Introduction


By now, you've probably heard of Xiaomi – the Chinese company, which is in the habit of selling smartphones with some pretty powerful hardware at unbelievably low prices — in eastern Asia, at least. Indeed, trying to get your hands on one of these handsets will usually involve some extra shipping fees and taxes, but even after that, the phones still end up offering some extra value for the money spent.

Earlier this year, the company launched an “affordable flagship” in India – the Xiaomi Mi 4i – which, as always, packed some pretty respectable hardware for its asking price. Later, in September, Xiaomi launched the Mi 4c in China – very similar in appearance to the 4i, and still bearing a bargain price-tag, but with a more powerful processor inside. That managed to peak the interest of Android smartphone fans who follow the more exotic handsets closely.

You can't buy the Mi 4c directly from Xiaomi, but there are a lot of 3rd party websites that sell it worldwide. The base model comes with a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 2 GB of RAM, a 13 MP / 5 MP camera combo, and a 3,080 mAh battery, all for the price of around $240, minus shipping and taxes. The offer sounds quite enticing, and we were quite anxious to see whether it is as good as it sounds. Here's what we found.

In the box:

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
  • Quick start guide (in Chinese)
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Wall charger
  • USB Type-C data cable

Design

Plastic elegance

Being a $240 handset, we can't fault the Mi 4c for not being made out of shiny materials. The phone's body pretty much consists of a glass front and a plastic back panel, which wraps around to its sides. It's a solid build that doesn't creek, crack, or move around when pressured. It does, however, strike us with an elegant and ergonomic design. The back is slightly arched, making it comfortable to hold, while its corners are stark, giving it a very sleek look, but without being sharp to the touch. The plastic is of the matte variety; it has a soft feel when held, but it does attract quite a bit of fingerprint smudges.

On the front, we have the small-ish earpiece grille, which manages to complement the handset's elegant looks. To the right of it, there's the selfie cam and a notification LED. Below the display, we have a trio of capacitive navigational keys, which are invisible when the backlighting is off.

The phone's hardware controls are situated on its right side – a power button sits just north from the phone's center, and the volume rocker is placed above it. The power key is decently clicky, but the rocker feels a tad shallow. It doesn't help that the latter is quite wobbly, too, generally causing us to feel uncomfortable while using it.

On the top of the device, we have the 3.5 mm headphone jack and an IR blaster. On the bottom, there is the USB Type-C charging and data port. The speaker grille is a wide strip, situated in the bottom center of the handset's back. The camera is in the top-left corner, accompanied by a dual-tone LED.

In terms of handling, the phone is pretty easy to operate, with its ergonomic design and average-sized display. It also fits well in pockets and is light enough to not cause any issues.


Xiaomi Mi 4c

Xiaomi Mi 4c

Dimensions

5.43 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

138 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm

Weight

4.66 oz (132 g)

OnePlus 2

OnePlus 2

Dimensions

5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

HTC One A9

HTC One A9

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

Dimensions

5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches

147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (136 g)

Xiaomi Mi 4c

Xiaomi Mi 4c

Dimensions

5.43 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

138 x 69.6 x 7.8 mm

Weight

4.66 oz (132 g)

OnePlus 2

OnePlus 2

Dimensions

5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

HTC One A9

HTC One A9

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

Dimensions

5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches

147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (136 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Display

Colors that pop

The Xiaomi Mi 4c is equipped with a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution. Its pixel-per-inch density lands at 441, which makes the screen pretty sharp. Color temperature measures at 7,844 K, which is quite off from the reference value of 6,500 K. As a result, the display has a bluish — at times leaning towards purple — tint. For the night readers who worry about the blue colors – there is a "reading mode" in the settings, which allows the user to choose how much they wish to warm up the screen via a slider; it goes from regular cold-ish picture to full-on red. Color reproduction is also far from perfect, as the Mi 4c's display manages to miss almost all of the targets on the sRGB scale, and most of the colors are often over-saturated.

All that being said, we didn't find the display to be bad. Yes, some colors do blow up, but we didn't feel them to be as aggressive to our sight as the measurements might suggest. The images look vivid and alive, and we appreciated that. The purple tint of the display was most evident in dark environments, where we did find it kind of annoying.

The display's maximum brightness measures at 456 nits and we found it pretty usable out in broad daylight. The lowest it would go is 1 nit, which is excellent for night-time usage.

We do wish that Xiaomi had gotten the colors a bit more spot-on with the Mi 4c's panel. However, for its class, we really can't fault it too much. The resolution is super-crisp, colors jump out vividly from behind the glass, and the screen is usable in any type of environment – there's not much more one could ask from a midrange-priced phone.



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66 Comments

67. alexvv

Posts: 165; Member since: Oct 16, 2013

i agree with pa partly. a phone needs to be usable out of box and points must be cut from that fact. the preloaded miui is hands down awful. however flashing a european stable rom with google play is as easy as it gets and this rom is fast and stable with no bugs. anyway, people who will end up buying it know their way around these kind of stuff, so the review should be done with the european rom.

