Usually we look at the sales statistics and define the most popular brand. These number also can provide a valuable information whether this or that company has improved its market share or not.
As for Xiaomi, it has sold almost 23.66 million units in the first half of 2016, which is approximately the one-third of last year’s result, 71 million. This was a serious indicator obliging the company to revise its strategy in the smartphone market. But it’s not as easy as you can think. Seems the manufacturer has done everything correctly launching a list of anticipated smartphones, but they didn’t help the company sell more.
If asking customers, mostly they are not satisfied with the design of Xiaomi handsets. In other words, Xiaomi launches phones with outdated design. This means the company has had to come with fresh ideas to boost sales. One of many marketing campaigns included invitation of celebrities at conferences. But people want more besides a nice show. That’s why the Xiaomi Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus failed to boost sales. So the last chance for this year is given to the newly launched Xiaomi Mi Note 2 and Mi MIX. These are great devices with many innovative features and quite affordable price tags. On the other hand, the Xiaomi Mi MIX is something new, and probably customers will be suspicious about it. So all the hope is on the Mi Note 2. Honestly, this phone has all chances to take Xiaomi out from this marsh, but we have to look at the evaluation of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 to understand where is hidden the key to success.
If looking on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 through the eyes of the manufacturers, it can be defined as an annual flagship phone. This simply means a smartphone maker can wait before the upstream supplier’s production capacity is stabilized to choose a wider range of customization. That’s why many companies lunch their main flagships at the end of a year. Xiaomi is no exception – though the most anticipated smartphone of this manufacturer in face of the Xiaomi Mi 5S was announced in September, it didn’t provide the predicted success. This situation made the company to revise its strategy as soon as possible, and probably we saw the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 much earlier than it had been thought to be launched. But as you see the manufacturer didn’t meet any difficulties in terms of production capacity, because as I said above, it’s the end of the year, and almost all the innovations are made and suppliers know what to produce.
To dig deeper into each worthy feature let’s take a quick glance at the key features of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2:
|Screen||5.7 inches at resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels|
|Dimensions||156.2 x 77.3 x 7.6 (mm)|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 clocked at 2.35GHz|
|Network||Dual SIM (Dual Nano-SIM card slots)|
|Front camera||8MP with Autofocus|
|Rear camera||22.56MP Sony IMX318 with EIS and 4K video recording capability|
|Housing||Double curved design|
|Battery||4070mAh with Quick Charge 3.0|
|Other features||NFC, HiFi, ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, infrared emitter|
|Price||2799/3299/3499 yuan ($413, $487, $516)|
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Fingerprint Scanner
Well, we have already realized we are dealing with a top-end smartphone, but this phrase can be said for many devices. So I am offering to start looking at certain features that have evolved over time. First, we have to talk about the fingerprint scanner. The ultrasonic fingerprint scanner should appear on the Xiaomi Mi 5S, but we saw only something like that placed under the home button. I guess this was one of deepest disappointments we have ever seen in eyes of Mi fans. Probably no one will accuse Xiaomi for not putting this technology under the screen if it hadn’t been spotted in photos and different confirmations before the phone’s launch. As for Xiaomi Mi Note 2, we haven’t heard it will come with such feature. So the presence of a regular fingerprint scanner under the home button is quite acceptable. Moreover, the original Mi Note 2 doesn’t feature any fingerprint scanner and in comparison to the older version this is a real advantage. But we don’t have to think the manufacturer didn’t want to add this feature to its upcoming flagship, because as the company says, the Mi Note 2 has been in production for almost a year, and that time there was no ultrasonic fingerprint identification technology. But if you want to test this technology, there is the Xiaomi Mi 5S.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Curved Screen
Second, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is the first curved edge screen phone in the history of company. Commonly, there are only two suppliers of curved screens – Samsung and LG. But we haven’t seen LG screens in mass production, and the only actual manufacturer remains Samsung with its S7 Edge and Note 7 that has been out of the game. So it turns out Samsung has had two options to choose from – either it continues making curved screens only for its own line handsets, or it decides to become a supplier for other smartphone makers as well, say Xiaomi. I guess Samsung has refused offers of Chinese manufacturers due to tight production capacity and huge shipment demand. So Xiaomi chose LG’s OLED screens at 5.7 inches and 1080p resolution. At last, though the company has made a big move towards big sales, we know there will be more curved screen smartphones coming our way from Vivo, Huawei and more. But many manufacturers don’t hurry to use this screens in their handsets, because it’s a very sophisticated process including external 3D glass thermoforming, flexing the screen, stamping and so on. As a result you have to pay about $150 for such a display.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Design Elements
Xiaomi has worked much to provide a completely newly designed smartphone. Thus the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 looks unique and you can’t say it is similar to any Mi handset. As we said it sports a 5.7-inch OLED screen provided by LG at resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, and we have to say this is the first time when we can get our hands on a curved screen smartphone carrying Xiaomi brand. The original Xiaomi Mi Note features a 5.7-inch screen at Full HD resolution, but it’s not curved at all. I mean the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 sports the same screen, but its border-less nature makes the phone to be the first one in the company’s history with such specs.
