Good news, Xiaomi handsets have made their way to Africa, including South Africa.
To be more specific, it goes on sale on Friday, 27 November but if you are interested in buying their products on launch day, you have to sign up for the flash sale first. Everything you need to know appears on this post. But first, about the Mi 4, which I’ve been playing with.
Why is everyone excited about Xiaomi coming here? Let me tell you…
1. Price. The high end Mi 4 will be selling for R3799… yes, that’s correct. The price of the handset recently dropped from R3999 about a week ago. Additionally, the mid range Redmi 2 will go on sale for R1999.
2. Specs. The Mi 4 has 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor; 3GB of RAM; a 5″ full HD display (1080 x 1920); 13-megapixel main camera (with Sony sensors) + 8-megapixel selfie cam; 16GB on-board storage (not expandable); and connectivity like 4G, Bluetooth, WiFi, WiFi hotspot.
3. Design. Granted, most of their products look like Apple products but usually when you’re buying mobile devices this cheap, design isn’t a strong point. The Mi 4 certainly doesn’t look like a R3799 handset.
4. 4K videos. The camera is capable of recording 4K videos. I could be mistaken but I think it’s the cheapest handset to offer 4K recording. Also, the selfie-cam does wonders for your self-esteem. It has a feature that guesses your age, and the youngest it thought I was? 22! Mi, I’ll take that 😛 (har har)
5. Custom UI. You can customise how your handset looks down do an iOS 9 theme (cheeky!), which I’ve done, haha! There’s a standalone “Themes” app on the home screen (not hidden in layers like other Android handsets which you can’t even create an account for in SA; not mentioning names). Here you can find loads of paid and free themes.
A little bit about my experience so far…
Nothing major, but when a SIM card is in the handset, it doesn’t show the network on the home screen, which bugged the hell out of me. You can only see the bars of signal and data speed. I have so many SIM cards, it’s just easier if the network name shows. It is only viewable when the handset is locked, and in the notifications screen. Maybe there’s a way to enable it and I don’t know yet.
The first time I created a Mi account to download themes, it took ages to pass the captcha screen. I tried over 10 times from the handset, and it kept telling me it was incorrect (not true). If you happen to encounter this after trying to create one, just go to the web and create an account. Captcha worked the first time.
Randomly, I get an error about Google Play services not working. Don’t know what that’s about but maybe cos in China you don’t get the Play Store there and therefore it’s not being worked on, I don’t know?
The camera is good, here are some sample shots I took:
If you want to purchase the Mi 4, you can sign up here: http://mia.africa.com/za/mi-4
There are other accessories that will also be available next year, like the Mi Pad, Band and Headphones. The powerbanks, which I’ve written about before, are available on Takealot.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. I’m usually unashamedly taking food photos (@nafisaeats on IG).