Unveiled in China a few weeks ago, the Mi Mix remains the most remarkable smartphone of the beginning of the year. Mainly because it displays a very large 6.4 inch screen, presented as “borderless” by its designer Xiaomi. ChinaDroid loaned us this smartphone for a review to see what it really was worth.
Let’s set the record straight, this statement isn’t entirely correct. The edges are not inexistent: they measure on three sides one to two millimeters thick … which remains a great performance!
The manufacturer also announces a display surface that would occupy more than 90% of the front face. According to the GSM Arena site which had fun doing the calculation, we would be closer to 85%! This remains an unprecedented feature, especially compared to the 68% of the iPhone 7 Plus – barely smaller than the Mi MIX but whose diagonal does not exceed 5.5 inches.
But where is the speaker hiding?
What is really remarkable about this phone is the virtual elimination of the upper band, which generally includes the speaker, the secondary photo sensor for selfies but also often an ambient light sensor to adjust the brightness of the screen.
To keep these elements, Xiaomi moved the last two to the lower part of the front of the device, which retains a fairly standard thickness. The speaker, on the other hand, is simply hidden behind the screen. Funny detail: when you call, the sound is distributed over the entire surface. You can place your ear almost anywhere on the front panel and continue chatting with your correspondent.
Very large for small hands
The 6.4-inch screen turns out to be of good quality. The first surprising feature is that it adopts a slightly better defined format than conventional Full HD (1,080 x 1,920) by displaying 1,080 x 2,040 pixels for a very satisfactory resolution of 361 dots per inch. No OLED technology here, Xiaomi uses an IPS panel that displays good performance, with a contrast ratio of 1,437: 1 and a brightness of 575 cd / m². Nothing to envy the best models on the market!
The very square case is also a fine example of successful finishing and assembly. It is simply criticized for being a little too wide (8.19 cm). It will therefore not be suitable for all hands, especially the smallest. Its weight can also be a barrier to purchase (209 grams) as its volume which will not allow it to be easily accommodated in a pocket. Finally, the use of glass on the back of the device involves fingerprints … very quickly present on this model.
Very good management of the powerful Snapdragon 821
Beautiful, well finished and attractive, is the Mi MIX a high-performance smartphone? Even if the benchmarks place it significantly below the OnePlus 3T which uses the same SoC Snapdragon 821 (141,557 points against 165,143), this is not really felt in daily use. The Mi MIX is responsive and powerful. For video games, the Qualcomm Adreno 530 graphics chip works wonders. Moreover, in the review carried out with the 3D Epic Citadel application, the smartphone displays without firing a shot 59.7 images per second. The performance of the Snapdragon 821 does not weaken over time, while the heat is barely felt on the surface of the phone.
Trying it out on resource-hungry 3D games like Asphalt Xtreme, you can only appreciate the huge 6.4-inch screen. A downside, however: held horizontally, the Mi MIX does not offer a real grip on the edgeless side (corresponds to the upper part of the smartphone). We are therefore often afraid to press the slab involuntarily and thus interrupt the game. This exceptional design obviously does not only have advantages.
This large screen is also very useful in video playback. We regret, however, that the menu sidebar remains constantly displayed on a white background. Impossible to hide it or change its color to black, which would at least have reduced its visibility and allow us to immerse ourselves a little more in the image.
The misstep in the photo
In terms of autonomy, Xiaomi has equipped its smartphone with a powerful 4,400 mAh battery. It did not take less to power this large 6.4-inch screen and the greedy – because powerful – Snapdragon 821. Nothing to say in communications where the Mi MIX held more than 28 hours without flinching. Video playback also shows a good performance of 3:15 p.m. In versatile use, representative of everyday use, the smartphone held 9 h 31. For comparison, the Huawei Mate 9 – with a screen of 5.9 inches and a 4,000 mAh battery – better: 10:20 a.m.
Finally the only real disappointment comes from the photo quality. This is what generally distinguishes a good smartphone from an excellent one. With the Mi MIX we will unfortunately stop at the first qualifier. The smartphone does well in broad daylight, but does not reach the level of the best. It is, however, a total disaster in low light with a result worthy of an entry-level model. The photos are very dark and the details non-existent. Note also the difficulty of the autofocus to take stock. This is even more annoying in video where the development is done in spurts, thus generating an unsightly pump effect.
The verdict of the review
Xiaomi Mi Mix
No doubt, the Mi MIX is not just an announcement effect. In addition to its ultra-thin edges which distinguishes it from its competitors in terms of design, it has a beautiful screen, has an ultra-powerful processor while delivering quite satisfactory autonomy. Only downside, its photo sensor and autofocus really below what is expected from a phone at this price level.