Mi Explorers Travel Journal - Luke C


Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#1
Wow... I wasn't expecting this...

A couple of weeks ago my go-to smartphone news website published a story about an upcoming Xiaomi event in Madrid named 'Mi Explorers'.
This would be an opportunity to travel to Spain's beautiful capital city, attend a product release, and get to tour Madrid using the new device to document the experience.

I knew that many people would be eager to get this opportunity, but felt that I had to enter the competition anyway. After all, you've gotta be in it to win it, right?!?

So I entered the competition and thought nothing of it until the next week when I received an email from the Mi Community telling me that I was one of the lucky winners of this fantastic prize.
I'm almost in denial that I could have been chosen... But now I'll take this opportunity with both hands!

So, who am I? I'm Luke, I live in Southampton in the UK with my wife, 4 kids, 3 dogs, rabbit and fish. It's a full house, but a happy home :)
I work for a communications provider, managing operations for broadband, phone, mobile etc.

In my spare time I like watching football (Portsmouth FC), going to music gigs, visiting old buildings (castles, churches, cemeteries) and taking loads of photos with whichever mobile phone I have at the time. I'm obsessed with imported Chinese smartphones, and am lucky enough to have been a regular contributor to the website www.review-hub.co.uk

I've reviewed a number of Xiaomi phones, and it quickly became clear to me that Xiaomi are, far and away, the best brand for import smartphones - that is, phones that are not for sale 'officially' in the UK. For those of you who are interested in that sort of thing, I'm currently running a Mi 6, but have previously had Redmi 5 Plus, Mi A1, Redmi Note 4 (MTK) and Redmi 3S. Since the quality of Xiaomi products is clear, I have also invested in a Xiaomi car camera, pen and wallet among other items!

I'm really excited to see what my time in Madrid brings. I've tried not to think too hard about the product that we'll be given as I like surprises! A lot of the information on the Mi Explorers program assumes that it will be the Mi A2, but I know the Mi Max 3 is also due to be announced some time soon. And of course, why would there be an 'Explorers Edition' of the Mi Band 3 and Mi 8?

It will also be great to meet with the other Xiaomi Explorer pioneers from many other nations and walks of life, all brought together to participate in the event...

Looking forward to it! :cool:
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 197699

#2
Bro, I think we're gonna lumped in as roommates, so I'm pretty sure you'll be meeting me!
Whoop-whoop, can't wait for Madrid...
 
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#7
So here we are, a couple of days later, and I'm now getting very impatient to board that plane and get over to Madrid!

I've been lucky enough to go to Spain a few times over the years, though not to Madrid, but I have always found Spain to be a very photogenic country. Perhaps it is the climate - sunshine always brings the best photos, particularly when we're talking about smartphone cameras.

I'm old enough to remember 'dumbphones' with no cameras, and in fact I considered putting a camera on a mobile phone to be no more than a passing trend when it first arrived... But I'm a real photo junkie now, and try to get as many images as I can to document what I'm doing and where I've been. Though I've dabbled with using 'real' cameras in the past I find that a lot of the best photos need spontaneity, and so I prefer the convenience that a decent phone camera can bring. I've currently got the Mi 6 and love the camera on that, hopefully the device we will be testing in Spain is of equal quality.

So for today's update, I'll share 5 of my favourite smartphone photos from Spain. These were taken a few years back, before I was into the 'import' tech scene, so sadly they are not from Xiaomi devices. Also please bear in mind the quality of phone cameras then was not as good! It's my aim to ensure that my photos from Madrid are better than these ;)

2013-07-31 11.37.29.jpg This image is of my family, walking down the ramblas towards the 'Balcony of the Mediterranean' in Tarragona. The photo is slightly overblown, but I like the composition of the lines of trees drawing the eye towards the statue of Roger de Llúria.

2013-07-31 13.15.36.jpg Tarragona again, in the narrow old town streets. My 18 month old daughter had to touch each one of the brightly painted posts...

2013-07-31 15.11.13.jpg A fountain in Tarragona. I'd love to say that I aimed to get the bird in shot, but this was just a happy coincidence. Sometimes the best photos come from an unexpected 'visitor'!

2013-08-01 19.44.05.jpg Dinner in my hotel in La Pineda... I love seafood, and the opportunity to try all this weird and wonderful "frutas del mar" was one I was going to enjoy!

2013-08-02 19.39.38.jpg Camp Nou, Barcelona. This was for the 2013 Joan Gamper trophy match, the first game Neymar played for Barca... The opposition was Santos of Brazil, and Barcelona won 8-0! The chance to see such players as Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Neymar was a privilege. Yes, that is my son's finger on the right of the photo nearly spoiling the shot :emoji_laughing:

So, I hope you have enjoyed these photos, and learned a little more about me at the same time.
 
