Some telephones change the world, or on the very least, they modify your perspective on what a telephone ought to be. Others, change to suit a mould. The type of gadget that’s designed to maximise what is understood to promote, and promote as many as potential. With Xiaomi’s Mi MIX line of smartphones, they’ve given each of those approaches a attempt.
First, there was the well-known, jaw-dropping Xiaomi Mi MIX, which just about defied conference with its unorthodox strategy to display bezels. Then, there was the “made-for-the-masses” Mi MIX 2 (and MIX 2S) which reined in a few of the unique MIX’s craziness to assist it’s a extra smart smartphone. And, though I feel they’re polar opposites, I’ve come to see that they’re truly each side of the identical coin.
There are sometimes two faculties of thought in relation to innovation: Innovating with buyer suggestions, and innovating with out. And, wanting again, it was very clear which MIX fell the place. Which is why I used to be greater than a bit involved once I heard that there can be a Mi MIX 3 — as a result of I didn’t know which aspect it might take. Personally, I’m somebody who likes to be amazed — particularly in relation to the high-end. I like it when producers push boundaries and introduce dangerous new concepts or ideas that I in all probability wouldn’t even have considered.
If I had requested individuals what they needed, they might have stated quicker horses.
Not Henry Ford, apparently
That’s a part of why I beloved, and doubtless all the time will love, the unique Mi MIX. And in addition why I by no means actually loved my time with the MIX 2 (and 2S). I didn’t assume that they wanted a telephone just like the Mi MIX 2 as a result of they already had the smart, moneymaker smartphone within the Mi 6. It virtually felt like that they had deserted the preliminary concept of experimentation in favour of churning out yet one more moneymaker, and that was very disappointing.
Once I lastly received my preliminary arms on with the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3, I used to be so glad to seek out that they introduced again a few of that magic — a few of that pizzazz — that made the primary MIX so particular. That stated, I additionally get that whereas I might wax poetic about how “special” a smartphone is, not everyone seems to be prepared to purchase a “special” telephone if it additionally isn’t one thing you should use every single day. That there are individuals who choose the opposite aspect of the coin. I assume that is what maturity seems like.
However sufficient about me. I do know that you simply’re all right here to seek out out if the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 falls on the aspect of coin you favor. And when you ask me, I feel it’s received sufficient of each to please each side.
A 2018 powerhouse
Let’s begin by getting the primary huge concern out of the best way: Its processor. Xiaomi’s Mi MIX 3 is a flagship smartphone by just about all definitions. Nevertheless, since this telephone launched again in October of 2018, its internals aren’t fairly as 2019 as a few of you may like. There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor at its coronary heart and, in Malaysia, you’ll be able to pair that with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of inner storage. Personally, I’m not even barely bothered by the truth that it has Qualcomm’s 2018 flagship cellular processor, as a result of the efficiency on Xiaomi’s Mi MIX 3 is nothing in need of stellar. Coupled with the well-optimised MIUI 10 Android pores and skin (constructed on prime of Android Pie) every little thing was buttery and clean. I didn’t encounter any efficiency points or bugs throughout my week and a half with the smartphone, which is mighty refreshing in comparison with the earlier units I’ve been utilizing.
I’m personally not an enormous fan of MIUI, however I’ve all the time acknowledged that it’s a significantly well-optimised pores and skin and top-of-the-line ones to return out of China. I do nonetheless discover it disappointing that there’s no app drawer, and I don’t have the power so as to add greater than 4 apps in a row on my house display, however I feel these are comparatively minor issues. MIUI 10 added a a lot cleaner look with loads of handy touches within the notifications shade that I feel anybody can be proud of.
The truth is, Xiaomi’s executed one thing I wanted Samsung would have the braveness to do on their very own flagship smartphones. On the Mi MIX 3, there’s a devoted button whose main objective is to launch your AI assistant of selection — very similar to Samsung’s devoted Bixby button. Nevertheless, on the Mi MIX 3, it’s a lot greater than that. You may also customise that button to do an entire bunch of issues — like launch the digital camera, activate the flashlight and extra — with both an extended press or a double faucet. This flexibility for customisation is among the issues that drew me to Android within the first place, and to see MIUI deal with this facet so nicely is definitely excellent news for the event of this OS pores and skin.
