Back at WinHEC 2015, Microsoft announced a partnership with Xiaomi to test Windows 10 on one of its smartphones. This is that smartphone, the Mi4.

This post was originally written in April, but given the recent news we've updated it for a second look.

Xiaomi has now announced the software will be made available publicly on December 3. But if you're not familiar with it, there's also a good chance you've asked yourself: "what is this Xiaomi Mi4 anyway?"

So let's take a look at one.

Xiaomi Mi4

Xiaomi is well known for packing high-end hardware into a package that doesn't cost the earth. The Mi4 isn't the most current device, but it's still a pretty well spec'd phone. The flagship for the company when it was first launched.

  • 5-inch, 1920x1080 resolution display
  • 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 8MP front facing camera
  • 16GB/64GB internal storage
  • 3080mAh battery
  • 139.2mm x 68.5mm x 8.9mm

To see a complete, detailed list of what's inside the Mi4, visit the link below.

So, it's not short on hardware, with internals to take on the best that Windows Phone has to offer, bar the new Lumia 950 phones. It's pretty nicely designed, too, with a metal frame, incredibly slim size bezels and a gently curved rear. The battery isn't removable, as such, but the back cover can be removed with some persuasion to allow you to replace them, such as we've done here with a wood back on ours.

Xiaomi Mi4

It's actually a close enough fit design wise to the Nokia Lumia 830 we know so well. Both have their own style, but the combination of a metal frame and plastic back combine to create a similar unibody feel on both devices.

The cameras are sourced from Sony and Xiaomi has a bunch of software tweaks built into its camera app such as live HDR. Both seem to take pretty good pictures from what we've seen so far. Not class leading, but the hardware is solid.

Of course, at present, it's running Android. More specifically, MIUI 6 or 7, Xiaomi's custom version of Android. But part of the reason that Xiaomi is such a good fit for the Windows 10 preview is its openness towards developers and tinkerers.

Installing beta or developer ROMs on the Mi4 is relatively simple, as is going back if anything goes wrong. We're not sure exactly how the conversion process to running Windows 10 will go, since we haven't tried it yet, but we're excited to play with it on hardware like this. There's still a lot of unanswered questions, one of which is where the future lies for any Microsoft and Xiaomi collaborations. The Mi4 has been superseded by a number of phones since its launch, and we're most definitely looking forward to whatever the future may hold for these two companies working together.

Xiaomi Mi4 and Lumia 830