Likes: eriklili
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#9
So, let's talk about the big unkown... What device will we be reviewing and using on our tour of Madrid?

For me, there are 2 main candidates, one from the head, and one from the heart.

Firstly, let's look at the 'head' candidate, the Mi A2.
It's been pretty much revealed that this will be announced in Spain on the 24th July - when we will be there to see, so of course this must be the phone we'll be reviewing too right? Well logic says of course it must be so.
And, I'll be happy to test this device. In my review of the Mi A1 I was extremely positive about that device, offering a great balance between price and performance. It had a great camera for the market segment.
The Mi A2 looks to be more of the same, but better! Better CPU (Snapdragon 660, great choice), better camera, better display.
How can this fail to be a hit device!?!
But, there is a little part of me that thinks - would Xiaomi assemble a global team of MIUI fanatics and provide them with a device which runs pure Android? I'm not so sure...

So, what is the 'heart' candidate? Of course it would be the Mi 8 Explorer Edition!
Well, we can dream after all! What can we say about this phone - it's the premium version of Xiaomi's latest flagship, with a fantastic design and the under-screen fingerprint scanner.
There's no doubt that this phone has generated a huge amount of hype, and it's ultra-desirable, but what are the chances that the Mi Explorers will get an Explorer Edition phone??? :emoji_fingers_crossed:

But, perhaps there is a 'curveball' candidate? What is the Pocophone?
Ok, I'm grasping a little here, little being the operative word, because 'poco' is Spanish for little, or small.
With the Mi 8 screen being so much bigger than the screen on the Mi 6 that it replaces, perhaps this could be a smaller-screened flagship? Useful for those of us who like to be able to operate a phone properly with just one hand...

Whatever device it turns out to be, I'm happy for the experience and opportunity that being part of the Mi Explorers team will bring!
 
Last edited:

MarkHUK

Founder of Xiaomi.eu
Staff member
Nov 6, 2010
4,997
3,036
1,000,000
#10
I wouldn't say any of them are an elephant in the room, the fact you get to go there and do this is itself a privilege ;-)
 
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#11
I wouldn't say any of them are an elephant in the room, the fact you get to go there and do this is itself a privilege ;-)
Maybe that didn't quite come out right...

I just meant that in a way I don't even want to think about what device we'll be using - it doesn't really matter. As you say the whole thing is a privilege and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity, no matter what device it is I'm over the moon just to get picked :emoji_smile:
 

MarkHUK

Founder of Xiaomi.eu
Staff member
Nov 6, 2010
4,997
3,036
1,000,000
#12
Maybe that didn't quite come out right...

I just meant that in a way I don't even want to think about what device we'll be using - it doesn't really matter. As you say the whole thing is a privilege and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity, no matter what device it is I'm over the moon just to get picked :emoji_smile:
No worries ;-) yea an Elephant in the room would be probably the wrong thing to use for this... hehe :p
 
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#13
So, we know that a challenge during our adventure will be to use our device to take photos of Madrid, so I've done a little research into the most photogenic places, and will compare these with photos I've already taken on my Xiaomi devices.

IMG_20180713_100125_1.jpg Almudena Cathedral
Oh, I love cathedrals and churches! So atmospheric! But, difficult at times to get a great photo because of lower light. My photo of Winchester Cathedral taken with my Mi 6 is quite similar to this image of Madrid's Almudena Cathedral, and I'd definitely love to visit this place while I'm in Madrid.

IMG_20180523_130313.jpg Skyline view from Azotea del Circulo
I'm lucky enough to get access to the rotating restaurant at the top of London's BT Tower a few times a year, and depending on the weather the views can be spectacular. My photo was taken with the great value Redmi 5 Plus, it was a little overcast, but still a great view. This photo of the view from Azotea marks it as a location I'd love to visit. The fact that there is a bar there has nothing to do with it! :emoji_champagne_glass:


IMG_20180617_110904_1.jpg Debod Temple
What a beautiful location Debod Temple is. An authentic ancient Egyptian temple, deconstructed and re-imagined in a Madrid park. I think this photo has a passing resemblance to my photo of The Collector Earl's Garden at Arundel Castle taken with my Mi 6.


IMG_20180530_164723_HDR.jpg Madrid Gran Via
I love the hustle and bustle of cities, and also finding an 'oasis of calm' within them. My photo of the Black Friar pub in London, taken with the Redmi 5 Plus, disguises the fact that it's at the corner of one of the busiest roads in London. This photo shows the busy Gran Via in Madrid, I'm sure there will be some quiet moments that I can exploit to take a great photo here myself!

