It may not have been the most rational choice and one you may actually be a little baffled by, but yes, I did pick up a Xiaomi Mi 4i very recently above the Motorola Moto X Play. While on the onset and first look the Motorola device was a runaway winner, there were a few factors that pulled me towards the Xiaomi device. But, before I go and deep dive into my reasons, I would like to make clear that I use an iPhone 6 Plus as my primary smartphone and Android device on my desk is usually my backup phone and the Mi 4i was picked up with the exact same usage and case scenario kept in mind. Would my choice have been different if I was looking for a phone as my primary device? I am not too sure as the role I want from my primary phone would be completely different to that from a backup device mainly used to just receive and make phone calls.
Here are my reasons, in picking up the Xiaomi Mi 4i over the much loved Motorola Moto X Play Edition.
I was done with big smartphones
Prior to using the Mi 4i, I was using the OnePlus One as my primary Android phone and using it with my iPhone 6 Plus meant I was essentially carrying around two phablets. Not only was this extremely uncomfortable in the back pockets and jeans, two large phones meant no matter what, both my hands were always occupied when I was using or typing on a phone. This was really irritating when using the phone on the bed as you really want a device that is small and lightweight and can be placed beside you without taking up a major chunk of the bed space. I was very clear when I was looking for the phone, that I would pick up something that really is handy to use without making me look like a man walking with two huge slate in my pocket. The Moto X Play in comparison to the Xiaomi Mi 4i is a giant (169 grams vs 130 grams on the Mi 4i and ) and heavy making it pretty much inconvenient to use with one hand.
I kind of like MIUI
I have been using MIUI right from the days when it was the only product that Xiaomi offered. In fact, I had MIUI even on the likes of Samsung Nexus S that I owned all those years back. Gradually over the years MIUI has become more polished and added in features that are really useful. Something as small as the speed indicator in the notification shade and the ability to change or remove the carrier name makes me really happy. And being an iPhone user, the interface is familiar and you do not have a major learning curve. The ability to freeze apps in the memory, text support with several IVR services in India, as well as the automatic cache cleaner are just some of the interesting add ons that MIUI brings. Yes, stock Android looks cleaner and sharper, but the feature set on the MIUI really turned the set in the favor of Mi 4i.
I may well be in minority, but I was one of the few who really liked the way Apple made the iPhone 5c. It may have been a phone that was not a hit, but in terms of the overall look, the phone along with some of the high-end Lumia devices defined how polycarbonate bodies should be. The Mi 4i is an all-plastic phone with a polycarbonate back that is not removable. The phone is available in several color variants in matte as well as glossy finishes. I ended up picking the grey unit of the 32 GB, but there is yellow, blue, pink, white etc just to make sure you have options. And since the back is not removable you are not always in the scare of back creaking or any such loose ends. I had a bad time with the back shells of the Moto G second generation and the Moto X Play Edition also has a flimsy back. Call it trust issue, but I was just not prepared to take that chance and went with an option that would be safer.
Budget and storage for it
The Motorola Moto X Play 16 GB is virtually Rs 4,000 more expensive than the 32 GB version of the Mi 4i. The 32 GB version is a solid Rs 5,000 more expensive but the advantage on the Moto X Play is that you can further expand the storage up to 128GB via microSD card. If you are a user who wants more space on your phone then the Play would make sense at an elevated price, but since the budget was most definitely a factor, the Mi 4i made sense from pretty much all the angles.
That flat back
The Moto X Play has a curved back, very similar to the likes of OnePlus One that I owned previously. The issue with this is that if you work a lot on your desk and are too lazy to pick your phone to type, the whole thing just dangles around on the table. The only way to type on a phone with a curved back is by placing it in the hand. This is where a Mi 4i with no curves on the back was really good. It may be a really small detail but one that cannot be ignored, at least based on my use case, so if you use your phone directly on the desk a lot, this is something you may want to keep an eye on.
While both, Mi 4i and Motorola Moto X Play come with 1080P displays, the Moto X Play sports a larger one at 5.5 inches, while the Mi 4i has a 5-inch display. What swayed for the Mi 4i for me was a slightly colder display where the whites were closer to white instead of the Moto X Play where whites were a little more yellowish. If you do not like a colder display, you can calibrate to a warmer setting and that was an important consideration. Both the displays are really good and responsive, but it was just the overall better color reproduction on the Mi 4i that won the day.
Make no mistakes, the Moto X Play is a really good smartphone and has a ton of things going for it over the Mi 4i, the performance on the Moto X Play was definitely smoother, the camera was marginally better, the battery lasted a good hour more than on the Mi 4i and the speaker on the phone was really good. However, since none of them were really deal-breakers and with budget skewing towards Mi 4i as I wanted a secondary phone, the Mi 4i made a lot of sense. If you simply have to pick up one of these two devices, which one would you? Do let us know in the comments section below.
P.S. This is an entirely opinionated article by Arpit, a lover of everything metallic that flies, he spends most of his time on his desk working in the marketing team at Pricebaba. In this specific case, the Mi 4i has been used as a secondary phone.