Xiaomi took the world by storm when it introduced the Mi Mix last year. While Xiaomi unveiled the smartphone as a concept phone, the company surprised everyone when it announced the pricing and availability of the device. Why the surprise? Well, because Mi Mix was the first almost bezel-less smartphone from a well known manufacturer. Sure, there have been various bezel-less smartphones from different Chinese smartphone makers, like the Sharp Aquos Crystal and Aquos Crystal 2, but Mi Mix has been arguably the first bezel-less smartphone for the masses. While the Xiaomi smartphone is only available in China in limited quantities, there are ways to get one in other countries (you can get one from GearBest at $619, at the time of writing). Well, we got the Mi Mix recently and I have been using it as my daily driver for a couple of weeks now. So, is Mi Mix’s bezel-less design really the future of smartphones? Well, let’s get into the details and find out, shall we?
Xiaomi Mi Mix Specifications
Before we begin, let’s take a look at the specs of the Xiaomi Mi Mix:
|Dimensions||158.8 x 81.9 x 7.9 mm|
|Display||6.4-inch IPS LCD Display (1080 x 2040 pixels)|
|Processor||Quad-core MSM8996 Snapdragon 821 processor, with Adreno 530 GPU|
|Cameras||16 MP f/2.0 rear camera, phase-detection autofocus, dual-tone LED flash and gyro-based EIS; 5 MP f/2.2 front-facing Camera|
|Battery||4,400 mAh, QuickCharge 3.0|
|Android||MIUI 8 on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Sensors||Fingerprint scanner, cantilevered piezoelectric actuator, ultrasound proximity, gyroscope, compass, accelerometer|
|Connectivity||Dual SIM, WiFi dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type C, USB OTG, NFC|
On paper and from the looks of it, the Mi Mix seems like a perfect mix of innovative design and high-end specs but does that really convert into a great smartphone? Let’s find out.
What’s In The Box
The Mi Mix comes in a great looking box that features text written in gold accents, similar to the device. It’s very minimal and I certainly like it. Here are the box contents:
- The Xiaomi Mi Mix, obviously!
- Leather case
- USB Type C cable
- Power Adapter
- SIM ejector tool
Design and Hardware
Xiaomi smartphones have always featured great designs and build quality but the Mi Mix is arguably the most gorgeous looking smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer. When you first take out the device, you will notice the gorgeous back. The ceramic rear features a mirror-like finish, which looks absolutely stunning. While it does look great, it is a huge fingerprint magnet and it’s very very slippery. No wonder Xiaomi supplies the device with a case in the box. I’m still not complaining though, as the ceramic body, the mirror-like finish, the “Mix Designed by Mi” engraving, look very premium and it surely looks and feels like a premium flagship.
The ceramic back also features the 16 MP camera, along with the dual-tone LED flash. There’s also the fingerprint scanner. In the 256 GB version of the Mi Mix, all the elements on the back use Gold accents, which goes well the glossy ceramic finish.
On the front, you will be in awe of the gorgeous edge-to-edge display. It looks futuristic, thanks to almost bezel-less display and a screen to body ratio of around 83.6%. Along with the non-existing bezel, the display is rounded on the edges, similar to the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8 and it does look cool. There’s also the front-facing camera at the bottom (you won’t like it), along with the notification LED light. There’s no proximity sensor or the earpiece and Xiaomi has integrated some bleeding edge tech here to make up for it. Instead of the earpiece, the device features a cantilevered piezoelectric actuator behind the display to produce sound. Also, there’s an ultrasound proximity or a sonar sensor, another first for smartphones. So yeah, it’s packed with the latest technological advancements.
The Mi Mix frame is also made of ceramic, including the button, so everything feels just seamless. The power/lock and the volume rockers are on the right side, while the left side features the SIM tray. The top packs in the 3.5 mm jack (thankfully!) and the bottom features the USB Type C port and the speaker.
Thanks to the less bezels on the smartphone, the device measures 158.8 x 81.9 x 7.9 mm, which is very close to the dimensions of the iPhone 7 Plus (158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm) and Pixel XL (154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5 mm). However, the latter two smartphones feature 5.5-inch displays, while the Mi Mix packs in a 6.4-inch display. Here’s how it compares to the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which features a 6.4-inch display as well:
Thanks to the amazing screen to body ratio, you get a decently compact phone with way more screen estate. It’s not all good, as the smartphone can be a little tough to hold, thanks to the slippery back. Overall, the Xiaomi Mi Mix is a thing of beauty and it’s every tech geek’s dream come true. If you plan on getting the Mi Mix, it will garner you a lot of attention.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix comes with a gorgeous 6.4-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 2040 pixels, which makes up for a pixel density of 362 ppi. The extra pixels do result in a weird aspect ratio of 17:9 and at times, videos play with black bars, but I don’t mind it much. Well, because it looks stunning! Thanks to edge-to-edge design, the display looks great, especially at the top because there’s literally no bezels. While all the talks are about the slim bezels, the display unit by Sharp is great. The display offers great blacks, which is generally an attribute of AMOLED displays and while the resolution does not seem flagship-grade, especially for 6.4-inch display, you will like it.
