Xiaomi Mi4
Xiaomi Mi4

Reviews: Xiaomi Mi4 and Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear earphones

Xiaomi again challenges more expensive rivals, and Sennheiser's Momentum earphones sound just right

The variety available today in any gadget category is simply mind boggling. It’s tougher for gadget manufacturers to ensure their products stand out—yet Xiaomi and Sennheiser have managed just that with their new offerings.

Xiaomi Mi4

19,999

For a mid-range phone, the Mi4 looks and feels quite premium and classy with its metal frame, chamfered edges and white back panel. At 149g, it isn’t the lightest phone. It looks very similar to the Apple iPhone 5 and 5s, but it has a distinct personality.

The 5-inch IPS screen (1,920x1,080 pixels) uses a pixel-correction technology that improves colour richness and accuracy. The display is at its best when you’re watching videos and photos. If you find the screen too colourful, you can reduce the colour levels a bit. The text is sharp and easy to read, and the reflections don’t get in the way while reading an e-book or watching a YouTube video.

The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, clocking at 2.5 GHz, with 3 GB of RAM. This processor is powering many of the more expensive Android flagship phones. And it is because of this sort of powerful performance at half the price that the Mi4 is real value for money.

Xiaomi has redone the MIUI interface; it’s now called MIUI 6. The redesigned icons look flatter, improving visibility. A lot more colour has been used on the eye-catching static and transition elements—for instance, when switching apps or screensavers. The new interface does use up a lot of memory though—no apps running, just the MIUI 6 takes up about 1 GB of RAM. We expect a software update to make it more resource-efficient and improve multitasking performance.

The 13-megapixel rear camera is quite good when it comes to daytime and bright shots, but noise and distortion is visible in low-light shots. The good thing is that the phone’s camera is quick compared with immediate rivals, and it has manual settings for exposure and shutter speeds. The 8-MP selfie camera has a rather interesting age and gender detection feature—not always accurate, but a lot of fun.

The Mi4’s 3,080 mAh battery lasts a day and a half on a single charge, which is quite good. For anyone looking to buy a sub- 20,000 phone, this is a good option. Like the Mi and Redmi series of phones, this too is available only on Flipkart.

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear earphones

6,990

The Momentum headphones have a neutral sound because the bigger audio drivers, or the inbuilt audio hardware in each earpiece, can kick up some solid bass as and when needed. With the smaller components in an earphone, that sort of on-demand punch isn’t always possible.

This is why the Momentum In-Ear has a slight bass bias, to ensure the lower frequencies are on an equal footing with the others. The upside is that the treble and vocals have been toned down and don’t sound sharp even at high volumes. Mid-range frequencies are a bit underpowered, something that isn’t really a deal-breaker, but makes songs sound slightly less dynamic. For podcasts and talk shows, the soft sound works well.

The in-line controls for volume are convenient. Before you buy, however, select the correct version—there is one for Android phones, while the iOS version works with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Sennheiser provides a carry case with the earphones, with a wire management accessory.

Despite the minor niggles, the Momentum In-Ear is priced attractively, and is worth considering if you can afford to spend on a premium product.

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