In 2018, Chinese manufacturers will be talked about. With their niche products known by technophiles for a few short years, Xiaomi like OnePlus are establishing themselves a little more in Europe this year with two beautiful powerful smartphones and with attractive price / quality ratio. The Mi Mix 2S is therefore eagerly awaited and promises a lot. Let’s see if it lives up to what its technical sheet announces.
The review was carried out using a model loaned by Xiaomi.
A jewel that looks (almost) like no other
Xiaomi or “The Chinese Apple”. Here is a label that sticks to his skin. Between look-alike devices and sometimes inspired names – not to say borrowed – from the Tim Cook firm, the very popular brand in China still manages to stand out with its smartphones.
In this case, the first Mi Mix of the name had caused a sensation by becoming the very first edge-to-edge smartphone. The Mi Mix 2S takes up this feat of design, but offers a much more pleasant formula in hand: thinner, narrower and, even if the device still does not reach featherweights, lighter than its previous models.
All ceramic, this smartphone embodies elegance. For those who shun the notch trend, they will be delighted to learn that Xiaomi maintains its idea of flipping the front sensor down, to give the illusion of an ever larger screen. The latter occupies a little less than 82% of the front face, which is already not bad.
So yes indeed, once returned, difficult not to see the reference to the iPhone X. The dual photo sensor and its flash are also found there positioned at the top left, vertically. No facial recognition, however, the Mi Mix 2S has a fairly fast fingerprint reader placed on its back. Volume and unlock buttons on the right, SIM card drawer on the left, speakers, microphone and USB Type-C port at the bottom and … that’s it. No plug jack. Fortunately, the manufacturer provides an adapter in the box.
A halftone screen
Back on the front and a finding, no, Xiaomi has not, like others, passed the course of the Oled. For the Mi Mix 2S, it is an IPS LCD panel with a diagonal of 5.9 inches and a ratio of 18: 9. It opts for a Full HD + definition (2160 x 1080 pixels), which offers a certain comfort.
The screen is not without its faults, far from it. The colors are far too cold and lack luster, although the contrast ratio is relatively high. The maximum brightness does not reach peaks with only 396 cd / m2. To say that the Mi Mix 2S has a bad screen would be an exaggeration, but it is so much put forward that our expectations were high. So there is disappointment in the air.
Fortunately, Xiaomi has provided a lot of welcome small screen features in its MIUI software overlay (version 9.5). If the default colorimetry is not a fidelity model (with a Delta E of 4.3), the “Hot” profile makes it possible to correct the situation. In addition, there is the possibility of increasing the contrast and choosing the “Automatic contrast” option, to optimize it according to the light. It’s surprising at first, but it turns out to be extremely practical and responsive, correcting the lack of screen brightness.
Where are you, Android?
On the Mi Mix 2S, the MIUI interface therefore corrects some faults. Note that it is superimposed on Android Oreo 8.0 and not on the lareview version of Google’s OS (Oreo 8.1). For the more adventurous, it will be possible to get rid of it and activate the beta of Android P.
But Xiaomi’s home interface does not stop to correct the slippage of the panel. Thus, with large screens, and even more so when you have small hands, reaching the notification bar may require additional effort. Here, no need to pick it up very high since a swipe of your finger at the bottom of the screen makes it appear!
You can also choose whether you prefer navigation by buttons or gestures, display your battery status in percentage or in the form of a linear bar, reduce the screen size, select the type of headphones used, double tap to wake up the screen …
In short, Xiaomi offers a lot of personalization elements. This will appeal to people looking for a smartphone that best suits their uses, much less to those who prefer an Android experience.
It’s hard to believe it’s an Android smartphone at first glance. And even if Google Services is preinstalled, you have to install Google Assistant yourself, for example. It is obvious that MIUI has improved since its first versions to make its use more pleasant. However, some fluidity problems have appeared, to the point that some applications can sometimes close on their own.
Power … unstable?