65. garciano unregistered

Chinese bloatware and malware? no thank you!

63. asboof

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 03, 2015

If you buy a rangerover from g.b. you have the steering weel at the right side. You cant blame rover for wrong userface. Xiaomi does not export officialy to all countries. Miui is chineese. But still there is a whole comunnity tries to make it better for western users

58. gedonker

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 02, 2015

I have this phone and agree with most of this review. The supplied firmware is atrocious. However with a clean version of the ROM (SMUI in my case) it is not so bad. I didn't experience any lag or stutter problems, it seems very fast compared to my Nexus 5. There's also a Cyanogenmod build for it which works quite well. The issue with background notifications is configurable, it's just that the default battery management profile in MIUI cuts off network access for almost all background apps by default. You can enable it on an app by app basis in the settings menu, and then background mail, Slack etc. notifications work fine.

61. shijuv

Posts: 17; Member since: Aug 09, 2015

Yeah i accept with u man. I have mi3 and the notifications often fail to come because it automatically kills the background apps. But the most interesting part is as u said miui gives us options even for that in settings>additional settings> battery > manage apps battery usage and untick for whatever apps you dont want to be killed in the background. Some lazy buddy in phonearena have given this review without seeing what options miui offer us. Its good that we can control everything in our phone even our notifications and this site wont appreciate that

57. shijuv

Posts: 17; Member since: Aug 09, 2015

The mindset of phonearena reviewers before reviewing different handsets. 1. Iphone or samsung - starts with score 10/10 and if they find some faults in the review they keep on reducing 0.01 score from 10 and the final score will be around 9-10 2. If its a chinese phone then scoring starts from 0/10 and for every positives they add 0.1 and finally they manage to put a score of 5-7. One little advice. Please keep your reviews with with your so called quality phones. Dont ever make a biased review of a chinese phone just for the sake of blogging.

56. shijuv

Posts: 17; Member since: Aug 09, 2015

A review should include points for all the stuffs.. Like build, display, call connectivity, camera hardware, battery, software, value for money and 10 stuffs like that. Each carrying 10 marks. If the software is bad juz give it 4 or 5 marks in software section. Give points to other areas where it score.. On what basis u give the score? These people juz discuss about all the stuff and if they find a fault somewhere and if its an iphone they say its negligible and give a score of 9.99 and if its a chinese mobile they say that oh god we cant live with this fault and they give a score of 5. Craparena.. And if u wanna compare a 200$ phone with an 800$ phone then compare it in the pricing section too. Give double or triple the points for pricing. 200$ phone. For the cost of iphone we can get four mi4c...That means for the entire family...

54. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

In the meanwhile, HTC One A-9 got a 7.8 score. I just don't get it PA. What are you guys smoking these days? Please at least co-relate your scores of a particular device with another before finalizing them.

51. a1369366

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 24, 2014

bias!! #A lot of Chinese bloatware and region-specific functions *But you said that you'd bought it from 3rd party web site....and it took you "couple of hours" to flash the phone with one click install? I imagined that u never used a Samsung phone before? #MIUI often kills all push notifications *learn to use MIUI Battery life could be better *You had MIUI with google service? did you?

53. a1369366

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 24, 2014

PS, I recall that Xiaomi phone has no bloatware unless that you bought a Carrier version.

48. Andrewtst

Posts: 697; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

This is the first time I agree scores given by PA on China brand phone. Mi product most of them with real bad optimization. Not sure about this but it is real bad in Mi4i, Redmi Note and also Mini Note. I like Miui looks but I can't stand it bad optimization.

49. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

What the hell is 'mini note'

43. jibraihimi

Posts: 816; Member since: Nov 29, 2011

One thing i really agree, that all xiaomi's phone should get low scores, just because of MIUI rom......its identity of xiaomi, but they seriously need to optimize it as it lags like hell, even on 3GB and 4GB RAM device......

25. Chiam

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 02, 2015

Xiaomi, OnePlus HTC.......they may all have the most up to date hardware but this is useless if it does not function. All these Chinese manufacturers lack the knowhow to produce a functional Software to make the device work. After purchasing various devices for their latest hardware and cheaper price, I have been most disappointed and will now only purchase from mainstream Companies. Cheap is exactly what you will receive, cheap. The Software is just not quite there........

27. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

Mainstream companies often have similar if not worse software issues. They are far from perfect either. 1 example - Good luck doing any multitasking on a Samsung Galaxy S6 despite having 3gb ram. 'touchwiz is just not quite there'

29. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

But there's Multi Window, and maybe THAT specifically is why Samsung's multi-tasking chops are questionable. As supposed to the huge Nexus 6P with its USELESS (for a large screen) software.

30. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

Having multi window is no excuse for appauling ram management. Some Chinese UI have both multi window and 'normal' multi tasking capabilities.

32. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

But isn't in hindsight, RAM management was already apocalyptic when Lollipop was first released and it took ANOTHER NEW Android version to fix it? To be fair, Samsung coulda fixed it, but the Lollipop RAMpocalypse was so bad, Asus had to release the Zenfone 2 with 4GB RAM to cover it up, so Samsung is not sorely at fault here.

23. dumbUser

Posts: 6; Member since: Oct 19, 2015

Yes....need to a little more unbiased

21. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

I purchased a mi4c directly from Xiaomi's tmall store. Cheaper than resellers, no bloatware. So the info that you can't buy directly from Xiaomi is wrong.

20. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

Paul K You're scoring methods needs serious readjustment. I mean, 6.6 for Mi4C? A $205 phone with a very good camera, snapdragon 808, full hd display. PLEASEEE.........Even with its flaws you mentioned, the phone deserves a minimum of 8/10 These kind of scores are actually turning phonearena into a joke. Let the readers decide how much of a negative such software issues are instead of heavily penalizing the overall score. Even your last sentence imples the phone is worth buying, but a 6.6 is not worth buying for anyone.

24. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

Because ALL cheap phones SHOULD get a free pass for crappy software because it's cheap, right? I mean, the Alcatel Idol 3 got a solid 8.5/10 -http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Alcatel-OneTouch-Idol-3-5.5-inch-Review_id4004 - and it COMPLETELY deserves it. This phone SHOULD hence get an 8 with its bad software implementation (lag, notifications mishandling, egregious bloatware?!) I don't see your point.

26. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

Yes it does deservce an 8. MIUI is not crappy, it has a couple of inherent bugs but these have been around a long time and would have existed in every review of an Xiaomi phone. There are simple work arounds. It's much more feature rich than stock android The lag issue must be extremely minor. All other reviews praised the UI performance. The 'bloatware' is not an issue. Just remove it or choose a good reseller. The review score phones on phone arena get seems to depend on which reviewer it gets, rather than how good the phone is.

28. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

So you are at the mercy of your chosen retail channel? That's a big problem already. And also, why always presume that it's up to the end user to fix the problems that Xiaomi could have worked hard to NOT BE THERE in the first place...? I don't hate cheap phones, full disclosure. I just believe some are truly worthy of the price tag more than others. And is reviewing phones always been at the mercy of whoever reviewed it to begin with? Everyone has bias, it's a different issue on how to manage it. A good phone with a fair reviewer is a good score, a bad phone with a fair reviewer will get a decent rate, simple as that.

36. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

I would agree with what you say, if stock Android and other UI's were faultless, but they aren't. So yes, it's being overly harsh to slam Xiaomi over such software issues. I had much more serious/annoying software issues with previous Samsung/Sony phones that could not be fixed with a little TLC. MIUI is well optimized which is not surprising considering it gets weekly updates. It's not perfect, but nothing is. You're not at the mercy of your chosen retail channel, it's just a reality when buying Chinese phones. Spend 30 seconds to clean the phone up when you get it and what's the problem? Or do what I did, buy directly from Xiaomi on tmall.

50. shijuv

Posts: 17; Member since: Aug 09, 2015

U speak as if u owned a xiaomi phone? Or u have used miui in a xiaomi phone for months/ years? Really those who say miui is crap is because they dont have an experience in it or they just dont want the additional features they want it all plain and simple which is tooooo boring even if it doesnt lag

45. Piyath_ale

Posts: 79; Member since: Nov 02, 2015

Not biased here. But I have to say this. Not all Chinese phone manufacturers are crap and fraud. But some are. xiaomi, mainly make phones to make money. No innovation. Just money minded. That's why xiaomi makes similar knockoffs to other popular smartphones and sell them so cheaply. They just want to invade the market and make money. So their quality control is poor. And they don't innovate ever. So they make mostly crappy phones...

46. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

Xiaomi does not make knock offs. Every phone they released looks unique in my opinion. Heck, even the Note 5 looks like a Mi Note rip off at the back.

37. raky_b

Posts: 461; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

dude, so based on your arguments, LG Flex 2 deserves perfect 10? it has SD810, great display, better camera....perfect phone on papir, just as this one is. but then, when you need to use it... i have Mi4i,and there is no day passing that i am not thinking to throw it on the wall. yes it have decend HW on papir, but it's battery (3080mAh) and MIUI is just killing me...

40. spixel

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 20, 2015

What issues do you have with the mi4i? As I understand, the snapdragon 615 is kind of problematic, Xiaomi didn't make the chipset. I find alot of people will complain about things such as battery life, performance no matter what phone they have. They expect infinite battery life, perfect performance so when something falls below expectations, it's automatically dreadful, unusesable, the worst ever! If you take a close look at your battery life, you'll probably find it is above average.
Mi 4c
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP (Single camera)
    5 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 3GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB,
  • Battery 3080 mAh
  • OS Android 5.1 Lollipop
    Xiaomi MI UI

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