It started casually as most catastrophic things do. I was calling one close friend a YouTube blogger and as soon as the voice on the other end answered the phone, I knew I had got the wrong number, who too was a friend. Strangely, as per my contacts I had called the right number and yet speaking to someone else. The person I intended to talk to was Abhishek and the one I was talking to was Shobit. After the call i figured that the contact of Abhishek and Shobit’s number merged in and took the new merged number as the default one and dialled them. Since I was talking to a friend, there was no harm done and I brushed it off like something that probably goes wrong and does not deserve attention.
This was in the last week of October when I was using a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 device. However, unexpectedly the touch of the phone stopped working and I then migrated to another Xiaomi device Mi 5 as I found a) Redmi Note 4 a great value for money and also b) more importantly, that it will be easier to migrate data via Mi cloud. Almost 15 days into using the new device, the same thing happened again. I called up a celebrity to take quotes for a story that I was working on, post the call, my call record showed no name of the said person and instead another person that I had no recollection for calling – an acquaintance . On further investigation it turned out that number of the acquaintance had been merged unceremoniously with an actor that I had just finished talking to. Not just this, another friends number was merged to the office Admin head in my last organisation that I had not spoken to in last two years. My cousin’s contact was merged to some person called Sanjay Bahari, who I could not even place. And best my dad’s contact merged to Sulabh’s ( the editor of Times of India tech).
The best part is, after you have figured out the issue and which number belongs to whom (yeah we are not still super humans to remember the numbers of 1000 contacts by heart), you cannot simply edit the contact and think that the problem will be solved. It requires deleting both contacts and saving them again or demerging contacts and deleting the wrong ones.
Just like Manu now points in his tweet, I thought it was not the Xiaomi contact apps that was creating the issue but Truecaller, but even after uninstalling the same the problem continues to plague my phone. So left with no choice I raised an alarm on Twitter and found that there were many like me facing the issue and it was even happening to people using the recently launched Xiaomi Mi A1. A thread on the Mi forum suggests that the issue has been as old as August.
The alarms that I raised on Twitter not just got a conversation going but even got me a call from Xiaomi they informed me that it was a known bug and they were working on it. They promised to send in something that might help fix via email, which I still have not got. What I really got is a reply from Manu Kumar Jain, Managing Director for Xiaomi India acknowledging the issue via a Tweet and promising a fix soon.
While, this is good, I feel it is a little too late. I expected the company like Xiaomi’s which took pride in saying that it is software first to be a little more prompt in owning up to the issue. Also, contacts for a person are like treasure. I don’t want anyone to mess with the same. The example I keep giving people is that if I have Shahrukh Khan and Salman’s number in my phone, I cant really dial SRK and ask to speak to Salman. Most times, the contact mix up can land anyone in a soup. And yes on Twitter thread I have people acknowledging they ended up calling their CEO instead of a friend.
Nevertheless, I am happy that at least after few tweets and coaxing some journalist friends got Xiaomi to at least offer a temp solution, Will be trying it soon and updating this post.
PS: I am currently using Redmi 5 running on Mi UI 9 , 7.9.21 Beta. The new update that came about a week back has been installed and offers no real solution. Just for my peace of mind, I have switched off the sync to Mi cloud and Google contacts to make sure at least the contact data in my cloud does not get corrupted/ mixed.