A few years ago, when I started at PhoneArena, I was kind of “the Xiaomi guy”, because I was such a fan of the Chinese company and its phones at the time. But in this line of work, you have to be neutral, so over the years I’ve not only been able to review all kinds of great phones from various companies, but more importantly – learn a lot about each smartphone company and its software quirks, design language trends, update history, etc. My most recent phone was a iPhone 13 mini, and I bought it as part of my effort to try everything out there. I used to go through huge phones often, from Xiaomi’s own Mi Max series, to more recently the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Time to get acclimated to something smaller, and not Android, I thought.
As I realized using the iPhone 12 mini and later the 13 mini – turns out I really like small iPhones. So much so that I thought I’d rock the 13 mini for a while, especially since the The iPhone 14 series won’t even have a new “mini” to upgrade to.
But recently I was given a Xiaomi phone to review. “Go back to my roots?”, I thought. To rate a phone, I first have to “test” it for a while. I insert my SIM card in it, download all my apps on it and start using it as my daily driver. And again, I learned something new…
Because MIUI is so close to iOS, anyone looking to switch from iPhone to Android should opt for a Xiaomi phone.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro running MIUI 13
A quick word on what MIUI is. It’s an Android overlay with its own features like screen recorder, file manager, own launcher. You may be familiar with Samsung’s OneUI software, just like MIUI, it’s basically an overlay on Android. Many companies have them with the aim of making their smartphones more distinct and feature-rich than the standard Android phone.
Three or four years ago when I first started falling in love with Xiaomi’s MIUI software, I didn’t like the fact that it was clearly, and I mean blatantly, trying to imitate Apple’s iOS operating system. From the design of the icons, the appearance of the menus and even the very similar gestures, it was clearly inspired by iOS.
But now I firmly believe that MIUI has actually surpassed iOS in some respects, which of course is subjective… Still, just look iOS 16 – Apple’s recently announced iPhone software update is coming this fall. It now has a lock screen gallery with wallpapers and stuff? Xiaomi already had things like this many years ago…
Is this a case where the copied entity copies the copier? Did Apple take Xiaomi for once, and not the other way around? If so, that kind of proves my point that in some ways MIUI has surpassed the master.
And as a power user who loves customization, I know it’s no exaggeration to say that MIUI is much more customizable just like the nature of Android running on it, compared to iOS. You can really personalize your Xiaomi phone – remove most of the pre-installed apps, change your launcher with something completely different for a whole new home screen look, download and install apps from not just the app -store even .
Xiaomi has such great flagships, mid-range phones, and even budget phones, that paying extra for a flagship iPhone sometimes seems ridiculous
Xiaomi 12 Pro comes with a 120W charger!
Without trying to turn this into a Xiaomi rally, since Xiaomi phones have their issues, I’ll say this – buying a Xiaomi phone usually means you also get a screen protector, case, charger (wow, right?), and these days it’s often very fast.
Do you know what buying an iPhone brings you? An iPhone. And uh, stickers.
Another thing that matters a lot to me is the design. Xiaomi phones these days come with minimal bezels and, more importantly, no notch, just a small cutout selfie camera.
I never got used to the iPhone notch, and I’m glad it’s supposed to be phased out later this year for the iPhone 14 series. It’s no wonder it took so long to that the notch is gone, while in the meantime Android phones have gone through several phases – notches, pop-up cameras, cutouts, and some are now objectively on the best option (at least from a design standpoint) – under-screen cameras.
Goodbye for now, iPhone… Android, you have your problems, though
So, while I was testing out the latest Xiaomi phone, I really enjoyed getting acclimated to MIUI, after not using it for a few years. If he was a child, I would say he grew up well. Because of all this, I’m going to sell my iPhone 13 mini and switch to a Xiaomi phone, going back to my beginnings.
And I guess I’m done with small phones; going back to a big one (and Xiaomi’s are still pretty big) now is the refreshing thing for me.
However, for the sake of honesty, I’ll also mention some of the immediate gripes I notice about Android, after switching back to it from the iPhone. Android users might be interested to know what this looks like and why it’s not the smoothest transition to make sometimes.
First of all, Google really pushes its app ecosystem on you, and on an open system like Android, that’s not as easy to accept as it is on iOS. One of the first things I do with a new phone, whether it’s an iPhone or an Android, is delete all the apps I know I’ll never use. In the case of Android, it would be Google TV, Podcasts, Google Pay…
But while I was setting up my new Android phone, all the apps got updated without asking me, and lo and behold, the apps I deleted are back on my home screen. So I delete them again. I start using my phone and a “Finish setting up your phone” notification appears on the Google Play Store. I try to drag it but accidentally click on it – and again these apps come back to my home screen so I have to delete them a third time.
Google, turn it down, you’re making it really hard for some of us to like Android phones…
This, of course, is just one of many, I won’t even mention Android’s weird quirks and occasional moments of instability and buggy interface, even if you’re running it on a flagship smartphone. As much as hardcore Android fans will hate reading this – you won’t come across things like this on iOS nearly as often, if ever. Not unless you’re using beta software or something.
It’s not just Xiaomi that deserves your attention, of course.
The new Motorola Edge 30 means business!
Some great Xiaomi phones you might want to check out, for example, are our recently reviewed articles. Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 11T Pro. But of course, Xiaomi isn’t the only game in town. Moto has a lot of great phones that you might also want to check out, such as our even more recent review Motorola Edge 30 and Motorola Moto G52. While Apple is by default the only name when it comes to iOS phones, it’s certainly not just Samsung you need to watch out for on the Android side. Xiaomi (slash Redmi), Moto and many other big brands are raising the bar for what a flagship, mid-range, budget phone is and can be in 2022.
Do you have a particular smartphone that isn’t an over-hyped, well-known brand or model that you’re happy with and want to shout about? Join the conversation and share your experience with us in the comments section below!