Last year, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi
initiated an era of bezel-less smartphones with the launch of the Mi Mix, the first device to drop the bezels and break away from the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio screen in favour of 18:9.
The company has taken a step forward this year and unveiled the ‘Mi Mix 2’, built on the blueprint of the Mi Mix but containing much more refined ergonomics and a premium design language.
Business Standard reviews the device to gauge its performance on different parameters. Here are our observations:
The Mi Mix 2
is a delight to hold and use. It has a 5.99-inch screen covering almost the entire front. The smartphone, though it competes in the bezel-less arena, does have tiny bezels on three sides of the screen – top, left and right. The limited bottom chin hosts the front camera sensor.
The lustrous ceramic back looks premium but is also a fingerprint magnet, requiring regular clean-ups. The back side is neat, with the primary camera placed at the centre, enclosed in an 18k gold-plated rim that adds to the device’s premium quotient. The fingerprint scanner is placed right below the camera, making it easier to reach to unlock the device.
Overall, the phone’s premium build quality, coupled with top-notch aesthetics, makes it easy to use and a delight to hold.
The Mi Mix 2’s 5.99-inch IPS display in an 18:9 aspect ratio is a bold step forward and sets a precedence for other smartphone makers to follow. Xiaomi
has done some incredible work to reduce the screen-to-body aspect ratio of the Mi Mix 2, and the result is pleasing to the eye.
The screen in the Mi Mix 2
covers almost the entire front, with a super-thin bezel at the top housing the speaker and a nominal chin area accommodating the front camera. The IPS display unit is bright and throws punchy colours with deep blacks. The software-based screen customisations allows further tweaking of screen colours and saturation, and the presence of the reading mode adjusts the screen tone automatically.
The only downside with the Mi Mix screen is its resolution, set at 2160 x 1080 pixels, or FHD+. The otherwise colourful screen looks pixelated, especially while watching videos or scrolling through the photo gallery. Otherwise, the screen performs well for gaming, online browsing and reading.
Hardware and software
The Mi Mix 2
is a flagship smartphone with top-of-the-line specifications. The smartphone boasts Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, coupled with Adreno 540 graphic processing unit (GPU). It has a 128GB internal storage and 6GB RAM.
Coming to the software part, the smartphone boots Android Nougat covered under the MIUI 8.5 theme. The customised theme has its perks and weaknesses. For one, the theme is not properly optimised for the 18:9 aspect ratio screen and a bottom-facing front camera.
The operating system offers few value-added features to enable legacy 16:9 content to be viewed in the 18:9 aspect ratio. The in-built video play allows the translation, but the feature is missing for online content via apps like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc.
Another downside of the operating system is with regard to the front camera. With the front selfie camera placed at the bottom, Xiaomi
has enabled the camera app to notify the user to turn the phone upside down for ease of use. However, the feature is limited to the camera app and does not work in other apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
Camera and battery life
The otherwise powerful flagship Mi Mix 2
sports a 12-megapixel primary camera, assisted with 4-axis optical image stabilisation (OIS), and a 5 MP front camera. The nominal camera set-up reiterates the fact that the Mi Mix 2
is first a display-oriented phone and then anything else.
The camera performance is nothing extraordinary. In good light conditions, the phone takes detailed shots with balanced colours and a nominal noise level. But, things fall apart in low-light conditions. Also, the camera app is not robust and the algorithms for improving the image quality are still weak when compared with competitors.
In terms of battery performance, the Mi Mix is a mixed bag, based on usage. The device works for more than a day with limited usage. It manages to get through 12 hours or so when you use processor-intensive apps. The battery life is not screen friendly and stutters if the screen is set at full brightness and used for extended hours. Nevertheless, the phone comes with a Quick Charge 3.0, which replenishes the phone battery in less than two hours.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
is a bold step forward, marking the beginning of the 18:9 aspect ratio bezel-less screen smartphones. The phone has a lot to offer in terms of design, display, performance and storage. Yes, there are downsides but most of them are from software end and can be addressed by a future upgrade. Priced at Rs 35,999, the Mi Mix 2
is definitely a flagship smartphone with no real competition.