As we’re nearing the end of 2017, the bezel-less smartphone trend is already taking over the world. Flagship devices from popular phone makers like Samsung, LG and Apple have all adopted a larger screen with minimal bezels. And if the big boys are now doing it, then there’s one Chinese giant that takes pride in starting this snowball effect. Yes, it is Xiaomi and the Mi Mix was one of the first proper bezel-less phones that launched in the market back in 2016.
Now, the Chinese giant is back with the next iteration of its concept device. The Mi Mix 2 simplifies Xiaomi’s bezel-less vision and builds atop the nagging flaws of the original Mix. The Mi Mix was a concept device and did not make its way outside China but Xiaomi has already launched the new Mi Mix 2 in India as well. So, it is only fair to compare the two devices to better understand how the Mi Mix 2 differs from the original. Let’s take a look:
One of the biggest differences between the two Mi Mix devices is the display, which is the first thing you notice when you pull the device out of the box. And I was mesmerized by the beauty of the Mi Mix 2, to say the least, while unboxing the same.
While both Mi Mix devices sport a Full HD+ IPS LCD display, Xiaomi has now replaced the monstrous 6.4-inch screen on the original Mix with a smaller 5.99-inch screen on the Mi Mix 2. This enables the Mi Mix 2 to boast of a higher pixel density of 403 ppi, providing a crisp viewing experience. The smaller screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio in comparison to the odd 17:9 aspect ratio of the original one.
During the time I spent with both these devices, I realized that Mi Mix was uncomfortably large and saw me using both hands to navigate the display. I’m not the biggest fan of the phablet smartphone category and Xiaomi diluted my fears by including the smaller display in a sleeker body design in the Mi Mix 2. Though we lost some screen-to-body ratio to this change, I’m contempt with the small screen for a more comfortable and sleek experience.
In addition to the display, the overall build quality of the Mi Mix 2 is a welcoming change that you’ll observe on this device. The original Mi Mix was a huge and chunky device, which felt like a chore for me to handle and carry around. But, the Mi Mix 2 is just fabulous.
The Mi Mix 2 leaves behind the block-ish design and adopts curves to make it easier to grip and navigate the device using a single hand. Instead of using the durable ceramic all around, the Mi Mix 2 now adds a metallic frame around the body to give the device more rigidity and me some peace of mind as the phone no longer slips through my hands. The smooth finishing of the ceramic, though premium to touch, required us to put a back cover (included in the box, thanks Xiaomi) on the Mi Mix to prevent it from being slippery.
On the front of the Mi Mix 2, you’ll notice that the top bezel has increased and it’s because the innovative yet finicky piezoelectric ceramic earpiece that was included in the concept device is now gone. The Chinese giant is now using a traditional earpiece with a brand-new guided design, which should solve all the audio problems I faced with the piezoelectric one. As Rupesh mentions in his video review of the Mi Mix 2, the earpiece on the first Mix caused him immense trouble on a day-to-day basis.
As for the bottom chin of the Mi Mix 2, it has been narrowed down due to improvements in the LCD’s chip technology and antenna+camera design. That’s not it, I have not accepted Xiaomi’s decision to improve the camera design and still include it at the bottom. We’ll talk about how I despise the unchanged position of the selfie camera underneath.
The altered design of the Mi Mix 2 has been made possible due to the smaller 18:9 screen, along with the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack and smaller 3,400mAh battery. While I understand why Xiaomi went ahead with the former decision, I’d still have loved to see the headphone jack on the device. We haven’t come far ahead to eliminate the 3.5mm jack of yet and carrying a dongle to listen to music is tiresome. The smaller battery should not be a debatable topic as Xiaomi had to build a slimmer device than the Mi Mix. And from the time I have spent with the Mi Mix 2, the battery life is good enough.
All this adds up to the fact that the Mi Mix 2 feels more premium in the hand and is more comfortable to use, thanks to the new narrower design as compared to its predecessor. It makes Mi Mix 2 suitable for daily use by the average consumer and I’m fairly confident that I am one of them.
