Xiaomi MI ONE with MIUI v4 ICS. The story so far…

March 18, 2012 10 comments

So I promised myself I would be good with this phone. If you’ve been following you will know that I got the MI ONE as a MIUI daily use phone (and because it is astonishingly cheap), and I would use my HTC HD2 with the more experimental ROMS. So that was the plan and I stuck with it for 3 months.  The MI ONE has been an astonishingly good daily use phone. Certainly better than the HTC HD2 if only for its battery life.

So while I was being good, I stuck with the stable stock MIUI ROMs supplied “Over The Air” by Xiaomi. The current ROM as I write is 2.3.5n. That is a Gingerbread MIUI V3 ROM and it is excellent. The one issue is that not everything is translated from Chinese. Not a huge issue for me as although I am not Chinese, it is one way or another a major part of my life. Besides, MIUI is a Chinese ROM after all. But for some it is annoying if only for the inconsistency.

However, the Xiaomi website forum has been giving tempting screenshots of MIUI v4 ICS for a while now, and the latest versions of MIUI Music, lockscreens, etc. have appeared on various sites. So it was only a matter of time before I cracked and tried a development ROM. The one thing holding me back was the translation issue. The development ROMs are exactly that. There is no guarantee with them as they are part of the development process and things can and do go wrong. Even Xiaomi say they will not be responsible for the damage caused and you will blow your warranty. So if something went wrong, it would be really helpful if it went wrong in English. And as that was not going to happen I was confident of staying good. Enter MIUIAndroid.

Owning a MI ONE outside of China is a bit of a lonely existence. I have never met another owner. When I go to China later this year I will be surprised if I meet one there either. But at least on MIUIAndroid there are a couple of people there that have the phone on the forum. What I didn’t expect was any ROM support. It is not as if there going to be a huge demand for it as opposed to a Samsung or HTC device.  So it was quite touching that they produced a translated version of the  MIUI v4 ICS development ROM (currently 2.3.16). Worse, I felt obliged to try it after all the effort put in. So how did it go?

Well first up I ignored Mark’s clear instructions and there were clear consequences. Bricked phone like clear consequences. Not to worry though as there are a multitude of ways to recover a MI ONE and provided you have used MIUI backup before hand it isn’t a disaster. I ended up putting the MI ONE in fastboot mode and used the MI-flash facility to get it back from the dead. I then applied the new ROM as instructed.

So it loads and it has issues but then that is why it is a development ROM. Mark at MIUIAndroid put in a lot of time make it usable and it pays dividends… and MIUI V4 does look stunning.

So if there is a point to this post at all it would be:

1) MIUI V4 ICS needs a bit more work but the potential is exciting

2) The Xiaomi MI ONE doesn’t seem to mind being abused by a fool like me

3) If you have a MI ONE outside of China, you are no longer alone,  and that perhaps is the nicest thing to find.

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Miui Android takes on the Xiaomi M1

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a quick one. Kudos goes to Mark at Miui Android for doing an English translation of the latest Miui v4 ICE ROM for the Xiaomi MI one. I will let you know how I got on.

Categories: MIUI, Xiaomi M1, Xiaomi MiOne

Xiaomi News Round-up February

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I expected February to be a quiet month for  Xiaomi with the lunar festival but it didn’t exactly turn out that way.

MIUI

The big news this month was the open sourcing of some the components that make up the MIUI ROM – sound recorder, notes and so on. You can find these on Github here. Hopefully Xiaomi will release more over time.

Xiaomi M1 phone updates

ICS is still in beta for the Xiaomi M1(MiOne) phone so I have not moved to that yet. I did get the monthly Gingerbread OTA update (2.3.5n) last night. Can’t say I have noticed any changes but I have not looked at the changelog

Xiaomi M1 CDMA phone

Back in November Lei Jun ran a poll on the Xiaomi website asking whether there would be any interest in a CDMA variant of the Xiaomi phone. The vote was a resounding yes and now it is here. The variant can also be bought off the Xiaomi site or from China Telecom. Originally, the phone was to cost a little more as the processor is upgraded from the current Qualcomm MSM8260 to Qualcomm MSM8660, which is also a 1.5GHz processor. However, currently priced the same. The speculation is that this device will be the device aimed at the international market – should that ever happen.

Xiaomi Availabilty

Supply of both phones remains problematic in China and virtually impossible outside due to its popularity. The knock off manufacturers have been leaping in to fill the demand. Xiaomi have highlighted the issues here (Chinese). You don’t really need to translate this as the pictures give a pretty good idea of the size of the problem.

Xiaomi Corporate Strategy

Quite what Xiaomi’s strategy has been has always been a bit of a mystery. What is known is that they don’t wish to make profit through hardware sales. So the Xiaomi M1 is sold pretty much at cost price. So where will the revenue come from. Well this month it didn’t become much clearer. Xiaomi indicated they are prepared to take losses for 2 to 3 years and they are following Amazon’s Kindle strategy to build up a user base. But to sell what?

Xiaomi Tablet?

Well not quite. A tablet from the Kingsoft stable of companies. The Eden tablet is being released in Japan and does not have MIUI so the link is probably a bit tenuous for end users at least.

So all in all a quiet month!

Coolpad E230 becomes erm… cool

February 12, 2012 Leave a comment

If you have been following my posts, you will know that I am a big fan of Chinese phones. But there is an elephant in the room. Not every phone is like the Xiaomi M1 and it is just that some Chinese phones are…, well frankly pretty poor….

