Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review: Tech Masterpiece But It’s Not for Everyone

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It’s an Iconic Statement Device but Lacking in Certain Aspects

Xiaomi shocked the world when they unveiled the first generation Mi Mix last year. It heralded the future of smartphones: bezel-less, beautifully designed, and iconic. That “future” is today and we see that with the new flagships of other manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. Now that the giants of Korea and Silicon Cupertino have caught up, the big question is what’s next for Xiaomi? Enter the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

Despite the limited number of stocks released, we were able to get our hands on a unit thanks for our good friend, Richmond Tan. We’ve been using it as our daily driver for the last week now and we’d like to share with you guys our review.

Before anything, here’s a quick refresher of the specifications.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 spec sheet
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor
  • Qualcomm Adreno 540 graphics unit
  • 6GB/8GB (Special Edition) RAM
  • 5.99-inch IPS display, 18:9 aspect ratio
  • 64GB/128GB/256GB of non-expandable storage
  • 12-megapixel, f/2.0 Sony IMX386 rear camera with 4-axis optical stabilization
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM, with 4G LTE, LTE-A
  • Fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C port
  • 3400mAh battery

When it comes to deciding if a flagship smartphone is good or not, we take into consideration 7 key factors. These are:

  1. Design
  2. Display
  3. Power / Software Experience
  4. Battery Life
  5. Camera
  6. Ecosystem
  7. Extras

We’ll tackle each one in this review to determine if the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is worth your money or not. Let’s jump right into it.

Hardware Design and Build: The Most Stunning Device Ever Made

Quite possibly the most beautiful smartphone today.

Philippe Starck, the world-renowned French Designer who worked on the first generation Mi Mix and this latest iteration, knocked it out of the ballpark. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, simply put, is the most stunning smartphone we’ve seen this year. It is gorgeous from any angle and the near bezel-less experience combined with the muted front facing camera and receptor grill turns it into a monolithic tech slab of beauty.

Everything is well thought out to achieve the vision of a seamless, flowing, and minimalist device. The front-facing camera is located on the lower right and is situated on the slim black chin hiding it even more. The receptor grill is so thin that one would barely notice it unless they looked closely. The display melds effortlessly into the metal frame and when you turn it around you have the gorgeous ceramic back plate.

That’s an 18-carat gold plated trim around the camera according to Xiaomi

Below the camera we have the optimally placed fingerprint sensor which works effortlessly and fast (big improvement compared to the first generation Mi Mix). At the center we have in gold the statement “Mix Designed by Xiaomi” which just goes to show how proud the Chinese company is of this particular product.

The ceramic back plate is a fingerprint and smudge magnet but you can quickly solve that by either having a wiping cloth with you or by attaching the matte slim-fit back case that comes with the box.

It’s All About the Display

Next up we have the display and this is the category that the Mi Mix 2 excels even more. Over 80% of the front panel is made up of the IPS display. It goes all the way up to the top and across the sides. There are no distractions like the iPhone X and Essential Phone notches.

The massive and unobstructed display combined with the incredibly thin bezels makes it feel like the screen is floating in your hands. It makes for a far more immersive experience with whatever you’re doing on the phone — scrolling through websites, checking out Facebook, watching movies, playing games, or just reading your messages.

We were more than satisfied as well with the brightness of the display. It worked well under daylight and shone wonderfully well during the evening.

Perhaps our only main issue with the display is that Xiaomi decided not to do Quad HD which is pretty much the standard for flagships these days. They made have made that sacrifice to achieve the price point or the over-all design they were gunning for but it’s something that we would have wanted instead of the Full HD+ display we have with the Mi Mix 2. It’s not a deal breaker though as the over-all experience is still amazing.

Power: There’s No Shortage of It

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor paired with 6GB of RAM makes the Mi Mix 2 a roaring beast. We threw a lot of games at it with high settings and we got a virtually lag-free experience across all of them. This was even more evident in our hour long gaming sessions of Marvel Future Fight. There was zero lag despite multiple elements popping up on the screen which even the Google Pixel had trouble with.

