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I think the Mi 3 is definitely when Xiaomi really put itself on the global map. This was also the first phone that I was able to learn about all the way out here in the US. Before this guy came along nobody knew that China even had the ability to make real smartphones. I mean we had Huawei and ZTE back then but they were the lowest of the low end phones that were seen as toys. (This is because they only sent over their worst budget level devices to our market.)
After Mi 3 it was just impossible for me to look elsewhere. And I tried. I was going to settle for Galaxy S5 because there was just no way I could get this phone. And then Xiaomi released the successor and that was it.
Now looking at this device 6 years later and it still feels really premium for a phone from back then. We're talking about the days when Galaxy S3 and 4 were big and iPhone 4S was cutting edge. But seeing this guy really shows you how far Xiaomi has come. Look at the size of those side bezels. By Mi 4 they would have already trimmed those down. Then look at the really big forehead and chin. All relics of the past. Plus you can see how the screen is a separate piece attached to the main body of the phone and the rear panel has those raised lettering like older Chinese products. It really feels like it's from another time. But I remember seeing this in comparison with the stuff we had back then and it was beautiful. I still love the rear camera look and that it was one of the few phones to have capacitive keys. So futuristic for 2013!
But then you really get to the reason why this guy put Xiaomi on the global stage. MIUI. I think it started on MIUI V4 but by the time I heard about it MIUI V5 was already out on beta. Even back then MIUI was impressive. More features than anything with a UI that looked sleeker than anything around. I mean back then we are talking about bland white look for iOS and black for android. TouchWiz looked very unpolished by comparison. And then just think MIUI 6 was just around the block and it really upped the aesthetics.
Thanks for this look back in time. It really brought back some nice memories!
PS: I just noticed you thought the rom on the phone was MIUI 3. That's not it. MIUI 3.10.25 means MIUI developer rom from October 25, 2013 the 3 in the beginning is for year. This one was actually MIUI V5. MIUI V3 was in use during 2011 and 2012 with the last version 2.4.20 where MIUI V4 would take over. So that's why right now we are on MIUI 9.7.25 for the last weekly release in July 25 of this year.