Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review: Design marvel, snappy performer and some unavoidable flaws

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is downright beautiful and packs in flagship specs. But how practical it is in everyday use? Find out here

By Rohit

    What is Xiaomi Mi Mix 2?

    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is company's second attempt to transform a concept design into a reality. The result is a gorgeous handset that is a near perfect implantation of bezel-less design and looks every bit of premium. The edge-to-edge screen offers unmatched user experience in sub Rs. 40k price-point and Mi Mix 2 also delivers on raw performance including processing, gaming and multitasking.

    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 First Impressions

    However, the smartphone has a fair share of challenges to overcome. For instance, camera and software performance is not at par with competitors in this price-point.

    The futuristic design is a head turner but it forces you to make certain compromises that can hamper the everyday mobile user experience. This brings us to the question, "Is Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 a value for money deal?" Let's find out.

    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Specifications

    Xiaomi has never disappointed on hardware part and the same can be said for Mi Mix 2. The bezel-less beauty has an eye-catchy design and offers high-end specifications. It is backed by Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 835 processor paired with 6GB of RAM. The combination efficiently manages processing and multitasking during every day and strenuous tasks. You get 128GB internal storage but sadly there's no microSD card slot. However, 128GB will be more than enough to store images, games, videos, music, apps and documents. The smartphone does not come with wireless charging and you will also not find the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, which was offered by the original Mi Mix.

    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 sports a 5.99-inch IPS LCD display with 18:9 aspect ratio. The screen offers a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels that churns out a pixel density of 403 ppi. For protection, Xiaomi has offered Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

    For imaging, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 sports a 12MP rear camera that works on Sony's IMX386 sensor. The camera comes with 4-axis Optical Image Stablization that helps in reducing the effect of handshake or motion to make images and videos sharp and blur free. For selfies, you get an oddly placed 5MP front camera.

    The battery size has been dramatically reduced to 3,400 mAh from the big 4,400 mAh unit which powered the original Mi Mix. But you get Quick Charge 3.0 support. As far as connectivity is concerned, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 comes equipped with Global LTE support and also has standard connectivity features such as Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C, GPS and AGPS.

    Stunning Design that instantly grabs attention

    One of the most astonishing features of Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is its gorgeous design. The smartphone is an instant head turner, something I experienced personally in my review duration. I am also using Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Google Pixel 2 side by side, but Mi Mix 2 managed to grab the most number of eye balls.

    No one could resist the shiny Ceramic clad edge-to-edge design and everyone was pretty shocked to find out that the smartphone belongs to Xiaomi. This is due to the fact that Xiaomi is majorly known for its affordable Redmi series and mid-range Mi devices in the Indian market. However, Mi Mix 2 clearly shows that the Chinese company has the ability to design super premium devices that can easily match and even overshadow some of the most popular devices we have today.

    More refined and polished than the original Mi Mix but with some usability issues

    Crafted out of aluminum with a coating of ceramic, the smartphone does feel sturdy and polished than the original Mi Mix. It is also more compact, 11.9% smaller than the original Mi MIX, which is quite appreciable as it makes the mobile phone more usable in everyday scenarios. The design team has beautifully taken care of small details, hardware button placement, antenna bands, charging jack, etc. making handset premium and ergonomic at the same time.

    However, some design elements question the day-to-day usability. For instance, there's no 3.5mm headphone jack, but thankfully a USB Type-C to 3.5mm connector is provided in the box. The ceramic back panel makes Mi Mix 2 very reflective, a fingerprint magnet and also quite slippery at the same time.

    I had to use the case that Xiaomi ships in the package as I really don't want the beautiful rear panel to get damaged from unwanted scratches. If you are buying the handset just for its gorgeous design, you can ditch the case and flaunt the appealing ceramic back panel that also features a 24 carat gold ring around the camera module. Last but not the least, the handset is not water and dust resistant.

    Questionable front camera placement

    The front camera placement is also something unique and questionable. To maintain an edge-to-edge form factor, Xiaomi shifted the front camera sensor at the extreme right corner of the bottom chin. Fire up the front camera and the interface will ask you to rotate the handset upside down to take selfies. This will certainly trouble selfie lovers who are fond of creating Snapchat and Instagram stories.

    On the brighter side, the second generation Mi Mix does address some important usability issues witnessed with the original Mi Mix. These include the improved speaker design at front and slightly wider bezels to prevent those unwanted phantom touches which was said to hinder the overall user-experience with the original Mi Mix. The new Mi Mix has subtle rounded curves on the sides that give the handset a comfortable feel in hands.

    Overall, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is by far the most appealing bezel-less smartphone I have used till now. But it's not completely flawless.

    User Experience- Videos and Gameplay look stunning

    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is purely engineered to maximize your multimedia experience. The immersive edge-to-edge screen is in fact one-of-its kind and the visual experience that Mi Mix 2 delivers cannot be achieved by any other smartphone at its price-point. The games and videos run edge-to-edge and will keep you hooked to Mi mix 2 throughout the day and night. Even web browsing and reading news on apps like Flipboard feels brilliant.

