Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review


xiaomi mi note 2 review

A few years ago, Xiaomi released their Mi Note smartphone. The Mi Note was a big deal because it was the first large screen Xiaomi (5.7-inch display) and the first that was made of really high-end materials and featuring a really quality design. Interestingly Xiaomi got a lot of flack for the Mi Note, with people complaining that it was too expensive, but move on a few years and every Chinese phone maker is moving further up market.

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 (Available from Gearbest) launched a few years after the original Mi Note, and as I predicted Xiaomi have combined the curved rear of the original Mi Note with a curved display and new features. It’s a sexy phone but is it really that good?

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review – Design

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Xiaomi can only be commended on the design and build of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2. Imagine a Samsung Galaxy S7 if it had a curved glass rear panel to match the curved display and you’ll have a good idea of how the phone looks and feels.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

It’s a damn classy handset and one which is just a joy to hold. The beautiful design is backed up with quality materials and a build quality that is second-to-none! Yes, this is really high praise, but you didn’t see the faces of the iPhone 7 Plus owners when I pulled this puppy out and told them the specs and the pricing.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Although the Mi Note 2 is made of glass and features a wonderful CNC machined chassis, the phone is surprisingly lightweight, which with the curved design and narrowly edges really makes for one comfortable to use phone.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Since the original Mi Note launched technology has moved on quite a lot, so Xiaomi had to find room to include a fingerprint scanner. They chose to build the fingerprint scanner into a physical home button in the chin of the phone below the screen rather than on the rear like some other phones.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Flip the phone over and we have a super glossy glass rear panel with the same curve to it as the front. The rear of the phone also features a subtle Xiaomi logo, rear camera and dual tone LED flash.

That glossy black glass finish looks much better than the usual while I receive demo phones in, but like the original Mi Note the glass panels mean you have to be very careful where you rest the Mi Note 2. Leave it on anything not completely flat and the Mi Note 2 will start to slide.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Between the two curved glass panels is a CNC machined chassis with black finish. It’s very narrow to the left and right with just enough room on the right side for a power button and volume rocker, the left side is where the dual SIM card tray can be found.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

There is a little more meat on at the top and bottom of the phone, so Xiaomi have been able to include a USB Type C and dual speaker grills in the base while the top of the phone has an IR diode for controlling home device and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Have I already said that this is a stunning phone? I think I have, but what about durability?

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Well with all that curved glass and pretty narrow metal frame some of you are going to worry about how the Mi Note 2 might handle a tumble? Well look a little closer to the phone in the photos and you might find the answer. Yup, I managed to crack the rear panel on my phone. It was a drop of about 4 feet on to concrete and I didn’t notice it had cracked until I got home. Pretty upset about that!

Read Also:  Xiaomi is set to discontinue the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review – Features

To match that stunning body Xiaomi equipped the Mi Note 2 with the type of hardware that we all expect from a flagship phone. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 boasts a Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory (at least my model does).

xiaomi mi note 2 review

A 5.7-inch FHD display seems the same as the Mi Note’s on paper, but it’s curved on this phone. Above the display is an 8 megapixel front-facing camera, while the rear is a 22.56 megapixel sensor with F2.0 aperture.

Below the display is a physical home button with built-in fingerprint scanner. Finally inside the phone is a non-removable 4070mAh battery with fast charging.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Ok, so now we know what the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is packing let’s take a look at each feature in a bit more detail.

First up how about performance. Well I’ve been using the Snapdragon 820 powered OnePlus 3 with 6GB RAM and pretty much stock Android. With a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB RAM I was expecting similar performance, but also expected the Mi Note 2 wouldn’t be able to handle multiple apps as well as the OP3.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

Those were my expectations, but in reality I instantly found the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 slower than the OP3. Apps don’t instantly load, browsing is a little slower, and the overall feel of the UI is slower and a little bogged down. This is a little underwhelming, and I place the blame solely on MIUI 8, which is quite obviously not optimised for the hardware.