However, whereas efficiency and software program are undoubtedly execs in my e-book, my favorite half concerning the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 is much more shallow.
A physique to die for
I’ll say this proper off the bat, I feel the Mi MIX 3 is a completely beautiful smartphone. It’s not flamboyant like a Mate 20 Professional or cheesy like the brand new Honor View 20. The Mi MIX 3 is simply all clear strains, nice materials decisions and what looks like beautiful engineering. Think about this: The Mi MIX 3 is a smartphone with a show that slides down (I’ll get into this slightly later), but you’ll be able to hardly really feel the seam, or the purpose the place the display lifts off the remainder of the physique. It’s phenomenal.
Then, there’s the heft. There’s a high quality line between a telephone that’s too heavy and a telephone that’s simply heavy sufficient to really feel costly. Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone completely nails it in relation to this stability. Ceramic additionally provides this smartphone a type of look that’s actually onerous to duplicate with glass. However being fairly isn’t all this materials does for the telephone — it’s additionally surprisingly sturdy. I like utilizing my smartphones with no case as a result of it’s a great way for me to discern how nicely a telephone’s physique will maintain up over time.
Sometimes, on the finish of my evaluation, the glass-backed smartphones I’m so used to dealing with can be coated in micro scratches and even a few deep grooves, if I’m not cautious. However not the Mi MIX 3. That ceramic again continues to be as flawless because it was on day one and I’m simply so impressed.
I’m additionally glad that Xiaomi determined to go together with a shiny aluminium band this time, as an alternative of an anodised one like they did on the MIX 2. Sure, it’s not absolutely ceramic like the unique MIX, however it positive as heck looks like it’s. For a telephone to really feel costly, I’ve all the time believed that it wanted to really feel as sturdy because it did fragile. Which will sound complicated at first, however I feel you’ll perceive what I imply if you decide it up. Xiaomi’s discovered an awesome stability right here that I feel is just second to the Nokia eight Sirocco — and that’s actually excessive reward.
Regardless of the superb construct high quality, there’s one chink within the handset’s in any other case flawless armour of well-built goodness. However, this specific vulnerability additionally occurs to be the handset’s showstopper.
Clicking into place
By now, you’d in all probability already know that the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 is one in every of however a handful of modern-day smartphones to function a magnetic sliding mechanism. I’m going into why this was wanted within the first place in my hands-on publish, however the gist of it’s that that is Xiaomi’s answer to what I wish to name the digital camera conundrum. Within the quest to get rid of all bezels from the entrance of the gadget, producers have needed to provide you with artistic options to deal with all the weather you’d often discover on the entrance of a tool.
The preferred technique we’ve seen is the notorious notch. However Xiaomi’s Mi MIX has by no means had a notch, with each the MIX and MIX 2 opting to cover their selfie digital camera on the backside within the handset’s chin. Then, they both crammed the earpiece right into a slit on the prime of the gadget, or opted for a piezoelectric speaker (vibrate the display to supply sound) plus ultrasonic proximity sensor.
Then, there’s the Mi MIX 3, which opted for an old-fashioned strategy to unravel a brand new world drawback — one thing that, on reflection, ought to have been so apparent: Make the show slide just like the slider telephones of previous.
Once you do this, you open up a world of prospects in relation to display bezel measurement. I imply, simply take a look at the show on the Mi MIX 3. It’s unreal how immersive the viewing expertise is. The 6.39-inch Full HD+ AMOLED panel is completely beautiful and has nice viewing angles for an AMOLED show.
Its sheer lack of bezels and borderline insane 93.four% display to physique ratio (zero.934:1) nonetheless seems to be so particular despite the fact that I’ve been watching it every day for over every week. Nevertheless, I’ll say that this telephone’s 19.5:9 facet ratio is likely one of the tallest I’ve used on a smartphone so the pillarboxing for 16:9 content material (which is a lot of the movies on the market) is actual. However, the upside is, the telephone’s footprint continues to be very manageable for a display this measurement.
