Xiaomi has been making some interesting news lately, first with the abrupt transition of Hugo Barra from Google to Xiaomi, now with the announcement of their latest high end smartphone, the MI3, at their New Product Convention 2013 event. What was interesting about the MI2 announcement last year was that it was one of the first to include Qualcomm's quad core APQ8064 SoC inside, and Xiaomi has included Qualcomm SoCs since the MI1 (MSM8660). I still remember my first experiences with the Xiaomi MI1 and the value prospect that the device made me realize existed with the right set of conditions, and how impressed I was with that hardware. With the MI3 Xiaomi goes to variants based on both Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974AB) and NVIDIA's Tegra 4 platform. 

The WCDMA (China Unicom) and CDMA2000 (China Telecom) variants of the MI3 come based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 MSM8974AB platform, while the TD-SCDMA (China Mobile) variant is based on NVIDIA's Tegra 4 platform.

Xiaomi makes the first (to my knowledge) public disclosure of MSM8974AB, which is analogous to the changes we saw between APQ8064 and APQ8064AB. From 8974 to 8974AB, Adreno 330 GPU clocks climb from 450 MHz to 550 MHz, LPDDR3 memory interface maximum data rates go from 800 MHz to 933 MHz, and the ISP clock domain (I think Xiaomi might mean the Hexagon DSP here) goes from 320 MHz to 465 MHz. 8974 comes in both a bin with the 4 Krait 400 CPUs clocked at 2.2 GHz (really 2.15 GHz) and 2.3 GHz (2.26 GHz) with slightly different pricing, while 8974AB comes with a Krait 400 clock available only at 2.3 GHz. Process is still TSMC 28nm HPM, but I suspect that the AB variant might have the high k dielectric and/or transistor mix tuned slightly differently based on a few rumblings I've heard recently. 

It's safe to say that Tegra 4 hasn't been the overwhelming success that NVIDIA had hoped for, nor able to continue the momentum that Tegra 3 built, so winning a slot with Xiaomi MI3 is a relatively big deal, even if Xiaomi's slice of the Chinese market isn't very large yet. The TD-SCDMA variant includes Tegra 4's 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex A15 4+1 architecture with 72 core GeForce GPU built on TSMC 28nm HPL. We've written a lot about Tegra 4, and got a chance to look at performance in the NVIDIA Shield review and came away impressed with performance in that platform. Of course the real interesting question is how Tegra 4 will perform in platform with smaller TDP and available platform power. Xiaomi claims relatively similar performance between Tegra 4 and 8974AB variants in a few system benchmarks as well. If we get the chance the MI3 might make for an interesting vehicle to compare the two SoCs in almost the same platform.

I'm not sure whether the MI3 uses the discrete Icera i500 modem for TD-SCDMA. i500 is fully TD-SCDMA enabled, so there's no reason that NVIDIA couldn't have won the entire platform slot, but I haven't confirmed it yet. Update: We've confirmed that the MI3 isn't using the i500 modem.

Either way Xiaomi is an increasingly interesting player in the Chinese market and always seems to make SoC choices that interest us. 

Source: Xiaomi

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  • tonyking - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - link

    you can order it on ebay or some china online store as xiaomi world.i had order the 2s on it
  • retrospooty - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    I like the tapered edges "ala-Nokia" designs, but hate the giant bezel "ala-Nokia" aspect.
  • rdeleonp - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Look at Hugo's grin... LOL!
  • badchris - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    According to sources from supply chain,the Xiaomi MI3 Tegra 4 ver is using baseband chip from Spreadtrum,since NVIDIA's Grey and Icera i500 haven't passed any mobile carrier's validation yet.
  • TechnoSavvy - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Which one performs better 8974AB..or the Tegra 4
    Will it be available in India ?
    When and at What price?
  • name99 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    It's interesting that they are trying very hard to copy Apple (all the way to the iOS7 icons in their skinning) but they don't seem to "get" what Apple is really about.
    No way in hell Apple would have created the slides above, busy, cluttered, full of tech jargon. Same for their web site which has the gorgeous high quality photos of Apple, pasted onto a cluttered and uninspiring background.

    The question is what's the long term plan here? Is the goal to simply out-Samsung Samsung --- be the best copier of Apple products in China? Or is there actually a higher ambition, to be become not simply a copier of Apple, but a legit Chinese equivalent of Apple, the one Chinese company that charges more for design because they actually DELIVER?

    I'd say things aren't looking good for the second theory right now. But, it's early days. Maybe by this time next year they'll have hired some DESIGNERS rather than UI cloners? For the larger story here, the more interesting story, I think the place to look is not in the phones and other high profile devices but at the more mundane stuff like the marketing slides, the ads, the web page, and see what sort of sensibility (and unity or lack thereof) is driving them.
  • etamin - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    If you actually used MIUI, you would know it is nothing like iOS. I own a Mi2 and an iPhone 5 and I prefer the Mi2 as my daily phone. Just because there is an icon dock and icon folders doesn't make it a copy of iOS. Plenty of ROMs have these basic features. The iPhone 5 is a great device, but too restrictive for my needs so I use it as an iPod Touch.

    What does the slides not looking like Apple slides have to do with anything? XiaoMi is not Apple. Your statement is irrelevant.

    Companies in all industries take design cues from their competitors, "copying" is much too strong of a word. On the other hand, if XiaoMi is attempting to copy the SUCCESS of Apple, there is nothing wrong with that, every company would aim to do so. Marketing techniques have little to do with the actual technologies and products being sold. XiaoMi is trying to offer leading technologies at an affordable price, and Apple is not known for that latter area.

    Just because you're an Apple lover (or a Chinese product hater) DOES NOT MEAN EVERY COMPANY YOU HAVE NOT HEARD OF IS COPYING APPLE. Ignorant fanboys need to keep quiet.
  • name99 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Xiaomi is constantly referred to as "China's Apple". This is simply a fact --- do a freaking google search. As such, it's perfectly reasonable to ask whether this is a sensible and reasonable designation.
  • Anon1440 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    Reason why it is called "China's Apple" because it is very successful in China. Similar to how Apple is a big hit in US. However, if you want to compare the functionality, they are very different. I have Mi2, S4 and iPhone4S and the closest one that is similar to each other are Mi2 and S4. iPhone4S has nothing on Mi2, if not worse, in terms of the UI and the horrendous (this is purely my own opinion) iOS7.
  • Davidjan - Friday, September 6, 2013 - link

    Mi2A, Mi2S are pretty good device. You can easily expand its storage with this mini reader:

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