Firstly, the color reproduction and accuracy is great along with clarity. The saturation is apparently increased and that results in more pleasing colors. Xiaomi lets you change the contrast and the color saturation in the MIUI settings, so you can customize things the way you like.
Also, thanks to the PenTile arrangement in the panel, the pixels aren’t visible, no matter how much you try. When it comes to the sunlight legibility, the display is kind of average, which was expected, considering it offers 500 nits of brightness at max settings. So, everything seems pretty good, right? Well, the only caveat that I found with the Mi Mix display is the way the auto brightness works. Honestly, the auto brightness sensor in the Mi Mix just did not work for me. It goes dark in sunlight and brightens up in the dark. I’m not sure if that’s a software problem or a hardware one but I turned off auto brightness after the first couple of days of using the Mix.
Well, the Mi Mix’s bezel-less (almost) display is undoubtedly great and it’s the best thing about the smartphone. Sure, there’s the auto brightness problem but I won’t consider it a deal breaker, considering how stunning the display is.
As with all Xiaomi devices, the Mi Mix comes with MIUI. The China variants of the Mix come with the MIUI China ROM but the Mix I’m using features the MIUI Global ROM. The Mix comes with MIUI 8, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. While Marshmallow is a pretty old Android version, considering Android O has been announced, it does not really make a difference, considering MIUI is a skin that totally masks Google’s stock Android experience. Before we talk about MIUI, let me tell you that I’m a stock Android guy and even then, I kind of like MIUI, except a few things. I just hate the fact that the MIUI does not have an app drawer. For someone like me, who installs a ton of apps, the home screen becomes too cluttered to use. Along with that, the notification center in MIUI is a mixed bag for me. While I like the various toggles available, I don’t like the fact that you cannot expand any notifications for more info.
Another major change in MIUI from stock Android is the multitasking interface, which looks very similar to the interface on iOS and Windows Mobile. It’s decent enough but I miss the ability to switch between apps quickly, like in Nougat. Other than that, MIUI brings its own native apps like phone, contacts, messaging, calendar, browser etc. They work fine and whether you like them or not depends on you. I did not have any problems with them.
Along with the aforementioned changes, MIUI lets you customize almost everything and if you are someone who loves to tinker, you are going to love it. Just a look at the Settings page of MIUI will give you an idea of the extensive customization that the Android ROM offers. For instance, on the display front, there’s double tap screen to wake, a cool reading mode (reduces blue light), lock screen customizations, and more.
MIUI also brings some great additional features, like a native app locker, a Child Mode, which lets you hide some apps and only make some apps accessible for children. There’s also Quick Ball, available all the time from the navigation bar. It’s similar to iOS’ Assistive Touch and brings shortcuts to screenshot, back, lock phone, multitasking and more. You can also enable a gesture for it, select the shortcuts you want and more. There’s also a one-handed mode, which should come especially handy considering the huge display of Mi Mix.
There’s also the “Second Space” feature that is something I really like. Second Space is like multiple user accounts in stock Android but a lot better. With Second Space, you can create a separate space and you can move files, apps, data, and more from one space to the other. You can even check notifications from the second space, so if you are using Second Space to use multiple accounts of WhatsApp or any other messaging app, you will be able to check notifications for both of your accounts. If you’d just like to use multiple accounts of an app, you can also use the “Dual apps” feature, that lets you clone an app.
MIUI is undoubtedly a feature rich Android skin and unlike some other Android skins, it includes features that are really useful. Then, there are ton of customization options that many Android users love. So, yes, there’s a lot to like in MIUI. Apart from a few qualms, I really like what the MIUI offers.
Along with the various technological advancements that the Mi Mix packs, it’s powered by last year’s flagship processor, the Quad-core MSM8996 Snapdragon 821 processor, coupled with the Adreno 530 GPU. There’s also 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM, depending on the 128 or 256 GB variants of the Mi Mix. We have the 256 GB/6 GB version of the Mi Mix and in my extensive usage of the device, it performs how a flagship should. As I mentioned, I have been using the Mi Mix as my daily driver and I have faced no serious hiccups at all. MIUI did pop out “Settings has stopped” errors a couple of times but other than that, everything has been working swiftly. Everything’s smooth even when I tried to put some pressure on the device with multiple extensive games.
