After taking the China smartphone market by storm, Xiaomi is crossing the border with a new Android handset: The company introduced the Mi 4i for India on Thursday. The Android 5.0 smartphone starts at Rs. $12,999, or roughly $205 US, when it becomes available on April 30.
While the Mi 4i will be competing with sub-$100 Android phones, it offers a fair bit more for the price. The 5-inch display has full HD, or 1920 x 1080 resolution, for example. And the rear camera uses a 13-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 lens paired with a dual-tone LED flash.
Inside, the dual-SIM Mi 4i is powered by Qualcomm's latest 64-bit processor that balances performance and battery life. It's the Snapdragon 615, which is a step down from Qualcomm's top-tier 810 chip found in some of the more recent flagship phones. The 615 is more than capable of offering a solid experience, however: If there was a segment between mid-range and flagship, the Snapdragon 615 would be squarely in it.
Other features are what you might expect in a phone costing a bit more: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a 95 percent color gamut for the display, a quick charging battery and 2GB of memory. There's only 16GB of storage, however.
Although the Mi 4i runs Android 5.0, Xiaomi has its own user interface called MIUI on the phone. Since the company doesn't sell its phones in the U.S., I haven't had a chance to try it but it looks like fairly and intuitive, unlike some skins and UI's found on other Android phones.
Xiaomi, which includes former Google Android spokesman and Group Product Manager, Hugo Barra, is already the top smartphone seller in China.
The company grew its annual sales 150 percent in 2014 in the world's most populous nation according to IDC estimates. And when you have a country with the second-most people in the world as your next door neighbor, it's a wise strategy to try and replicate success there too. With the Mi 4i, Xiaomi might do just that in India.