Xiaomi announces the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro. Takes the fight straight to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus


UPDATE: Xiaomi Malaysia has confirmed that the Mi Note is coming to Malaysia in Q2 2015.

Straight from Beijing, Xiaomi today unveiled the Mi Note, after much rumour and speculation. The disruptive Chinese manufacturer has its sight set on the iPhone 6 Plus positioning the Mi Note as a much better device in every way that was developed with no compromises. Is the Mi Note any better? Let’s take a look.

At the front you get 5.7-inch full HD 1920×1080 display that pushes out 386ppi. What is interesting is the Xiaomi has put a lot of attention into the details of the display panel. Sourced from Sharp/JDI, the display features Nega LCD technology with a 1400:1 contrast ratio and dynamic contrast adjustment that Xiaomi claims produces better pictures especially when viewing high contrast material and when under strong lighting conditions like during a sunny day outside.

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The device is powered by a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM and an option of 16GB or 64GB of storage. You also get a dual 4G SIM card slot one slot housing a micro SIM while the other, a nano SIM. In terms of battery, the Mi Note packs a 3,000mAh unit developed by Sony and LG. But its funny how Xiaomi claims that the Mi Note was developed with no compromises and yet the device doesn’t have a micro Sd card slot — that’s a major turn-off for a lot of people.

In the camera department, you get a 13MP camera at the rear with optical image stabilisaion coupled to a 6-element f/2.0 lens. There’s also a Phillips-sourced dual-tone flash. The front camera is a 4MP unit with a 2 micron/pixel sensor that Xiaomi claims is larger than the average pixel size in a smartphone. The larger pixel size help capture more light and in theory, should produce better pictures under low light conditions with less noise.

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In terms of construction, you get glass panels all around with the front featuring a 2.5D curved glass panel and the rear a full 3D curved glass panel with a metal frame holding everything together.The curved glass panels, Xiaomi claims, gives the device an premium and high-quality feel. At the same time, Xiaomi is unique in being probably the only manufacturer that offers a comprehensive device protection program. For 199RMB/year (about RM114), Xiaomi will replace your Mi Note if its damaged be it broken glass panels or death by water.

Speaking of which, Xiaomi is sticking with its unbeatable value formula, offering the Mi Note for 2,299RMB or about RM1,322 in our money for the 16GB version. The 64GB version costs 2,799RMB or about RM1,607. The devices will be released in China first on January 27 and other countries later.

How does it compare with the iPhone 6 Plus?

While the Mi Note has a sightly larger display, 5.7in versus 5.5in on the iPhone 6 Plus, the overall footprint of the Mi Note is noticeably smaller. The Mi Note is thinner (6.95mm vs 7.1mm) and lighter (161g vs 172g). So obsessed was the Xiaomi design team that they even worked to not have an unsightly camera bulge like the one on the iPhone 6 Plus. But the iPhone 6 Plus packs a more pixel dense display panel (401ppi vs 386ppi).

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What don’t we like about the Mi Note.

Just by looking at the specs, there’s not much to not like actually, we’d prefer a more current processor, maybe the 805 or 810 over the relatively dated 801. But if pure performance that you’re looking there’s the Mi Note Pro which is identical to the Mi Note but packs a 2k display (2560×1440, 534ppi ), the top-of-the-line 2.5GHz Snapdragon 810, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Mi Note Pro is further pimped out with a gold coloured metal frame. The Mi Note Pro retails for 3,299RMB or about RM1,894.

Between the iPhone 6 Plus and Mi Note / Mi Note Pro, which one is better? Honestly, it’s too early to say but it looks like the Mi Note packs a lot of hardware of almost half the price of an iPhone 6 Plus. Honestly though, there will always be people who prefer the iPhone and there will always be people who swear by Android but if you’re looking for great value in a device that delivers performance and more, then, from what we’re seeing there’s very little that’s not to like about the Mi Note / Mi Note Pro.

Stay tune for our full hands-on review of the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro coming up.

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