With the Xiaomi Mi Max 3, there is now the long-awaited new edition of the mega-phablet series by Xiaomi. Compared to its predecessor, a lot has changed. The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 features a faster Snapdragon 636 processor, a dual camera and an even larger display with the same size housing. For all fans of the extravagant smartphone sizes, the Mi Max 3 should be a fantastic package – especially in view of the attractive pricing. In this review we will find out if the Mi Max 3 phablet really keeps up its promises.
Design and build quality
With dimensions of 176mm in length and 87mm in width, the Mi Max 3 is without a doubt an exceptionally large mobile phone. A one-handed operation is not possible even with large hands and you also clearly notice the device in your trouser pocket. Surprised glances of other people must not disturb you when you put the Max 3 on the table and all other mobile phones suddenly look like smartphone miniatures. On the positive side, the weight of 218g is still in the comfortable range and the Max 3 is only 8mm thick despite its large battery. As far as the usable display area is concerned, another 0.4 inch was added in comparison to the previous model. Fortunately, the larger display does not come along with a larger housing, but was achieved by reducing the bezels at the top and bottom. These are now only a little less than 1cm wide. Accordingly, there are no soft-touch buttons any more. Instead, the Xiaomi Max 3 is operated either with on-screen buttons or with full-screen gestures. The latter make it possible to completely dispense with the display of buttons and instead use the back, home and app overview function by swiping movements. The concept was largely adopted from the Iphone X and works very well on the Mi Max 3.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is delivered with a power supply, SIM ejection tool and USB cable, which is quite a spartan scope of delivery. If you need a protective cover or bullet-proof glass, it is best to order it at the same time.
In terms of colours, Xiaomi offers black, gold and blue versions of the Mi Max 3. The look of the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 has hardly changed compared to its predecessor. The housing is still made of metal, which is only interrupted by 2 thin plastic antenna strips. The build quality is impeccable and looks very high-quality. Only the transition from display to housing is more abrupt with the new Max 3 than with its predecessor, since the display now protrudes about one millimeter from the housing.
There is a modern USB Type-C slot as well as a 3.5mm jack connection available. SIM cards are inserted in a slot on the left side. Here, either two Nano-SIM cards or one Nano-SIM and one Micro-SD for memory expansion can be used. In addition to an LED flash, the earpiece and the front camera, there is also a single-colour notification LED in white located on the front. On the rear you find a vertically placed dual camera and the fingerprint sensor. The sensor unlocks the Max 3 from standby very quickly and almost completely without errors. As an alternative to the fingerprint sensor, face-unlock is available, which works surprisingly well on the Mi Max 3. Note, however, that the face recognition may be tricked with a photo or video and is thus less secure than unlocking via the fingerprint.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is a very good-looking smartphone. Of course, a mobile phone of this size is a matter of taste. But those who like big smartphones will love the Max 3. In terms of build quality, the smartphone offers no room for criticism apart from the somewhat bumpy transition from display to the housing.
By reducing the bezels, the front is now almost exclusively used by the 6.9-inch display in 18:9 format. Due to the new 18:9 format, the display is slightly longer than those of the old 16:9 format mobile phones like the Mi Max 2. When displaying apps and the system, the new format is no problem, but when watching videos, you see a black bar at the right and left side. The panel has a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and thus achieves a pixel density of 350ppi. Individual pixels are no longer recognizable and even with a display of this size, the Full-HD resolution is still perfectly sufficient. The brightness is specified by the manufacturer as 520 cd/m² and is also convincing in actual use. Readability outdoors is no problem, even in sunlight. Xiaomi’s Sun-Light technology supports the readability, which increases contrast in bright light. The illumination of the panel is as uniform as possible, but on closer inspection small halos can be seen at the upper and lower edges. With normal use, however, these are not noticeable. Other software features include the double-tap-to-wake function and a reading mode that reduces the blue light component of the display in the evening hours to protect the user’s eyes.
As far as the colour representation of the panel is concerned, the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 offers very natural and strong colours. In the settings there is the possibility to infinitely adjust the colour temperature, but it is not necessary to use this option. While the colour representation is fully convincing, the contrast of the Max 3 is rather on average, as it is typical for IPS displays. Although black contents appear sufficiently dark overall, a slight grey shimmer is visible at high display brightness.
The touchscreen registers up to 10 points of contact simultaneously and does a very neat job. Corning Gorilla Glass is used on the display, which protects the mobile phone well from scratches.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 houses a very large and beautiful display. With its 6.9 inches it offers enough space for games and multimedia contents and the operation is extremely pleasant. Although there are minor points of criticism such as the mediocre contrast and the minimal halos on the top and bottom, these do not cloud the otherwise positive picture and are not noticeable in everyday use.