Oh, and as a cherry on prime of the proverbial cake, Xiaomi’s sliding entrance panel isn’t simply there when you’ll want to entry the selfie cameras. The truth is, the corporate lets you customise what the slider does, so you possibly can set it to launch particular apps or instruments, or you’ll be able to simply depart it on default which routinely launches the selfie digital camera. However, my favorite factor is you could now reply telephone calls with a slide down (although, you possibly can’t hold up with a slide up).
Naturally, having a shifting half on a smartphone is a dangerous transfer. If our handsets already go incorrect for all types of causes once they have virtually zero shifting elements, one might solely think about the plethora of points a sliding show would trigger.
Properly, in line with Xiaomi, the magnetic sliding mechanism on the Mi MIX 3 is meant to be very sturdy. They price it for about 300,000 slides, which works out to roughly 150 slides a day for a bit underneath 5 and a half years — very spectacular. And, on that notice, I feel they’ve additionally executed a unbelievable job with the texture and high quality of the sliding mechanism. It clicks actually satisfyingly into place whenever you pull down or push up the entrance panel, and it doesn’t by chance transfer if you’re scrolling by means of net pages. It’s buttery and safe and better of all, when the slider is closed, it doesn’t really feel prefer it impacts the Mi MIX 3’s structural rigidity in any respect.
Nevertheless, regardless that the hole between the show and the remainder of the chassis is one thing you possibly can’t actually really feel in your hand, there’s nonetheless a niche there. And when there’s a niche, it turns into weak to issues getting caught in it.
Mud, for one, sticks to the crevices between the show, and within the earpiece and digital camera part on the prime of the telephone. However, actual issues come up when one thing just a little bigger — and more durable — will get caught between the items. Throughout my evaluate interval, I spent a whole day with one thing small, sharp and exhausting, caught between the 2 panels. When that occurred, each time I slid the show down, I used to be greeted with a painful scratching sound as an alternative of a satisfying click on. That stated, the grain of sand or no matter it was that was caught between the cracks was gone the subsequent day, and I didn’t see any seen injury to the chassis of the Mi MIX 3.
However, one thing like this additionally made me realise a number of the widespread flagship options must give as much as personal a smartphone like this.
The mistaken aspect of the practical coin
Clearly, with 100% extra shifting elements than your typical flagship smartphone, you’re not getting any IP67/IP68 water resistance with the Mi MIX 3. In reality, I wouldn’t even need to get caught within the rain with this smartphone as a result of I’m so afraid any quantity of water will simply kill it. Whereas I often place water-resistance fairly excessive up my listing of wants for a flagship smartphone, I lately switched to the Mi MIX 3 from a mid-ranger that didn’t have water resistance both, so it wasn’t such a jarring change for me. However, your mileage might range.
What was notably disappointing for me, nevertheless, was the truth that the Mi MIX 3’s audio system are downright atrocious. They’re dangerous even by mono speaker setups, however I assume in a telephone like this, Xiaomi didn’t actually have area to place nice huge drivers or echo chambers to enhance speaker high quality. To make issues worse, this telephone additionally doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, however y’know this isn’t one thing tremendous unusual on the excessive finish anymore so I’m sort of numb to it now.
Lastly, although, we have now the most important sacrifice Xiaomi needed to make: Battery. Within the Mi MIX 3, you’ll discover a borderline tiny 3,200 mAh battery. With flagships pushing previous the four,000 mAh mark, that tiny battery was probably the most disappointing factor concerning the Mi MIX 3 once I first noticed the spec-sheet. However, the little cell that would truly posted higher numbers than I anticipated.
With average utilization (plenty of Netflix, YouTube and social media with a touch of digital camera) the system truly lasted me over 18 hours on a single cost with about 5 hours of screen-on time. That’s what I contemplate “average” battery life for a smartphone in 2019, so props there. That stated, might you think about how rather more time I’d get out of this telephone if it had area for a bigger four,000 mAh cell? Nonetheless, because it isn’t posting terrible numbers, I suppose I shouldn’t give it such a tough time for it.
