Right now, the Xiaomi Mi Mix is making history and it will probably have a lasting influence on the smartphone market. 85% of the Mi Mix’ front side represent a huge 6.4-inch display with 362 pixels per inch. Most other manufacturers can only dream of such a display-surface-ratio. As if this weren’t enough, the complete casing (rear, frame and buttons) is made of seamlessly assembled ceramic. The phone also provides a very powerful Snapdragon 821 processor and two huge storage versions (4/128GB or 6/256GB). You have to pay about 700-800$ for the small version. Those choosing the 6/256GB version additionally get an 18-carat gold rim enclosing fingerprint scanner and camera. We tested the Xiaomi Mi Mix for 2 weeks and tried to find out if all that glitters is actually gold.
Design and build quality
With the Mi Mix, Xiaomi impressively shows the courage to innovation (in contrast to other established manufacturers). The Xiaomi Mi Mix is 8mm thick (10mm with a leather protective cover) and has a weight of 215g. In comparison to the Mi Max (170*90mm), which has the same display size, the Mi Mix is significantly shorter and thinner (159 x 82mm). Considering the huge display, the Mi Mix is not only quite compact, it can be used more pleasantly than normal 6.5-inch phones as well. The smartphone has an excellent build quality and it seems to be made of only one piece.
The ceramic rear, the frame and the buttons are extremely scratch resistant compared to traditional metal or glass surfaces. If the phone falls down, it shatters, and the device is a real fingerprint magnet as well. In addition, the ceramic body is extremely slippery and after one day of use I already came into two situations in which I almost dropped the smartphone. You should definitely use the provided high quality leather protective cover. The 4400mAh battery cannot be replaced just like that. However, those who have good manual skills can easily remove the rear cover (no glue, just some clips) and change the battery.
At the bottom you can find microphone, USB Type-C port and the speaker. The SIM tray provides enough space for two Nano-SIMs and it perfectly fits in the ceramic frame. Power button and volume control are easy to be reached and have a nice feedback. The fingerprint scanner is located on the rear below the camera. The phone is woken up from stand-by within less than one second. Operating the fingerprint scanner is a bit difficult if you use the leather protective cover, as the sensor is then a bit too deep. The sensor’s accuracy is awesome. A notification LED can be found below the display and shines in all colours imaginable. The Xiaomi Mi Mix uses on-screen buttons, and thanks to the 17:9 format, a 16:9 image is completely visible even with the on-screen buttons shown.
Xiaomi tries to drive the innovation forward with its strongly limited concept phone. Its plans are working out: the Xiaomi Mi Mix has an extraordinary appearance. Whether the smartphone’s front, consisting almost only of the display, or the seamlessly assembled ceramic casing – those showing up with this device attract a lot of attention due to the futuristic design.
As the Mi Mix is a concept phone and not a smartphone for the crowd, there are also some disadvantages. There will only be a limited number of replacement parts and few accessories for the phone. The Mi Mix’ ceramic surface is extremely scratch resistant, but it is also quite slippery. In terms of material and technology the Mi Mix is fantastic, the ergonomics however is not properly thought out.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix’ IPS display has resolution of 2040×1080 pixels, which results in a 17:9 format and 362 pixels per inch. All contents are shown pin-sharp on the display. In favour of the battery life, Xiaomi didn’t use a higher resolution. The brightness can be increased up to 500cd/m² as well as decreased in the dark. In daily use, the readability in bright sunlight is not extraordinarily good, but just on average. The colour representation in the standard mode is accurate and can be adjusted at need. Xiaomi’s automatic contrast does an excellent job as usual, and the automatic brightness regulation works nicely as well. Xiaomi uses a very good full-HD display with the Mi Mix.
None of our apps used were struggling with the display’s size, all of them were shown on the complete display. Xiaomi’s improvement of ‘bezeless’ (no bezel on the left and right hand side) is now the so called ‘edgeless’ (additionally no bezel at the top). Indeed, switching the Mi Mix on, everyone is impressed: the display is not curved or rounded off and you can see 2mm bezels at the left, right and top of the display. You also cannot find the statement on the Xiaomi website anymore, where they claim a 91.3% screen-to-body-ratio. After some calculating we got a result of about 85%, which does not really matter, as the display is simply awesome even without bloated marketing.