Xiaomi follows the Redmi Note series and uses the Snapdragon 636 in the Max 3, the same chip as has been installed in the Redmi Note 5. The Max 3 is therefore much more powerful than the Xiaomi Mi Max 2. The Octa-Core is the little brother of the Snapdragon 660, which provides a very good performance in the Mi Note 3 and Mi A2. In terms of performance, it is a processor of the upper middle class, which performs very well in an approx. 290$- mobile phone like the Max 3.
The 8 Kryo 260 cores clock with 4 x 1.8GHz in the power cluster and 4 x 1.6GHz in the energy-saving cluster. Good energy efficiency is also ensured by the modern 14nm process. Since the chipset is the same as that of the Redmi Note 5, the performance is largely identical. You get a fast system with very short loading times, on which all apps run without problems. When browsing the Internet or using apps like Facebook, the Mi Max 3 also cuts a good figure and there are virtually no rendering delays. Besides a fluid system and multimedia of all kinds, the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 can also easily handle demanding 3D games. Asphalt 9, for example, can be played with high graphics settings and PUBG also runs very smoothly with HD resolution and high frame rate. No noticeable heat development occurs at any time. Of course, the gaming experience is not as smooth as on a Snapdragon 835/845 mobile phone, but all current games can be played without noticeable restrictions and that will probably remain the case also in the next 1-2 years.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result 3D Mark Result
The LPDDR4X RAM achieves solid transfer rates of 6GB/s and also the memory (eMMC 5.1) is pleasantly fast with 206MB/s reading and 140MB/s writing speed. It is a traditional eMMC 5.1 memory, not a fast UFS memory, which is reserved for high-end smartphones. If dual-SIM is not required, the memory can be expanded by up to 256GB with a micro-SD. Xiaomi offers two memory versions of the Mi Max 3: 4/64GB or 6/128GB. In reality, the 4GB RAM version is sufficient for most users and offers good multitasking capability.
With the Snapdragon 636, the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 receives the long-awaited performance update. The speed is absolutely sufficient for everyday use of apps, games and multimedia. Hardcore gamers will prefer a Snapdragon 835/845 mobile phone, for all others the Mi Max 3 offers enough power.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 uses the in-house MIUI 9.6 system with Android 8.1. base. In the next 1-2 months there will be an update to MIUI 10, which will also introduce new features like the revised multitasking menu. Xiaomi’s MIUI system is an visually strongly changed Android system with many function enhancements. In version 9.6, MIUI offers a revised security center in which the authorizations of individual apps can be edited down to the last detail. In MIUI it is also possible to set up a “Second Space”, with which you can call up a password-protected second system that has a separate app and file system. You can also clone individual apps so you can use WhatsApp twice on your phone. Numerous themes can be downloaded from the MIUI App Store and the look of the system can be defined down to the smallest details. If you own the Global version of the Xiaomi Mi Max 3, you must set the “Region” to India to use the Theme Store.
Another novelty of the MIUI system is the smart assistant “Xiao Ai”, which is supposed to create a connection to the Xiaomi home system on the Chinese market, where Google and Amazon play no role. So far, however, the assistant only speaks Chinese. English is supposed to follow in the future. In its current state, the Xiao AI Launcher is absolutely unusable for non-Chinese people. In Xiaomi’s MIUI system, however, you can choose which AI wizard to use. Here you can easily switch from Xiao AI to the Google Assistant – at least theoretically. In practice, however, only Xiao Ai is started if you keep the home button pressed longer. However, the Google Assistant can be started using the “Okay Google” voice command.
Please note that the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is available in a China version and a Global version. On the China version there is only English and Chinese available as system language and also the Google Playstore must be installed manually. With our instructions for the Mi Pad 4, the Playstore can also be installed on the Max 3 in 5 minutes. If you have already ordered the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 in the China version, you can switch to the international software Google Apps after the release of the Global ROM. It will appear soon and can be installed manually. If you want to change earlier, we can also recommend the Xiaomi.EU ROM. It is based on the China-ROM and offers some further extensions besides the Google Playstore and other languages.
