Xiaomi is on a roll, but it needs to fix its software inconsistency

Open the Poco F3 app for verification settings

Recognition: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Xiaomi is on a roll, but it needs to fix its software inconsistency 2

Opinion from

Hadlee Simons

The first quarter of 2021 is on the books and it looks like Xiaomi was a big winner. The manufacturer cemented third place for worldwide broadcasts and is now in second place in the immediate vicinity of Apple.

It is certainly welcome news for Xiaomi, especially after its humble beginnings as a ROM developer. And this ROM, called MIUI, still powers all of his smartphones today.

MIUI earned a reputation as an iOS clone in the beginning due to the copycat icons and lack of an app drawer, but it has certainly evolved into a more unique and useful version of Android these days. The iOS styles have been toned down, although the skin still has disagreed opinions about how it looks.

Fortunately, Xiaomi MIUI has continued to provide many interesting or useful features. In the past few years there have been features like the Quick Access option, downloadable system themes, a system manager app (for cleaning memory, etc.), dual apps and a one-handed mode. More recently, we’ve had Super Wallpapers, Magic Clone features in the camera app, and some privacy features (e.g. clipboard protection, secure photo sharing).

However, there is one main problem that Xiaomi has to address with its Android skin and that is the sheer inconsistency between devices and the various sub-brands.


Xiaomi Mi 9 Pro 5G logo close-up

Our own C Scott Brown tested the Poco F3 last month and called his MIUI for Poco software “buggy” and “messy”. The list of problems he encountered was particularly alarming for a smartphone in 2021.

“I’ve seen all sorts of problems including random reboots, disappearing / reappearing notifications, and even an unsolicited change from a refresh rate of 120 Hz to 60 Hz,” Scott stated in his review. He also told me that he saw issues like jittery animations, app crashes, and notification text buttons opening the notification itself instead of performing the action indicated on the button (such as inline replies). This also does not apply to bloatware and advertising.

Occasionally some of these issues are fixed to check models with preproduction software (and note where they are). However, a preliminary check of the OTA update and another update after the release have not yet solved many of these problems for the Poco F3.

See also: These are the best Xiaomi phones that you can buy

These problems should eventually be resolved with further updates. This was the case with the Mi 9T Pro, which our own Tristan Rayner tested some time ago. He noticed that the device had a lot of small bugs (“I turned off animations as usual and that broke everything”), but that the MIUI 11 update fixed a lot of problems, albeit a few months after launch.

Unfortunately, this general inconsistency affects some Xiaomi phones for well over six months after launch. And how do I know? Well my girlfriend has the Redmi Note 9 and she’s been having problems for months.

MIUI is not the same for all devices in terms of errors and performance.

In particular, your Redmi Note 9 has encountered issues such as the camera freezing for seconds (which prevents you from taking more shots) and the screen turning on every few seconds while listening to music or podcasts. The errors don’t end there either, as replying to messages via the notification shadow doesn’t work (loss of the message you just composed) and the Instagram app crashes after viewing multiple stories in a row. The phone has received several updates since then, but these haven’t fixed all of the bugs and sometimes caused new problems.

The sad part is that there are Xiaomi phones with relatively polished, high-performance MIUI skins. Android Authority Reviewers Eric Zeman and Dhruv Bhutani praised devices like the Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 10, Poco X3, and Poco M3. In fact, the only major problems we usually have focus on bloatware and advertising, the latter in particular being a topic for another time.

It’s unclear what could be causing this inconsistency, but we doubt this has anything to do with performance. After all, the Poco F3 has flagship power and is still fighting. We also recently reviewed the budget-conscious Redmi Note 10 and Dhruv found that it was well optimized and that he had no major bugs or issues.

Regardless of whether there is a lack of QA testing, optimization or any other factor, it is high time for the company to ensure more consistent software across the board. We can see that Xiaomi is able to deliver a relatively flawless, smooth experience.

It’s MIUI against the world

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in hand 1

Recognition: David Imel / Android Authority

This inconsistent experience comes from the fact that other OEMs have started to really improve their software game. Even OEMs, who traditionally had a bad rap for software, have brought a solid take on Android in the past few years, like Oppo and Vivo. Xiaomi cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

This is also due to the seemingly increasing shift towards long-term update commitments. We recently saw LG and HMD announce version updates for their phones for up to three years. However, Samsung was the first major non-Google Android OEM to announce a three-year commitment to version updates. This is the company that Xiaomi should be concerned about.

Connected: Samsung has raised the bar for Android updates

The high-profile manufacturer is making a three-year pledge for flagship and select budget phones that harks back to the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 families. Samsung is giving existing owners an incentive to stick with the brand, making it difficult for OEMs like Xiaomi to poach their customers. Xiaomi offers MIUI updates for older devices, but these often do not update the underlying Android version, which later exposes the device to the risk of app compatibility issues.

In both cases, Xiaomi is clearly able to deliver a smooth and reliable version of Android. Now is the time for the company to make sure they are delivering the same experience across the board and over time.

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