Xiaomi Takes On iPhone With New Android Mi 4

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Xiaomi Takes on iPhone With New Android Mi 4

by Don Reisinger

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Mi 4 Is Downright Gorgeous for the Price

It's hard to find many flaws in the Mi 4's design. The device is extremely thin, at just 8.9mm, and comes with a nice, thin bezel and metal enclosure. Some have said that the Mi 4's design smacks of the iPhone 5S, which might be true to some degree, but its thin footprint, and overall look and feel still deserves some props.

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It Carries a Price Tag That Should Make Apple Cringe

Xiaomi has somehow found a way to deliver a high-end device at a lower-end price point. The company is offering the Mi 4 to Chinese customers first for $322 for the 16GB model without contract. To put that into perspective, the iPhone costs several hundred dollars more out of contract. Building compelling devices at solid prices has been a key factor in Xiaomi's success, and that will likely help the company succeed once again with the Mi 4.

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The 5-Inch Screen Is Ideal for Watching Videos

Despite some speculation that Xiaomi would ship the Mi 4 with a 5.5-inch display, Xiaomi instead announced a 5-inch model featuring a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. While that's not the highest-end display on the market, it's a screen that will do more than get the job done for anyone who wants to watch videos.

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It's Android-Based, of Course

No surprise here, but Xiaomi says that its Mi 4 will run on Android, like every other product the company has released to this point. To put its own flavor on the hardware, however, Xiaomi has put its own MIUI v5 skin atop the software. According to Xiaomi, the sixth version of its MIUI software will be available Aug. 16.

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A Fast-Charging Battery Is Available for Travelers

One of the highlights of the Xiaomi announcement was the company's confirmation of a 3,080mAh battery that, it said, can get the handset to a 60 percent charge (from zero) in just an hour. That's extremely fast and something Apple and others will need to match when they announce new devices in the upcoming months.

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The Powerful Snapdragon 801 Processor Is Inside

The Mi 4 ships with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. That component features a 2.5GHz clock speed with quad-core functionality. The device also comes with 3GB of RAM, providing a surprisingly powerful experience for a handset that's priced so reasonably.

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Different Colors, but No Gold

Unlike just about every other Apple competitor, Xiaomi has balked at announcing a gold version of its Mi 4. Instead, the company is currently only offering white and black models for customers to choose. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's a departure from a recent smartphone trend, so it is noteworthy.

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The Mi 4 Includes a High-Quality Camera

The handset features a staggering 8-megapixel sensor and a 13-megapixel rear camera with a wide f/1.8 aperture. According to Xiaomi, the cameras are some of the device's best features. It's hard to argue with that.

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All of the Latest Wireless Connectivity

It's no surprise here, given the other powerful features, but Xiaomi has installed the latest and greatest wireless features in its device. That means the handset will support 802.11ac on the WiFi side and 4G LTE for those who go mobile. It also comes with support for Bluetooth 4.0 and near-field communication.

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Don't Expect It in the U.S.

As of this writing, the Mi 4 will debut in China, followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan. Xiaomi is also planning on launching the smartphone in Singapore, India and Malaysia. There's no intention right now of making it available in the United States, despite offering an English version of its MIUI software. So while it might not be available in the United States, Americans could technically still be able to buy it overseas and have it shipped here for use on local carrier networks.

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Google Gets Smarter With New Watches, TVs, Cars and Analytics

Conventional watches may be a bit old-school for the 21st century, so Google is revisiting the genre and making it about much more than simply offering the time of day. At the Google I/O developer conference on June 25, the company showed off Android Wear, the company's platform for wearable devices, plus Android development platforms for automotive and television app development. Using Google's APIs and basic hardware requirements, car and device manufacturers can create products that deliver a consistent user experience but with only small differences in appearance and implementation. Samsung, LG and Motorola are the first three Android Wear hardware makers, and their first models were on display at the conference. (They were very popular, by the way.) In addition, Google showed its revamped television platform (not available until the fall, it said), along with other aspects of how the...