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Xiaomi Mi 4 revealed with top-end specs, Mi Band smartband companion

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi upgrades its flagship handset with faster internals and a password-beating wearable

You might not be familiar with Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer that’s steadily gaining traction outside of Asia with its affordable handsets, but it’s a name that you’ll almost certainly be hearing a lot of in the future – having sold over 26 million phones in the past six months, the company has now announced its latest flagship – the Mi 4, a 5in smartphone with top-end specifications but a surprisingly low price. 

Announced last night on the official Xiaomi Facebook page, the Mi 4 has everything we’ve come to expect from a class-leading smartphone in 2014, including a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor running at 2.5GHz, 3GB of RAM, either 16GB or 64GB of on-board storage, and a 5in, Full HD display. The handset is now bonded to a stainless steel frame, making a welcome upgrade over the plastic chassis used for last year’s Mi 3, but looks suspiciously close to Apple’s iPhone 5s in terms of looks.

As well as a 13-megapixel camera on the back of the phone, which is paired with an LED flash, the Mi 4 also includes an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for clearer selfie photos and video chat. In pure pixel terms, there’s no other smartphone with such a high quality front camera. 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a 4G LTE modem take care of connectivity, an IR blaster lets you control a TV or home cinema system, and the 3,080mAh battery should provide enough juice to keep the phone going throughout the day.

Customers will be able to customise their handset with a range of removable back covers. Xiaomi has already revealed metal, wood, leather, cloth, bamboo and stone textures, with others likely to follow in the future. The company has also customised Android 4.4 KitKat with its MIUI interface, which gives Google’s operating system a completely different feel to that of stock Android.

Xiaomi also revealed the Mi Band, its first piece of wearable tech, which tracks your daily step totals and sleeping pattern. It lasts up to 30 days on a single charge, and also acts as a security band when paired with an Mi 4 handset. When in proximity, there’s no need to enter a password or PIN to unlock your handset, as the band automatically bypasses the lockscreen. With no screen, it’s also incredibly cheap – Xiaomi expects it to cost CN¥79 when it goes on sale later this year, meaning less than £10 here in the UK.

According to Xiaomi, the Mi 4 will be going on sale in China from CN¥1,999 for the 16GB version, or CN¥2,499 for the 64GB model. We’re still waiting to hear whether Xiaomi will be bringing the handset to the UK, but if it does we could be looking at around £200 for the 16GB model or £250 for the 64GB version.

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