Xiaomi phones made for the Chinese market are typically cheaper than Global models, and they often go on sale sooner. That means users outside China can often find themselves with Chinese models.
Even if the Chinese-language interface and keyboard is not a barrier to you, most western users are accustomed to such things as Google Play and Google services. These are not preinstalled on Xiaomi phones running Chinese MIUI ROMs.
If you find yourself in this situation you have three possible ways out:
- Return the phone to sender and purchase a Global model
- Unlock the bootloader and install a Global ROM
- Install Google services and customise the Chinese ROM to suit your needs
We'll deal with the latter option here. For the following walkthrough we are using a Redmi Note 8 Pro running MIUI 11. The steps will be similar for all Xiaomi/Redmi phones.
How to install Google Play on a Xiaomi phone
- Launch the Mi App Store
- Search for Google
- Scroll down to the bottom of the list and select this option:
- Though the results will be in Chinese, you should be able to make out the Google Installer app from its icon:
- Select Install, then when it has downloaded tap Open
- Hit the big blue circular button to begin installing the various components
- You will be prompted to allow the phone to install apps from unknown sources - select Settings, toggle on the slider, then proceed with the installation
- Allow any prompts for permissions that pop up
- You will first be prompted to install the Google Services Framework. Click Install, then Done
- Second is the Google Account Manager app. Click Install, then Done
- Third is Google Play Services. Click Install, then Done
- At this point the installation appears to hang. Hit the big blue circular button to begin installation of Google Calendar Sync. Again, tap Install, then Done
- Again hit the big blue button to begin installing Google Contacts Sync. Tap Install, then Done
- Hit the big blue button one last time to install Google Play itself. Tap Install, then Open
- Follow the familiar Google setup wizard to sign into your Google account
Now, at this point, you have your Google account running on your device and you might think everything is done and ready to go. Wrong. You'll still be faced with a Chinese-language keyboard, various Chinese-language apps, and you'll find none of your contacts or calendar data is available. We'll run through how to deal with each of these things below.
Install Gboard - the Google Keyboard
Google Play should be operational on your device. Launch the app, search for Gboard and hit Install. When it's finished, click Open, and allow any requested permissions.
You'll want to set this as your default keyboard. Click Enable in Settings, then toggle on Gboard (and off everything else). Click Ok to the security prompt, then click Done.
Allow Sync Permissions for Contacts and other data
Even if you install the official Google Contacts app, it still won't show any of your contacts. This is because you have not given MIUI permission to sync with Google.
- From the phone's home screen launch Settings > Apps > Manage Apps
- Scroll down to and select Google Contacts Sync
- Toggle on the slider next to Autostart
- Open Permissions
- Allow the following permissions: Modify and delete contacts; Read your contacts; Access accounts on device; Start in background
- Exit the Permissions menu and open Battery Saver. Choose No Restrictions
- Next is Google Calendar Sync, which you should select from Settings > Apps > Manage Apps > Google Calendar Sync
- Again, allow it to Autostart and turn off the Battery Saver, then allow the following permissions: Read Calendar Events; Start in background
- Finally, open Settings > Apps > Manage Apps > Google Account Manager
- Toggle on Autostart and remove any Battery Saver options, then allow all permissions under the Privacy section
If there are any other apps that refuse to operate correctly on your phone, or for which you realise you have not received any notifications for a while, it is almost always a Permissions, Autostart or Battery Saver issue. For each affected app check the relevant options are enabled.
Remove the Chinese home screen search bar
- Open the phone's Settings menu
- Use the Search option to find Home screen search bar, then toggle this off
Tidy up your home screen
Uninstall any Chinese apps that can be removed from the phone by tapping and holding their app shortcuts, then dragging to an Uninstall option at the top of the screen.
If there are any Chinese apps that cannot be removed but that you will not use, create a new folder on the home screen and hide them all away in here. You can create a new folder by clicking, holding and then dragging one app shortcut on top of another.