Xiaomi Redmi 1S runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean skinned with company's proprietary MIUI v5. The MIUI ROMs have been around for quite a while and are fairly popular among the Android community. Xiaomi's customizations run very deep and replace everything including all Google services, but you can get them from the Mi Market app. The models sold outside China come with the entire Google package pre-installed.
Xiaomi has already announced the new MIUI v.6. It brings is a complete UI overhaul with flat looks, updated system apps, among other updates. It should become available on the Xiaomi Mi lineup later this year.
Here's quick walkthrough of the MIUI v5 on video to get you started.
The lockscreen looks very familiar and we've already seen similar in Huawei's Emotion UI. There is centered circle with shortcuts in the four cardinal directions: a simple unlock to the South, start the camera to the North, messaging is to the East and the dialer/call log is to the West.
Beyond the lockscreen is the Android homescreen with four customizable shortcuts docked at the bottom by default, but you can dock up to five items. You can have any app there or even folders with multiple items if you will.
There is no app drawer - anything you install pops up on your homescreen, which can have unlimited panes. There're no shortcuts and the usual routine of removing icons (dragging them up to a recycle bin at the top of the screen) will uninstall the corresponding app. There is a pop-up for confirming the action though, so you can't accidentally uninstall apps.
Homescreen widgets are available, too - tap and hold on the homescreen, then choose Widgets. There are some interesting options available, but of course, you can get even more from the Play Store.
Homescreen effects are available from the customization menu. You can change themes, too. A theme will change your homescreen wallpaper, lockscreen style, system icons, system font and the sound profile.
The notification area has two tabs - the first one holds all notifications, while the second is a 4x4 grid of toggles. You can add, remove and rearrange toggles. The Quick Settings tab is the one that opens by default unless you have unread notifications. This sort of behavior does make sense in some scenarios but it certainly is a bit confusing at first.
Xiaomi provides its own app repository and cloud service for content syncing between devices. While the Mi Market somewhat mirrors the Play Store functionality, Mi Cloud is a different story.
Each Mi Cloud account is granted 5GB of free storage. You can use it to backup contacts, messages, your entire gallery, call log, notes, settings, voice recordings, Browser content (history, tabs, webapp data) and your music library. Sounds familiar? Yes, indeed! Xiaomi's sync and backup service shares lots of similarities with the Apple iCloud. There is even a free Cloud Messaging option that allows Xiaomi users to exchange messages over the internet connection instead of being billed for SMS.
Finally, if you signed in with your Mi Cloud account, you can opt for the Find device function - a handy feature in case you misplace your Xiaomi Redmi 1S or someone steals it.
Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.
It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice input as well.