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Xiaomi hit an enormous success with the revolutionary Mi Mix last year, we can all admit it. The phone’s tri bezeless display took over the market in the year to come becoming the source, for a much needed refresh in a stagnant mobile design based on the iPhone 6 with double cameras. The phone had a great 6,4-inch screen with 91.3% screen-to-body ratio and a good looking body made from ceramic that really made it stand out, and that’s why Mi Mix won the IDEA Gold award for design and part of the success is French designer Philippe Starck.

Xiaomi decided to sell the concept device primarily in China and most consumers had to resort to third-party options to get their hands on the Mi Mix, and that is only if the mobile had workable bands for their country. Its selling power was far from good for a phone that dominated the market with its design leading the way to Galaxy 8, LG G6, iPhone X, Essential PH-1 among others.

Xiaomi took a second look on the project. It was the one that really made the company world known and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 had a Phoenix rebirth. Out of the ashes a global phone appeared with 42 LTE bands (more than any other Xiaomi phone in the past) and with many alterations whose purpose was to make this gem acceptable to all. The size of the screen became smaller making the phone more compact and a real earpiece was added this time than the original piezoelectric one. Starck was the designer once again and a special limited edition has his name on the back.

Xiaomi is a company that provides value-for-money products we can all agree on this as well. They might not be able to provide yet a 100% of the latest Samsung or Apple flagship advantages like water resistance for example, but they provide most of the gimmicks at a very affordable price (for a flagship model that is).

The base variant with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage has a retail price of around $500 in China and other regions. That is half the price of the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8, both mobiles designed over the original Mi Mix.

“visual perfection combined with impeccable quality built”.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 – Technical Specifications

  • MIUI 9 – Android 7 Nougat
  • 5,99 inch full-HD (2160×1080) display
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 6GB RAM/8GB RAM (ceramic model)
  • 64/128/256GB storage, no microSD support
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 12Mp Sony IMX386 rear camera with 18K gold detailing, four-axis OIS, 25um pixels, f/2.0, dual-LED flash
  • 5Mp front camera
  • Dual-SIM dual-standby (2x nano)
  • 4G FDD-LTE UK bands B3/B7/B20
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou
  • USB-C
  • USB-C audio
  • 3400mAh battery
  • 151.8 x 75.5 x 7.7 mm
  • 185g

Unboxing

 In the luxurious box, you get a back cover for the Mi Mix 2, a Type-C-to-3.5mm adapter, a 9V/2A charger that supports Quick Charge 3.0, a USB Type-C cable, a SIM eject tool, and documentation. There are no earphones following the trend that Xiaomi has set in their previous packages.

Hardware

 The design of the Mi Mix passed over to this year’s model with a tri bezeless screen that dominates the user’s attention. Following last year’s recipe, this model is also designed by Philippe Starck and the result is stunning to say at least. It looks premium and is equal to the top priced flagships in build quality.

Mi Mix had an enormous 6,44-inch 7:9 display. People loved it but not many wanted to carry around a tablet sized phone that didn’t fit in pockets. So the size shrunk to 5,99-inches in a body that resembles that of any typical smartphone with a 5,5-inch screen. It is shorter by 7mm, narrower by 6.4mm and 0.2 mm thinner. Making the phone thinner created a camera bump in the back. Two millimeters would not make a difference and we could hope for a bit larger battery but it didn’t happen. Smaller size and smaller battery however keeps the phone lighter at 185 grams – an improvement over the 211 gr of the Mi Mix – so weight possibly was a factor that had to be kept low to gain an even bigger acceptance.

2.5D curved glass at the front and slightly rounded edges at the rear, are making the Mi Mix 2 feel more comfortable ςηιin the hand. The phone follows the 18:9 screen ratio trend thus a single hand usage leaves the top part inaccessible – Xiaomi has a software setup to use the phone single-handedly at least.