Since the Mi Mix 2 is now the flagship device of Xiaomi’s smartphone lineup, it is packing internals to match the same. The top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 6GB or 8GB of RAM is the perfect recipe for a buttery smooth user experience in 2017. You can choose between different internal storage options in China, but the Indian variant of Mi Mix 2 comes with 128GB of storage on board.
Its predecessor, though a concept device, was also loaded with flagship specs to make it an attractive offering. It included the Snapdragon 821 chipset that can be coupled with two storage+RAM options – 128GB and 4GB or 256GB or 6GB. It integrated the Adreno 530 GPU, which has now upgraded it to Adreno 540 on the Mi Mix 2 to further improve graphics performance.
In my time spent with both the Mi Mix devices, I tried pushing them to the edge by opening several apps, continuously switching between them all, and playing heavy games. But both the devices, running the beta version of MIUI 9 were snappy and quick to respond. The older 821 chipset did not fall behind in performance when compared to the 835. This is also the right time to mention that fingerprint detection on the Mi Mix 2 is crazy fast. It is one of the quickest that I’ve seen on latest flagship smartphones.
It seems Xiaomi has further optimized MIUI for both speed and functionality, making it one of the most powerful custom Android ROMs available to users. I’ve been using MIUI for the past couple of years and even I was awestruck by the snappy operability. MIUI is definitely one of the better Android variants to currently exist in the market. In this ninth iteration of MIUI, Xiaomi has even included a Smart Assistant to help keep tabs on important matters and a Smart App launcher feature that scans your screen to suggest apps you may need to open. There are even a handful of experimental features under MIUI Labs but lack of an apt explanation made it difficult to adopt. It might be improved upon in the official MIUI 9 release.
Get ready for some major disappointment. The Mi Mix 2 doesn’t include a dual camera setup that is steadily becoming very common in high-end smartphones. Instead, it settles for a 12-megapixel IMX386 sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, which is a downgrade from the 16-megapixel sensor of the original Mi Mix on paper.
But, a hands-on with the two devices reassured me that Mi Mix 2’s camera produces much better pictures than the original one. This is because of two very important changes, which have proven to be a boon for the lower megapixel rear camera. One is the larger 1.25 µm pixel size (compared to the 1 µm pixel size of the Mi Mix) which allows a device to capture more light and detail. And the Mi Mix 2 also adds 4-axis Optical Image Stabilization, an upgrade over EIS that Mi Mix relied on to stabilize shots.
I even noticed a huge difference in the image outputs of the two cameras. When you zoom into images clicked on the two smartphones, the image on the original Mix tends to stretch out and look pixelated due to its odd aspect ratio. This has been fixed with the Mix 2, which produces more sharp and clearer photos at least in the daytime. The pictures lack detail, as well as sharpness in low-light, making the camera a decent shooter in its price segment.
Moving onto the front camera, this is an even bigger disappointment. It is still the same 5-megapixel sensor that’s awkwardly placed at the bottom corner of the device. This design choice is quite debatable as Xiaomi should’ve included the camera in the top bezel. But, it’s simple to understand their viewpoint behind this decision. Xiaomi had already shown off its nearly bezel-less Mi Mix concept phone and the same didn’t have any top bezels. It already made room for the earpiece but was in no mood want to compromise the look of the device to become another Galaxy S8 clone.
But, I find this is a lack of better judgement on the part of the Chinese giant, who could’ve improved on the design to incorporate the front camera up-top. Sometimes it is frustrating to use the front camera when you’re asked to flip the device to be able to access the same. In terms of quality, I found that the contrast of the images captured is really standard and the colours do not pop as they should. It is an average front camera, in my opinion.
Both the camera modules of the Mi Mix 2 carry forward one of the major drawbacks of the original concept, making it lose points when compared to its mid-range competitors. I can still live with the front camera’s positioning and rely on the rear camera for most shooting purposes as I’m not a persistent selfie person.
