Xiaomi Mi 4i launch: eyebrows raised over skin whitening feature

  • M Rajendran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 24, 2015 01:13 IST

Handset maker Xiaomi, which stoked controversy in China with its phone camera app that made eyes look larger, now appears to be targeting Indians’ fetish for fair skin.

The Mi 4i, the company’s first global launch in India, is priced at Rs 12,999 and comes with an Indianised face-beautification feature that “improves the quality of selfies”.

“Quite a lot of computational photography has gone into it…for Indians (beautification), we have definitely changed the algorithms and we have re-profiled, tweaked the profile recipes,” Hugo Barra, vice-president, Xiaomi global, told reporters ahead of the launch.

In China, Xiaomi phones came loaded with an application, Beauty Plus, to enlarge the eyes in pictures, a feature that met with criticism from many quarters.

“We no longer do eyesight increase. It is a big thing in Asia…it is no longer available in phones in India,” said Barra.

But when a reporter persisted about similar features for India, Barra said, “We have added a new set of features to our existing high-dynamic-range imaging…it has skin smoothening feature that leads to slight whitening of skin in picture.”

He declined to elaborate, saying: “I don’t want to go there.”

The phone will be available on Flipkart, for which the registration and sale will begin on April 30. Xiaomi also announced availability of Mi Band — a wrist band that not only tracks exercise details but also monitors sleep patterns.

The Mi 4i (Mi made 4 India) will take on Korea’s Samsung and US giant Apple in India and globally.

“India…is our largest international market outside of mainland China…we will launch more products for India as we continue our focus on products according to their needs,” said Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi.

The 2010-born company’s feature-rich phones have stormed the global handset market, and Xiaomi is aspiring to become number one in India. It already dominates its home market, China, and is No 5 in the world rankings.

For faster performance, Mi 4i has a second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core 64 bit processor, 2GB RAM, 16 GB on board Flash and a 4G dual SIM slots, with a credit-card sized mother board from Foxonn. It has a battery that can power for 1.5 days of normal use, which Barra claimed was 38% more than average five-inch phones and 72 % higher than the iPhone6 battery.

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