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Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review: Pioneer of Bezelless is Back and Better

The Original Xiaomi Mi Mix was a sensation. The pioneer of the ubiquitous bezel-less designs we take for granted on our mobile devices, Xiaomi’s Mi Mix took the industry by storm when it came out in 2016. In order to completely remove the top bezel, it sported revolutionary features like a piezoelectric motor to transmit call audio through the top portion of the screen via vibrations, and ultrasound for proximity sensing and gesture-based control. By shifting the screen all the way to the top edge, Xiaomi was able to create the illusion of a phone that is entirely screen. In reality, a chin is maintained under contiguous glass, that houses key components to support the LCD screen, along with the front-facing camera.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is a true beauty. Image: Ian Ling

With thin bezels being all the rage now, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 still holds its own against flagships like the iPhone X, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 that have taken stylistic cues from the original Mi Mix. No other phone has been able to combat the engineering challenge of ensuring the display is flush with the upper edge. The Samsung and LG offerings have not been able to eliminate the ‘forehead’ and ‘chin’ of the phone despite shrinking them to allow screen-to-body ratios to approach 90%. The iPhone X and Essential Phone have eliminated the ‘forehead’ and ‘chin’, but have been unable to solve the logistical challenge of eliminating the front facing camera and the speaker from the top of the phone. As a result, both of these otherwise immaculate offerings have been plagued by user complaints of the ‘notches’ distracting from an otherwise flawless design.

Announced exactly a year later, the Mi Mix 2, in many ways, resembles the original Mi Mix in concept and in form. In fact, a cursory glance at the specifications hints to the contrary – gone are the revolutionary headline features like the piezoelectric motor in favour of traditional speaker channeled through an almost invisible slit between the frame and the glass. The aspect ratio is now 18:9 from 17:9 in the orginal iteration. The rest of the changes seem to be under the hood, with an octa-core CPU, upgraded GPU and chipset. Otherwise, the only other discerning changes would be the adoption of USB-C, replacing the original Mi Mix’s MicroUSB and 3.5mm audio jack combination.

Mi Mix 2 Unboxing and First Impressions

The phone’s packaging is on par with many of its flagship brethren. Catching a glimpse of the front panel is otherworldly. A shiny pane of black glass, and that’s all. Xiaomi’s dedication to providing a unique experience of a contiguous display extends to the front facing camera. It has been covered with slightly darker glass in order to ensure it blends in better.

The front facing camera on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is virtually invisible. Image: Ian Ling

Turning the phone around, we feast our eyes on the 18K gold ring framing the 12-megapixel rear camera. While the original Mi Mix sported a 16-megapixel camera, we all know megapixels do not account for everything. Xiaomi implemented larger pixels for improved low-light performance. increasing individual sensor size by 25% to 1.25µm.

This has got to be one of the best looking phones of 2017. Image: Ian Ling

Included in the box is a phone case that fits just like a glove, together with fast charging wall-wart and cable. It also comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack dongle, which immediately alerted me to its absence from the unit. But come on, its 2017.

Form Factor

It is slightly larger and heavier than both the Samsung Galaxy S8 the Apple iPhone X in all aspects save thickness. The Xiaomi, however, sports a larger screen than both the Samsung and iPhone at 5.99 inches. The Xiaomi still retains a chin despite a slight reduction in its size.

The back, painstakingly shaped from ceramic, had a unique sheen, and was emblazoned with a tasteful “MI MIX DESIGNED BY XIAOMI” running down the middle in resplendent gold font, mirroring the 18-karat gold trimming on the main camera.

MI MIX DESIGN Image: Xiaomi

The Mi Mix 2’s bezels have actually increased in size from its first iteration, but everything about the new design screamed “practicality”. A more conventional speaker for calls replaced the almost sci-fi piezoelectric solution, after feedback that calls could be heard by those nearby was surfaced. Implemented in the Mi Mix, the rounded display maximises distance from the metal unibody frame, but Xiaomi has increased the distance from the edge, which I suspect was also a move to reduce drop-related incidents from being fatal to the display.

A week into using the phone, I still stare at the phone in awe, momentarily forgetting what I was about to do.

The hardware, despite being beautifully crafted, are perfectly implemented. Its three buttons are clicky and tactile. Fingerprint sensor works like a charm all the time. Even its single jack has an affirmative click when a periphery is fully inserted.

An LED resides at the bottom of the chin, just above the USB-C port. It pulses or lights up in a single colour, white, when charging or when notifications are received.

Camera

Its rear camera sports the same Sony IMX386 sensor as on the Xiaomi Mi 6, along with four-axis optical image stabilization. Notably missing is the ubiquitous ‘portrait mode’ as touted on other flagships, with the Mi Mix 2 sporting only a single camera. No pixel-splitting technology like on the Google Pixel to lend some mojo, it seems.

Photos from the rear camera seem especially contrast and saturated. As a career photographer, this made me furrow my eyebrows slightly – but for everyone else, pictures look vibrant and lively without need for much post-processing. As is the norm, the best images are taken in bright daylight; low-light pictures are decent without any enlarging, but noise and artifacts become apparent once zoomed in. There was little shutter lag for most of the photos taken, and camera start-up time was almost instantaneous. The only moments I missed were the ones where I opened the camera on the front-facing one. It clearly took too long for me to get over my hideous face before I switched cameras.

