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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review: Beautiful design at an affordable price

The Chinese firm's mid-range smartphone excels despite a lacklustre camera

Xiaomi's Mi Mix 2 is a beautifully designed mid-range smartphone. Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg
Xiaomi's Mi Mix 2 is a beautifully designed mid-range smartphone. Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg

Xiaomi may be an unfamiliar name for many would-be smartphone buyers. Chances are though that it’s only a matter of time before the Chinese manufacturer, the most popular smartphone brand in India in the last quarter according to Counterpoint Market Research, is regularly referenced alongside the likes of Huawei, Oppo, Samsung and Apple as a force to be reckoned with.

With devices as accomplished as the new Mi Mix 2, it’s not difficult to understand why.

For the moment, the Mi Mix 2, launched in the UAE in December at a price of around Dh1,850, will take a little seeking out. It’s currently only available in Xiaomi branded stores in Deira and Burjuman, as well as online outlets like Souq and Awok.

Is it worth seeking out? Absolutely. The Mi Mix 2 stands out in the ultra-competitive mid-price bracket, thanks to great design and a brilliant display, with some impressive power under the hood to boot.

Xiaomi brought in French designer Philippe Starck to oversee the Mi Mix 2’s form factor, with results that don’t disappoint. The phone employs a highly unusual ceramic back, that feels very smooth and sophisticated to the touch, reminiscent of the Nokia 8. As with the Nokia though, it gives it a slightly slippy feel, so be careful not to drop it. Black and white are your only colour options, so rose gold fans will need to look elsewhere.

The Mi Mix 2 has dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack of its predecessor; while most of us have made our peace with such a move, it’s a pity not to have the option anymore.

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The original Mi Mix was among the first smartphones on the market to drop the bezel, opening up the possibility of a near full-screen display - subsequently exploited by the likes of Samsung, LG and Apple. The Mi Mix 2’s 5.99 inch display is a touch smaller than its predecessor, but has a screen to body ratio of 80 per cent that’s very impressive to look at.

The IFS FHD display, while inevitably lacking the wow factor of the Oled displays of the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the iPhone X, offers a very impressive viewing experience for a handset at this price point.

Also impressive for a mid-range smartphone is the Mi Mix 2’s everyday performance; its Snapdragon 835 chip, combined with an impressive 6GB of RAM, keep apps running very smoothly. Its 3,400 mAh battery is smaller than that of the original Mi Mix, but a tad bigger than mid-range rivals like the OnePlus 5T and the Nokia 8. It’ll comfortably last a day of regular use on a single charge.

The Mi Mix 2’s achilles heel is its camera system, which offers average performance on an otherwise very good phone. The 12MP rear camera, while doing a decent enough job in good lighting conditions, struggles when it gets a little darker. The front-facing 5MP camera - far weedier than the selfie snappers on the Nokia 8 and OnePlus 5T - is placed at the bottom of phone rather than the top, making things pretty awkward.

If you can forgive the underpowered camera, though, the Mi Mix 2 is a brilliant option for those who want a decent smartphone on a budget. With phones as good as this, Xiaomi’s burgeoning reputation is only set to grow further.

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