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Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 first impressions: Raising the bar for full-screen smartphones

The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 with gorgeous all-screen front launched in India today. Read our detailed first impressions of the smartphone.

tech Updated: Oct 10, 2017 14:44 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Xiaomi Mi MIX 2,Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Review,Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Price India
The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 will be available via Mi.com and Flipkart from October 17. (HT Photo)

Even before the Samsung Galaxy S8, Apple iPhone X and Essential PH1 embraced an edge-to-edge screen, Xiaomi shook the industry with its Mi MIX, a stunning smartphone with an all-screen front, a 91.3% screen-to-body ratio, and a ceramic body.

Even though the Mi MIX launched as a concept smartphone exclusively in China, it got a wide attention and mostly positive reviews.

Almost one year after the launch of the original Mi MIX, Xiaomi’s bezel-less smartphone has gotten a due successor, the Mi MIX 2. The phone is no longer a China-exclusive and launched in India today with a price tag of Rs 35, 999. The smartphone isn’t just an upgrade over the predecessor in terms of specifications, but also has a new design. At the same time it retains the essence of what the original Mi MIX stood for - a truly all-screen phone.

We have been using the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 for roughly a week, and here our first impressions of the device. Before we hold forth, note that the model which we were using was a China version, so the experience, especially the software bit, is most likely to be different on the India variant.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 does resemble the original Mi MIX, but that’s not a negative. Even if you haven’t seen the original Mi MIX, the new Xiaomi smartphone is going to grab your attention with its unique form factor.

The Mi MIX 2 is also quite different from what you most probably have seen on other 18:9 screen phones. While the likes of Canvas Infinity or LG Q6 bring a taller screen, but don’t really come close to becoming an all-screen smartphone.

We have extensively used the Galaxy Note 8, and we must say the Mi MIX 2, sheer in terms of all-screen front, looks a way lot better.

The Mi MIX 2 comes with a full HD+ resolution (2160 x 1080 pixels), which is pretty good. It renders pretty decent outdoor and indoor legibility. Colour reproduction is quite accurate. If you like more vibrant colours, you can always go to Settings and choose between warm, standard and cool modes. We mostly used the phone in standard colour mode. There’s also an option to optimise contrast so that the content is crisper.

While the original Mi MIX sported a larger 6.44-inch display, the MIX 2 has a more compact 5.99-inch display. A compact size makes it easier to fit in our palms and suitable for one hand usage. The front is dominated by the display, well, it covers 80% of the real estate. While there’s an ultra slim bezel on the top, the bottom has a relatively broader bezel.

Key Specifications
  • 5.99-inch, 18:9 display with 2160 × 1080 resolution (FHD+), 403 PPI
  • 7-series aluminium alloy frame, four-sided curved ceramic body
  • 18k gold-plated camera rim
  • 12MP rear camera with Sony IMX386 camera sensor, 4-axis OIS, large 1.25μm pixels
  • 5MP front camera
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 6GB LPDDR4X RAM + 128GB internal storage
  • 3400mA battery
  • MIUI 8 based on Android N
  • Global LTE support, 6 modes 43 bands, Dual SIM, Bluetooth 5.0, Rear fingerprint sensor

A senior Xiaomi executive told us a broader bezel at the bottom was required to ensure there’s enough breathing space between the components.

It is worth pointing out that the front-facing camera lens has been shifted to the bottom right corner, since the top has an ultra slim bezel. In our opinion, a broader bezel doesn’t really affect the overall aesthetics.

The back panel of the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 is equally beautiful. Sporting a ceramics panel, the rear has a glossy finish, giving it a premium look and feel. It features a camera set up on the top center followed by the fingerprint sensor. There’s subtle branding “MIX DESIGNED BY XIAOMI” engraved on the panel. The shiny back panel of the MIX 2 is good to look at but, there’s one major problem - it’s a fingerprint magnet.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 has a ceramic back panel. (HT Photo)

This essentially means you will have to keep wiping the back to keep the polish on. Fortunately, unlike the glass backs, a ceramics panel seems much easier to clean up. If you don’t really like the habit of wiping the phone back, you will have to put on a cover, which we think will murder the beauty that the Mi MIX 2 is.

Moving on to other sections of the phone, the base has USB Type-C port sandwiched between speaker grilles whereas the top has, well nothing. The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 joins the increasing number of smartphones to abandon the 3.5mm audio jack. Volume and power buttons are located on the right edge whereas the left edge sports the SIM slot. All the necessary buttons are well within the reach. It’s slim and light enough to carry around in your pocket without any hassle.

Xiaomi has certainly raised the design bar with the Mi MIX 2, but it doesn’t fulfil all of our wish list. Let’s begin with the front-camera. As we mentioned earlier, it’s located at the corner right of the front. This means whenever you’re taking a selfie, you will have to strategically hold the device so that your palm doesn’t cover up the lens. Xiaomi has given a fix for this. You need to flip the phone upside down while taking selfies. It’s a bit of habitual change for a lot of us, and certainly takes a lot of time to get used to.

Another problem is that the “upside down” feature hasn’t been optimised for Facebook or Instagram, which means an additional step to post photos to these social media apps. If you share a lot of Stories on Facebook or Instagram, the Mi MIX 2 front-camera is going to be a downer. That being said, the front-camera does take pretty neat selfies, of course, when you have learned the method to use it. But that’s a trade off you will have to make for this bezel-less brute.

The Mi MIX 2 also misses out on dual-rear camera, a hot trend in 2017. But the single 12-megapixel sensor coupled with 4-axis Optical Image Stablisation (OIS) does take pretty decent photos. They aren’t breathtaking, but decent enough for a mid-range smartphone. Though after having used the iPhone 8 and Galaxy Note 8, the Mi MIX 2 camera performance seems underwhelming.

A closer look at the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2. (HT Photo)

The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 6GB of RAM. During our week-long experience, there was no log or stutter. Though in all fairness, we haven’t tested the performance of the smartphone as we would have liked. Since the test unit we had was a China model, it will be unfair to comment on the software experience.

Summing up, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 is a gorgeous smartphone. With a shrunk 5.99-inch size, it feels compact and easy to use. The iPhone X, which has similar all-screen front, will cost you an arm and leg, whereas there’s no word on the Essential PH1 coming to the Indian market anytime sooner. If you have been looking for an all-screen phone or just a phone that’s different from the rest, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 is worth considering.

First Published: Oct 10, 2017 14:40 IST