Pure Mode on MIUI 13 might be the beginning of Xiaomi’s own security system. Samsung has its own security system called Samsung Knox. Motorola has something similar going on known as Think shield. Apple has its own hardware and software-based security suite. This new “Pure Mode” feature is not exactly as good as these but it is still a step up in terms of device security.
On Oppo & Realme phones you have a phone manager/ security centre app that has some features like scanning apps and folders on the phone for viruses, clearing cache, etc. In September 2021, Xiaomi began Beta testing of the Pure Mode feature but we have seen no developments or updates about it until now.
On 15 Jan 2022, Xiaomi has silently added the pure mode feature to all Xiaomi smartphones in China that got the MIUI 13 update. Of course, we can expect the same feature to arrive on all Xiaomi phones, India and global.
Pure Mode: What does it do?
If you download malicious apps from the internet, it scans the APK and warns you before you download the package. This is almost of no use considering we already have google play protect which is known to make sideloading apps on Android phones safe because it scans apps and does the same thing this “new” feature does.
Contrary to popular belief, this does not entirely restrict sideloading on your phone but only restricts potentially malicious apps from being installed on your device.
Oppo and Realme phones also do the same thing, but they scan for malware after the installation of the app. The way Xiaomi has implemented it, the app is scanned for viruses before it is allowed to be installed on your device. While this is technically better for the user, it is still unnecessary because play protect does the same thing, better.
Pure mode does these 4 things, according to this article:
- Detects Trojan Horses, Malware, Viruses, etc that may be hidden in an APK or an app.
- Detects if the app collects any personal user data without the consent of the user.
- Checks if the app is compatible with the phone in order to prevent instability and app crashes.
- Apps allowed in pure mode are manually reviewed and tested by users to ensure safety and stability, and we presume the list can be kept track of in the forums.
Out of these 4 features, only the second feature is sort of interesting because it is similar to what iOS offers, you can see what kind of data is being collected by apps and linked to you. The rest of them, we have already seen before. Basically, this feature was introduced to prevent accidental side loading of malware applications and accidental APK installs of viruses.
To enable pure mode, you can go to the top right corner of the MIUI app installer, go to settings, find “Pure Mode” and hit “Turn on now”. Or when you install an app from a third-party source, you can opt to “Turn on pure mode” and it will automatically perform a security check of the app.
So apps that have not been manually reviewed by Xiaomi will undergo those four manual security checks. If it passes those, it meets the necessary requirements of Pure Mode, and then the app is deemed secure enough to be installed on your device with no problems. This will also mean the app is now safe according to Xiaomi’s security standards.
Then, the apps that are deemed risky, or apps that have not been reviewed by Xiaomi, cannot be installed by the user, the installation will be blocked. However, if you do trust this risky app yourself, you can go back into the pure mode settings and tap “authorise this installation”. Only then will you be able to install it.
We do not exactly recommend doing that unless you are absolutely sure the app is trustworthy, we would at least run it through a play protect scan first and if play protect decides the app is risky, we would not risk installing the app. If you do end up getting malware on your device after installing an app that was deemed risky, Xiaomi will not be responsible for any data loss or other problems.
According to this source, 40% of downloaded APKs do not pass the test and 10% are recognised as security hazards. Oh and if you want to turn the pure mode off for some reason, you can go into the same settings page and turn it off.
Overall, we think Pure Mode does have a useful feature or two but it is doing the exact same thing play protect does. Is this the next Samsung Knox? No, but there is potential. Xiaomi should continue working on and improving this pure mode. MIUI 13 had a heavy focus on privacy and security and this is one of the new security features we got with the update.
That is all we have, for now. Drop a comment down below if you think Pure Mode is useful to you at all. We will update this article if there is any more news about Pure Mode.
Thank you for reading.