There are a speaker, notification LED, and a front camera above the screen. But if want to assess the front panel of this phone, we have to look at the border where the screen and the metal meet, plus, where they are curved. Looking at the phone closely, we can’t find any defects. Thus the manufacturer does its best to provide the highest build quality.
As for the bottom side, there is a home button covering the fingerprint scanner. We have seen a few types of home buttons on Xiaomi smartphones. As for the Mi Note 2, it belongs to the category of enlarged buttons. But we have to focus on the color instead of a design. As you can see, it differs from the overall color of the Mi Note 2 housing. It turns out, the manufacturer has made it of ceramic for better interaction with fingerprint identification waves. So the home button has got a color varying from the body color.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with a 3D glass body, which means it provides a double curved design. This is mostly done to make it more comfortable when handling. But this is not the only advantage of this phone, as thanks to a special production process it reflects different colors under different lightning conditions. Honestly, we don’t know whether there is a special covering on the housing, but the fact is the body reflects different colors.
The bottom of the phone comes with symmetric speakers that girth the USB Type-C. The latter is getting more and more popularity in last years, and if a company makes high-end smartphones they should come with such an interface, undoubtedly. The main reason why this port is more popular than the standard USB port is related with the fact it provides faster charging and data transfer. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 top side carries a 3.5mm audio jack, noise cancellation microphone and an infrared emitter. The latter can be used a special remote control app coming our way via MIUI.
The back of the phone carries a 22.56MP camera with Sony IMX318 sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 80 degrees of wide angle and 4K video recording capability. This camera is a topic for a separate conversation, as there is a protective ring around the lens and the camera takes into account the temperature of the flash when capturing.
As you see, the design of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is quite astonishing, and we wouldn’t be wrong if saying this is the most beautiful Xiaomi phone of all times.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Performance
Nowadays smartphones come with better hardware. The Moore’s Law that says the productivity of processors doubles in every 18 months still works. There are several smartphones packed with a deca-core processors such as the Xiaomi Redmi Pro, Zopo Speed 8, or Meizu MX6, but the most popular CPU in the smartphone market has eight cores. I guess no one will be mind if I say the best SoCs are dubbed as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890), Apple A10 Fusion and say MediaTek MT6592. But the same CPU can provide different performance on different devices. Due to combination of various hardware and the experience of a manufacturer play fatal role. But we have no reason to worry about this, because Xiaomi has found the way how it can take maximum form any hardware. That’s why Xiaomi devices score more than other devices with the same hardware.
As for the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, it is packed with a Snapdragon 821 processor clocked at its maximum frequency of 2.35GHz. This CPU uses 14nm processing technology based on FinFET (Fin Field Effect Transistor), which is a non-planar or ‘3D’ transistor mainly used in current processors. The Standard Edition Xiaomi Mi Note 2 also comes with a 4GB of RAM and 64GB of ROM (UFS 2.0 + LPDDR4).
Though we have got acquainted with this processor when trying to understand whether there is a Snapdragon 821 processor in the Xiaomi Mi 5S, it still requires to dig deeper. So, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 is a comprehensive upgrade of its previous version, the Snapdragon 820. It still uses the Kryo 64 bit architecture, i.e. two large cores now run at 2.4GHz instead of 2.2GHz, while the rest of cores are clocked at 2.0GHz instead of 1.6GHz. Thanks to this boost the Snapdragon 821 provides 10% faster and better performance than its predecessor.
However, each processor is not the matter of cores, as there are also different hardware as well. The Snapdragon 821 comes with an Adreno 530 GPU, which offers 40% better graphic performance than the Adreno 430 found in the Snapdragon 820. This GPU also comes with an OpenGL ES 3.1+ AEP that is one of the best way for heavy graphics gaming experience. Plus, the Hexagon 680 DSP (display processor) is designed in the way to bring significant improvement to performance as well as battery life. There is also a Spectra Camera Image Signal Processor (IPS) that brings more rapid focusing speed, larger capacity, high performance up to 28MP with zero shutter lag, and great shootings in low-light conditions.
As for connectivity, the Snapdragon 821 supports LTE Category 12 download speeds of up to 600 Mbps (3x20MHz carrier aggregation), and LTE Category 13 uplink speeds of up to 150 Mbps (2x20MHz carrier aggregation). The download speed is 33% faster due to X12 LTE support. I guess you know, there are two versions of Xiaomi Mi Note 2 – one for native users and the second one is a global version. The former one supports six frequencies, while the global version supports all 37 frequencies.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is also powered with a 4070mAh battery supporting Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. Thanks to this technology the phone can dynamically adjust the charging voltage during charging (3.6V to 12V) to enhance the charging efficiency. We have tested the Mi Note 2 charging, and it took 1 hour and 56 minutes to charge fully. The average charging voltage was 6.26V, while the total power was about 15W-16W. Vut when the phone was charged to 80% it decreased to 10W-11W. The phone got 50% charged in 37 minutes, which is a great time for a phablet.
whole charging process
charging up to 80%
charging after 85%
The Mi Note 2 was benchmarked as well, and it showed 141250 at Antutu, while the single-core score was 1804 and the multi-core score was 4341 at GeekBench 4. Its graphics performance was also tested at GFXBench and though it showed better results in comparison to the Apple A9, it still yields the Apple A10 Fusion.