Moving on to the cameras and again I was left wanting a little more. The speed of the cameras is slower than that of the OP3 and was behind the Xiaomi Mi5 (I’ve not tried the MI5S so I cannot compare). The actual images aren’t bad, and do replicate the real scenes well, but I prefer the vibrancy of the OnePlus 3.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

While I’m pointing out the faults I may as well mention the display. The curved design is very cool, but the display is pretty poor. Colours are pale, and it’s even lacking when compared to the OP3 display (which is depressing). Not only is the panel lacking, but its responsiveness is below par too. I often need to tap an app a few times before the phone realises what is going on.

xiaomi mi note 2 review
More Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Photos Below

It’s not all bad though! The battery lasts well giving me longer battery life than the OnePlus 3, but I’d prefer it actually work as I hoped it would even if it meant I have to charge it more often.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review – Photo Samples

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review – Conclusion

So what we have here is a stunning phone, made from the best materials on the market and boasting the latest Qualcomm processor. It should make for one of the best phones on the market, but in reality it performs worse than handsets that launched at the start of the year.

xiaomi mi note 2 review

I believe that updates to MIUI 8 could boost performance, and may also bring a more vibrant and response display too, but I don’t want to buy a phone now and hope it improves with updates! That was ok a few years ago when the Chinese phone market was still young, but I don’t expect this from a mature phone maker like Xiaomi.

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34 Comments

  1. ax
    December 14, 2016

    Thanks for the review, Andi. Your description of screen issues (especially multiple taps problem) confirms some users complaint that I saw on Polish forums earlier. I wonder how this got through quality testing…

    • Mariner
      December 15, 2016

      Don’t forget that the One Plus 3T (and 3) have really fast NAND as well. MIUI clutter possibly some of the issue but storage speed has a big impact on performance in my experience. The 128GB variant is probably a good bit quicker as it will have twice the bus width.

  2. xi7
    December 14, 2016

    expensive and poor quality display.. camera need update low light

    • Dominó85
      December 15, 2016

      I think ALL the pictures are BLURRY and like OILPAINTINGs. I can not see any details… Very disappointed after reading the review. Zuk Z2 or the Pro model has smaller screen and not curved, but lot better then this device. I think Zuk Edge will beat the sh*t out from Mi Note 2.

      • xi7
        December 15, 2016

        check nubia mini S , imx318 rear and imx 258 front … low cost with same sensor and better quality camera.

        • VMortens
          December 16, 2016

          I agree, but Nubia isn’t cheap, yet it lacks image stabilisation … Why?

          • xi7
            December 16, 2016

            no OIS but have EIS both camera

  3. mf1gt3r
    December 14, 2016

    Am a little disappointed. They made budget phones very well but mess up when it’s time to really perform.

  4. Yaniv Tzadka
    December 14, 2016

    The original Mi Note and the pro variant are better overall. Mi5S plus has a nicer display.

    • Qidamin
      December 15, 2016

      Yup! My MiNote is still working really well. I only regret mine has only 16Gb.

  5. December 14, 2016

    They might as well just reduce the price of the device already unless they plan on releasing a massive software fix

  6. December 14, 2016

    With this experience would you say the Mi5s Plus is way better in performance than the Mi Note 2?

  7. yalok
    December 14, 2016

    Xiaomi degraded a lot in build quality and software/hardware optimizations during the past few years. Still thinking about getting mi5s. There is hope to reuse pixel’s camera libs after android 7.1 is released for mi5s.

  8. ax
    December 14, 2016

    Thanks for the review, Andi. Your description of screen issues (especially multiple taps problem) confirms some users complaint that I saw on Polish forums earlier. I wonder how this got through quality testing…

    • Guest
      December 15, 2016

      Don’t forget that the One Plus 3T (and 3) have really fast NAND as well. MIUI clutter possibly some of the issue but storage speed has a big impact on performance in my experience. The 128GB variant is probably a good bit quicker as it will have twice the bus width.

