Last year, Xiaomi managed to make the whole of the smartphone industry sit up and take notice of its efforts with the original Mi Mix. Wanting to outgrow its image of a Chinese company making cheap iPhone clones, Xiaomi took the help of world-renowned designer Philippe Starck to design the bezel-less Mi Mix.
The plan worked as the whole of the smartphone industry took notice of Xiaomi’s Mi Mix. Within six months of the release of the Mi Mix, we saw many bezel-less flagship phones launching in the market including the Galaxy S8, LG G6 and even Apple followed suit with the iPhone X. A year later, Xiaomi is back with the Mi Mix 2. This time around, the Mi Mix has grown from being just a prototype handset to a full-fledged consumer device in its second iteration, the Mi Mix 2. So, is this bezel-less wonder still as impressive as the original Mix? Or has its lost its charm when compared to other bezel-less phones like the Galaxy S8? Let’s find out in our review.
Design and Display
The Mi Mix 2 is not just a smartphone, its a work of art. The handset looks downright stunning with its almost bezel-less design. To improve the handset’s usability, Xiaomi reduced the Mi Mix 2’s screen size to 5.99-inches and used a more standard 18:9 aspect ratio display.
As if the front of the handset was not already stunning enough to look at, the rear is in a class of its own. The Mix 2 features a ceramic back with an aluminium chassis which gives it a very premium in-hand feel. This premium feeling is far better than what you’d get from the likes of the iPhone 8, Galaxy S8, or even the iPhone X. The ceramic back gives the Mix 2 a very solid heft which other phones with a glass back simply lack. Even the $999 iPhone X with its incredibly high price tag does not compare to the Mi Mix 2 when it comes to in-hand feel. The lack of bezels on the front of the device also means that Xiaomi has placed the fingerprint scanner at the rear. It is ideally positioned and works flawlessly as well.
Since ceramic also has a higher hardness on the MoHs scale than glass, the rear of the Mi Mix 2 will not get scratched easily. I have now used the Mix 2 as my primary phone for over 3 weeks without any case and the back is yet to get a single hairline scratch. Its a fingerprint magnet for sure though, so you will be constantly wiping the rear of the device against your shirt.
Sadly, the Mi Mix 2 sacrifices the 3.5mm headphone jack to achieve its bezel-less design. Instead, like many other Android flagships, the Mix 2 solely relies on the USB-C port for audio out and charging purposes. Xiaomi also bundles a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter with the device but its DAC is very weak leading to subpar sound quality.
The excellent design of the Mi Mix 2 is complemented by the 5.99-inch display at the front of the device. The S-LCD panel features a resolution of 2160 x 1080 and can easily rival the panels used by Samsung in its flagship Galaxy devices with its brightness and overall experience. Its accuracy might be a bit off but the boosted colors help make the display feel more lively. The lack of bezels surrounding the display help in giving a very immersive experience while consuming any content on the Mi Mix 2, especially while viewing videos or reading content. The lack of a QHD+ panel on the Mi Mix 2 might be considered as a downside by many, but it is a compromise that no one is going to notice.
Software, Performance and Battery Life
The Mi Mix 2 runs on MIUI 8.5 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The MIUI 9 update for the device should be out soon but at launch, the Mix 2 runs on MIUI 8.5 Xiaomi’s MIUI skin is pretty heavy and comes with a plethora of customisation options and features to play around it. Some people might be put off by the sheer number of features in MIUI, but once you start using the skin, you will start appreciating the little improvements made by Xiaomi. However, that does not take away the fact that the Mix 2 should have launched with MIUI 9. If you have ever used a Xiaomi device before running MIUI 8, you are going to get the same experience on the Mi Mix 2 as well. And if you never liked MIUI 8, things are not going to change when you use it on the Mi Mix 2 as well.
Xiaomi compromised on the internals of the original Mi Mix since it was a concept phone. Now that the Mix 2 has graduated into a consumer phone, it features top-notch internals to go along with its excellent design. The handset is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset running at 2.45GHz, 6GB RAM, and packs UFS 2.1 of 128GB storage space. Thanks to Xiaomi’s underlying optimisations, Android 7.1 Nougat and powerful internals, the Mi Mix 2 runs absolutely buttery smooth without any performance issues.
The Mi Mix 2 is powered by a 3400mAh battery which combined with the power optimisations in MIUI 8.5 ensure the device can easily last through a day of heavy use. On an average day, you are looking at anywhere between 4.5 to 5 hours of screen-on time. And with Quick Charge 3.0, the Mi Mix 2 can charge up to 70 percent in no time. This also makes up for wireless charging which the Mi Mix 2 lacks since it features a ceramic back.
The Mi Mix 2 has the same camera setup as the Mi 6: a 12MP 1.25um f/2.0 aperture with OIS. This is paired with Phase Detection AF and two-tone flash.The camera is perhaps the only chink in the Mi Mix 2’s armour. The camera is able to take some decent photos in daylight when there is plenty of light available. The color reproduction and details are on point, with slightly boosted colors for a pop effect. However, in low-light, the Mix 2 starts struggling as noise starts creeping up in its photos. The 4-axis OIS is also not as effective as the hybrid OIS and EIS combination used by Google and Samsung on their flagship devices for recording videos.
The front-facing 5MP is strictly ok, though the bigger problem with it is its placement. Since the camera is located at the bottom chin, you will have to rotate the Mix 2 before taking selfies. The photos are then automatically rotated to appear correctly. However, this only works in the stock camera app of the Mix 2. In every other app like Instagram and Facebook, you will have to rotate the Mix 2 before clicking a picture. And in such cases, the photo is not turned upside down automatically as well.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Mi Mix 2 is a work of art. The design of the handset is straight up gorgeous and photos don’t do justice to just how beautiful it looks in real life. Once you have seen the Mi Mix 2 in real life, there’s no way you can ignore it. The handset is not without its own demerits which includes the 12MP primary camera being a disappointment and the weird position of the 5MP front camera. None of that, however, changes the fact that the Mi Mix 2 is an excellent smartphone. For its price of Rs 35,999, the handset rivals the incredibly popular OnePlus 5 in India which it handily beats in the design and build department.
If you want a phone to flaunt, maybe skip the iPhone X this year and go for the Mi Mix 2.