Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has been getting a lot of ink as of late, but not for their hardware: former Googler Hugo Barra is now their Vice President of Global. The first phone to launch after Barra joined the company is the new flagship MI3, and it is a doozie. The device crams some of the best hardware available into a phone, but it's probably not leaving China any time soon.


Let's start with the processor, which will change depending upon which carrier you buy the phone for. The WCDMA and CDMA2000 versions of the phone intended for use on China Unicom and China Telecom, respectively, will be using a Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3Ghz on all four cores. But if you buy the TD-SCDMA version for China Mobile, you'll find an NVIDIA Tegra 4 inside. Both SoC's are outstanding in terms of performance, and all versions of the phone come with 2GB of RAM. The MI3's claim to be "the fastest smartphone ever" comes from the slightly newer MSM8974AB model Snapdragon CPU, with boosts to the clock speeds for the memory interface and the Adreno 330 GPU (now running at 550Mhz). The rest of the specifications are the same for all three versions of the phone and read like a mobile Frankenstein monster. In a good way.

There's a 5-inch 1080p LCD supplied by LG. There's a 13-megapixel F/2.2 rear camera supplied by Sony. The frame comes in black, white, silver, pink, yellow, and blue, and looks a hell of a lot like some of Nokia's Lumia designs (right down to the bottom-mounted speaker). Despite being just 8.1mm thick, it crams in a relatively huge non-removable 3050mAh battery. This is some top-notch hardware, folks, which makes it all the more frustrating that we won't be seeing it stateside.

mi36 mi32 MI34

144856xd7e3s6x9d933g9a mi33 mi35

Of course the software on any Xiaomi phone is worth talking about. The MI3 will run MIUI 5, a massively modified version of Android 4.1, complete with Xiaomi's infrastructure replacing the Play Store (and an interface that undeniably apes iOS in most areas). But the most interesting thing about the MI3 is the price: the 16GB model will start at $327 for the 16GB version (approximately 2000 Yuan) and the huge 64GB version will be $408 (just shy of 2500 Yuan). Xiaomi has not posted a release date for the phone.

Xiaomi doesn't offer any products outside of China at the moment. But we can certainly hope that this situation will change, and soon. After all, why else would the company hire a highly-visible Android executive as the VP of Global? Here are a few shots of Mr. Barra showing off the phone at a Xiaomi press event.

1419214b7nfjf17vrxwkec (1) 101934hyyp8yyi22yyohps

Nice to see you having fun in the new job, Hugo. Come on back to America, please, and bring some of those cheap high-end phones with you.

Source: MIUI.com

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Anthony Evans

    To bad no US carriers will pick it up and throw in some LTE love

  • troph

    Bring this stateside please!

  • Zhelyazko Atanasov

    Forget about the phone, bring Barra back to Google :)

  • matt

    Sounds like a great candidate for some Cyanogenmod support if ever available in the U.S.!

    • ANex

      Xiaomi violates the GPL license by not open sourcing the kernel (so we don't see much development on xda), I hope Hugo Barra can do something about it so we can enjoy CM on it.

      • abc905

        Just go check the MIUI forums. Plenty of ROM (including CM) development there for xiaomi phones.

  • kekkojoker90

    Is a modified version of android 4.2.1

    • PhoenixPath

      "The MI3 will run MIUI 5, a massively modified version of Android 4.1"

      • kekkojoker90
        • PhoenixPath

          As far as I knew/know, the most current released version is 3.8.x and the 3.9.x versions are as yet still "beta"...

          I can see 3.9.2 roms out there, but nothing using 3.9.4 yet. Well, except for the device in the video. ;-)


          • kekkojoker90


            From engadget china. Well cleary is 4.2.1 and obviusly in the xiaomi didn't have the problem of putting their rom in their phone.

          • PhoenixPath

            Again, *shrug*.

            Sticking to what I know. Current state is 3.8.x. When the phone is released? Who knows...might be on 4.3 by then.

        • Tamadrummer94

          That looks like glossy plastic, I thought this was supposed to be some magnesium alloy?

  • troph

    Unexpected plus of volunteering abroad in South East Asia-- access to asian markets. Getting this as soon as it comes out.

    • Jerecho

      Question, though ... looking at the bands available for the Xiaomi 3, I'm gathering that you wouldn't be able to use either version of the phone on any GSM network, which pretty much narrows you down to America and a few select parts of Asia. You wouldn't be able to use it pretty much throughout Europe and many other parts of the world (including my country).