    The screen is bright, punches vibrant colors and has good contrast ratio. However, the IPS display does not match the levels of deeper Blacks and saturation that Samsung's AMOLED panels offer. But it's not an issue as long as you are not using both the handsets side by side.

    As far as real-life performance is concerned, the flagship CPU and ample RAM offers a lag free experience. Apps fire up instantly and gameplay is smooth even while running the most graphical intensive games. The 6GB RAM delivers ample memory to run multiple applications, be it videos, games, camera or social networking apps. One department where performance takes a dive is audio. Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 only has a mono speaker unit that does get loud but audio quality does not go in sync with the screen. The gorgeous 5.99-inch edge-to-edge screen deserves stereo sound to form a complete multimedia package.

    Camera: Feature packed 12MP rear camera but performance is a miss

    As I mentioned in my first impressions of Mi Mix 2, I am not going to delve into the argument that Xiaomi is not offering a dual-lens camera setup in the days when everyone is implementing the two-lens technology. The company itself offers a capable dual-lens camera device in mid-range segment- the Mi A1 but settles with one-lens setup on Mi Mix 2.

    The smartphone sports a 12MP single lens shooter that boasts 4-axis optical stabilization and can also record 4K videos. This seems pretty much capable on papers but in real-life, the performance is not comparable to other handsets in similar price-point, such as OnePlus 5 and Honor 8 pro.

    Daylight shots show vibrant colors

    Images captured in daylight show good colors but on a closer look (max zoom) show poor detailing when compared with other smartphones. The sensor is also not snappy enough to capture moving objects efficiently and pictures often come out blurry, especially when lighting conditions are not favorable. The image stabilization seems not very useful here.

    Good macro shots

    Macro shots come out really good though. You can see ample detailing and accurate colors

    Low-light shots are not very impressive

    Mi Mix 2's camera works on a darker f/2.0 aperture that for most of the part fails to impress during low-light shots. The results are grainy and Xiaomi's enhanced low-lighting feature fails to make a mark. The camera sensor doesn't allow a good intake of light and results look quite dull.

    The front camera is undoubtedly the talking point of Xiaomi Mi Mix due to its unusual placement. Unlike every smartphone we have in the market that places the front camera at top of the display, Mi mix 2's 5MP camera is positioned at the bottom chin of the handset.

    It rests at bottom right corner and you have to flip the handset device upside down to capture selfies. While this does look a bit odd, the 5MP selfie camera does a decent job in capturing images.

    Can last a day and also supports fast charging

    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 can last a day and even more with medium to heavy usage. The battery is rated at 3,400 mAh and it can easily handle a day's treatment without leaving you in middle of an important task. The smartphone also supports Quick Charge 3.0 that will help you refuel the battery in a shorter time period.

    MIUI 8.5 worked smoothly for most of the part and has some useful software additions

    On the software side, you will experience the familiar Xiaomi MIUI customized skin deployed on Android Nougat. My review unit came with MIUI 8.5 Stable version running on Android 7.1.1. MIUI 9 which is built on Android 7.1.2 will be around the corner for Mi Mix 2 in India.

    While the Xiaomi's in-house MIUI is quite well acknowledged and packs in lots of customization and nifty tweaks, I would still prefer stock Android any day. Even Xiaomi has recently introduced stock Android with its mid-range Mi A1 handset. Moreover, other Chinese companies including Lenovo have also ditched custom skin for a smooth and efficient Android user experience.

    Talking about the real-life performance, MIUI on Mi Mix 2 worked smoothly for most of the part. The newly added tweaks such as Second Space, Dual apps, Quick ball, etc. are really useful in making the most out of Android user experience. Second space let you create two profiles; one for work and one for personal use with respective apps of your choice; basically it creates a partition on your device.

    Dual apps feature let you create dual apps to use them separately on one device; apps include Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. Xiaomi has also added One-handed mode and iOS like Touch Assistant (Quick Ball) to help you access the large 5.99-inch screen without any struggle.

    Overall, software performance was pretty smooth but I did experience some app crashes and stutters while using the Mi Mix 2.

    Should you buy it?

    Yes, if you cannot resist the charm of unique bezel-less design and gorgeous edge-to-edge FHD+ display. The user experience will not disappoint you but you have to adjust with the incoming attention from people around you as this handset instantly grabs eye balls. The camera is not impressive and it is not the handset I would recommend to anyone who keeps photography in their highest regards. For gaming and video playback, Mi Mix 2 is downright impressive.

    Mi Mix 2 has got looks, satisfactory software and good processing and multitasking performance. The handset is a visual treat for multimedia lovers but then the absence of 3.5m headphone jack and sub-par audio performance can be a big disappointment.

    If you truly worship modern bezel-less design and can ignore the above mentioned flaws, Xiaomi Mi Mix has a lot to offer. It's indeed the best-looking bezel-less smartphone out there in the market and easily qualifies as a collector's device.

    However, if you care about photography and are looking for an overall reliable performer, OnePlus 5 is the smartphone you should buy. You can also consider Honor 8 pro as the handset has packs an impressive camera, screen and battery backup, or you can simply wait for the upcoming OnePlus 5T.

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