Most users prefer stock Android over MIUI 9 and that’s a problem for Xiaomi
Xiaomi’s custom ROM, aka MIUI, although it offers a seamless experience across the board, is known for some heavy skinning on top of Android, something that hard-core geeks don’t really appreciate. Also, because there’s third-party skinning involved — and because Xiaomi likes to update each and every device in its portfolio more or less on similar lines — the fact that users have to wait longer for updates, doesn’t sit well with many. That besides the fact that the company is known to kill some key Android features just so it can maintain uniformity across its devices is a subject of much debate.
So it comes as no big surprise that hard-core geeks would rather prefer stock Android over MIUI. Any day and everyday. What comes as a big surprise however is that even long-term Xiaomi phones would rather pick a Xiaomi phone running stock Android over one that’s based on the company’s MIUI, and that’s a problem for Xiaomi.
Xiaomi’s official Twitter handle for global recently conducted a poll on the micro-blogging website asking fans and enthusiasts to choose between Android One and MIUI 9. Such polls aren’t new, and companies tend to run them from time to time. No, strike that, such polls aren’t new, and companies that are confident of the end-result tend to run them from time to time. Xiaomi’s social media team was probably quite confident as well, so it seems. Only, the end-result, was not something that the company would have imagined. A whopping 57 per cent out of approximately 15,000 voters voted in favor of Android One over MIUI 9, and because the end-result wasn’t something that the company would have imagined, the social media team at Xiaomi deleted the whole thing shortly after the tweet went live.
The numbers are particularly baffling for Xiaomi, because the company has gone on record to claim that its MIUI 9 — which is the latest version of its Android-based operating system — is as fast and as functional as stock Android. But here’s the thing, MIUI 9 — which started rolling out in November last year — is still based on Android Nougat and not Android Oreo. When Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 4 in India in January last year, the phone shipped with Android Marshmallow (based MIUI 8). In early August, the phone started receiving the Android 7.0 Nougat update (MIUI 8.5) alongside the July Android security patch. Interestingly, the Redmi Note 4 — as per a Xiaomi listing — isn’t scheduled to get Android 7.1 even though it is upgradable to MIUI 9. If Xiaomi’s listing is to be gone by, chances are the Redmi Note 4 may be stuck with Android 7.0 for the rest of its life. To expect an Android Oreo upgrade from it would be wishful thinking.
Clearly, fans want Xiaomi to launch a Mi A1 successor soon enough
Xiaomi’s phones, it must be understood, are in no way inadequate — or inferior — in software standards to counterparts. It’s just that Xiaomi operates in an entirely different manner. Xiaomi doesn’t toil with Android AOSP APIs. Rather, the company adds its own features on top of the AOSP. A lot of this happens at the ground level which is why — for most users — there would generally be very little visible difference between a Marshmallow-based MIUI and a Nougat-based MIUI.
A lot of this also happens without changing an Android version. It is the MIUI version that one would see changing at all times, and going by Xiaomi’s history, the company is in the habit of changing that way too frequently. Xiaomi’s phones may not always boast of the latest version of Android, but, they most certainly aren’t losing out on much anyways. This also helps Xiaomi to keep updating all its phones no matter the release window.
Having said that, there’s is still an audience, and a sizable one at that, that would still take Android Nougat over Marshmallow and it would want it as quickly as possible. That’s not to say that Xiaomi isn’t aware of this. The Android One-backed Mi A1 was launched just so Xiaomi could cater to that hard-core geek audience. Not only does the Mi A1 pack in the latest and greatest in Android at all times, it’s also the closest thing — in Xiaomi’s arsenal — next to what a certain Google Pixel has to offer at the end of the day: unadulterated software.
The Mi A1, for your reference, runs stock Android 7.1.2 Nougat out-of-the-box and is now upgradable to Android Oreo. Xiaomi (and Google), in fact, have gone so far as to say that the Mi A1 will also be getting Android P — or whatever Google decides to call the Android O successor — when it launches later this year.
But the Mi A1 is just one phone, and it’s a great phone. Here’s what I wrote about it in my full review:
“The Xiaomi Mi A1, as far as I can tell, has every ingredient in the book to make fans (and critics) fall in love with, and the first valiant effort from house Google to resurrect Android One and make the platform count. Shut up and take my money already.”
Xiaomi’s poll clearly suggests that the company should launch more phones backed by stock Android. While 43 per cent of its fans — and that’s still a sizeable number — love and appreciate MIUI, there’s an even bigger number now looking up to it to launch a Mi A1 successor in the days to come. A great number of deeds done by Xiaomi — in the past — have revolved around it paying heed to consumer demand and hopefully it would do the same for fans vouching for Xiaomi hardware backed by stock Android software.