Xiaomi Mi4 or OnePlus One, do they live up to claims as iPhone killers?
发表于2014-10-28

Not quite, but say goodbye to the mid-range smartphone segment as Xiaomi and OnePlus have narrowed the playing field and are nipping at the heels of the flagships.

Despite their flashy high-end specifications, in terms of pure performance the latest flagship phones from Chinese producers, the Xiaomi Mi4 and OnePlus One fail to live up to claims as iPhone killers. Yet, apart from a few quirks and technical issues, they are not far behind and at less than 40% of the price of the iPhone 6 and less than one third the price of the iPhone 6 Plus, both are worthy of consideration and quickly narrowing the gap with the industry leaders.

Specs

iPhone 6

Xiaomi Mi4

OnePlus One

iPhone 6 Plus

Retail Price (16GB)

RMB 5,288

RMB 1,999

RMB 1,999

RMB 6,088

Dimensions

138x67x8 mm

139x69x9.5 mm

153x76x9.5 mm

158x78x8 mm

Weight

129 g

153 g

165 g

174 g

Display size

4.7 inch

5 inch

5.5 inch

5.5 in

OS Version

iOS 8.0

Android 4.4.3

Android 4.4.2

iOS 8.0

User Interface

iOS

MIUI 5.0

ColorOS

(intl CyanogenMod 11S)

iOS

CPU

1.4Ghz

dual-core

Apple A8 64-Bit

2.5Ghz

quad-core

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

2.5Ghz

quad-core

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

1.4Ghz

dual-core

Apple A8 64-Bit

RAM

1 GB

3 GB

3 GB

1 GB

Display resolution

750 x 1334 px

1080 x 1920 px

1080 x 1920 px

1080 x 1920 px

Pixel Density

326 dpi

446 dpi

403 dpi

403 dpi

Battery capacity

1809 mAh

3080 mAh

3100 mAh

2906 mAh

Main camera

8 MPx

13 MPx

13 MPx

8 MPx

Front camera

1.2 MPx

8 MPx

5 MPx

1.2 MPx

Video resolution

1080p@60fps

(HD)

2160p@30fps

(4K)

2160p@30fps

(4K)

1080p@60fps

(HD)

Faster processor speeds, three times the amount of RAM, higher screen resolutions and battery capacities, higher resolution cameras and 4K video capabilities; the Xiaomi Mi4 and OnePlus

One certainly appear on paper extremely impressive and ready to take on the latest phones from Apple, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

However, do their performance live up to their impressive specifications? We sent the phones to Germany to one of the world’s top electronics laboratories where each phone was subjected to a rigorous battery of more than 260 unique tests across 9 different areas evaluating everything from durability in drop, rain and scratch tests to handset capabilities to a comprehensive evaluation of their camera, video, music, internet and GPS performance. (how we test mobile phones article weblink: http://www.mingjian.cn/mobiles/buyguide/how-we-test.html).

Build Quality

All 4 phones exhibit refined impressive build quality, with the Xiaomi taking top honors. The Xiaomi has the best scratch resistance, with no visible scratches after applying a 20N force with a hardness test pencil to the display and a 12.5N force to the body. The OnePlus display, however, shows small scratch marks after applying the same force. While their displays have good scratch resistance, the aluminum bodies of both iPhones where susceptible to scratches. Also, the iPhone camera protrudes from the back of the phone, with a slightly sharp edge which can scratch articles it comes in contact with. All phones passed our drop tests as well as the rain test, working properly after drying.

