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June 23, 2014

Xiaomi Mi 3 Review

The Xiaomi Mi 3 made a really good impression when it first launched in China last year. The flagship packs good aesthetics, high-end specs, and a very aggressive price tag – features that all consumers are longing for in a smartphone. Now that it has finally made its way to the Philippines, is Xiaomi posed to take the local smartphone market by storm? Find out by reading our full review of the Mi 3 below.

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Design and Construction

As mentioned in our first impressions, one of the strong suits of the Mi 3 is its physical attributes. On the front we have the 5-inch Full HD IPS display, the earpiece, light sensor, the 2 megapixel front-facing camera, and the Xiaomi logo. Found below are three illuminated capacitive buttons for Options, Home, and Back.

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The left side is devoid of any buttons while the right side houses the volume rocker and the power/lock button. Right on top are the headset jack, the pinholes for the microphone, and the SIM card tray which accepts regular-sized SIM cards. Found at the bottom are the speaker grill and the reinforced microUSB port.

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Flip it on its back and you’ll find the 13 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, another pinhole for the microphone, and the Xiaomi branding etched at the lower part which is also the location of the NFC chip.

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On hand, the Mi 3 feels premium and very well-made. The glass is encased in a glossy plastic bezel which gives off a smooth yet edgy feel. It’s also easy to grip as the sides are rounded. The top and bottom, on the other hand, are flat that you can actually make the Mi 3 stand on its own if you place it on a flat surface.

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To top it off, the Mi 3’s chassis comes with a solid body and feels metallic (even the physical buttons) thanks to its magnesium alloy frame coated with thermal graphite.

Display

The Mi 3 sports a 5-inch Full HD IPS display which equates to a pixel density of 441 ppi. Given this configuration, the Mi 3’s display has good viewing angles with very crisp resolution. Xiaomi didn’t stop there though and added a few bells and whistles like the “Glove mode” which makes the screen extra responsive so it works even when you’re wearing gloves or when your fingers are wet.

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According to Xiaomi, the Mi 3’s display is “fused directly to the touch screen.” They didn’t mention anything about One Glass Solution (OGS) but judging from the deep blacks and brilliant colors, the technology is similar.

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We’re also happy to let you know that the Mi 3 does have Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection as confirmed to us by Xiaomi via e-mail. That’s an added value right there.

Update: Xiaomi’s PR team has informed us that “the Mi 3 uses different glass suppliers” to meet supply needs. Which means that “not all Mi 3 devices use Gorilla Glass” and that it’s impossible to identify which one does and which doesn’t. However, they do ensure that “all materials meet high standards and quality won’t be compromised in any handset.”

OS, UI, and Apps

The MI 3 is powered by MIUI V5 – a custom ROM developed by Xiaomi with Android 4.4.2 KitKat at its core. MIUI is well-regarded in the custom ROM community due to its fast and clean-looking UI and slew of customization features. Watch the video below to see it in action.

As an Android smartphone, Xiaomi pre-installed the Mi 3 with your usual Google goodies. Bloatware is non-existent as Xiaomi only included useful features like the its own theme store, security app, and Mi Talk which is a chat room for Xiaomi users.

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Speaking of security, the Mi 3 has this as one of its main features. It has its own memory cleaner, data usage monitor, power manager, blacklisting, virus scanner, and permissions manager. There’s even a Guest mode and Permissions that hides your calls, notes, pictures, messages, launcher settings, and selected apps behind a password.

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All in all the Mi 3 would give you a total of 13.4GB of usable internal storage out of the claimed 16GB. There’s no support for microSD so it’s a bit limited at this department.

Camera and Multimedia

Xiaomi equipped the Mi 3 with a 13 megapixel rear camera with a f/2.2 aperture and 28mm wide-angle lens, coupled with a dual-LED flash. It is capable of producing sharp images with great colors especially in bright conditions. However, when it comes to shooting indoors and in low-light conditions, it is not exactly the fastest and would sometimes result to slightly blurred images.

