In an event that can be described as Apple-like in its ambition, Xiaomi, China’s largest smartphone vendor launched the Mi 4i, the company’s flagship smartphone to the Indian market. It also introduced the Mi Band, a fitness tracker that counts calories and steps and analyses users’ sleep.
Barra said that the company had received over 12,000 registrations in the days leading up to the event.
Xiaomi describes the Mi 4i as a flagship device inspired by and made for India. The phone is a budget version of Xiaomi’s Mi 4 and will be priced at Rs 12,999 when it goes on sale on April 30. Registrations begin on Xiaomi’s official Indian website and all the usual e-commerce outlets on Thursday at 8pm.
The Mi 4i has a polycarbonate body and a uni-body design (no seams) with a matte finish back and stainless steel buttons. It has a high-definition 5-inch display capable of displaying 1080p video and is 7.8mm thin. It is powered by a 2nd generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB RAM and comes built in with 16 GB memory. The phone also supports two micro-SIM cards at the same time and is 4G capable. It runs on MIUI with Android Lollipop, which is Xiaomi’s custom version of Android.
Barra, who keynoted the presentation, pointed out some standout features of the phone: it supports a massive 3,120 mAh battery that, he claimed, will get you through day and a half of usage; the screen is a special ‘Sunlight Display’ that improves picture clarity by using special hardware to adjust contrast for each pixel in real-time; and on the back is a 13 megapixel camera.
One of the Mi 4i’s features that is unique to the Indian market is something that Xiaomi calls Visual IVR, which is still in beta. Visual IVR automatically displays on-screen menu options when you dial a service like the Indian Railways, for instance, or your bank, where you are required to listen to pre-recorded options and press a number to select the one you want.
Xiaomi says that having these options displayed on-screen makes it faster and easier to navigate through complex voice menus that are still common in India. The company will crowdsource the feature to allow Indian users to fine-tune it further and add on-screen menu options for more Indian services.
Xiaomi, which was founded in 2010 by Lei Jun, is the world’s most valuable startup at $46 billion. The came to India in July 2014 and is now the 5th-largest smartphone company in India account to analyst firm IDC, with a market share of 4%.