Every time I think about Xiaomi, I’m reminded of the virtue of practicality. The company has swept its competitors off their feet by offering different devices suited to varying use cases. In India, Xiaomi has made an impact by conquering the budget segment and Xiaomi Mi 6X is a device crafted to maintain that lead.
The Mi 6X or what could be the Mi A2 – successor to the stock Android-clad Mi A1 – is a minimal and competent device. It means no bullcrap and handles most of the daily tasks including moderate to somewhat heavy games, has impressive optics, features a delightful display. There are no dazzling special effects (except a handy IR blaster) but that’s why I believe this phone is perfect for a user who depends on their smartphone for most of their daily activity, even though are not necessarily are heads over heels for its appearance.
But this is what great about mid-range devices these days. They give you great dependable performance, if not the most effective or the fastest. We brought in a Mi 6X unit from China (starting at 1500 Yuan, unofficially available starting at Rs. 20,966) , so let’s get nĭ hăo-ing with this chummy package of oriental delight.
Mi 6X Specifications
As I said, the Mi 6X is a compelling performer with boosted enthusiasm, thanks to the updated processor. The Mi 6X overpowers both the Mi 5X (A1) and Redmi Note 5 Pro. But there’s a lot more to talk and praise, so let’s begin with the specifications of the smartphone.
|Display||5.99-inch 1080x2160 LCD|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 660|
|Primary Cameras||12MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/1.8|
|Secondary Camera||20MP f/2.0|
|Operating System||MIUI 9.5 based on Android Oreo 8.1|
|Sensors||Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 5, A-GPS, GLONASS|
|Price||Starts at 1,399 yuan (~Rs. 16,500)|
What’s Inside the Box
As I said earlier, the unit has been brought from China and while the basic content would be the same, it is possible that there might be some changes when the device is launched in other markets. Here we get these things inside the box of the Mi 6X:
- The Xiaomi Mi 6X handset
- 5V/2A charger
- USB Type-C Cable
- Type-C to 3.5mm converter
- SIM ejector tool
- Soft TPU case
- Manuals in Chinese
There are no headphones (as is the case with most Xiaomi devices) and the charger inside the box is an American style one, so you’ll have to either use a converter plug or a different adapter. And yes, you guessed it right – since Xiaomi is supplying the USB-C to 3.5mm connector, there’s no headphone jack. The TPU case is a simple but useful addition to the package.
Design and Build Quality
The Mi 6X a sleek and minimal device which comes in a host of jazzy colors including pink, red, golden, and blue. On the other hand, the black one – which is present amongst us right now – is more serene and minimal, in my opinion. The smooth surface and marvellously rounded edges give it a distantly luxurious feel.
There’s nothing flashy or gaudy even on the front and the 5.99-inch Full HD+ display blends seamlessly with the bezels on all sides. If it wasn’t for the LTPS LCD panel, one would easily mistake the Mi 6X for the Redmi Note 5 Pro because of the strikingly similar appearance.
The display is complemented by ambient light and proximity sensor, the front camera, and an earpiece, every one of which is tucked tidily under the protective shield of Gorilla Glass 3. Along with the selfie camera, you also get a selfie flash, or rather a selfie torch which stays on continuously. The bottom chin is plain and has perhaps been retained so that the Mi 6X could be made thinner at the expense of a slight increase in length.
The back, which is wrought out of aluminum, features the dual rear cameras. This oblong design also resonates with the Note 5 Pro’s camera, which in itself is inspired by the iPhone X. There is camera bump which raises the device and that could make a few users uncomfortable. For the same reason, the smartphone does not sit straight on a tabletop or similar surface. The antenna lines are flushed seamlessly into the aluminum back and don’t demand your attention.
Along the edges, you can find the volume rocker, power and lock/unlock button, USB-C port, mono loudspeaker, and the SIM tray while there is no support for MicroSD. On the bottom and the top, one can find the primary and secondary microphones while another nifty addition is the Infrared blaster which can let the Mi 6X act as a remote control for your smart as well as non-smart home appliances such as the TVs, ACs, set-top boxes etc.
Overall, I found the design pretty attractive if the instances when I caught myself loathing the design of the camera could be ignored. The Mi 6X isn’t tiny but it should be easy to hold to operate with a single hand for most users. I found the fingerprint to be placed in a comfortable position and while I resent the absence of a headphone jack, especially because this is a budget device, the external adapter helps me not miss it.
Let’s move ahead and talk more about the display.
