Xiaomi Mi 3 review: The way of the dragon

The way of the dragon

GSMArena team, 15 August 2014.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Mi 3

Xiaomi Mi 3 comes in a pretty much standard box, made out of recycled paper. Inside we find a basic set of accessories - a microUSB, a 1A wall plug and a SIM ejector pin.

Xiaomi Mi 3 Xiaomi Mi 3
Xiaomi Mi 3 retail box

XiaomiShop.com, the provider of our review unit, throws in a bunch of freebies in every box and ours came with a screen protector, a fancy flip case, an EU adapter, a USB car charger plug, and a small capacitive stylus that conveniently plugs into the 3.5mm audio jack.

Xiaomi Mi 3
The accessories XiaomiShop throws in for free

Xiaomi Mi 3 360-degree spin

Xiaomi Mi 3 spreads at 144 x 73.6 x 8.1 mm and weighs about 145g. This is exactly the same footprint as Sony Xperia Z1's, but lighter. Unfortunately this means the Xiaomi Mi 3 also has rather big screen bezels.

Design and build quality

The Xiaomi Mi 3 features a stylish polycarbonate chassis that wraps around the sides of the device a lot like some Nokia Lumia phone do. While this makes the 3050mAh battery inaccessible, the rounded edges mean the device is a pleasure to hold. We've always liked Nokia's choice of materials for its top Lumia models and we are glad to see the polycarbonate working out for another brand.

Xiaomi Mi 3 Xiaomi Mi 3 Xiaomi Mi 3
Xiaomi Mi 3

The rear side finish promises no nasty fingerprint smudges. The pitch black front contributes to the overall classy feeling and is very easy to clean. You can barely see where the IPS display ends and the frame begins.

Xiaomi Mi 3 was designed to look and feel like the flagship device it is. You will easily pick it up when put in whatever lineup of devices no matter it doesn't bet on any iconic elements as some of its competitors. It is likeable and beautiful, thoughtfully designed with usability and style in mind.

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Handling the Xiaomi Mi 3

Handling the Xiaomi Mi 3 is as pleasurable as it can get - the polycarbonate unibody is solid and provides great grip thanks to its matte surface. The Mi 3 is just 8mm thin, but its wide footprint doesn't allow you to forget it's in your pocket.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi 3 features a 5" Full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 441ppi, which places it among the best in-class. It's covered by Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against scratches and cracks from pressure.

Xiaomi Mi 3
The 5" IPS display Xiaomi Mi 3

Here is the display matrix of the Xiaomi Mi 3 shot from upclose. Taking a closer look at it under our digital microscope reveals a standard RGB arrangement of the sub-pixels that make up the Xiaomi Mi 3 LCD panel, not that we've expected anything else.

Xiaomi Mi 3

The display on the Xiaomi Mi 3 is bright enough at 100% with good contrast and colors. Unfortunately dropping the brightness reduces the contrast and the screen becomes dim very soon, which makes us believe 50% of the brightness scrubber is way below 50% of the actual brightness.

Unfortunately, the brightness of the screen is uneven with the backlight source being pretty visible at the top of the screen. When you have a white page opened on the screen you can easily notice the gradual brightness falloff from top to bottom. On the positive side, that's only visible with a full-on white or gray screen - in any other case it's as good as invisible.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Mi 3 0.18 142 809 0.61 557 907
LG G2 0.1 149 1522 0.45 667 1495
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
Sony Xperia Z1 - - - 0.38 580 1513
Huawei Ascend P7 0.13 101 807 0.79 668 843
Oppo Find 7a 0.33 280 842 0.68 580 852
Sony Xperia Z2 - - - 0.41 488 1195
Gionee Elife S5.5 0 178 0 330


The sunlight legibility isn't great, but the Xiaomi Mi 3's display is still usable outside and you will be able to see what's happening on the screen.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • HTC Windows Phone 8X
    1.873
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Xiaomi is providing options for color temperature and saturation. Glove mode is available too, but you probably shouldn't leave that turned on if you don't need it because it may drain your battery faster.

Finally there is an option to prevent accidental unlocks of your screen, while the phone is in your pocket. If enabled, you won't be able to unlock the scren while something is covering the proximity sensor. Again, that would take its toll on the battery life.

Reader comments

  • Pedro

What about the cignal of this....?

  • Shuvo

Is mi3w support fast charger?

  • AnonD-646503

To be honest, this phone very cheap but comes with snapdragon 800 with processor of 2.3 Ghz. Yes this phone is not durable but i always self repair it as i brought the spare parts from china website. They sell not original part but as long the mother...