A 12 and a 5 megapixel sensor are used on the rear. The main sensor has large 1.4μm pixels and dual-pixel autofocus and is supported by a dual-LED flash. It has an aperture of f/1.9. The sensors on the rear are made by Samsung and are identical to those of the Redmi Note 5 (s5k5e8 & s5k2I7). However, the front camera differs from the Onivision sensor of the Note 5; the Max 3 houses a 8MP camera with an s5k4h7 sensor by Samsung instead. As to be expected, the photo quality of the rear camera largely corresponds to that of the Redmi Note 5, on closer inspection there may be minimal differences in colour representation, but these can be neglected. Like the Redmi Note 5, the Mi Max 3 takes very nice pictures in daylight, which can at least compete with the quality of flagships with twice the price. In comparison with the Mi Max 2, Xiaomi takes a big step forward. The colour representation is strong but not unnatural and the focus is extremely fast and reliable. Even with low-light shots, the Max 3 cuts a good figure and outdoes its predecessor with ease, as there is much more sharpness and less image noise. However, I wouldn’t say that the Max 3 shows a very good performance in low light conditions. In comparison with the Xiaomi Mi A2 with its f/1.7 aperture especially, there is a clear difference in favour of the Mi A2. The Xiaomi Max 3, on the other hand, does a really great job regarding the Bokeh shots. The separation of foreground and background works very well and you get great portrait shots with a few attempts. The portrait function can also be used with the front camera (but then the software creates the effect) and works just as well here as on the rear with two cameras.
The front camera with 8 megapixels is very well suited for selfies in daylight and interior light. The sharpness is high and the colour representation is pleasantly natural. As soon as there is less light available, however, there is clear image noise and the quality deteriorates. After all, the front LED Flash can provide some remedy here. All in all the pictures of the front camera are very beautiful in daylight, but not really convincing at night.
In terms of video quality, the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is as impressive as the Redmi Note 5. Recordings have a very good sharpness and the dual-pixel autofocus simply works outstanding. EIS is available for image stabilization, which really works excellently on the Mi Max 3. Please note that recordings in 4K are not stabilized in the MIUI camera app. However, if you install the Open Camera App, the EIS can also be used with 4K.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 supports the following network frequencies:
GSM : B2, B3, B5, B8
CDMA 1X/EVDO : BC0
WCDMA: B1, B2, B5, B8
TD-SCDMA : B34, B39
TDD-LTE : B34, B38, B39, B40, B41 (120M 2535M~2655M)
FDD-LTE : B1, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B20
The Chinese version of the Mi Max 3 already includes most of the most important frequencies. Users who are not afraid of changing the ROM can also buy the China version or the China version with Global ROM. Other reception standards include modern Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi with ac-standard in the 2.4 and 5GHz networks. As it was the case with the predecessor, the reception of the Max 3 is also extremely strong in every respect and I never had any problems connecting to the mobile internet or other devices. When it comes to WiFi, Bluetooth and network reception, the Mi Max 3 even outperforms most of the flagships. The call quality is high. It convinces with a very powerful and rich sound that can definitely keep up with any flagship smartphone. The hands-free function can also be used well.
Xiaomi does a nice job in terms of the sensors, so the GPS (GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS & Galileo) is of course supported by a compass. The reception is extremely strong and the Mi Max 3 has never failed while navigating. In addition to the 3 standard sensors (proximity, brightness and acceleration sensor), the Xiaomi Max 3 has an infrared transmitter, a hall sensor (for smart covers) and a gyroscope. If Dual SIM (2 x Nano) is not required, the memory can be expanded by 256GB with a micro-SD. However, NFC is not available.
The Max 3 uses one of the two lower loudspeaker openings and the earpiece as loudspeaker. The sound quality is sophisticated and is absolutely sufficient for watching videos or listening to an MP3. In terms of the speaker, the Max 3 is not yet at flagship level, as it lacks a bit of bass.
BatteryBattery lifetime Result Unit: hours
With a 5500mAh battery and the economical Snapdragon 636, the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 has become a real battery monster. The fact is: If you manage to drain this phone’s battery in one day, you have either received a defective model or should get psychotherapeutic treatment because of mobile phone addiction. In my case, the Max 3 lasted 2.5 days with almost 11 hours of on-screen time, despite the high demands of apps, benchmarks, surfing the Internet and a lot of GPS navigation. About 7% is used to play a one-hour YouTube video and about 12-15% to play demanding games. Standby consumption is also very good at around 3% overnight. The battery is charged with Quick-Charge 3.0, which only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. If you charge in the middle percentage range, you will already have charged about 30% after half an hour, which should normally be enough for the rest of the day.
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*Prices include shipping and toll. Intermediate changes of prices, ranking, delivery time and costs possible. Prices last updated on 21.01.2019