Display: Free From the Notch
The Xiaomi Mi 6X hosts a gorgeous and tall 18:9 display which measures 5.99-inches along the diagonal and features a resolution of 1080x 2160p. From the first sight of it, I’ve found the display adorable. It has a crisp viewability, features vibrant colors, and has a warm, soothing tint to it.
The LTPS display on the Mi 6X offers great readability in almost all lighting conditions. The slightly warmer hue makes it more attractive than standard LCD displays including the one of Redmi Note 5 Pro – although the difference in the two is not very imposing. The warmth of the screen makes it appear somewhat like an AMOLED panel while skipping the charactersistic oversaturated tone.
If you’re not a fan of warm displays, however, you can choose the “cool” color mode. Alternatively, you can turn on the “warm” mode to make the display more tender to the eyes, although that would result in yellowing of the white portions. The other available option allows you to choose the display’s color based on contrast. While “standard” contrast makes the display warmer, the “increased contrast” makes it whiter and closer to the real colors. I prefer to set it to automatic, however, but you can test it to find the best fit for your requirements.
Overall, the curved corners make the display more desirable and while videos and games stretch to fit the 18:9 aspect ratio, some of the elements are not optimized to suit the curves. As a result, a very small part of the screen content is tucked under the curve of the display.
While I have not come to hate notches, I prefer notch-less displays simply because of the symmetry. But it boils down to personal preferences. Overall, I cherish the display on the Mi 6X as I find it balanced yet not compromising on the essence of the objects on the display.
Camera: Stunning Selfies but a Lagging Rear Camera
The Mi 6X comes with a pair of sensors on the back and the lenses attached to both – the 12-megapixel and the 20-megapixel – sensors have the same focal length and thus the same aperture of f/1.8. This setup is typically chosen for better exposure in dim-lit scenes. The two cameras are accompanied by a dual-tone flash which gives a neutral appearance to the photographs clicked in low light.
Xiaomi boasts that it uses an AI to identify scenes and improve images automatically. But this feature is currently limited to Chinese language and doesn’t necessarily work as intended. The camera app is the same as any other MIUI device with features like live filters and different aspect ratios for images and videos. Additional features like Auto HDR, beauty and portrait modes make the Mi 6X’s camera an option-rich offering.
I mostly used the Auto Mode since that is what most users will be relying on. The shots captured in daylight have good colors but lag behind in terms of detail. Obviously, that will not prevent you from posting attractive images on Instagram but you cannot rely on the camera to click highly detailed shots. While the colors are preserved and are overall very punchy, the camera does not perform what you could call a spectacular job. Digital noise creeps into the photograph which might make them appear sharp, but as you zoom in, you can realize the truth which is that the images lack sharpness.
Naturally, the details in low light are readily lost but the camera does a decent job of keeping the image reasonably lit so that nearby objects are captured without much distortion. But, there is a significant amount of noise unless you’re using flash.
The rear camera also gets portrait and beauty modes which should work well given there is adequate lighting. The Mi 6X can be called skillful while detecting edges but it starts sweating as you add in more candidates in the frame. Notably, the portrait and beauty modes don’t work together.
The device also supports up to 4K video at 30fps and while the quality is decent, the addition of 4K does not make videos really sharp or compelling. On the other hand, the slo-mo video is pretty smooth and does not suffer from darkening as in the case of other devices in the range. But again, it won’t satisfy your hunger for creating Time Warp style videos.
Coming to the front camera, I find it much more attractive than the one on the rear. This 20-megapixel shooter captures selfies with a sufficient amount of detail, even without seeking a lot of light. In spite of the single sensor, you get a portrait mode, including a live preview.
I instantly found myself clicking much more selfies than I usually do, especially because of the smart edge detection in the portrait mode. There is a soft LED flash which can enhance the features of your face and even prevent edges from blurring out in the portrait mode. In almost all lighting conditions, the front camera does a surprisingly great job.
Gladly, the front camera’s portrait mode also support beautification which uses AI features to detect your face and enhance it. You can choose from five different stages of beautification, but I prefer images without it. If you’re a selfie buff, I would totally recommend this phone, just for the glitz which it can add to your face (and Instagram account).
Performance: Simply Heart-Robbing
The Mi 6X packs in a Snapdragon 660 chipset which is much better than the Snapdragon 625 on Mi A1 or Snapdragon 636 on the Note 5 Pro. From the moment the smartphone is fired up, one can feel the processor’s affinity for demanding tasks.
The Mi 6X comes is options of 4 and 6GB RAM and we scored the former version. But despite the standard RAM, I did not face any stoppages or hiccups in the performance. Considering that this is a Chinese unit which is optimized to run without a Google ecosystem, we can expect the performance could be slightly different in the international model. Per benchmarks, the performance is somewhat close to Snapdragon 820, with slightly better scores than the Nokia 7 Plus.