IMG_20180405_122648.jpg Mercado de San Miguel
Ok ok confession time here. This photo was taken on a non-Xiaomi device I was reviewing at the time. Hence, it's not a great photo by specification... But I think it was an interesting subject anyway, a local market in Huddersfield. It certainly has a passing resemblance to this photo of Mercado de San Miguel.

So, I know that Madrid will be a beautiful location, and the weather is due to be fantastic too. These are the perfect ingredients for taking great photos - the only thing missing is the device itself! I wonder what this will be :emoji_thinking:
 
Last edited:
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#14
Ok, so I know when I'm going to Madrid, I know what I'll be testing in Madrid, I know where I'll be going in Madrid and I know the tasks I have to complete in Madrid.

I still have a few things to sort out though! How am I getting to London Heathrow Airport? What am I packing, 9and what case am I using? How many Euros will I be taking?

I'll post another entry tomorrow evening once I've got my details finalised!

For now, as we know our tasks for Madrid, here is a photo I took on my Mi 6 on holiday in beautiful Portugal last year, which would be perfect for Madrid Task 6 - Against the Sun

IMG_20180721_192659.jpg
 
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#15
Ok, finally! All packed, everything charged, money changed, transport arranged and nerves jangling...

IMG_20180722_172840.jpg


Tomorrow morning is the start of a surreal adventure :eek:

Up at 06:30, then car, bus and plane to get to Madrid, where I will have new experiences, make new friends and face new challenges!

Looking forward to an unforgettable few days in a beautiful city with my fellow Mi Explorers!

Screenshot_2018-07-22-19-04-33-528_org.telegram.messenger.jpg
 
Jul 9, 2018
8
7
15
#17
Sorry for the late update... I've been having so much of a great time in Madrid I didn't find the time :emoji_wink:

What can I say about my experience? It has been something that will stay with me forever!

On Monday I arrived. At the airport met with Markus, a 'top fella' from Cologne. We got the car to the hotel and were talking about what the next few days may hold for us...

At the hotel I unpacked, and straight away went for an exploration mission! I love to immerse myself in a new city without immediately following any guides. I headed out of the hotel, turned right and just walked.

Good fortune was on my side, as only 10 minutes later I was in the beautiful Retiro Parque - a haven of tranquility, architecture and monuments. So much here to see, so many great photos to take.

After this, I returned to the hotel, met my roomie Andi, a 'diamond geezer' from London with a heart of gold, despite our at times differing views :emoji_smile::emoji_grinning::emoji_grin:

Then an evening meeting to discuss our mission and meet the other Explorers. I'm terrible at meeting new people - call it shyness, introvert, 'social anxiety' I don't know, but even at this time I can see that this is a great bunch of fellow travellers. After the meeting, find somewhere to eat, then a couple of cervezas to calm my nerves!

On to the 'main event' - the product launch of the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite. What can I say but 'wow'! This was like events that I have only ever seen before via live stream, but now I am in the audience, front row and as part of the 'special guests'!

Trying to take photos, tweet live coverage for the tech review site I write for, and also just enjoy the experience, was all quite difficult. But, I hope I made a good attempt!

After this, free time. More exploring. Madrid is such an amazing city!

In the evening I see someone on Telegram wants to get some dinner. I answer, though I'm not so sure even who it is! But I'm so glad I did as it was the uber talented Tom - this guy will be a star (as soon as he does his reviews in his perfect English!)
So Tom, Andi, Markus and I go on a mission to find an 'authentic' Spanish experience for eating, and I think we succeeded! Though Andi's meal was a little sad :emoji_grin:

Next day, the tour. So many great places, but actually I'm glad I went to the museum to see Picasso's 'Guernica' masterpiece. The story behind the painting is a tragedy we must never forget, but the result is breathtaking.

So now I'm here, in the airport. Reflecting on what I have experienced, and also what I have missed. It has been a great time. But also, I have some regret. We could never see all of Madrid in the time we had, but this is easy to fix - I have the luxury of living relatively close, so one day I will surely return.

The bigger regret is that there was just not enough time to meet and get to know all of my fellow Explorers, and I know that this will be very difficult to do now.

So to all my Explorer friends. To Sofia, Nelly and the Xiaomi team, and especially to Madrid and the Spanish people, I say 'THANK YOU!'

And I salute you in the traditional way of an Englishman, alone in an airport at 10am.

IMG_20180726_093147_1.jpg


Muchas gracias Xiaomi!