Or are they?Imagine a particularly terrible Chinese mobile phone. Its not hard and perhaps you might be spoilt for choice. Let me help you. Here is one:

It is rather optimistically called the “Coolpad E230” Cool it aint but it was cheap. Coolpad have gone on to make rather better offerings but this wasn’t their finest moment. Just for the record its specifications were:

  • Internet Browser
  • 2.6″ TFT Touch Screen
  • 1.3 Mega Pixel Camera
  • FM Radio+Recording
  • Music Player
  • Video and Voice Recorder
  • Expandable Memory up to 4 G
  •  Ebook Reader
  • 1100 mAh Li-ion Battery
  • USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth 2.0

All this for about £70 or $110 which is about the only positive. It even got terrible reviews in China. Like a lot of cheap Chinese phones, it runs on a Symbian like Java based operating system. My iPhone 3g knockoff uses the same. It is functional but you can’t do much else with it other than what has already been pre installed.

Well that was what the  script said but Baidu (China’s main search engine) recently highlighted a thread where a guy thought different. The thread (in Chinese) can be read here. Essentially, he decided that it should be converted from Java to Android. I don’t know how he did it but the results speak for themselves:

After:

So now, of course, I want one. Thanks to J for the heads up.

Categories: Android, china, Xiaomi M1 Tags: , , ,

MIUI open sourced!

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Xiaomi today announced that is open sourcing MIUI Android. Code has already been placed on Github – https://github.com/MiCode. The Notes, Sound Recorder and File Explorer apps are there already. Apparently more are to follow.

Categories: MIUI, Xiaomi Tags:

Xiaomi News Round-up January

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

So I’ve dragged myself off my new phone to bring you the news – well my interpretation of it. It would be a bit much to call it insight so I won’t.

Xiaomi M1 phone updates

Firstly, Xiaomi M1 phone itself has received another OTA update. So we are now on MIUI 2.3.5k. This the stable version. I’ve not tried the development ROM. Meanwhile two other Beta ROMS for the Xiaomi M1 have emerged. First a beta ICS release. Subsequently a MIUI 4 (including ICS) beta ROM was released by Xiaomi. There are hefty health warnings issued with these and some testers have reported issues so I have steered clear of these for now. But they are available on the Xiaomi site for those who wish to play. We are in the middle of Chinese New Year now so don’t expect many more developments for the next few weeks.

On a more personal note, I am absolutely delighted with the phone. It is part of my daily life now and I have had absolutely no issues. The battery life still surprises me. The OTA process runs in background and offers you the chance to backup either locally, via the cloud or both. Just reboot when you are ready and it just works with no drama. Now it has got through its probation period I feel more confident about doing something drastic to my HD2.

Xiaomi Availabilty

As you may already know the third round of sales started from Xiaomi’s Website on January 12th. As I predicted, the 500,000 available handsets were sold out in hours.

There are some astonishing figures behind this according to Taiwan based Ifeng’s news website (in Chinese). The article sets out the context where many Taiwan mobile phone enthusiasts have scorned many of the mainland’s attempts to produce a smartphone and regarded them simply as Shenzhen knockoffs of there own HTC brand. Whilst this was certainly the case in the past, Xiaomi is a wake up call. Not only is it not a fake, but its better, cheaper and the Chinese mainland population are turning away from HTC and domestic Chinese phones like the Xiaomi and Meizu are attracting international attention. They note the Xiaomi M1 is currently reselling on Taobao (Chinese Ebay) for £258 on average. Remember it cost £200. An HTC EVO4G resells on average for £189.

On the January 12th sales at one point reached 700 orders a second, 100000 handsets were sold in first 45 minutes, 230000 after 2 hours and 300000 by 9pm that night. In comparison, internet sales of  HTC’s equivalent phone were 45000 for one week. They conclude that it would take a month for HTC to do what Xiaomi did in six hours. The fact that Xiaomi’s online system can handle such volumes amazes me if these figures are true, especially when you consider the farce that has been the British Olympic ticketing system. How can you possibly oversell synchronised swimming tickets??? Anyway, another concern for the Taiwanese were the metrics coming from Baidu – the main search engine in China. There ranking of smartphone searches was:

  1.  iPhone4
  2. Xiaomi M1
  3. Lenovo S1,
  4. Nokia ??,
  5. Samsung
  6. HTC

Meantime, Xiaomi are now in the process of delivering their recent batch of sales and this will continue through to March. I don’t think there will be any more sales until this time as they will need to build up stock again.

Xiaomi Customer Support

As you may know, up until now Xiaomi has purely been an internet only operation. This is basically the model that Google attempted with the original Nexus. Customer support was Google’s downfall and they eventually abandoned this approach and went back to a more conventional approach. Xiaomi are hitting the same problem but are going to tackle it a bit differently. According to their forum, they are opening a number of service centres across China where you can also buy accessories for your Xiaomi M1 phone and customer support is going to be the main focus of attention over the coming months. So it appears that they are going to adopt Apple’s approach to customer service. It will be interesting to see how this will develop should they choose to sell the phone internationally. If you are interested in this sort of thing, there is also a detailed description of the new invoicing systems including the printers on the Xiaomi forum. Again, it is in Chinese but I find it really refreshing to see a company – let alone a Chinese company, being so transparent about its operations, problems, plans and aspirations. You can see why the likes of HTC are worried.

Xiaomi M1 Vellamo Comparison

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

A picture tells a thousand words…

image

It is very fast… Final score was 1280.

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