      Am I right? Because I would love to be proven wrong. It's not hard for me to get a phone from China and I would kill to get the Xiaomi 3.

      • troph

        Well... I'm hoping that changes :)
        If the past is anything to go by, then GSM will be supported. All the prior models have GSM support

      • vanhoe0

        It does support the GSM network.

        • Jerecho

          "2G:GSM ..."

          We'd be limited to using 2G networks on GSM carriers, then, from the looks of it...

          • markt9002

            No. You'd be limited to using it on AT&T MVNOs and a few updated towers on T-Mobile's network. W-CDMA is supported by both carriers.

      • abc905

        China = 2/3 GSM, 1/3 CDMA

    • ANex

      Middle of October I believe. I am getting it once it's released here, I live in HK :)

      • Vik

        Hi, Im coming to HK in mid November and i also looking to buy this phone. Maybe you Know the shops where i can find it ?

        • ANex

          Actually I think it's better to order one from http://hk.xiaomi.com/ then pick it up at the hotel since it will be the cheapest option for sure. If it isn't available by the time you come to HK, then you can buy one in Sin Tat Plaza, Mong Kok! :)

  • Andye82

    5g connection? And they don't even have 3g in most smaller cities, talk about 4g.
    SONY camer? I guess Hugo didn't yet have enough time to check out the spelling from the official ads

    • Colin Kealty

      Pretty sure they mean 5Ghz wifi, as opposed to 2.4Ghz

  • Gift of Mercy

    The Xiaomi and Snapdragon Cells look Super, but need more info on Tech-specs. Also DOLLAR quite high in most emerging-markets, so option not too good now.

  • Paul

    Can this be imported to the U.S, I mean shipped? WCDMA/CDMA2000 isn't that Verizon/MetroPCS/Sprint? So no GSM/HSPA/HSPA+ version's of this phone?

    • Alan Shearer

      cdma still requires the software from the carrier to run on their network. Only gsm based phones can be carrier independent atm.

      • psychoace

        Wrong, WCDMA is for what T-Mobile and AT&T use for HSPA.

        • Mainul Mizan

          And HSPA is software extension of WCDMA. The radio is same.

        • SetiroN

          That's true, but he's right: CDMA doesn't mean WCDMA.

          WCDMA is AT&t/T-Mo 3G, CDMA2000 (usually shortened to just CDMA) is Verizon 2G; the latter doesn't use a SIM card and relies on the phone's firmware, which makes it necessary for the phone to be issued by the carrier itself.

    • Markoff

      that is CHINESE price in chinese market not including, reseller commision, tax&custom fees and delivery fee, real price would be at least 100USD more

  • Laborin_HK

    This is probably the closest we'll get in terms of "Nokia with android" in the design aspect... and yet it's still so hard to get one :(

    • didibus

      Maybe they can't release outside of China because they are infringing on a bunch on Design Patents? Just a thought I had.

      • grboto

        nokia didn't invent that design. huawei x6 looks very similar to that was on on the market a year before the nokia n9.

        • didibus

          I don't think it matters who made a phone with the design first or even who invented it, it only matters who claimed the patents for it first.

          Microsoft when buying Nokia acquired 8500 of it's design patents, so design patents are not a myth, Nokia (now Microsoft) does posses an immense amount of design related patents.

          I also believe China does not have to respect international patents when in China, but it would have if selling outside of China.

          So all in all, I do not know if any of those 8500 patents Nokia (now Microsoft) has could be what prevents Xiaomi from releasing outside China, but it sounds like a possibility.

          • abc905

            The design is so basic I doubt its patentable. Rectangle. Round edges.

    • Danny Davis

      Or you can wait till the "Newkia" gets off the ground. Newkia is about as bad a thought as Kazaam. LOL

    • Yuri Predborski

      No its not hard. Just find a reliable reseller, buy it and have it delivered. Did it 4 times, worked each time (though one was faulty, was sent back and replaced for a new one). The main two problems with Xiaomi phones: they're more expensive than announced (sometimes notably), and they take sometimes a very long time to be delivered. Sometimes 1-2 months. If you're lucky, you can get one in a week (if its in stock, but it will be more expensive).