This year, Xiaomi joins the list of the best performing Android smartphones. With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and 6 GB of RAM, the Mi Mix 2S has what it takes to compete with the biggest. At least on paper. The results of our bench are problematic because totally erratic. We repeated our reviews, the results oscillate between those of a fairly good Snapdragon 845 – although still below the OnePlus 6 – and results closer to an average S835 …
But does it feel in use? To put it to the review, we have to play particularly greedy games: Asphalt Xtrem and PUBG. The overall experience was not bad, but we did catch some slowdowns.
It seems that Xiaomi has failed to fully optimize the full potential of the Snapdragon 845 with its MIUI overlay. We still hope that an update will quickly correct the situation.
While waiting to give an unrestricted go to performance, let’s turn to autonomy. The battery has a capacity of 3400 mAh, which allows the Mi Mix 2S to have a good day with normal use (social networks, photo, video and game). But not more.
Our autonomy reviews show that it loses autonomy quickly during telecommunications, more than with the classic Mi Mix 2. It’s quite disappointing, but it makes up for in loading time. Compatible with wireless charging and fast charging, it is able to recover three quarters of its battery in just one hour. And that’s pretty good news.
A quality camera
The Mi Mix 2 is equipped with a double camera module with a main sensor of 12 Mpix, a lens opening at f / 1.8 and a secondary sensor of 12 Mpix but also with a diaphragm opening at f / 2.4 . To switch from one to the other, nothing more simple, just tap once on the screen to take advantage of the second sensor and its x2 optical zoom.
The result is not unpleasant. The colors respect reality unlike other manufacturers (Huawei in particular) who push the contrast thoroughly and make the colors a little too bright. This technique flatters the retina, of course, but does not make it possible to transcribe a natural look. The Mi Mix 2S will appeal to those who are looking for true-to-life photos. However, the pictures lack sharpness. The details tend to blend in with the decor.
The second sensor is satisfactory for the zoom. The loss of detail is not significant, the natural colors are preserved. Xiaomi offers a second sensor that is successful and useful, especially since it is also used for portrait mode.
In addition to this mode, the camera can simulate depth of field on its own using the second sensor. The bokeh effect is very often successful. That’s enough to succeed in his photos in macro photo. In addition, Xiaomi is embarking on artificial intelligence, an option that can be triggered directly when taking a photo. We will not question the fact that she is able to understand the subject well, but, difficult to see a real change. HDR mode can also be activated to better manage the light, in direct sunlight for example.
Portrait mode is finicky. It allows to capture without delimiting in a superficial way the person photographed. The depth effect is successful and highlights the subject. But, against the light or with too much light, even natural light, aberrations of colors appear. The conditions really need to be optimal: a lighted scene, but not too much either.
In low light, things get tough. Light management becomes chaotic, noise sets in and sharpness takes a hit. Often, the interior scenes are tinged with a yellowish color, a little as if we had applied a filter to them.
As mentioned above, the Mi Mix has the specificity of placing its front photo sensor on the right, on the lower edge of the screen. To take a self-portrait, no problem, just turn the camera over to see the whole interface flip. A small gesture to learn, which requires time to adapt. But the real problem comes from the fact that the applications are not optimized for this pirouette. It works with WhatsApp, Google Allo, Twitter but not with Snapchat, Facebook Messenger or Instagram… In short, with apps that are more prone to selfie and which unfortunately do not provide for screen rotation. It’s a shame, not very ergonomic and gives rise to a few hiccups, like a finger in front of the sensor … Otherwise, in terms of the quality of this 5 megapixel front camera, without making a sparkle, the result is correct. You will also find a pretty detailed embellishment mode.
In terms of video, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S offers filming in HD, Full HD and Ultra HD. With Full HD definition, it succeeds in obtaining a satisfactory result. Natural colors, a good contrast ratio, an honorable level of details, very little visual distortion… Taking videos with your Mi Mix 2S is pleasant. Be careful though, a video captured in Ultra HD mode may crash.