A time has come, when brand-name juggernauts like Samsung, Sony, LG or HTC, are still releasing their flagships for north of $600 starting price without a contract, while Chinese newcomers like Oppo, Xiaomi or Huawei, are outing very similar handsets for half the price. The newly announced Xiaomi Mi 4
, as well as the Huawei Honor 6
and ZTE Nubia Z7 mini
before it, will be available very soon, and they sport most everything that the big boys like the Galaxy S5
, HTC One (M8)
, or the Xperia Z2
have to offer.
Granted, don't expect fingerprint scanners, waterproof chassis, or OIS tech, but if you don't care about those, you will be getting svelte and powerful 5-inchers, saving a few Benjamins in the process. Starting off with the design and dimensions, the Mi 4 is indeed about 1 mm narrower than its competitors, which shouldn't make that much of a difference in your hand. The thinnest and lightest, however, is Huawei's Honor 6, despite that it too features a metal rim around its sides. In addition, the Honor 6 and Z7 mini sport a microSD card slot extensions, so you can get the cheapest 16 GB versions, and build on that. The Mi 4 strikes back with an infrared sensor at the top, though, coming to replace your multiple remote control units.
As for the silicon inside, while Huawei's homebrew Kirin 920
has yet to prove itself in battle, the Snapdragon 801 processors in the Mi 4 is the same one would find in the Galaxy S5, for instance, so you won't be longing for much more performance out of the handset. Moreover, both Huawei, and Xiaomi, one-up the S5 by offering 3 GB of RAM instead of two. All phones come with 13 MP Sony camera sensors that are the newest IMX214 models in the Honor 6 and the Mi 4. Xiaomi's phone takes the photography prowess up a notch with 4K video recording, and an 8 MP wide-angle front camera that boasts a Sony sensor Exmor sensor, too.
The Z7 mini has a slower Snapdragon processor than the Mi 4, 2 GB of RAM instead of 3 GB, and a modest 2300 mAh battery, compared to 3000+ in the other two, but it also comes at the most affordable price - about $240 without a contract in China, while the Xiaomi Mi 4 takes off with a $320 tag for the 16 GB model, and $400 for the 64-gigger. Huawei Honor 6 is the most "expensive" of the three, if this word can be used about such value-for-money propositions at all. Huawei pegged it at $370 for the 16 GB one, and $410 for the 32 GB unit, but you also get a memory card slot for expansion. Which one of these affordable flagships from China would you pick?