The front-facing camera requires the user to rotate the screen 180 degrees, which triggers the UI and screen controls to rotate regardless if auto-rotate is switched on or not. However, this only works on the native camera app. As a result, my Instagram and Snapchat stories have featured a lot less cameos – perhaps to the benefit of my followers. Should your face be even marginally more pleasant than mine, this might be a real concern. A usable workaround would be to use the native camera to take a short video to be uploaded via Instagram, though this eliminates fun features like Boomerang or Superzoom.

Performance

With features on par with heavyweights like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 presents an extremely attractive value proposition. On board is the Snapdragon 835 chipset and the Adreno 452 GPU, along with 6GB RAM and 64 GB (unexpandable) memory on the base models.

Games like Vainglory ran flawlessly; editing via Snapchat of raw .NEF files from my Nikon DSLR went without a hiccup. Needless to say, apps launched and closed almost instantaneously.

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)

While a bad reputation persists for Chinese-made smartphones and their iPhone-inspired User Interfaces, the MIUI implemented by Xiaomi in the Mi Mix 2 is rather tasteful and quite practical.

Fonts, animations and designs are pleasant and are more minimalist rather than outright copies of iPhone design choices (though some exceptions exist). Furthermore, Dual App functionality allows users to have two icons for the same app to access two different accounts: say your company and personal Twitter accounts. Second Space partitions the phone for a second user.

Despite the impressive software design, some aspects come across as rather unpolished. Certain menu interfaces are inaccurately or incompletely translated; pop-up notifications do not display content, and my dark Spotify buttons remain dark despite the pull-down tab being almost the same colour.

Full disclosure: I did swap out the MIUI skin for a personalised one based on Nova Launcher after a week or so.

Battery performance for a 3400mAh cell is decent, clocking in at about 16 hours of total usage with between 5 to 6 hours of screen-on time. The Xiaomi features Quickcharge, which is handy given non-removable batteries.

Technical Specifications

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Special Edition
Display 5.99-inch FHD+
2160 x 1080 resolution
570 ppi
18:9 aspect ratio
DCI-P3 color gamut
5.99-inch FHD+
2160 x 1080 resolution
570 ppi
18:9 aspect ratio
DCI-P3 color gamut
Processor 64-bit octa-core (max 2.45GHz) Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 10 nm process 64-bit octa-core (max 2.45GHz) Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 10 nm process
RAM 6 GB
LPDDR4X
8 GB
LPDDR4X
Storage 64 GB/128 GB/256 GB
USF 2.1
128 GB
USF 2.1
MicroSD No No
Cameras Rear: 12 MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis OIS, 1,25 μm, PDAF

Front: 5 MP sensor, 1080p video, Beautify

Rear: 12 MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis OIS, 1,25 μm, PDAF

Front: 5 MP sensor, 1080p video, Beautify

Battery 3,400 mAh (typical)
3,300 mAh (minimum)
2A QuickCharge 3.0
3,400 mAh (typical)
3,300 mAh (minimum)
2A QuickCharge 3.0
Wireless charging No No
Water resistance No No
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5 GHz), 2X2 MIMO and MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
USB Type-C (no 3.5 mm jack)
Location (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou)Network bands
§ 2G
• GSM 2/3/5/8
• CDMA BC0,BC1,BC6,BC10
§ 3G
• CDMA EVDO,BC0,BC1,BC6,BC10
• WCDMA 1/2/3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8 / 9 / 19
• TDS-CDMA 34/39
§ 4G
• TD-LTE 34/38/39/40/41
• FDD-LTE 1/2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 /
26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30
• B41 supports 2496MHz-2690MHz full bandwidth
• LTE B41 4 antenna technology, supports 4X4 MIMO
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5 GHz), 2X2 MIMO and MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
USB Type-C (no 3.5 mm jack)
Location (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou)Network bands
§ 2G
• GSM 2/3/5/8
• CDMA BC0,BC1,BC6,BC10
§ 3G
• CDMA EVDO,BC0,BC1,BC6,BC10
• WCDMA 1/2/3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8 / 9 / 19
• TDS-CDMA 34/39
§ 4G
• TD-LTE 34/38/39/40/41
• FDD-LTE 1/2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 /
26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30
• B41 supports 2496MHz-2690MHz full bandwidth
• LTE B41 4 antenna technology, supports 4X4 MIMO
SIM Dual nano SIM Dual nano SIM
Software MIUI 9 based on Android 7.0 Nougat MIUI 9 based on Android 7.0 Nougat
Dimensions and weight 151.8 x 75.5 x 7.7 mm
185 g
150.5 x 74.6 x 7.7 mm
187 g
Design Aluminum alloy frame
Four-sided curved ceramic body
18K PVD gold coating camera rim
Ceramic unibody design
Black version: 18K PVD gold coating camera and fingerprint sensor
rims
White version: 18K PVD rose gold coating camera and fingerprint
sensor rims

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

If possessing the best camera, taking the best selfies, having good weather-sealing is not essential to you, and you happen to like thin bezels and gold rings, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is exactly the phone for you. With its attractive price tag starting at SGD699, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is priced significantly lower than other flagships with equivalent software specs.

If experience speaks for anything, I would suggest you snap it up should you have the slightest itch: these units are high in demand given their almost cult-status and Xiaomi’s staunch fanbase.

Ian Ling
http://uncommontragedy.com
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

2 thoughts on “Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review: Pioneer of Bezelless is Back and Better

  1. The best smartphone i ever seen. I want to buy it super fast !

  2. Gatsby the Great

    No 3.5mm jack no buy.
    No microSD card no buy.

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