  9. xi7
    December 14, 2016

    expensive and poor quality display.. camera need update low light

    • Dominó85
      December 15, 2016

      I think ALL the pictures are BLURRY and like OILPAINTINGs. I can not see any details… Very disappointed after reading the review. Zuk Z2 or the Pro model has smaller screen and not curved, but lot better then this device. I think Zuk Edge will beat the sh*t out from Mi Note 2.

    • xi7
      December 15, 2016

      check nubia mini S , imx318 rear and imx 258 front … low cost with same sensor and better quality camera.

    • VMortens
      December 16, 2016

      I agree, but Nubia isn’t cheap, yet it lacks image stabilisation … Why?

    • xi7
      December 16, 2016

      no OIS but have EIS both camera

  10. mf1gt3r
    December 14, 2016

    Am a little disappointed. They made budget phones very well but mess up when it’s time to really perform.

  11. Yaniv Tzadka
    December 14, 2016

    The original Mi Note and the pro variant are better overall. Mi5S plus has a nicer display.

    • Qidamin
      December 15, 2016

      Yup! My MiNote is still working really well. I only regret mine has only 16Gb.

  12. Omer
    December 14, 2016

    I was thinking of maybe getting this one for The Wife. That is until I found out it has a glass back. Pity. And the noticable difference in performance compared to the OP3 (I own an OP3 myself), sealed the deal even more. Now I’ll wait and see how the next contender on the list, the Meizu Pro 6 Plus, is gonna turn out.

  13. Udegbunam Chukwudi
    December 14, 2016

    They might as well just reduce the price of the device already unless they plan on releasing a massive software fix

  14. Udegbunam Chukwudi
    December 14, 2016

    With this experience would you say the Mi5s Plus is way better in performance than the Mi Note 2?

  15. yalok
    December 14, 2016

    Xiaomi degraded a lot in build quality and software/hardware optimizations during the past few years. Still thinking about getting mi5s. There is hope to reuse pixel’s camera libs after android 7.1 is released for mi5s.

  16. Raky_b
    December 14, 2016

    Exactly my thoughts on every Xioami phone that i have tried in last year and a half (redmi 3s is notable exception, bit it also needs to support more languages in Global version).
    After mi3, all Xiaomi’s phones was half baked products, and their customers ware beta testers, and often never got needed updates, even vith weakly “updates”.

  17. Omer
    December 14, 2016

    I was thinking of maybe getting this one for The Wife. That is until I found out it has a glass back. Pity. And the noticable difference in performance compared to the OP3 (I own an OP3 myself), sealed the deal even more. Now I’ll wait and see how the next contender on the list, the Meizu Pro 6 Plus, is gonna turn out.

  18. bojan radovanovic
    December 15, 2016

    Exactly my thoughts on every Xioami phone that i have tried in last year and a half (redmi 3s is notable exception, bit it also needs to support more languages in Global version).
    After mi3, all Xiaomi’s phones was half baked products, and their customers ware beta testers, and often never got needed updates, even vith weakly “updates”.

  19. Alex
    December 15, 2016

    Agree with Andi, on the other hand I’m quite satisfied with my Redmi pro. It’s still a “half baked” product as well (no Global Rom, will never get one…) but with the help or the xiaomi fan community witch produces some good custom roms it’s usable.

  20. Alex
    December 15, 2016

    Agree with Andi about the note2, on the other hand I’m quite satisfied with my Redmi pro. It’s still a “half baked” product as well (no Global Rom, will never get one…) but with the help or the xiaomi fan community witch produces some good custom roms it’s usable.

  21. Ibrahim
    December 16, 2016

    My nephew has OPT 6GB 64GB version and I have bought the Mi Note 6GB 128GB version. I think mine is way better and snappier, but the camera is just crap really.. O.O
    But other than that I am super happy with it. It had a weird battery drain issue but it fixed itself somehow XD

  22. Ibrahim
    December 16, 2016

    My nephew has OPT 6GB 64GB version and I have bought the Mi Note 6GB 128GB version. I think mine is way better and snappier, but the camera is just crap really.. O.O
    But other than that I am super happy with it. It had a weird battery drain issue but it fixed itself somehow XD