MIUI is a class apart from all the other custom ROMs out there. It has customization capabilities like no other. It is very user friendly and user experience has always been at its center of concentration. Official and stable MIUI ROM is available for many leading mobile devices. Unofficial ports are available for almost all the devices in the market. To install the ROM, your device must be rooted and flashed with a recovery tool. If these words sound alien to you, never mind. Just keep in mind that MIUI is a great custom android operating system that can be loaded on any Android device.
Obviously me being a fan of the MIUI ROM and a senior member in the forum, I am completely excited about the MI3 mobile launched and made available. If you want a little history of this device, do read my previous post here.
Xiaomi MI3 compared to other Chinese mobiles
There are zillion Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean mobiles available in India, including the likes of Samsung, and Micromax. But whats Xiaomi brings to the table is a stable shelf life. Each device from Xiaomi has quite a long production time, availability period and support time. The devices are not just supported by Xiaomi, but there are dedicated forums with bunch of enthusiastic developer who have created a healthy community for Xiaomi product users.
Cheap on price but not on quality
Usually Chinese mobiles are known for their substandard hardware and unstable software. Xiaomi is a company which pays attention to details. Every single hardware component used in the MI3 is of utmost quality standards. The processor is a Qualcomm snapdragon 800. The 2 GB RAM is DDR3 and not even DDR2. The internal 16 GB storage is from sandisk. The 13 MP camera sensor is Sony. The display is protected by corning glass. The body is made of metal and feels premium. Needless to say that the MI3 has the best of the best in all its heart and soul. But how did they still manage to peg it at a price point of Rs 13999.
I met up with Hugo Barra, the Vice President of International operations and asked him the same question and here is what Hugo had to say (not the exact words) about the price of the device.
The MI3 is not a new device, though it may be new to India. It has been on the shelves since 8-9 months now. They have sold quite a number of devices and it is being mass manufactured now. Though it has all the high end specs, it is not the latest and greatest hardware. There are new and upgraded versions of the processor available right now. Also Xiaomi is a very aggressive company and wants to price this device aggressively. It has actually priced it at cost-to-cost in a hope to make it a competitive buy. Xiaomi is not selling this device through the regular sales channel. It is selling it online exclusively through flipkart and this is a major player in the low cost.
Well, that makes sense. Check out the comparison of MI3 with the other high end devices. It falls nothing short of those devices compared and yet it is priced very aggressively and that is an advantage to the buyers.
Flipkart vs Brick’n’Mortar
Flipkart has had some success stories selling mobile exclusively in its online store. Though this is a new trend, it is quite convenient for people who are comfortable buying mobiles online. But still there is a massive percentage of the population in India, who are not comfortable with online purchases. These people, especially from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities currently buy Chinese mobiles compared to big brands, especially for the price. They are ready to compromise on the quality just for the price. They normally don’t understand half the bullet points in a spec sheets. It all boils down to the final cost. This is where brands like Samsung and Micromax have been able to exploit them. My question to Hugo Barra was this and how would he want to reach out to these people.
I completely and whole heartedly agree to your point. Xiaomi is not a mobile device brand. It is a Internet company. We are selling our internet content to the people and the touch points are devices like the MI3. MI3 has had some great success stores in countries with similar economy like India and Xiaomi is here to replicate that. They want to sell a story rather than a device. This is a starting point and let us see where it takes us.
That being said, I hope that Xiaomi will make its devices available through the offline channels in the near future.
Service centers and MI homes
Xiaomi has opened up 36 service centers in 20 cities at the time of the launch of its first device in India. Of these 2 centers are exclusive service centers. One in Bangalore and the other in Delhi. We all know that Xiaomi is trying hard to replicate Apple in every aspect and these service centers are no different. The MI homes are comparable to the Apple stores. If you have any issue with your Xiaomi device, these exclusive service centers will get it sorted out within a few hours and the other service centers are targeting to get your device back in shape at the least within the next working day. Hugo Barra said
…though this would mean high cost, Xiaomi is willing to pay to get it done. The hardware architecture of devices also make this possible. Xiaomi hardware engineers work closely with the service engineers and every feedback is taken into account…
Apart from Nokia, I have never seen such a commitment to service from any other manufacturer.
Copying is a form of flattery
I asked Hugo Barra, why does all Xiaomi products look like Apple products? Why does Xiaomi copy Apple in every single step? This is what Hugo Barra has to say about this
When there is something good out there, why not replicate it and make it even better?
Xiaomi devices and software surely does draw a lot of inspiration Apple and that is just at the presentation level. In principle they are totally different. The operation system, MIUI is offers tonnes of features that is not present even Android, forget IOS. It gives the utmost freedom and control to the end user. The customization features, the privacy control and the sense of freedom is totally unmatched and this is coming from a MIUI user.
Me You I
The MIUI is a custom ROM that is built on top of Android. Though it is found by default in all Xiaomi devices, it is also available to any other Android device. It is currently on version 5 and with every version is there notable change to the user interface and loads of features added. The MIUI is known for its regular updates. It is as regular as every friday. Apart from those tonnes of themes and customization options, the MIUI brings in a lot of bold new features to your mobile. With a MIUI on your mobile you have the control of the apps that are running the background. You have the control over the permissions that each of the apps have on your mobile. You can fine tune and control them according to your preference. Even if you are not sure, MIUI can take care of it intelligently for you. With MIUI on your mobile you wont be needing additional software like Anti-virus, clean master, anti-theft, device locator, cloud sync, etc,. All these and more are built in to the ROM by default and if you don’t like them, you are free to uninstall any application. Go ahead, install the MIUI on your Android difference and feel the difference.
I would say that MI3 is a great device to buy, not just for the price, but also for the features, values and commitments it brings along. Incase you have missed the links mentioned in the article, here is it.