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Xiaomi made me give up my iPhone 13! An effortless transition to Android…

A few years back when I first started at PhoneArena, I was kind of "the Xiaomi guy", since I was such a fan of the Chinese company and its phones back then. But in this line of work, you have to be neutral, so over the years I not only got to review all kinds of awesome phones from various companies, but more importantly – learn a lot about each smartphone company and its software quirks, design language trends, update history, and so on.

My most recent phone was an iPhone 13 mini, and I bought it as part of my efforts to try out everything there is. I was often going through huge phones, from Xiaomi's own Mi Max series, to more recently the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It was time to get acclimated with something smaller in size, and not-Android, I thought.

As I realized while using the iPhone 12 mini and later the 13 mini – turns out I actually love small iPhones. So much so that I figured I'd be rocking the 13 mini for a while, especially considering that the iPhone 14 series won't even have a new "mini" for me to move on to.

But recently I was given a Xiaomi phone to review. "Going back to my roots?", I thought. In order to review a phone, I first have to "test drive" it for a while. I put my SIM card in, I download all my apps on it, and I start using it as my daily driver. And once again, I learned something new…

Because MIUI is so close to iOS, anyone looking to switch from iPhone to Android should go with a Xiaomi phone

A quick word on what MIUI is. It's an Android overlay with its own features like a screen recorder, file manager, its own launcher. You may know Samsung's OneUI software – just like MIUI – it's essentially an overlay over Android. Many companies have those in an effort to make their smartphones more distinct and feature-rich than the average stock-Android phone.

Three or four years ago when I first started falling in love with Xiaomi's MIUI software, I actually resented the fact that it was clearly, and I mean blatantly trying to imitate Apple's iOS operating system. From the design of the icons, the look of the menus, and even the very similar gestures – it was clearly iOS-inspired.

But by now I strongly believe that MIUI has actually surpassed iOS in some ways, which is of course subjective… Still, just look at iOS 16 – Apple's recently-announced iPhone software update coming this fall. It now has a Lock Screen gallery with wallpapers and stuff? Xiaomi already had things like that many years ago…

Is this a case of the copied entity copying the copier? Did Apple take from Xiaomi for once, not the other way around? If so, it kind of proves my point that in some ways, MIUI has surpassed the master.

And as a power user who loves customization, I know it's not a stretch to say MIUI is vastly more customizable, as is the nature of the Android running under it, as compared to iOS. You can really make your Xiaomi phone your own – delete most of the pre-installed apps, change your launcher with something completely different for a whole new homescreen look and feel, download and install apps from not-just-the-app-store even.

Xiaomi is pushing out such good flagships, mid-rangers and even budget phones, that paying extra for a flagship iPhone seems ridiculous sometimes

Without trying to turn this into a Xiaomi rally, since Xiaomi phones do have their issues, I'll say this – buying a Xiaomi phone usually means you're also getting a screen protector, a case, a charger (wow, right?), and these days it's often a very fast one.

You know what buying an iPhone gets you? An iPhone. And uh, stickers.

Something else that matters to me a lot is design. Xiaomi phones these days come with minimal bezels and most importantly – no notch, just a small cutout selfie camera.

I never got used to the iPhone notch, and I'm glad that it's supposedly getting removed later this year for the iPhone 14 series. It's not amazing that it actually took so long for the notch to disappear, while meanwhile Android phones went through several phases – notches, pop-up cameras, cutouts, and some are now objectively on the best option (at least from a design standpoint) – under-display cameras.

Goodbye for now, iPhone… Android, you have your issues, though

So while I was test driving the latest Xiaomi phone, I really enjoyed my time getting acclimated with MIUI, after having not used it for a couple of years. If it were a child, I'd say it's grown quite a bit. Because of all that, I'll be selling my iPhone 13 mini and switching to a Xiaomi phone, going back the way I started.

And I guess I am kind of done with small phones; returning to a large one (and Xiaomis are always pretty large) is now the refreshing thing for me.

However, for honesty's sake, I'll also mention some of the immediate gripes I notice about Android, after switching back to it from iPhone. Android users might be interested to know how that feels like, and why it's not the smoothest transition to make sometimes.

First off, Google really pushes its app ecosystem on you, and on an open system like Android, that's not as easy to accept as on iOS. One of the first things I do with a new phone, be it an iPhone or an Android, is delete all the apps I know I'll never use. In Android's case those would be Google TV, Podcasts, Google Pay…

But while I was setting up my new Android phone all the apps updated without asking me, and lo and behold – those apps I deleted are back on my homescreen. So I delete them yet again. I start using my phone, and a "Finish setting up your phone" notification appears from the Google Play Store. I try to swipe it away but accidentally click it – and yet again, those apps come back on my homescreen, so I have to delete them a third time.

Google, tone it down, you're making it really hard for some of us to love Android phones…

That, of course, is just one of many examples, I won't even mention Android's weird quirks and occasional jitteriness and buggy interface moments, even if you're running it on a flagship smartphone. As much as die-hard Android fans will hate to read this – you won't experience things like that on iOS nearly as often, if ever. Not unless you're running beta software or something like that.

It's not just Xiaomi that deserves your attention, of course

Some great Xiaomi phones you might want to check out as an example would be our recently-reviewed Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 11T Pro. But of course, Xiaomi's not the only game in town. Moto pushes out plenty of great phones that you may want to check out too, such as our even-more-recently-reviewed Motorola Edge 30 and Motorola Moto G52.

While Apple is by default the only name when it comes to iOS phones, it's definitely not just Samsung you should pay attention to on Android's side. Xiaomi (slash Redmi), Moto, and many other great brands are raising the bar of what a flagship, mid-ranger and budget phone is, and can be in 2022.

Do you have a particular smartphone of your own, which isn't an overhyped and well-known brand or model, that you're happy with and wish to shout out? Join the conversation and share your experience with us in the comments section below!

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