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On the bright side, it comes with a lot of features like filters, effects, Panorama, HDR, burst shooting, and a slew of manual controls. In advanced mode you can manually adjust exposure, exposure time (1/5000 ~ 2s), white balance, ISO, even pre-set its focus. The 2 megapixel front camera on the other hand would delight those who are fond of selfies as it comes with a 30mm wide-angle lens and auto-beautification feature.

The Mi 3 can also record 1080p stabilized videos at 30 fps. Watch the sample video below:

Music and movie lovers won’t be disappointed with the Mi 3’s speaker as it is loud and very crisp. You can also take advantage of the MiSound enhancer and Equalizer to fine tune your audio experience especially when you’re using your favorite headphones.

Performance and Call Quality

With a Snaprdragon 800 CPU, 2GB RAM, and Android KitKat on board, the Mi 3 handled simple tasks and heavy gaming with ease. We didn’t experience any lags, crashes, or random reboots. If there’s one thing that’s not consistent with the device’s good performance is its stock browser as it crashes often on certain websites. In this case, Chrome is still our best choice for stable web browsing.

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Call quality is very good on the Mi 3 and uses a noise reduction technology called earSMART. Because of this, voice calls are very audible and clear even when we’re in a noisy environment.

Benchmark Results

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* AnTuTu – 32,947
* Quadrant Standard – 17,752
* Vellamo – 1,280 (Metal), 1,569 (Multicore), 2,161 (Browser)
* NenaMark2 – 60fps
* 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited – 15,436

Battery Life

We ran the Mi 3 under our routine battery test to see how long its 3,050mAh battery would last. It involves playing a Full HD movie in Airplane mode, at 50% brightness and 0% volume. The result is an impressive 11.11 hours worth of playback from a single full charge.

Conclusion

If you look at it, the Xiaomi Mi 3 isn’t exactly ground breaking in terms of hardware and specs and there are other brands who can offer better. It’s a worthy flagship device, no doubt, but it is far from the likes of the new Android titans like the Sony Xperia Z2 or the LG G3. So what makes the Mi 3 a good buy? The answer is the price.

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At Php10,599, it’s definitely a steal especially for those who are in a tight budget. You now have the opportunity to own a smartphone with an amazing build, a gorgeous 5-inch Full HD display with Gorilla Glass 3, a powerful Snapdragon 800 CPU, a large 3,050mAh battery, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat, without breaking the bank.

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So to answer the question at the start of the article, yes, the Xiaomi Mi 3 will definitely take the local smartphone market by storm. And with more Xiaomi devices in the pipeline, this is just the start.

Xiaomi Mi 3 specs:
5-inch Full HD IPS display, 441ppi
Gorilla Glass 3
2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core CPU
Adreno 330GPU
2GB RAM
16GB internal storage
13 megapixel rear camera w/ dual LED flash
2 megapixel front camera
HSPA+, 3G
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi Direct
NFC
Bluetooth 4.0 w/ A2DP
GPS, AGPS, GLONASS
USB OTG
3,050mAh battery
MIUI v5 (Android 4.4.2 KitKat)
144 x 73.6 x 8.1mm (dimensions)
145 grams (weight)
Php10,599

What we liked about it:
* Great build
* Good design
* Great display
* Gorilla Glass 3
* Great performance
* Loads of customization and security features
* Android KitKat out of the box
* Great battery life
* Low price tag

What we didn’t like:
* No LTE
* Slow camera AF
* Stock browser crashes on certain websites
* Limited usable internal storage
* No microSD card support

Xiaomi to enter Philippine market this year
Xiaomi Mi 3 to go on sale again on July 4
Xiaomi Mi 3 open sale starts now

36 Responses to “Xiaomi Mi 3 Review”

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  3. cj barrera says:

    Hi Sir,
    I’m planning to buy this phone and done some research about it.

    However, I found some ISSUES regarding BUGS & PROBLEMS that some of the users encountered. Such as, CAMERA CRASHES, OVERHEATING, SIM CARD TRAY MALFUNCTION, EAR PIECE NOT WORKING etc…

    Any comments about these sir??

    Thank you.

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