Xiaomi Mi Mix Smartphone Review: Symphony in Ceramic and Android-esque

Xiaomi Mi Mix smartphone review

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has outdone itself with the Xiaomi Mi Mix that was launched last month in a surprise announcement. The “Chinese Apple” smartphone company has managed to create a truly stunning effect with a full ceramic body and almost bezel-less front, giving it high ratings from reviewers. Here are some of the features and specs you can expect on the Xiaomi Mi Mix running with the Mi User Interface (MIUI) on top of Android 6.0.

She’s Got The Look

The first thing that hits you about the Xiaomi Mi Mix when you take it out of the box is the amazing near-bezel-free look of the front. As you turn it on, you’ll be surprised at how the visuals reach out almost to the very edges of the phone. While this certainly has functionality benefits with its amazing 91% screen-to-body ratio, it’s the esthetic aspect that will first strike you. To put that in perspective, iPhone’s screen-to-body ratio is a mere 65%.

The practical side of such a design is that it allows Xiaomi to put a 6.4-inch screen (2040×1080 pixels) on the phone without significantly increasing the overall footprint. Put simply, it’s only slightly bigger than iPhone 7 Plus but with a much bigger screen.

Turn the phone over and it’s another shocker – a full ceramic back designed by Philippe Starck. Some reviewers say that it attracts fingerprints and dust and that it’s too shiny and slippery, so that’s probably why there’s a “premium-feel” leather case included in the box.

67-year-old Starck is a world-famous French designer who popularized the concept of “democratic design”, which allows for cheaper production and lower end-user costs. Starck has created a massive portfolio of designs ranging from bathroom fittings to furniture to space vehicles.

Xiaomi Mi Mix – Beautiful on the Inside, Too

Powered by the Snapdragon 821 chipset, which is possibly just behind the Kirin 960 from Huawei in terms of performance and speed, you’ll see visible evidence even on the 4GB RAM version with 128GB internal memory. No glitches even if you’re running intense apps. There’s also a 6GB RAM version available with 256GB of internal memory. At least one thing you don’t have to worry about for a long time with either model is running out of storage space!

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But not all of the phone’s seamless user experience can be attributed to the processor. A lot of it comes from the Mi User Interface or MIUI. In the past, MIUI was difficult to use and pretty clunky. Now, in its eighth avatar, it works much better and currently runs on top of Android 6.0. And it’s a whole lot more customizable than Android or iOS, for that matter. For example, you can move around the ‘recent apps’ and ‘back’ button, if switching them makes it more comfortable for you to use.

One issue that was found was about the call volume. Because of the near-bezel-less design, the Xiaomi Mi Mix works in a very different way to regular smartphones. The sound is sent as a vibration through the phone’s body, and a sonar lets the phone know the position of your face relative to the phone. Weird, but it works. Some degradation of audio volume was seen during tests, but it’s not going to be a major problem. The reason Xiaomi had to do this was because there was no place for the proximity sensor or the speaker at the top edge of the phone. Crazy, but they’ve managed to make it work just fine.

Camera and Battery Performance

The f/2.0 aperture means you’re not going to be taking those award-winning shots, but it’s got a fairly decent 16 MP rear camera. Better for daytime photos rather than low-light situations.

The 4,400 mAh battery means you can go a full 12 hours and still have 20-30% battery life left over. The upside is that MIUI does much of the background app killing, but unless you know what you’re doing, it’s quite difficult to tweak the settings so your notifications don’t get delayed or missed.

The Verdict

There’s no doubt that this is a revolutionary phone despite camera and call volume issues. The near-bezel-free design with the ceramic body alone are enough to set this phone apart from the rest of the flock. In fact, this is what future smartphones are likely to be based on because the design standards are very high – dare I say even high than what Apple has set for itself and the smartphone world at large?

Some might vehemently disagree with that POV, but the Xiaomi is definitely not your run-of-the-mill smartphone with some fancy features to attract customers.

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Considering the fact that Xiaomi had a bad start to 2016 as a follow-on to a dismal 2015, being pushed to fourth place in the Chinese smartphone manufacturing pecking order, this could very well be the turnaround smartphone they’ve been looking for.

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