Gaming is a pure bliss on this device, and while you can observe some noise or graininess, there is no lag for the majority of titles. I found myself experimenting with a variety of games, thanks to the lag-free experience. PUBG, which ran on medium graphics, didn’t hang or stutter at all.
The Mi 6X handled titles such as Asphalt Xtreme: Rally Racing, Dragon Hills 2, Shadow Fight 3, Tekken pretty impressively. Moreover, switching between games did not require any waiting while Xiaomi has done an impressive job when it comes to heat management. Despite hours of gaming, the phone does not heat up or gives in to the load, which is excellent looking at its price.
In terms of security, you get Face Unlock apart from the fingerprint scanner, both of which are very fast. The Face Unlock feature is, however, neither too accurate nor too reliable, and will trouble those who switch between wearing and not wearing glasses.
The smartphone also gets Dual 4G feature which allows two VoLTE to be active simultaneously.
User Experience: MIUI and Gestures
The smartphone features MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.1 with the Google’s security patch from May. I wouldn’t spend much time exploring the interface in detail as it is same as other Xiaomi devices. Being a Chinese unit of the Mi 6X, this one comes with a lot of bloatware and app that are of no use to a non-Chinese speaker.
I moved ahead and installed Google Play Services (and similar requisites) to run Google’s apps on the device. It is very important to check for the correct version, else it may lead to the unnecessary draining of the battery. To let the download happen automatically, one can download APKPure.
The Mi 6X gets the benefit of gestures which replace the navigation buttons, thanks to the 18:9 display. While it may take some time for a new user to get used to gestures, I found them adding a new dimension to the way I used the Mi 6X and the experience should delightful if you can forgive yourself for the occasional forgetfulness.
Battery: Sturdy For Daily Usage
Despite the large screen, I found the 3,010mAh battery on the Mi 6X bearing the weight of most demanding tasks without feeling burdened. On moderate usage, I found the battery lasting more than 30 hours easily with nearly 4 hours of screen-on time (SOT). On heavy usage and especially gaming, the battery suffices for a day’s usage with nearly 5 hours of SOT.
When it comes to charging, the smartphones utilizes between 2 and 2.5 hours to charge fully. The chipset supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 which hastens the charging but you’d still need to the phone alone with the charger for at least 2 hours. The USB-C port also works as the portal to an audio connection, so you cannot listen to music while charging unless you’re using a Bluetooth headset or a jack splitter.
I found the battery draining slightly faster due to Google Play Services running in the background but we can expect this to taken care of when the device is launched as Mi A2. Even if Xiaomi decides to ship it with MIUI only, you can expect optimization for Google’s services.
Mi 6X: Pros and Cons
The Mi 6X has surprised me pleasantly with its selfie camera, a charming screen, and great performance. But there are some trade-offs, so let’s take a look at what’s surplus and what’s scanty.
- Great selfies with portrait mode
- Amazing performance and gaming
- Dual 4G/VoLTE
- USB-C (desirable as I’m a Mac user)
- IR Blaster
- Average rear camera
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- No Quick Charger inside the box
- No MicroSD slot
Mi 6X: Justifies the Upgrade?
The Mi 6X is a package full of surprises for anyone upgrading from a lesser-powered phone and I expect Xiaomi to maintain the streak when the product is announced outside China. The Snapdragon 660 chipset is punchy and more powerful than 636. It is a performance beast and while we desired the smartphone to feature a Snapdragon 710, the existing chipset plays fairly well for most of the tasks.
While the rear camera fails to do justice to the package, it is decent for photography aimed at social media. The front camera, on the other hand, does an excellent and compelling job and creates beautiful portrait shots with equal dexterity indoors as well as in daylight. The camera struggles in low light but you can churn out some admirable pictures if you can be patient with the Manual mode.
Apart from the average camera, the only peeve I have is the lack of headphone jack which does not suit a budget smartphone. Instead of placing a dummy speaker grille, Xiaomi could have added an audio jack, but the lack of it has helped the company make the smartphone thinner. The Mi 6X clearly stands out from the ocean of budget segment devices – unless you place it next to the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
While the Mi 6X is not available in India, you can buy it from Chinese retailer, BangGood, for the starting price of Rs. 20,996. But we would recommend you to wait until the device is released in India because, then, it will be much cheaper and also, most probably, come with Android One.
So, how impressed are you with the goodness of the Mi 6X? Would you buy the smartphone if it launches in India as Mi A2? Also, tell us more about your expectations so we can do better reviews in the future.