The next important thing is heating. As you know, almost all Android phones has this problem, and it’s interesting how this manufacturer has solved it. So we have tested its temperature after a few hours of continuously usage. As you can see on the photos, the highest temperature of 36.8 degrees C was noticed on the top middle of the screen. On the other hand, a normal usage didn’t make it to heat at all. So we can say Qualcomm as well as Xiaomi have solved the problem perfectly.
MIUI 8 Experience on Xiaomi Mi Note 2
MIUI has been always one of the main trump card of Chinese manufacturer. Now MIUI 8 is available for list of phones, and as there are over 200 million MIUI users, I guess this number says much than anything else. As for the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, it is the first dual curved screen phone of the manufacturer, therefore the MIUI should be optimized for such a device as well. Fortunately, Xiaomi has made some major changes and make it more comfortable to use this UI on a curved screen.
First, as we have also got learned how we can interact with the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 using the curved edges, we know there is new way of viewing notifications including weather, calendar, recorder, and other widgets. Plus, MIUI 8 comes with a new feature that shows an illustrated lockscreen that can be changed at any time.
As we know, MIUI 8 comes with dual apps and dual logins. Thus users can set different passwords/ fingerprints to login different desktop space, and implement different operations. This means there can be two separated areas, where users can store different data. This is mainly done for those users who have to hide and/or protect personal/business information. But if you don’t want anyone to access your personal apps and files, this feature can be very useful as well.
The next advantage of MIUI 8 is its capability of taking long screenshots. But what’s more amazing you are able to set the screenshot speed and position, cut the (un)necessary area, add graffiti, mosaic effect and make other operations.
Third, MIUI 8 comes with a smart calculator, which is capable of providing real time currency rates, info related with tax and many more. So Xiaomi has made a step forward in terms of using a calculator.
I guess it’s worth mentioning the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with Microsoft Officepre-loaded that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and more.
Finally, MIUI 8 supports Mi Pay, which means you don’t have to carry your wallet anymore – the Mi Pay supports bankcard payments as well as bus card payments and more. It can be used with devices compatible with NFC, P2P and other touchless technologies.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2’s Mysterious Camera
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is not packed with a dual-camera as many of us have been waiting for. But are you sure its single camera module yields a dual-camera module or are you sure it yields many cameras on top-end smartphones? If you are, tell me what the most attractive phone is in terms of capturing great photos. I guess most of you will mention the iPhone 7 Plus. Ok, challenge accepted.
As we already know, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 sports a 22.56MP rear camera with Sony IMX318 sensor coming with 1/2.6″ sensor size, 1 µm pixel size and f/2.0 aperture. I guess you are familiar with this features from the article titled as what is missing in Xiaomi Mi Note 2 to be god. But I guess you don’t know the focusing speed can be shortened to 0.03 seconds. This is the first amazing feature concerning this great camera.
Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 camera doesn’t support OIS, but it comes with a three-axis EIS, which means all the anti-shake issues can be solved at programming level. In its turns this can affect the phone’s thickness and power consumption.
As Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with a larger camera module, its photos will have more details, and it’s seen in the photo sample below.
White balance adjustment has been Apple’s advantage for a long time, but looking at the photo samples below we can say the difference is not that large.
outdoor, white balance contrast
When taking macro photos the main test is camera’s ability to blur the background. And as the iPhone 7 Plus comes with f/1.7 aperture, its virtual capabilities will be slightly stronger. This is even seen in the photos below.
outdoor, macro shooting
Here are other photo samples taken at different lightning conditions, so you check them out to find whether the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 yields the iPhone 7 Plus. Personally, I think there are not real shortcomings at Xiaomi Mi Note 2 camera, though the company has to work a bit more to make it better.
outdoor, close up samples comparison
indoor, color contrast
outdoor, color contrast
outdoor, self-luminous objects
The Final Words
When talking about the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 many Mi fans mention it is the first dual-curved screen of the company. Thus this features becomes the selling point for a device that sports many astonishing features but a curved screen. The fact it is compared with the highest-end smartphones carrying the top brands is already respectable. On the other hand, when we talk only about its OLED screen provided by LG, we overshadow the rest of its features. For example, any other smartphone maker will dream to pack its handsets with the latest Snapdragon 821 CPU, SonyIMX318 sensor at 22.56MP or run on such a software that MIUI 8 is. But we have what we have, and I have to say even the Xiaomi Mi MIX launched alongside with the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is not as popular as this model, though if looking more attentively it comes with more attractive features (I mean the ceramic housing and an edge-to-edge screen, but it’s another topic of conversation). Honestly, I can’t say why the Mi Note 2 is so popular, but its pricing has its own role in it. So it is very difficult to find many shortcomings in this handset that means Xiaomi has done a great job and should be rewarded for it. The only worrying thing is that there will be more than one similar handsets coming our way from Chinese manufacturers.