The Mi Note was recently announced in Beijing and this is Xiaomi’s response to the growing high-end large screen devices. This isn’t the replacement of its current Mi 4 or the Redmi Note but a new flagship phablet that carries the “Mi” brand.
To recap on the specs, the Mi Note comes in either standard and Pro versions where both look identical except for some colour differences. The standard Mi Note gets a 5.7″ Full HD display, 2.5GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM and support for dual-SIMs with Cat 4 (150Mbps) 4G LTE.
Meanwhile, the Pro version offers a higher 5.7″ Quad HD resolution display, Qualcomm’s cream of the crop Snapdragon 810 processor and 4GB of RAM along with support of Cat 9 (450Mbs) 4G LTE. The rest of the specs are the same for both variants with a 3,000mAh capacity battery, 13MP f/2.0 camera with dual-tone LED and OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser) and a front facing 4MP camera with 2.0 micron pixel (think Ultrapixel).
Xiaomi has been known for its high performance and low price offering, and with the Mi Note, this is their highest specced device and probably the most expensive made so far.
At first glance, it does look like an enlarged Mi 4 but Xiaomi has put more effort to make the Mi Note stand out. It features a 2.5D curve glass at the front, that offers a subtle rounded curves where the glass meets the metal frame, which is similar to the current iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus. Over at the back, it uses glass as well but this time it is a 3D curve glass that curves upwards at each side. The frame is still made of aluminium but it gets an arc design with a full height at the top and bottom, but it gets thinner as it flows towards the side edges. Towards the sides, the aluminium frame is only 4.1mm thick, creating an illusion that it is thinner than what it already is.
In terms of overall dimensions, the Mi Note is thinner, lighter and narrower that the iPhone 6 Plus. It weighs just 161 grams and has a thickness of just 6.95mm. As comparison, the iPhone 6 Plus weighs 172 grams and it is 7.1mm thick. Furthermore, the Mi Note camera is flush with its main body and it lacks the protruding camera lens like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As the 5.7″ Mi Note comes with a thin 3.0mm bezel, it still manages to be more compact (side to side) than the iPhone 6 Plus by a mere 0.2mm.
Holding the device, it feels pretty good and the back felt like a glossy piece of plastic despite the fact that it is made out of glass. The power button and volume rocker buttons are placed on the right while the left houses its micro-SIM and nano-SIM slots on a single flush tray. The headphone jack is placed at the top and there’s no infrared blaster that was included in the current Mi 4. Looking at the bottom, you’ll get your standard micro-USB connector/charging port and a loud speaker grill.
For the standard Mi Note, it comes in either white and black, with the option of either 16GB and 64GB of storage. We personally prefer the white colour version as it stands out better with its contrasting silver colour frame. The black colour unit its quite a stealthy looking model as it gets a black coloured frame surrounding its black glass panels. Not only the black colour unit is a fingerprint magnet but it doesn’t do justice to its curved glass design. It just doesn’t stand out in darker colours and it looks like any other phone on the table. For the Mi Note Pro, it is only available in White with 64GB storage and it comes with a distinctive gold colour frame.
So the question remains, is this the ultimate flagship? Well it really depends on what you’re looking for. You can consider the Mi Note as a bigger Mi 4 with better design and hardware or simply the best specced device that has been announced so far. Usually most manufacturers would pack more tech and features to set it apart from its standard sized flagship models and this includes having a fingerprint scanner, stylus, health sensors and various software enhancements to increase productivity. In the case of the Mi Note and the Mi Note Pro, the experience isn’t a major leap from its current Mi 4 offering except maybe a better screen, enhanced HiFi sound and cameras.
Another gripe for some would be its software. It runs on MIUI 6 that’s still based on Android 4.4.4 KitKat, and Lollipop would take a while before it gets rolled out officially. Software updates particularly newer Android versions are still a challenge for these Chinese manufacturers but it isn’t a problem that they can’t solve in the near future.
For MIUI 6 itself, it is a pleasant shift from MIUI 5. It gets a cleaner look and there’s some usability changes such as single touch on the capacitive menu button for recent apps. For single handed use, you can easily resize the display to a smaller size by swiping from centre to left or right on the bottom capacitive buttons.
The Mi Note is priced at 2,299 CNY (16GB) and 2,799 CNY (64GB), which is about RM1,327 and RM1,616 respectively. The top of the line Mi Note Pro (64GB) carries a 3,299 CNY price tag which converts to about RM1,905. For Malaysia, Xiaomi says that the standard Mi Note will be available in Q2 2015. Hopefully this is coming in for real as Xiaomi is lacking a flagship device in Malaysia after its Mi 3 smart phone.
Mi Note Hands-on Photos