As for the “Bendgate” concern widely reported on the internet, our colleagues at Consumer Reports in the United States put the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to the test as well as flagship phones from Samsung, LG, and HTC and found that they are not as susceptible to bending as believed and, while none are indestructible, all should be able to stand up to the forces of daily use. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/09/consumer-reports-tests-iphone-6-bendgate/index.htm)

Battery

As expected with its large capacity battery, the Xiaomi both exhibited impressive battery life with nearly 26 hours of GSM continuous calling time on one charge. The iPhone 6, by contrast, battery died in less than 11 hours of continuous calling time. The iPhone 6 Plus, despite a similar capacity battery to the Chinese rivals, could only manage 18 hours of continuous calling time. The OnePlus, despite exceptional continuous calling time of more than 28 hours, had poor standby battery life (at 150 hours vs. 250 for the iPhone 6 and more than 340 hours for the Xiaomi)

Further, the iPhone 6 Plus had the longest recharge time at 3 hours and 15 minutes at least 45 minutes longer then the other three phones.

Calling

The Xiaomi Mi4 model tested was the China Unicom version which currently is not equipped with 4G LTE, although a 4G LTE China Mobile version is now available. The OnePlus One only has FDD LTE and therefore is not compatible with TDD LTE in mainland China. It is also important to note that OnePlus One is missing the LTE band 20 (800 MHz), which is important if you plan to travel to Europe as it is necessary for many European network operators, especially in rural areas.

When using the Xiaomi it is important not to touch the bottom backside of the phone when making a call as the RF reception drops to 1/5 strength, potentially resulting in dropped calls.

Display

With their impressive resolutions, one would expect the Xiaomi and OnePlus displays to shine against the iPhones, yet the reality from our lab tests and user evaluation, is that the display of the latest iPhones are top notch, with the iPhone 6 Plus receiving the highest display rating score of any smartphone we have every tested. The display on the iPhone 6 has more than 30% higher max brightness nearly 50% higher contrast than the Xiaomi and more than 40% higher max brightness and 70% higher contrast than the OnePlus. This results in excellent readability for the iPhones across a wide variety of lighting conditions and viewing angles. In comparison, the OnePlus suffers from poor readability outdoor in bright sunlight and neither the displays on the Xiaomi nor on the OnePlus are quite as clear when viewed from the side.

Camera

The Xiaomi and OnePlus are both equipped with substantially higher resolution cameras than the iPhones; with 13 MPx main cameras and 8 and 5 MPx front cameras, respectively, compared to an 8 MPx main camera and 1.2 MPx found on both iPhones. However, our laboratory tests show that higher megapixel resolution does not necessarily translate to better performance as the iPhones beats out their Chinese rivals with superior photo quality. Both versions of the iPhone exhibited very good sharpness, contrast and color balance, while the OnePlus images were slightly dark and the Xiaomi images showed uneven sharpness and slight color noise. Daylight picture quality for the iPhones was detailed with slightly better results obtained with HDR, whereas the Xiaomi images were slightly tinted and overexposed. The OnePlus images had slightly pale colors. The optical image stabilization, a feature only available on the iPhone 6 Plus, shined through for indoor lowlight photos with bright detailed sharp images.

How did the front cameras compare for selfies? Despite the higher resolution of the Chinese models, the overall results were similar as the Xiaomi selfies were still slightly noisy and blurred and the OnePlus selfies were slightly tinted. The Xiaomi also has a strange quirk, where the default setting for the front camera takes reversed mirror images, so that text on clothing appears backwards and friends behind on your left appear on your right as reported on our website (http://www.mingjian.cn/mingjian-news/electronics/mo-jing-mo-jing-gao-su-wo-xiao-mi-di.html ). The current MIUI does include a submenu option on the front camera menu to turn off the mirror image setting, yet we cannot understand why the default is not set to true image.

The Xiaomi demonstrated impressively quick shutter response time and rapid-fire picture sequence ability relative to the iPhones and OnePlus, although not quite as fast as the lightning response of the HTC One M8.

Video

Despite the 4K video recording capabilities of both the Xiaomi and the OnePlus, the HD cameras of iPhones demonstrated better overall video quality. The OnePlus videos exhibited slight image noise, while the Xiaomi image was slightly tinted and has a tendency to blur while panning. The iPhone 6 Plus benefits from the inclusion of optical image stabilization.

