Mi 3 unboxing: High-end Android phone for less

The sub-$270 smartphone looks, feels and performs like the top smartphones available today

Michael Josh Villanueva

4:51:17pm June 11, 2014

8:23:48am June 12, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Launched in China last October 2013, Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone the Mi 3 has specs that rival the top Android smartphones in the market today and performance to match but at a much more affordable price tag.

Normally Mi smartphones are sold almost exclusively via the company’s website Mi.com, often with social-media hyped flash-sales.  In the Philippines however, Xiaomi which opened up offices in Manila this June, will sell the Mi 3 via online retailer Lazada.  

While official pricing has yet to be disclosed, the phone is expected to retail at about under P12,000 ($270) when it goes on sale in the “next few weeks.”

BOX

Xiaomi is often compared to Apple because of its unique design aesthetic seen when one visits their website (their new domain mi.com was recently acquired for a whopping $3.6-million). The Mi 3’s box is also quite special – a sturdy Japanses-styled rectangular cardboard box.  

Lifting up the top cover reveals just the phone. The phone usually comes in black, silver and a range of other colors. Only the silver version will go on sale in the Philippines. 

Underneath the smartphone are a pamphlet containing a SIM card removal tool – very much identical to the one that comes with the Apple iPhone – and a colored quick-start guide. 

Tucked away on both sides of the inner box are a standard USB cable and a 5V wall charger. While Xiaomi makes pretty good in-ear headphones, it does not include them in the package.  

SPECS

PROCESSOR: 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 
GPU: Adreno 330
MEMORY: 2GB DDR3 RAM
STORAGE: 16GB
CAMERA: 13MP f/2.2 main camera; 2MP front facing camera
DISPLAY: 5-inch Full HD IPS display
BATTERY: 3050mAh
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC

LOOK AND FEEL 

Overall, the Mi 3 looks and feels like a premium device.

The phone is made of an aluminum magnesium alloy and is coated with thermal graphite to give it a matte metallic finish reminiscent of a MacBook Pro. It’s rounded sides make it comfortable to grip, but its corners are a little too sharp and boxy for my liking.

The phone is also unnecessarily tall, taking up plenty of extra space (over half an inch) above the display. The only physical buttons on the device are its volume rocker and the power button on the right hand side of the device; home, back and menu buttons are on-screen (in this order: menu, home, back).  

The headphone jack and tray for a full-sized SIM card are located on top of the device, while the microUSB port and speaker grilles are on its bottom. There is no way to remove the phone’s 3050mAh battery. Painfully missing are provisions for expandable memory. 

The Full HD IPS display is pretty impressive with great viewing angles, just the right amount of contrast and saturation, and deep blacks. The phone packs a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch (ppi). 

While the Mi 3 feels heavier than an iPhone 5S or the Nexus 5, it is thinner and lighter than the 5-inch HTC One M8. The device is 8.1mm thin and weighs 145g. 

SOFTWARE

The crowning glory of the Mi 3 is the MiUi v5 user interface – one of the most interesting implementations of Android we’ve seen to date. Unique to MiUi is the absence of an app drawer. Installed apps appear immediately on the home screen just like on iOS.

MiUi also features a host of interesting tools built into frequently used apps (which we’ll detail when we review the phone) without the feel of unnecessary bloatware.

The UI is also highly customizable via downloadable skins.

Look out for our full review this Sunday on TechRap.

WATCH OUR UNBOXING HERE:

Rappler.com