  • Paul

    http://www.welectronics.com/gsm/misc/XIAOMI-Mi3.HTML?gclid=CIaP9pO1tLkCFSpk7Aodc1kA9w Strange. You can pick it up for $530 already but their picture is completely different.

  • xsirxx


  • jonathan3579

    Let this have T-Mobile compatible bands and I'll pick one up. This would easily replace the Nexus 4 idea I had for a spare phone.

    • psychoace

      If it's like the M2A then it will have 1900mhz. Which if you live in a T-Mobile refarmed area then you are golden.

  • rosewellzz

    Get it anywhere in the world at http://www.ibuygou.com . Delivered my Mi2s in one week to the UK.

    • xsirxx

      Yea but their price is 429$... I thought it was supposed to be 327$?

      • rosewellzz

        I'm guessing the price they advertise includes import tax?? Still its way way cheaper than anything available in the UK with similar specs. :)

        • xsirxx

          Ohh yea, im not complaining, now we just need to find out if we can use them in the UK and US.

          • rosewellzz

            yes you can :) I'm using my Xiaomi Mi2s on Vodaphone UK, just popped in my SIM and it worked straight away. I also decided to install the modified Miui UK Rom available from the unofficial UK site: http://en.miui.com/download.html as it has better support for google apps and english translation, very easy to install adn updates once a week on Friday :). Best phone Ive ever had and Ive used around 10 in the last 3 years, iphone, samsung, padfones, HTC. this is by far the best. Just my humble opinion :)

          • Nicholas Polydor

            @rosewellzz:disqus, how much did you pay in GBP for the Xiaomi Mi2s in terms of 1. Raw price from iBuyGou 2. Delivery cost (which courier?) and 3. Import duty, taxes etc. The wording of your second post seemed to suggest that this was somehow paid in advance as part of my question 1. ?

            Cheers, Nick (fellow Brit!)

          • rosewellzz

            Paid in all about £280 for the phone, courier was £22, no import taxes, was delivered in gift paper and valued at around 50USD on import sticker. arrived 6 days via DHL after i purchased online via paypal

    • blumpkinator

      Article does not mention a GSM/LTE version of the Mi3. Network types mentioned are cdma200, wcdma and td-scdma. So pretty much useless for gsm/hspa+ or gsm/LTE.

  • jauling

    The title of this article is totally misleading and wrong. you can buy this phone easily if you live outside of China, and it will be shipped to you within a few days. The author needs to do his research: http://www.ibuygou.com

  • 16bitz0r

    I want that SONY CAMER! I want it NAUW!

    • John Smith


  • GuilhermeMendes

    the advantages of a world without patent's war (a.k.a. china)

  • Dalibor Kollár

    Xiaomi products are easily available worldwide. All you have to do is to visit reliable Chinese e-shop delivering the goods worldwide. I've bought mine Xiaomi Mi2 the same way.

  • Thatguyfromvienna

    Woah! Only 80 bucks difference between 16 and 64 GB!
    I'm moving to China now.

    • Markoff

      you know that 16GB mSD memory card cost like 50RMB, right? i don't see point why big companies charge so much for memory if any sane user can see differences in prices of memory cards which is pretty same

  • Ryan Morales

    i Have the MI2S and the phone is lovely nothing wrong with it from day one i really cant say theres is a draw back. But I was able to get the device trough a miui-android.com sponsor so the phone will be available in the us but only through that sponsor site to my knowledge

  • Dave Lahoud

    I've already pre-ordered mine - a black 64gb snapdragon version - it's the only version that works in Australia for Optus

  • Stanislav Gruzdov

    Cool, reminds me an iPod Nano 2G :)

  • Nafy

    Hi, shall i ask my friends to buy in china and bring it to India.?
    Would like to buy Mi3 model. Does it will come with International waranty? Please help me, how to get this phone in china? my friends are coming on End of October.

  • Deeo

    It's a modified version of android 4.2 not 4.1.


    When can I buy that lelular.
    That month, that year.
    I want to buy now.

  • xiaomiworld

    pre-order xiaomi 3 from xiaomiworld.com

  • Wiggy

    I live in China, and just bought the MI-3 - and it is the best phone that I have ever had, so damn quick, great apps and a lot of in-phone features......

  • http://www.hospity.com Hospity

    Wow.. Great Smart phone.. Low cost Thanks for sharing.

    Hospital Management System