The resolution is kept at FHD+ of 2160X1080 pixels (402 ppi ). It is not QHD quality (Xiaomi does not have a QHD phone yet) but it helps, by providing an even better battery life. It has 1500:1 contrast ratio and support for DCI-P3 colour gamut as well as features like Sunlight Display and Reading Mode. The colors are amazing and, the -highly experienced in IPS panels- Xiaomi, provides an amazing product, with crystal clear and bright depiction. You can adjust the color temperature and the brightness from the settings. During the night or under the bright sun the display was visible at all times without eye straining or need of shadowing – the viewing angles of the display are impressive too. Xiaomi produces reading glasses to filter out laptop and mobile blue light and an app is used in the phone to do so. The display has Gorilla Glass 4 for protection.

Not all applications support the 18:9 ratio. Watching 16:9 videos in landscape mode gives black “bezels” to the left and right. You can go ‘full screen’ at the cost of cropping a bit of content from the top and bottom, a tradeoff you end up making while watching content in a non-native aspect ratio on any screen.

The lower bezel holds, as before, the selfie camera – we will speak later on that. The top ultra-thin bezel has a small horizontal line that hides the conventional earpiece. Sound is as clear as it comes and it address the issue most had with the original smartphone. The proximity sensor is still “ultrasonic” and not infrared as in most smartphones. In the lower bezel we can find a notification led for incoming calls and other type of notifications.

In the back panel the 18-carat gold decorative rim of the camera is placed in the top center and stays there where it can be admired. A dual-tone flash sits to the right of the camera module. The brand has laser printed “Mix designed by Xiaomi” vertically in gold color on the back of the device, a small detail that surely boasts quality. Note that you have to search (hard) for the antenna bands, a pair is horizontally and discreetly placed on top and bottom frame.

Ceramic is known to be much more scratch-resistant than glass but it’s a fingerprint magnet. An aerospace-grade 7000-series aluminium alloy is the material of the mid-frame between the top and the ceramic back panel that is curved on all four sides. The fingerprint scanner is located under the camera and is fast and reliable. The weight distribution is even on top and bottom. 

The aluminum frame hosts the USB-C port that lies between a single speaker and a mic at the bottom. It also hosts the power key and the volume rocker at the right side and the SIM tray at the left. The tray holds two Nano-SIM slots, but note that 4G can be active on only one SIM at any given time.

Xiaomi provides a 3.5mm jack and IR blaster to its other phones but you won’t find them here. An adapter for the 3.5mm jack is added at the main package box. The sound coming from the single speaker is loud, clear and crisp but still not at the same range with stereo set ups.

This year’s Qualcomm power house, the 2.35GHz Snapdragon 835 comes with the phone, along with an Adreno 530 GPU and 6GB of RAM (there’s also an 8GB Ceramic Edition premium variant). Benchmark scores are top and in range of other 835 driven phones. It has three options of storage: 65, 128 and 256 GB of ROM. The overall combination is impeccable and has no problems to run any applications or games. The phone does not support SD cards to its SIM tray, so you’d better take this into account when you decide which storage variant to buy. 

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The device has VoLTE, supports 42 bands, NFC, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac including MU-MIMO, GPS, GLONASS, OTG USB and the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

I can’t find any fault with the design and the hardware apart from the aforementioned mentioned selfie-cam. The overall impression is that of a very expensive premium – luxury phone, with exceptional performance at any given time.

It comes in black and white along with a limited edition model that has a ceramic unibody design and 8GB/128GB memory combination. Last week a new limited edition was added to honour Philippe Starck.

Software

MUI 9 is the latest version of Xiaomi’s founding product. It is based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat. Depending on the seller the mobile has the Chinese version or the Global one. The handset under review has the Chinese ROM.

MIUI is heavily modified. It has everything a user might want and more. The chipset and the excessive 6GB RAM do a good work in making user experience lag free, so you can be sure that you won’t have any issues running the most demanding applications on your brand new Mix 2.

Software features of the MIUI 9 include Dual Apps (the ability to run multiple instances of apps on the phone), Second Space (adding a second user/ profile with its own set of apps that is password-protected) and Quick Ball (a virtual ball used to trigger various apps/ actions like accessing the multitasking menu and home screen, and the ability to lock the screen or take a screenshot). A customisable one-handed mode exists along with support for a wide range of gestures. Nougat based actions like split-screen also exist in the package. MIUI is bloated but that is the nature of it. Flashing stock Android or Cyanogen is supported by the community and more ROMs appear as time passes by. 