The excellent news is, Xiaomi did have sufficient area for a pair extra goodies that I feel actually spherical out the system.
Rounding out the expertise
Probably the most essential features of a flagship smartphone, is its digital camera. In contrast to the mid-range, telephones on the excessive finish have to carry out since you’re typically paying much more cash for them. However on the Mi MIX 3, I’d say that this digital camera is decidedly OK. Sure, I do know that DxOMark says it’s nearly as good because the Samsung Galaxy Note9 in terms of images, however I actually wouldn’t go that far.
- Mi MIX 3, AI Scene, HDR
- Galaxy Note9, Scene Optimiser, HDR
In truth, to see if I used to be alone on this, I took a fast side-by-side shot if a typical daylight scene with each the Mi MIX 3 and the Galaxy Note9. Then, I had my colleagues decide between the 2 and a majority of them selected the Galaxy Note9. In fact, choosing a prettier picture is a deeply subjective factor, however there are goal methods to guage a handset too.
Xiaomi’s Mi MIX 3 takes pictures that always retain an excellent quantity of element, however the highlights do get clipped now and again. There’s additionally an AI mode, however that’s much more delicate than what you’d discover on different competing Chinese language smartphones.
- Night time Mode off
- Night time Mode on
Apart from that, Xiaomi additionally added a “Night Mode” that appears to work just like the Google Pixel’s Night time Sight and the Mate 20 Professional’s Night time Mode, nevertheless it doesn’t come near producing the sort of high quality pictures the opposite two can.
- Night time Mode off
- Night time Mode on
- Night time Mode off
- Night time Mode on
- Night time Mode off
- Night time Mode on
And fairly frankly, I used to be left deeply unimpressed with the selfie digital camera as nicely.
I’d fee this digital camera at a B+ because of its snappy capturing and OK photographs, however I don’t personally assume it will probably compete on the prime finish of the market.
What I did love concerning the Mi MIX 3 that I haven’t touched on already is the truth that Xiaomi didn’t pressure an in-display fingerprint scanner on the MIX 3. These scanners are typically a lot slower — and much more inaccurate — than its conventional counterparts, so I’ve by no means been a fan of them.
As an alternative, what you’re left with on the Mi MIX 3 is only a bloody good common rear-mounted one which I’d take any day over the present crop of in-display scanners. There’s face-unlock in the event you don’t need to attain round to scan your finger, and also you additionally get to slip the entrance panel right down to activate it, which is simply the good factor.
A bit of little bit of each goes a great distance
My largest grievance concerning the Mi MIX 2 was the way it felt like Xiaomi have been making an attempt to promote out. And once they started ditching the magic for practicality, all it did was expose the Mi MIX 2’s flaws when in comparison with the opposite flagship smartphones you can purchase. That stated, whereas I liked the unique Mi MIX, I by no means received the sense that this was a tool that was practical sufficient that everybody might use each day. That tore at me as a result of I didn’t need to be pressured to decide on one or the opposite. I needed each.
And in a approach, I discovered that with the Mi MIX 3.
Sure, it’s not fairly as practical as your typical high-end flagship smartphone and I don’t assume it could possibly actually compete toe-to-toe on each a type of flagship options. However, the great thing about the MIX 3 is that it doesn’t should as a result of it has one thing none of these flagships do. It has this actually particular function that’s equal elements cool and impractical, but in addition completely superior. It’s kind of in a league of its personal, in the identical means that the unique MIX was, and I actually love that about this handset.
Nevertheless, I feel the perfect half concerning the MIX 3 is its worth. Very similar to the MIX 2 it succeeds, the Mi MIX 3 will retail — at launch — for simply RM2,199. That’s a critically good worth for a flagship smartphone with these specs, a lot much less a flagship smartphone with a function as distinctive as that magnetic slider. And, whereas I don’t like that you need to pay RM100 extra for the Jade Inexperienced and Sapphire Blue variants as a result of they’re precisely the identical smartphone, it’s nonetheless a greater than affordable asking worth for a telephone like this.
Images by Rory Lee, with Sony A7 III.