If this was five years ago...
...I might have actually tried one.
Today, with Xi and what's going on in China... no chance.
Xiaomi will officially launch in the UK with its first physical store in November – and retail support from Hutchison's Three UK. Xiaomi's Mi 5 Xiaomi the way: Hyped Chinese giant begins its battle for Britain READ MORE In May, Hutch vowed to wheel in its formidable retail clout to the support of the unconventional Chinese …
It may have the Chinese ROM, which basically just means it has a few apps targeted at a Chinese user-base. But you can ignore these or disable them, set the language to English and install the Play store app..and your off.
Also I'd highlight, Xiaomi are one of the only remaining manufacturers that support bootloader unlocking!
I'm shopping for a new phone at the moment and I've been put off Xiaomi because of the lack of UK support.
What support? Apple may be different (I couldn't comment) but most Android manufacturer "support" appears to be very poor, and often very slow. I've been converting the small household phone fleet to Xiaomi, and buying grey market via a UK importer on Ebay (so no complications on delivery, returns or import duties). They give me a one year warranty, if it breaks in year two then I'd buy myself a replacement, and still be quids in against any comparable Samsung.
However, Xiaomi's days as a fine value choice in the UK may now be ending. I expect as soon as there's a UK official presence, they'll load the brand up with all the crappy marketing, HQ and expensive distribution costs, and at the same time try and snuff out the grey import market that has built their reputation here. I'd like to think this won't happen, I just can't see any other likely path. In which case the next round of handset replacements could be an alternative "non-UK" Chinese phone - Meizu, Vivo, UMIDIGI and a host of others all produce a range of capable and good value handsets, and the Ebay "unofficial distributors" will often do the setup for English and install Google services. Tech Advisor do some good reviews on many of these handsets, and offer advice on personal imports - at the moment I'd still recommend the UK based Ebay resellers.
Thanks @Ledswinger. It sounds like grey markets have improved since I singed my fingers a few years ago!
By "lack of support" I meant "lack of someone I can visit in person if necessary" - if something breaks and I've got to ship it back to Hong Kong for someone to even look at it then I'm not as interested.
@Ledswinger - I'll echo your comments on support - I bought a Sony Xperia.. never again. Took 3 months of faff with their broken website and support droids on social media, web chat and phone all denying any kind of problem (touchscreen not working at the edges, GPS pointing in entirely the wrong [random] direction, dodgy connectivity) before they finally took it in for repair. It came back a month later still broken. Lesson learned, Sony are now verboten in the Twat household.
"I bought a Sony Xperia.. never again."
I know we can only speak as we find BUT...
I had an Xperia Z1 that suffered premature battery drainage problems after about 15 months. I contacted Sony to see what it would cost to have it replaced. The website told me it was still under warranty, here's a shipping label, I sent it off as per instructions , it was returned to me repaired within a week. At no point did I talk to an actual human. I couldn't fault any part of the service. Pretty sure I could have walked into a SONY shop and got equally good service.
same for me and my Z1 compact - but instead of a Z1 Compact coming back, I had a Z3 compact instead.
Because it was under warranty. :-)
actually, we had an Xperia S some years ago that was affected by the yellow-tint screen issue. changed immediately without a fuss.
such a shame that Sony have abandoned the Z1/Z3/Z5 design language as I'd have one like a shot.
"... GPS pointing in entirely the wrong [random] direction, ..."
fyi, GPS is non-directional, it is purely a position system. For direction you need magnetometers, but more and more phones are coming without these. In which case your software needs to use a moving GPS location to generate direction.
You know what I mean, my point is that google maps was pointing the wrong way most of the time, as was the compass app. The point is that the phone was unfit for purpose. It was clearly faulty as who the hell would sell a phone that doesn't know which way you're facing? That's just ludicrous for a bunch of reasons such as google maps, AR apps, etc. My new Xiaomi on the other hand, works like a dream.
Mine just refused to boot.
Support was hidden option on their phone system.
Had to wait for them to send shipper. Then sent it back to them.
"Where's my phone?"
'Oh we were going to charge you £200 for the broken screen. Will you pay?'
"The screen isn't broken, it's just dead"
'Yes it is'
"No it isn't"
Grudging - 'If you pay we'll re-assess the damage'
"Well screen wasn't broken when I sent it to you. Fine. You have another look"
'Oh we can't, we returned it to you as being uneconomical to repair'
"IT'S UNDER WARRANTY!"
'Not for you breaking the screen it's not'
Phone arrives back in exact state I sent it to them, intact screen and all.
"I've got the phone in my hand, the screen is fine, can I sent it back SO YOU WILL REPAIR IT?"
'Sir, the screen is cracked'
"It's in my hand and absolutely fine."
