If it’s not broken, why fix it? Xiaomi’s Mi MIX 2, a sleek, bezelless upgrade released December last year, didn’t look much different from the original Mi Mix itself. With the Mi MIX 2S, a new white colourway, and an iPhone X-esque dual camera unit on the rear would be the only differences immediately noticeable to any casual observer.
Xiaomi had, in fact, narrowed both the vertical and horizontal bezels by about a millimetre for an improved screen-to-body ratio. But anyone would be too enraptured by the metal and ceramic body to notice. I’ve had plenty of confused faces asking if my Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 was an iPhone X, but Xiaomi’s arrangement of the dual camera unit would raise some eyebrows. Both cameras sport bigger pixels for added low-light performance, while sporting OIS, something still rather rare in the industry.
The cameras are worth a second mention – DxO Mark has even awarded it a score of 97, sharing the same slot as the iPhone X and the Huawei Mate 10. The top one is a wide-angle lens with larger 1.4ɥm pixels and impressive f/1.8 aperture (the Sony IMX363 module), while the bottom one is a telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.4 and 1ɥm pixels (Samsung S5K3M3 module). Dual Pixel autofocus technology might be a world smartphone premiere, with quick and accurate autofocus as seen on the Canon EOS DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras. To further enhance low-light performance, the Mi Mix 2s features multi-frame NR, which stacks multiple shots to reduce noise and artefacts.
The screen is still an IPS FHD+ 5.99-inch LCD, sporting its characteristic (and now rather trendy) 18:9 aspect ratio. Corning 2.5D Gorilla glass sits atop, beautifully curved at the edges. Like previous iterations, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera sits at the bottom, requiring users to flip the phone around to snap selfies without nostril-enlarging angles.
True to its flagship aspirations, Xiaomi has pumped the best chipsets into the Mi MIX 2S. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset is a significant upgrade over the 835 sported on the Mi MIX 2, promising increased power without added battery drain. It still ships with Android 8.0, but adds Mi UI on top of that – something that users love to hate, or, in my case, hate to love.
Adding to the list of already-impressive specifications, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S will also feature Qi wireless charging – a no-brainer given its non-conductive ceramic back surface. It also means Xiaomi is the first in the world to implement wireless charging through a ceramic chassis. To sweeten the deal, a $16 Qi wireless charger would also be premiered.
Connectivity is bumped up with Bluetooth 5.0, particularly enticing with the immense range of high-quality wireless audio options available these days.
However, no protection against moisture and dust has been introduced, still a substantial difference from many flagship devices. Other features remain unchanged from its recently-released predecessor: its large capacity 3,400mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3 support, USB C (but only at USB 2.0), and its impressive range of support of international mobile network bands.