March 27, 2018 will go down in the history of smartphone news as the day when Huawei and Xiaomi’s launches overshadowed an Apple event. Huawei launched the triple-camera toting P20 Pro, Xiaomi launched the Mi Mix 2s, and Apple introduced an iPad for schools. Despite all the leaks, Huawei managed to sustain interest in the P20 Pro thanks to its insane camera prowess. And, the Mi Mix 2s wowed with its sleek design.
But the one thing plagues both the Chinese phones is: a heavy-handed approach to software skinning.
A popular voice in the tech community Stefan Constantine’s had a scathing remark about EMUI 8.1. He tweeted,“You can slap a turbo on a garbage truck, it’s still a garbage truck.” What he meant was despite using Android 8.1 as the base layer, EMUI 8.1 still looks pretty bad. And Clinton Jeff, ex-blogger, chimed in immediately. He criticised MIUI for being even worse.
Why does Xiaomi struggle to sell more flagship phones in India?
Now this got me thinking; Xiaomi doesn’t sell too many flagship phones in India because of MIUI. The software is a hot mess and the user experience needs a lot of work. For example, bunched notifications rarely work for Gmail. And, using a two finger swipe to reply directly from the notifications is a major interaction design fail.
I believe consumers looking for a phone under Rs 20,000 are generally more forgiving when it comes to missteps in the software experience. And, I don’t blame them. If you get the latest Snapdragon 636 SoC with impressive dual cameras, that too on a phone that costs just Rs 13,999, you’d definitely not want to miss out on it. Doesn’t matter then, if the Redmi Note 5 Pro runs Android 7 or Android 8 or Windows Phone. While an unfinished software is not a bad tradeoff, it is an irritant nonetheless.
However, this tradeoff is not easily tolerated by buyers looking for a flagship smartphone. Why do you think Apple manages to sell more iPhones despite the steep price? The software, despite being bare basics, is streamlined and refined for the most part.
The Mi Mix 2s looks stunning, is priced right, and promises great cameras. But trust me when I say this, the phone is bound to be undone by MIUI. What the Mix 2s needs is a coat of fresh software, without any bugs and an unparalleled UX. I don’t think I am asking for too much.
I completely agree with fellow comrade Raju PP’s (founder of TechPP) solution. He tweeted, “I honestly feel Xiaomi should opt for Android One for high-end phones, not mid-range.” Interestingly, Clinton tends to agree. He tweeted, “A high end Android One Xiaomi phone would be unbeatable. Samsung would cry.”
Think about it…a Mi Mix 2s with stock Android 8.1. I would hit the buy button in an instant. Oh, but wait…I am at the mercy of flash sales. Never mind. Plan cancelled.