'I don't know what you're trying to do sir. You have broken your screen and we will not fix it'
"You are THE worst company"
'OK, we'll let you drop it off at our nominated third party system, but we'll need your credit car number to charge you for the repair to your screen and anything else they find'
I actually gave up at this point and bought another phone.
I feel your pain. Their websites are horrific and just getting logged in is a challenge. The Z2 was one of the best phones I ever owned though and the Z4 tablet is still good (shame the bootloader is locked though). Fantastic hardware, but they're crap at everything else.
my shopping list usually goes along the lines of sd card, replaceable battery (even if screwdrivers need to be used )n unlocked bootloader.
i dont really care on manufacturer. So far the list has included samsungs, lg and moto. All have been rooted and flashed on day 1.
I only once needed to send back an s2 due to non charging. Being flashed made no difference to to warranty process.
Ill get a xaomi if it fits the list and is cheap enough.
Pah, to hell with "support". Basically all vendors are terrible, and once your device isn't the latest and greatest, forget about updates.
What's important is finding one that meets your needs, and has an unlockable bootloader. Check if it has a healthy community on Xda-dev with custom roms and so on, and you'll probably get a good lifetime out of the device.
I have a Xiaomi Redmi 4X myself, off the ol' ebay. £122 for a 5" phone (little bigger than I'd like, but the best I could find) with dual SIM, 64GB of flash, 4GB of RAM and a (admittedly low-end) 8-core Snapdragon? Yes please. Hell, it even has an IR blaster (yes, it works on custom ROMs with standard apps), a fingerprint sensor, and a passable camera with Camera2 API support.
I have Xiaomi mi6, bought on release, so about 18 months old. Got the latest MIUI update recently, performs like a new phone and the new UI makes it feel like a new phone.
I'm tempted by the new Mix 3 because I am a phone fidgeter and a slider is as good a feature for a fidgeter as any...oh and no freaking notch!!!!!
I did experience some issues in a previous MIUI release of apps crashing, but within a week they had released anothre update that fixed it so can't complain.
My outlook is that if I'm buying a phone with flagship specs at less than half the price of other flagships, then I can afford to take a risk on support as I can still buy another similar priced model and be quids in, but so far I have nothing but praise for the phone.
Also got Mi Band 2 which is excellent.
I bought a Pocophone F1 (made by Xiaomi) for £270 brand new from a UK seller on eBay.
The seller says they'll provide a year's warranty by doing the posting to Hong Kong business, and it's such a good price compared to anything else - Snapdragon 845, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage - that I think it's worth the risk.
I've been using Xiaomi phones for a few years now. They are generally excellent and we'll supported with updates and security patches. Indeed, my entire family is now in Xiaomi phones and fitness bands/GPS watches. The one downside though, if the MIUI launcher. The interface is nice and there are some useful fwatures but the power-saving is over-the-top and then some. For example, try using any app that needs to have the GPS active and MIUI will helpfully kill the GPS service after a few minutes to "save power". And it isn't a trivial matter to turn this off. They are brilliant phones and hard to beat it n terms of bang for your buck but MIUI is certainly "quirky".
I have a Xiaomi Mi A2 and it's bloody lovely. Cost a mere £180 and it's spot on. No notch, excellent camera, nice loud speakers, decent battery, performance is plenty good enough, stock android, exactly what an old fart like me is looking for in a phone.
EDIT: Obviously I avoid doing anything sensitive on the device, but then I follow the same practice for any mobile phone due to Chinese manufacturing, government surveillance, etc.
I've seen some similar things. I don't think this article is really doing that, other than to point out that Chinese manufacturers haven't been very mainstream until Huawei became so about a year ago. Before then, none of them were all that well-known, although you could buy phones from them.
As for the trustworthiness of the tech, I'm willing to trust most of it. However, there are a few parts that are a little weird. I recently got a Xiaomi fitness tracker to use as an alarm clock (I like vibration alarms). The companion app wanted me to sign a strange license agreement containing such normal phrases as "This product may not be used to damage the reunification of the motherland." and "People with intentions of antisocial or antigovernment actions may not use this product." I found those a little off-putting. Fortunately, I found an open-source companion app instead, so I used that. Still, when faced by things like this that remind you of the system watching Chinese citizens, I believe one could be forgiven for asking whether there's anything creepy in the code that we can't see. I don't really think there is in most if not all cases, but the question isn't irrational.
The alternative would be to trust Qualcomm. Since I happen to know about their backdoors, I don't.
Here's a little excerpt from last month (Note how the closed source components have mostly "high" to "critical" vulnerabilities, which translates into "when the shit hits the fan".):
These vulnerabilities affect Qualcomm components and are described in further detail in the appropriate Qualcomm APSS security bulletin or security alert. Android partners can check applicability of their issues to their devices through Createpoint. The severity assessment of these issues is provided directly by Qualcomm.