In terms of audio recording quality, this is where the Xiaomi really came up short. The audio track on video recordings is horrid and grating to listen to; exhibiting strong artifacts, heavy distortion and thin sound. Unfortunately a poor compliment to the high resolution 4K images. The OnePlus has stereo recording but starts to exhibit audible distortions when loud. The iPhones had the most balanced sound with no audible distortions, although both versions lack stereo recording capabilities.

Music

In terms of sound quality using the built-in speakers, while none of the four models were able to come close to equaling the stereo sound of the HTC One M8, the Xiaomi and iPhones performed similarly with pleasant sound. The OnePlus, meanwhile, failed to impress with sharp sound and no stereo impression.

As neither the Xiaomi nor the OnePlus come with headphones, we were unable to compare the sound quality against the iPhone earbuds.

Navigation

All four models are equipped with GPS and AGPS localization capabilities. With the phones switched to “flightmode,” thereby only using the built-in GPS without AGPS localization assistance from the mobile signal, both Chinese phones took an unusually long time to get their first GPS fix at 90 seconds for the OnePlus and 2 minutes for the Xiaomi (versus only 14 seconds for the iPhones); an important consideration if you rely on your smartphone for quick directions. The OnePlus was much faster with the assistance of AGPS with cellular signal switched on, reducing first GPS fix time to 6 second (versus 4 seconds for the iPhones). However, the Xiaomi still lagged behind, requiring nearly 17 seconds before its first GPS fix with AGPS assistance.

Backup/Syncronization

Apple’s iTunes is hard to beat for ease of backup as your iPhone is synchronized to your computer, and iCloud if you choose, each time you connect to iTunes. Xiaomi and OnePlus both have their own backup software and also offer cloud backup, although not as refined and easy to use as iTunes. In terms of transferring media and data between your smartphone and computer, the Xiaomi and OnePlus one could not be easier as both can attach to your computer via USB cable and be accessed as an external hard drive, for easy file drag-and-drop between phone and computer. IPhone makes this process far more complicated, requiring users to go through iTunes to add and delete media.

Other Features

Two important features that none of these four phones offer: expandable memory card slot and removable battery. This means that you are limited to the internal memory capacity of the phone when you buy it, so important to consider if 16GB is enough to meet your needs, as more memory will cost extra up-front. Also, as the battery cannot be removed, as the battery life degrades, you will likely need to replace the phone or rely on a supplemental external battery to extend battery life.

Another feature missing on the Xiaomi is near field communication (NFC) capabilities. However it is the only phone of the 4 that comes equipped with an infra-red blaster to control your TV and other appliances, as well as FM radio.

Conclusions

Overall, the Xiaomi Mi4 and the OnePlus One are both strong performers and both starting at RMB 1999 for 16GB models, they bring high performance smartphones within reach of a much wider range of consumers. However, neither is yet quite able to compete directly at the level of the latest iPhones. Both fall short of living up to the promise of their high specifications as they currently lack the calibration and optimization to take full advantage of their hardware.

Sporting top-notch build quality, Xiaomi was clearly swinging for a home-run with the Mi4, yet its Achilles’ heel of poor audio recording quality and sub-par optimization kept it in the park. However, if you do not intend to shoot videos, prefer silent movies or are hard of hearing, the Xiaomi is certainly worth considering, especially at less than 40% of the price of the iPhone 6.

Whether the OnePlus One is the right phone for you will depend on how important poor standby battery life, lacking a band of LTE common in Europe, and unimpressive sound from built-in speakers are to your purchase considerations. If you can live with these compromises, then this is certainly a compelling phone at its price point.

Both iPhones are excellent phones and among the best we have tested. Both are awarded our MingJian Recommended distinction. However, their performance comes at a steep price, starting at RMB 5,288 for the 16GB iPhone 6 and RMB 6,088 for the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus.