Xiaomi has been indulging in the luxury of two flagship series for some time now. Besides the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, the Xiaomi Mi8 was born. The recipe for success remains completely unchanged. Xiaomi installs the latest hardware in the Mi8 and tears up the market with a price of only 419$. Due to the high demand, the price is currently significantly higher. But just as the Mix 2S is now sold for 477$, the Mi8 will approach its actual price in a few months.
For 360$, you can buy a Honor 10 and scratch at the High-End range. Buying a Mi8, you are on par with the strongest flagships on the mobile phone market. This detailed review of the Xiaomi Mi8 is based on 10 days of daily use. In particular, the performance in the different categories was compared with a Mix 2S, because the differences are only marginal when comparing the data sheets alone.
Versions and differences – Xiaomi Mi8
The Xiaomi Mi8 is available in 3 memory versions with 6/64, 6/128 and 6/256GB in 4 different colours (black, white, blue, gold). Instead of a special edition with ceramic rear like the Mi6 had, this time there is an Explorer Edition with transparent rear, 3D unlock and fingerprint sensor in the display. The Xiaomi Mi8 SE is now smaller, less powerful, but also much cheaper.
|Xiaomi Mi8||Xiaomi Mi8 Explorer||Xiaomi Mi8 SE|
2248 x 1080
2248 x 1080
2244 x 1080
|Processor||Snapdragon 845 @ 2.8GHz||Snapdragon 845 @ 2.8GHz||Snapdragon 710 @2.2 GHz|
|Storage||6/64, 6/128, 6/256GB
|4/64 + 6/64GB
|Weight and dimensions||154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm
|154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm
|147.28 x 73.09 x 7.5mm
|Connectivity||WIFI – ac-standard, 2×2 MIMO
|WIFI – ac-standard, 2×2 MIMO
|WIFI – ac-standard, 2×2 MIMO
|Special features||Infrared Face-Unlock||3D Face-Unlock
Fingerprint scanner in the display
|Price||2700 RMB (= ca. 417$)||1800 RMB (= ca. 306$)|
This review is based on the standard version of the Xiaomi Mi8. Having a significantly larger AMOLED display with notch and infrared face unlock, the differences to the Mi6 are however quickly named.
Design / build quality/ scope of delivery
While Oppo and Vivo use extending camera modules in China, Xiaomi chooses to use the notch in the current Mi8. The notch in the display allows the front camera and sensors to be placed on top as usual. On the Mix 2S, on the other hand, the front camera had to be mounted below the display. Xiaomi’s own mix design with display up to the top edge is therefore reserved for the more expensive Mix 2S. Of course, you can argue about the notch, but Xiaomi has definitely not bothered to make the recess attractive. In direct comparison to the Oneplus 6, the recess is huge and even the apparently usable area has hardly been implemented on the software side. There is only room for a battery, Wi-Fi and network symbol. To see the current network or the battery percentage, you have to swipe from top to bottom. So those who really like notch with the additional display area on the left and right will be mercilessly disappointed by the Xiaomi Mi8. To judge the Xiaomi Mi8 on one design aspect now would hardly be fair.
With 7.7mm the Xiaomi Mi8 is very thin and also the other dimensions are convincing with 155 x 75mm for a 6.2-inch display. With 176g the weight is pleasant and conveys a certain value. The bezels are 2.5mm at the sides, below the the display 7.5mm. The 38 x 8.5mm for the notch are simply ridiculous compared to the Oneplus with 20 x 8mm.
Xiaomi chooses premium matirials as usual. With glass on the rear and a lacquered metal frame, the Mi8 looks magnificent in your hand. All transitions are neatly rounded and even the round display corners fit perfectly into the picture. The curved glass on the rear looks great as ever. It merges perfectly into the metal frame. The dual camera module protrudes 1mm and was placed in Iphone-style. The fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone, which unlocks the phone at lightning speed and with extreme precision, is also a surprise. Xiaomi has also learned something with Face-Unlock, as unlocking with the infrared sensor is lightning-fast (just as fast as with the record holder Oneplus 5T) and even protects my phone from my brother with similar facial features. USB-Type-C connector, loudspeaker and microphone can be found at the bottom, at the top there is also a second, noise-cancelling microphone. On the right you find the power button and the volume control perfectly integrated. On the left you can insert 2 Nano-SIM cards and of course no Micro-SD.
Overall, the Mi8 is very reminiscent of the Mi6; the glass-metal feeling is identical, but the Mi8 has grown a lot bigger, though not totally unwieldy and huge. You shouldn’t be deterred by 10mm in length and 4mm in width, because that’s the difference between a Mi6 and Mi8. There is 1 inch (2.54cm) more display. A notification LED has also been thought of, the jack connection is left out confidently. An adapter for 3.5mm jack is included, as well as a useful silicone protective cover.
If you have been waiting for the big Mi6, you will definitely find it here. The Mi8 is almost congruent with a Mi Note 3 (5.5-inch smartphone). So you don’t have to fear the size, but you should be able to cope with the Apple-heavy design. The same goes for the lame waste of space in the oversized notch, which means that the additional space next to it is so small that it can hardly be used. I would personally rather use Mix 2S because of the notch, but for AMOLED fanboys this is no option either. All in all, what remains is a sufficiently handy, very well built and beautiful China mobile phone, which is often called Iphone X when lying on the table.
The Xiaomi Mi8 offers a 6.21-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2248 x 1080 pixels. This brings the device to a razor-sharp 402 pixels per inch despite its size. All those who were looking forward to the crisp unnatural AMOLED colors, I have to disappoint at this point. The color rendering is a bit stronger and subjectively more beautiful than that of Mix 2S, but no comparison to the AMOLED panel of the Oneplus 6 or Samsung Galaxy S9. The viewing angle stability is significantly better than with the OnePlus device, as the colours show fewer changes with oblique viewing angles. But the contrast is not as high as you would expect from an AMOLED. If the areas next to the notch are black, you still don’t think it’s just a black strip.
This is much better with the Oneplus device. In terms of brightness, however, the Mi8 surpasses the Mix 2S, the readability outdoors is fantastic.
The 10-point touch display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glas 5 and the scratch test on the front and rear side was passed without further incidents. Smart-Wake features like “double-tap” to wake up the display are a welcome feature in combination with the rapid face unlock. When operating the smartphone you have the choice between full-screen gestures or on-screen keys. Many will be happy about the AMOLED display, but the Mi8 has somehow not become as colorful and as black as most AMOLED displays. Nevertheless, the display is very successful and can convince in the test.
System and performance
MIUI 10 on Android 8.1 base would be nice to read here, but the beta phase is not finished yet and so the Xiaomi Mi8 currently still has MIUI 9.5 on Android 8.1 base. That doesn’t hurt the whole thing, because MIUI 9 is already “lightning fast”. This is especially true for the Mi8 with a Snapdragon 845 paired with 6GB RAM. In the Antutu benchmark, the smartphone outperforms all Android and Iphone competitors (except the in-house gaming smartphone Blackshark), albeit only very narrowly. The Snapdragon 845 integrates 4 Kryo 385 cores (Cortex-A75) with up to 2.8 GHz in the power cluster and 4 Kryo 385 cores with 1.8 GHz in the power saving cluster. The 10 nanometer process makes the processor both powerful and energy-efficient. No matter which demanding 3D game you start on the Mi8, everything runs very smoothly and there are no lags. The same applies to the Blackshark, the Mix 2S, the OP6 or actually any other SD845 mobile phone we had in the test. PubG on high-settings is also no problem for the Mi8 and the device keeps a good top temperature (38° at the warmest point) even after one hour of gaming.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result 3D Mark Result
The 6GB RAM in the Mi8 is sufficient even for the most demanding multitasker, although MIUI is sometimes quite aggressive against background processes. Even if apps are completely reloaded, you can hardly notice the difference due to the enormous working speed of the smartphone. The RAM achieves transfer rates of 13.5GB /s, only the OP6 achieves slightly higher rates. The internal memory is a state-of-the-art UFS memory chip and the reading/writing rates of 710/230 MB/s speak for themselves. If you want to call one of the fastest smartphones on the market your own, the Xiaomi MI8 is absolutely the right smartphone for you.
The MIUI system on the Mi8 is currently only available in Chinese and English. Of course, this will change as soon as the global ROM appears. The Google Playstore is then also included. If you already own a Mi8, you can set up the China ROM with Playstore, or use the Xiaomi.EU ROM. For this, however, an UNLOCK must first be performed. Since the MIUI system itself is described in detail in every Xiaomi smartphone review, I refer to the Redmi Note 5 test. There you’ll find an extra article on MIUI 10.
Little new awaits us with the main camera. We already know the dual camera setup from the Mi Mix 2S and the differences in practice are hardly present. The Sony IMX363 12 megapixel sensor with an F/1.8 aperture is optically stabilized and supported by a second 12 megapixel Samsung S5K3M3 sensor with f/2.4 aperture. The Samsung sensor is a telephoto lens with double zoom. A dual pixel autofocus ensures perfect focus for photo and video recordings. So shots are in focus within a short moment and even in videos Xiaomi has finally solved the problem with the unsteady focus.
While the AI function of the camera did not interest me during our early Mix 2S test, the AI can now slowly contribute something. Food, buildings, landscapes and green parks are reliably recognized and the image is not only beautifully adjusted in contrast: It is especially interesting that the Mix 2S and Mi8 with apparently the same AI decide on different photo settings for the same scene. With the AI it remains a game of chance. Occasionally a certain thing is recognized, like e.g. water and the whole picture is then designed according to it. The water is only in the foreground even if it’s actually about a ship behind it.
The double-zoom shots of the second camera are still worse than the pictures of the main camera, but definitely a cool addition. Sharp and colourfast, with slight problems as soon as the light conditions are not perfect. The second function of the Samsung sensor is to provide Bokeh images. In most cases this works right away and the photos look great. Xiaomi’s background detection and blur effect is one of the best ones on the market and you can see that with every Bokeh shot.
Sony’s main sensor ensures sharp, well-tuned photos. With good light conditions, the Xiaomi Mi8 can keep up with any flagship on the market, but this is not quite the case with video recordings. Also with night shots the Mi8 is clearly inferior to a Samsung Galaxy S9, nevertheless the shots are definitely usable.
The sound quality of video recordings is especially not good. The Mix 2S already had the same problem, which has not changed with the Mi8. Video recording is possible with a maximum of 4K at 30 FPS and is absolutely convincing in terms of colours and details, but the sharpness is somewhat limited by an exaggerated softness. The stabilization in the form of OIS and EIS also works excellently at 1080p, whereas the 4K images are significantly less stable. Also disappointing are the 30 FPS, which provide a veiled image when moving fast. OP6 is already delivering 60 FPS at 4K.
For the front camera Xiaomi now uses a 20 megapixel IMX350 sensor and this is definitely a better choice than the 5 megapixel sensor in the Mix 2S. The AI of the front camera is limited to beauty mode, which is hardly popular in the western world, but a must-have feature in Asia. However, there is also the possibility to take Bokeh portraits with the front camera and this is really an added value. The separation of foreground and background works very well here as well. 1080p images are now even stabilized with the front camera, but the sound is as bad as with the rear camera. Otherwise the selfie camera takes very nice, detailed, sharp and colourfast shots that can easily compete with the best out there.
The camera UI is currently still MIUI 9.5, here there will be an update for MIUI 10. In summary, the Xiaomi Mi8 is in the top league for photos and selfies. The dual-pixel autofocus and stabilization also make videos a significant step better. But the sound in videos, the blur and the low FPS are not up to date. If you like to record videos on your smartphone, you’ll find better alternatives. Also in terms of low-light photos, the Xiaomi MI8 is not on flagship level. But you have to keep the price of the Xiaomi MI8 in mind.
Connectivity and communication
In the Xiaomi Mi8 2 Nano-SIM cards can be inserted (Dual-SIM Dual-Stand-By), although only one of the cards can use mobile data. The sensitivity of the antenna provides good and stable reception. The speed of the mobile Internet is outstanding and VoLTE is also supported (with the Global ROM, the feature must first be activated). The call quality is on average and doesn’t excite me. You understand the caller pleasantly loudly and the voice is also clear, although not completely naturally passed on. The speakerphone is well usable by the additional microphone on the upper side.
GSM B2 / B3 / B5 / B8
CDMA 1X/EVDO BC0
WCDMA B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B8
TD-SCDMA B34 / B39
TD-LTE B34 / B38 / B39 / B40 / B41 (120MHz)
FDD-LTE B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B7 / B8 / B12 / B17 / B20
The Mi8’s speaker is now only mono, in comparison the Mix 2S has a stereo speaker with support for the auricle. The quality is on average for a flagship and roughly on the level of an OP6. The sound makes a balanced impression with light bass tones. A Samsung S9 or Mix 2S produce clearer sound. The included USB-Type-C to jack adapter provides crystal clear and loud sound. With Bluetooth 5.0, aptx/aptx-HD support is available and the connection to the headphones was stable over 8m in the test.
The Xiaomi device is also well equipped in terms of the rest of the reception. WIFI (2×2 MIMO) is stable with ac-Standard in 2.4 and 5GHz networks. The range and data throughput are also outstanding. The GPS is the first of the so-called dual-band GPS. In the test the device convinces with a very strong signal, even indoors. In addition to GLONASS satellites, also Galileo is now used for positioning. The navigation in the car went absolutely smoothly and as a pedestrian the compass helps immensely.
In addition to the standard sensors (acceleration, brightness and proximity), the Xiaomi Mi8 has a gyroscope, compass, echo sensor and barometer. FM-Radio fans unfortunately don’t get their money’s worth, which probably comes along with the missing jack connection. NFC and OTG are also supported.
Unlocking with the fingerprint scanner is easy and offers better security than with the Face-Unlock. The tested normal Mi8 has only an infrared 2D face recognition. The more secure 3D face recognition is only available with the Explorer Edition, as is the fingerprint scanner in the display. The Face-Unlock is extremely fast and cannot be tricked by a simple picture. In addition, the unlock still works well in the dark.
The Xiaomi MI8 provides a 3400 mAh battery and is well positioned thanks to the economical AMOLED panel. The most modern charging technology Quick Charge 4 is used in theory, but there is no corresponding charging adapter. We had the same problem with the Nubia Z17, where the chip manufacturer Qualcomm is simply too far ahead of the rest of the industry. Apart from QC4, the Xiaomi Mi 8 can be charged from 0 to 100% in just 1.5 hours with a Quick-Charge 3 adapter. If you want to recharge quickly (10-90%), you get 20% battery power in only 15 minutes.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
In the PCmark battery test the Xiaomi Mi8 lasted 7.5 hours. This is less than an OP6 or Mi Mix 2S. In practice, however, even with demanding use, there were no problems getting through the day. 6-7 hours DOT (time with display switched on) are possible for gaming and YouTube use. So Youtube consumes only 10% of battery in 1.5 hours. Thus, the battery life is good, but Xiaomi could still improve here.
Xiaomi Mi8 compared to Mix 2S
I tried to use the Mix 2S alternately with the Mi8 during the test phase. At the end of the day everyone has to decide for themselves which features are important to them personally and whether Xiaomi should be penalized for the notch by not buying the Mi8.
In direct comparison with the Mix 2S, the following points are relevant:
- Stereo speakers in Mix 2S vs. Mono in Mi8
- Better front camera with Mi8
- Better display with Mi8, but with notch
- Nicer design (display, golden elements on the rear) with Mix 2S
- More beautiful materials with ceramic rear with Mix 2S
- Performance, main camera, battery life almost identical
- Better face unlock on the Mi8
- Wireless Charging with Mix 2S
Conclusion and alternative
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*Prices include shipping and toll. Intermediate changes of prices, ranking, delivery time and costs possible. Prices last updated on 15.12.2018