That same set-up ensures a lag-free everyday user experience, regardless if you’re just doing social apps, photo editing, gaming, or browsing. Truly gone are the days when Android phones were considered “laggy” and “inferior” to iPhones.

Software: It’s Built for China and Not the World

There is one key issue though that the Mi Mix 2 has that might be a massive deal breaker for the everyday Filipino. The phone is made for China and it comes with a Chinese ROM. It ships with no Google Play Services. You will need to sideload it and tinker with it so that you can sync your Google apps, including contacts, photos, and calendar. I spent well over an hour trying to figure it out by reading through several Xiaomi forums.

Hopefully if Xiaomi officially offers this device to the Philippines we get a version pre-installed with Google Play services because as it is a lot of people will get frustrated with it when they turn it on for the first time.

The Mi Mix 2, as well as other Xiaomi devices, runs on a custom Android OS mode called MIUI. As with all mods of Android, you will either hate it or love it. We’re on the neutral side as we can easily change the mod using the variety of launches available on the Google Play store.

Rear Camera: Not Competitive with other Flagships

We did a quick pre-review of the Mi Mix 2 camera a few days ago (click to read) and we concluded that it didn’t perform on the same level as other flagships in the same price range. That still holds true for our full review. While the camera takes excellent shots in optimal lighting, it suffers heavily in low light and in harsh lighting conditions. Here’s a fresh batch of sample shots for your appreciation.

Here’s our cute and cuddly cat Dusty being lazy.

And here’s the same cat getting his boss mode on.

Flat lay for life. Feeling foodie as usual!

The camera manages to take details in but the noise levels are considerably high compared to shots taken with other flagships.

And here’s a sample where it shows how weak the camera is in low light.

More flat lay food shots!

Kiehl’s is life.

Front Camera: Not Worth It

The Mi Mix 2 might be iconic and fashionable but it undoubtedly has a horrible front-facing camera. It fees like a throwback to the first-generation front-facing cameras. It doesn’t capture detail well in any lighting condition. If you want a selfie-centric smartphone, the Mi Mix 2 simply isn’t for you.

Erm… yeah it sucks in low light.

At the Google HQ in Manila!

One more selfie with the big G!

Battery Life: Above Average

Battery life was impressive. We averaged anywhere from 5-6 screen time with the Mi Mix 2. We were expecting good performance though as they scaled down the display from Quad HD to Full HD +. Quick Charge 3.0 also made it easy to top up the device with battery throughout the day.

Extras and Ecosystem

When it comes to ecosystem, Xiaomi has you covered. These guys have been investing heavily in a myriad of connected (and unconnected) products and appliances. They have Smart TVs, electric fans, app-controlled desk lamps, air purifiers, drones, and even luggage cases.

Verdict: It’s a Statement Device

So what’s our final verdict? Of the 7 factors we mentioned at the start of the post, the Mi Mix 2 passes most of them with flying colors, especially with Design (Build), Power, Display, and Battery Life. The only real issues are with the camera and the software (which can be remedied if you exert effort).

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is a statement device. It’s not the most ergonomic, practical, or crazy featured smartphone in the market. It’s a 60% art, 40% function kind of gadget. The selling point is really the design and raw power that it has underneath it’s hood.

If you want to be unique and you’re after a beautiful smartphone, the Mi Mix 2 is definitely for you.

We are Seriously Considering Giving Away the Mi Mix 2

Yes, you read that right

As you guys know we’re doing the Unbox Non-Stop Gadget Giveaway for 2017 all the way until December. We are SERIOUSLY considering throwing in the Mi Mix 2 in the prize pool. Share this post on Facebook, tweet it, and Like it! If we get enough we will throw it in the prize pool.

(unbox.ph, https://goo.gl/NK3WWH)

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