Though Xiaomi has sacrificed the larger 4,400 mAh battery of the concept Mix to make its successor more compact and user-friendly, the 3,400 mAh battery pack of the Mi Mix 2 can still survive a complete day on a single charge. I know it is difficult to turn a blind eye to the 1,000 mAh difference between the two devices but one really should, as it does not matter anymore.
Be it is the souped-up Snapdragon 835 chipset or optimizations introduced with MIUI 9, it is definitely working wonders for the Mi Mix 2. I was easily able to use my Mi Mix 2 on the daily without having to charge mid-day, as one would expect. The smaller battery of the Mi Mix 2 lasted me the complete day on a single charge, which is impressive compared to the original Mi Mix. The original device lacked any optimization and even lost charge in standby mode.
In addition, both Mi Mix devices have integrated the USB Type-C connector for charging and data transfer purposes. It has been topped off with QuickCharge 3.0 technology, which allows you to charge the Mi Mix 2 from 0 to 90 percent within an hour and a half. You can further optimize your battery usage with software tools integrated within MIUI.
Comparison: Tech Specifications
|Device||Xiaomi Mi Mix||Xiaomi Mi Mix 2|
|Dimensions||158.8 x 81.9 x 7.9 mm (6.25 x 3.22 x 0.31 in)||151.8 x 75.5 x 7.7 mm (5.98 x 2.97 x 0.30 in)|
|Weight||209 grams||185 grams|
|Display||6.4" Full HD IPS LCD, 362 ppi||5.99" Full HD IPS LCD, 403 ppi|
|Screen-to-body ratio||~83.6 %||~ 80.8 %|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 821||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|CPU||2.35GHz Quad-core processor||2.45GHz Octa-core processor|
|GPU||Adreno 530||Adreno 540|
|Operating System||Android 6.0 (upgradable to Android 7.0)||Android 7.0|
|RAM||4GB and 6GB||6GB and 8GB|
|Internal Storage||128 and 256GB||64GB, 128GB and 256GB|
|Rear camera||16MP, f/2.0 aperture, 1.0 µm pixel size, EIS, dual-tone LED flash||12MP, f/2.0 aperture, 1.25 µm pixel size, 4-axis OIS, dual-tone LED flash|
|Front camera||5MP, f/2.2 aperture||5MP|
|Sensors||Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope (used in EIS), ultrasonic proximity, compass, barometer||Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, ultrasonic proximity, compass, barometer|
|Battery||4,400 mAh||3,400 mAh|
|Connectivity (wired)||USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack||USB Type-C|
|Connectivity (wireless)||dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, NFC (not available in India)||dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, NFC (not available in India)|
|SIM||dual nano-SIM, dual standby||dual nano-SIM, dual standby|
|Color Variants||Black, Black 18K||Black, Ceramic White|
|Price||starting $530 (3,499 yuan)||starting $500 (3,299 yuan)|
Mi Mix 2: A Refined Experience
With feedback gathered over the past year, Xiaomi has gone from showcasing a bezel-less concept device to releasing a refined flagship experience with the Mi Mix 2. The original Mi Mix is not a terrible phone, per se, but it definitely has its quirks that could get frustrating over time. They’re the massive display, not-so-great rear and front camera and the finicky speaker module.
Still, the original Mi Mix showed off the Chinese smartphone giant’s hunger for innovation, which some say has been shelved for the release of a better mass-production consumer-facing device in the form of Mi Mix 2. And that is true since the Mi Mix, though ahead of its time, needed some work to make the device convenient to use for everyone.
Is Mi Mix 2 Daily Driver Material?
One can say, the original Mi Mix has now evolved into a superior piece of technology, with less glaring flaws, making it worth the flagship label it proudly carries. All this is coupled with a price tag of ₹35,999, which makes it an attractive buy – if you can look past the lack of dual cameras.
Mi Mix 2 is not the carbon-copy of the Mi Mix concept device. Instead, it is a more refined and accessible variant of the same, which can be used as a daily driver for sure. What are your thoughts on the Mi Mix 2? Tell us in the comments down below.