 Battery Life

Large batteries and power-savvy Qualcomm SoCs is a Xiaomi recipe that worked extremely well this year – the original Mi Mix could stay on for two days with heavy use. The battery disappointingly is not the 4000mAh one found in Redmi Note 4 or the 4400mAh found in Mi Mix, since a smaller 3400mAh one is used. Combined with the Snapdragon 835 SoC, MIUI’s software and screen resolution it gives a day max for hard usage – I don’t get why they shrunk the battery… SoT is about 5h in video playback. 

Quick Charge is supported and the mobile goes from 0 to 100% in ~100 minutes – (and that was the only time the phone heated up). When you don’t have a charger near you, you can always switch to battery saver mode. Unfortunately wireless charging is missing, that’s true for all of Xiaomi’s smartphones and something that really upsets me as an avid smartphone user.

Camera

Dual cameras were supposed to be the main trend this year, that is before Mi Mix arrived and the full screens became the new “must”. Mi Mix 2 has a single 12MP Sony IMX368 f/2.0 rear sensor -with Dual-LED flash- at the time when Mi 6 and Mi Note 3 (that use the same sensor) have a pair with a telephoto lens added for depth. The sensor does the same job as the primary one in both the other two phones but the bokeh effect is missing. It has a 4-axis OIS along with great daylight performance. In low light conditions Xiaomi was always lagging behind the other main brands and so their latest creation (Mi Mix 2) can not claim any medals here. In such situations, the HDR mode is more than helpful, trust me.xiaomi mi mix 2

The camera app has all MIUI standard features: HDR mode, Panorama, Manual, Beautify, Square mode and a variety of filters can be found in the apps menu. You can time your shots, voice trigger them using Audio mode, or use the Group-Selfie mode to have selfies captured automatically when a face is detected. The Straighten mode lets you align your shots perfectly, while the Tilt-Shift mode will let you blur parts of the shot. Finally, the Hand-Held Twilight (HHT) mode is designed to improve low-light photography by stitching together multiple shots.

Video capture defaults to Full HD but can be altered to shoot 4K clips in 30 fps. OIS helps with reducing shakiness and the autofocus is fast but not instant. There is a slow-motion mode that can record at 120fps but it’s limited to 720p. The sound is mediocre as in most of this years Xiaomi’s handsets when in playback. 

The selfie cam is the phone’s “Achilles heel”. The sensor is a bad 5MP choice for the selfie lovers – quite far from being in the same level to the double 12/16MP sensors other brands use. It has an awkward placement, as we need to flip the phone upside-down to take a proper selfie. When talking with Skype, Viber or Duo, the camera is placed on the low right side and your opposite speaker views a chin-first face.

Have a look at our Flickr album of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 and enjoy its photo samples by clicking below:

Our Opinion

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 is a continuation of a great design updated to be carried globally and by more people than ever. It is now the main product Xiaomi showcases to prove its anticipated position as a global player. It comes with a great price and in Xiaomi shops (Mi Stores) in several markets around the world.

It clearly has not the same impact as the original model, I have to say. The design is a prime factor for companies if they want to survive next year with a profit. So it is more a hunt for what suits our needs better. Is Mi Mix 2 a winner here? Screen size and the classic earpiece improved the overall user experience. Camera needs some work in the software department and hopefully the third installment of the series will come with a different placement and lens for the selfie shooter. Battery is good but not great. The build quality is simply amazing. Software has everything without lagging or overheating.

Our opinion? If you don’t prefer selfies and you want a flagship under $500, Mi Mix 2 is a solid winner.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review
  • Build Quality - 95%
    95
  • Display - 95%
    95
  • Audio - 80%
    80
  • Battery - 80%
    80
  • Software & Performance - 95%
    95
  • Connectivity - 95%
    95
  • Camera - 90%
    90

Summary

Xiaomi's Mi Mix 2 is a continuation of a great design updated to be carried globally and by more people than ever. It is now the main product Xiaomi showcases to prove its anticipated position as a global player. It comes with a great price and in Xiaomi shops (Mi Stores) in several markets around the world. Our opinion? If you're not a fan of selfies and you want a high-tier flagship under $500, then Mi Mix 2 is a solid winner.

90 %

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