CVE References Type Severity Component
QC-CR#2119840* N/A High Video
QC-CR#2119840* N/A High Video
QC-CR#2214158 N/A High WLAN HOST
QC-CR#2216741 N/A High WLAN HOST
QC-CR#2233036 N/A High WLAN HOST
QC-CR#2096455 N/A Moderate Boot
QC-CR#2205728 N/A Moderate WiredConnectivity
Qualcomm closed-source components
These vulnerabilities affect Qualcomm components and are described in further detail in the appropriate Qualcomm AMSS security bulletin or security alert. Android partners can check applicability of their issues to their devices through Createpoint. The severity assessment of these issues is provided directly by Qualcomm.
CVE References Type Severity Component
CVE-2016-10394 A-68326803* N/A Critical Closed-source component
CVE-2017-18314 A-62213176* N/A Critical Closed-source component
CVE-2017-18311 A-73539234* N/A Critical Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11950 A-72950814* N/A Critical Closed-source component
CVE-2018-5866 A-77484228* N/A Critical Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11824 A-111090697* N/A Critical Closed-source component
CVE-2016-10408 A-68326811* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2017-18313 A-78240387* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2017-18312 A-78239234* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2017-18124 A-68326819* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-3588 A-71501117* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11951 A-72950958* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11952 A-74236425* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-5871 A-77484229* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-5914 A-79419793* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11288 A-109677940* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11285 A-109677982* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11290 A-109677964* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11292 A-109678202* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11287 A-109678380* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11846 A-111091377* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11855 A-111090533* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11857 A-111093202* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11858 A-111090698* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11866 A-111093021* N/A High Closed-source component
CVE-2018-11865 A-111093167* N/A High Closed-source component
So what's the difference? I'm sure Chinese made SoCs have at least as many security holes. The real concern is in the modems, but unfortunately there is no source for modems that aren't security nightmares, at least currently. That's one reason Apple is looking to eventually bring that in house. Not that they have a perfect security record by any means, but at least they will TRY to make it secure unlike everyone else.
The conspiracy theories that Qualcomm's Swiss cheese baseband software has holes deliberately inserted to make things easier for the NSA to snoop remain theories, but as conspiracy theories go they are one of the easiest to believe.
If I recall it correctly, the MediaTek (modem) drivers for instance, do drop their privileges.
Furthermore, the Chinese never bombed civilians here. The so-called 'Five Eyes' have. The USA furthermost of them all, of course:
[CIA ORGANIZED SECRET ARMY IN WESTERN EUROPE]
[Terrorists 'helped by CIA' to stop rise of left in Italy]
Therefore, it is pretty clear whom we CANNOT trust, here in Europe. ;-)
"Chinese brands are notorious for their eccentric UIs, but Xiaomi has a decent story here. "
Xiaomi do two versions of some of the phones, one with their own UI and one with plain Android One. The Redmi 6 Pro has their UI whereas the Mi A2 Lite is the same hardware running Android One.
I bought a Mi A2 Lite off a UK seller on Ebay last month and am very pleased with it.
I have been a LONG time fan of the brand; I am currently on my 4th phone from the Note range.
You want impressive? My original Note, which is 3G only, STILL gets updates and security fixes.
I have switched a lot of people over to the brand, they ask if that is the new [insert famous brand here], and when I say no, it is a similar spec, but less than a 1/4 of the price they all want to hold it and give it a try.
Ré warranty on grey imports, for the last few years, if you bought a phone via a well known Chinese online market, for a whole extra £1 you got a UK warranty and repair service.
So far though, the only issues have been caused by the user(s); one got crushed, one got drowned and revived, and my young daughter has twice damaged the usb socket (replacement boards = £3 for 2, inc P&P).
Got my Redmi Note 5 Pro in a Xiaomi shop in Taiwan. Service was exceptional. When pre-sales found out I was going back to Blighty they warned me that it might not work with certain carriers. A quick google later I was happy on that front. Post-sales, they sat me down, applied the screen protector for me, asked me to check the screen, the camera and the overall state of the phone. Then stressed for me to not remove this sticker on the back of the phone until I was happy as I could return it with no questions asked as long as the sticker was on it.
Been using it as my daily driver for over 1/2 a year and really happy with it. As others have pointed out power saving is really aggressive, but once I realised that I'm more than happy with it as I can control what runs and when.
The store is a bit of an Ikea as I went in there with my friend to get a CCTV for her and I left with a phone, Bip watch, chest bag and backpack... Quality of these goods is amazing, especially considering how cheap it is. I have a Razor and Showerpass backpack and the quality of the Xiaomi is on par with them but at the fraction of the price!