Xiaomi Mi Mix’ front camera was moved downward. An ultrasound proximity sensor is located in the display itself. The sensor secures a darkened display when telephoning, which worked perfectly during the testing phase. As the ceramic casing produces the sound, you can place the Mi Mix’ rear near your ear and you will understand the caller without any problems. The sound is good, although it has not the quality of a regular earpiece. The 10-point touch reacts fast and precisely. As usual, Xiaomi did not use Gorilla Glass; but after 2 weeks of use, there was not even a single scratch. On YouTube you can find numerous scratch-test videos, which show that the display’s resistance is on the same level as any flagship’s Gorilla Glass.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix is one of the fastest smartphones in the world with its Snapdragon 821 processor and either 4/128GB or 6/256GB storage. The Mix is designed for high-end games and produces them perfectly even in high resolution. In combination with Xiaomi’s MIUI system, the phablet navigates the system extremely fast.
The 128/256GB internal storage’s reading/writing speed is on a top level with 445/170MB/s. The same holds true for the 4/6GB RAM with 16.5GB/s. The RAM utilization in the IDLE mode is quite high with 2GB. The heat management is ideal even when playing demanding games and the Mi Mix stays always quite cool. The benchmark results are on the same level with the user experience. The Xiaomi Mi Mix carries out all tasks fast and without any noticeable delay.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix uses a colourful MIUI V8 system on Android 6 basis. At some point, Android 7 Nougat will replace this basis, but MIUI is so strongly adjusted that it does not matter. MIUI provides a lot of additional features and can be customized in terms of design.
With 200 million users world wide this is one of the moste used Android distributions ever. Some might prefer the puristic looks of an unchanged Android system – but those who have ever used a phone running on MIUI will pretty fast appreciate its numerous advantages. As an introduction to the MIUI V8 system I cite the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review and screenshots from the system:
The Xiaomi Mi Mix provides a 16MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture on the rear. In order to take selfies you can use the 5MP front camera, which is however located at the smartphone’s bottom and not at the top as usual. This position is quite annoying, as you have to turn the phone by 180° to take selfies. The selfies have nice colours, but they lack details in bad lighting conditions. All in all, they’re not that sharp. This is only an average result for the Xiaomi Mi Mix’s front camera.
The Mi Mix won’t disappoint those who are crazy about nice smartphone photos, although Xiaomi’s focus is not on the camera. The images’ white balance and colour representation are good. Images with lighter and darker spots are depicted well even without HDR support. The autofocus works fast and you barely notice the trigger time. The slight image noise, which is spread out the whole photo and occurs with all images, is a clear niggle. In bad lighting conditions the Mi Mix is no longer of any use.
Slow motion videos are recorded in HD-Ready resolution (720p) with 120FPS. You can record normal videos in 4K, which are impressively sharp, but sometimes a bit blurred as the photos. The video quality is great and it is sufficient for most users. Action video fans, however, will not be satisfied, as there is neither optical nor electronic image stabilization. You often get blurred videos as a result. The overall sound quality is good.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix takes nice photos as well as videos that are rich in detail. However, niggles are the missing image stabilization, the weak performance in bad lighting conditions and the slight image noise in almost all pictures. The Mi Mix’ camera is not at the same level as current flagship models; the device has its strongpoints in other areas.
Connectivity and communication
The Mi Mix supports all 2G and 3G frequencies as well as LTE. Supported Frequencies:
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz, TD-SCDMA 1900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600MHz ( Band 5/8/4/3/2/1/7 ), TD-LTE B38/B39/B40/B41
As all other China phones, the Xiaomi Mi Mix provides two SIM slots (Dual-SIM). The reception was at a high level at any time. The phone provides NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi with ac-standard and Bluetooth 4.2. The dual-band Wi-Fi has a wide range and a strong throughput. The up-to-date Bluetooth 4.2 module does a perfect job. The GPS module does the fix even inside buildings and it’s perfectly suitable for navigation.
The voice quality was always good and the hands-free kit can be used as well, thanks to two microphones at the top and one main microphone at the bottom in the second speaker. The internal speaker is loud and provides a clean, differentiated sound. You even notice slight basses and the heights are balanced. Connecting middle class headphones to the smartphone, you get an excellent music quality.
The phone offers any sensor a current smartphone needs: gyroscope, acceleration, compass, barometer, proximity and light sensor.
A 6.5-inch smartphone clearly needs a big battery. Xiaomi uses a 4400mAh battery. However, numbers aren’t everything, optimization does play a role, too, and Xiaomi gets full marks. While charging the phone with quick-charge, a heat development is barely noticeable and the battery takes 18% steps from 0-80% every 15 minutes. For the last 20% it takes the phone another 35 minutes to charge. So, the battery is fully charged in 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The Mi Mix’ battery life is simply great. In dual-SIM mode and with 3-4 hours of use (including GPS, benchmarks, videos and a lot of WhatsApp) the phone lasted for 1.5-2 days. The display-on time (DOT) after two days was always at about 5-7 hours. The Mi Mix lasted for 10 hours at a medium display brightness in the PC Mark battery test.