Also, thanks to the massive amount of RAM, multitasking is a breeze on the Mi Mix. When it comes to gaming performance, there were no stutter or frame drops at all. Apart from that, most phones with Qualcomm processors tend to have overheating issues but not the Mi Mix. Sure, the device does get a little warm when playing processor intensive games but it does not get too heated.
The real world performance of the Mi Mix is certainly amazing and while I don’t care about benchmarks, here are a few results if you find them interesting:
As you can see, the Mix does pretty well here too. While the scores are good when it comes to processor tests, the scores are pretty great in the GPU tests.
So, if you manage to get the Mi Mix, you can rest assured that the device offers great performance and won’t disappoint you, no matter what you throw at it.
Telephony and Audio Performance
While the Mi Mix is a gorgeous and capable smartphone, it lacks when it comes to one of the most basic yet important aspects of a phone. I’m talking about the cantilevered piezoelectric actuator that replaces the earpiece. The sound produced by vibrations between the display and ceramic is just not good enough. Sometimes the sound is loud enough, while sometimes it just isn’t what you expect from a modern-day smartphone. In fact, when I started using the phone, I used to shuffle the phone a lot to see if I was holding it wrong. Well, I wasn’t holding it wrong, as no matter what I did, the sound just wasn’t loud enough. Other than that, I constantly saw network drops in my phone, which might be because the phone is designed for the Chinese networks.
When it comes to the speakers, the bottom-facing speakers on the Mi Mix are pretty good. Considering it’s just a single speaker, I had my doubts, but it offered ample sound and that too with decent clarity. Plus, Xiaomi offers various headphone audio settings in MIUI. There’s an Equalizer, HD Sound audio, Mi Sound Enhancer and more.
The Mi Mix comes with a non-removable 4,400 mAh battery and support for Quick Charge 3.0. It also comes bundled with a charger that is compatible with QC 3.0. While Xiaomi claims that the charger can charge the phone to around 80% in half an hour, I found it inconsistent. At times, I could only get around 40-50% charge in half an hour, while some times, I got 50% charge in half an hour.
When it comes to how well the battery performs, well, it’s pretty decent but there are some problems. In my usage, the battery drained a lot on standby. For instance, I went to sleep at around midnight and the phone’s battery was at around 60% and in the morning at around 10 AM, it was at around 30%. The standby battery drain was a bit inconsistent though. At times, it hold up pretty well, while some times it just drains. Other than the standby problem, the battery holds up pretty well but it’s not exactly extraordinary.
In my usage, where I watched a lot of YouTube videos, made a few calls, texted a lot, browsed my social feed and web pages, the sync was always on, with both mobile data and WiFi turned on all the time, the Mi Mix lasted for around 19 hours. This is pretty good, considering I used the smartphone heavily but I really hope Xiaomi fixes the standby drain problem. Well, overall, the battery performance of the Mi Mix is good enough, considering not everyone with a Mix is facing the standby problem. The device should easily last you a day on moderate to heavy usage and more, if you are someone who does not use your phone that much.
Let’s talk about the rear camera first. The Xiaomi Mi Mix packs in a 16 MP f/2.0 camera, with phase-detection autofocus, dual-tone LED flash and a gyro-based EIS. When it comes to the camera interface, it’s a pretty standard affair, if you have used MIUI in the past.
There are toggles for flash, HDR, along with a button to access the various filters. There are also a lot of cool modes, like Beautify, Audio, HHT, Straighten, Manual, Groupshot, Titl-Shift etc. I especially like the Manual mode, which lets you control the white balance, focus, exposure and ISO. Other than that, you can head to the camera settings to find various options, like face detection, age & gender detection, auto-exposure settings, set volume button as shutter key, focus mode, enhance low light photos automatically etc. Like everything MIUI, the camera app also packs in ton of options to play with.
Now, coming to how the rear camera fares. In a nutshell, it’s pretty average. While the camera captures photos with good details, accurate colors and great dynamic range, there is a little noise in some of the shots. Sure, the photos taken in good light are pretty decent but if you look closely, even they feature a bit noise, which is disappointing. Other than the noise, the Mix captures decent photos, and the HDR works very well. However, the Mi Mix’s OmniVision camera sensors lacks when it comes to low light and night shots. The photos taken in low light are strictly average. Thanks to software processing, the photos taken in low light do look a little bright but they lack the sharpness you get from flagship smartphones.
Here are some photos that we took from the Mi Mix:
When it comes to video capture, the Mix has the ability to shoot 4K videos at 30 fps, while the audio is captured in stereo. The videos captures by the Mix are pretty good. The details are there, just like the stills and while the processing by the camera does oversharpens things at times, the video quality is still decent enough. On the audio front, the Mix does a decent job of capturing it.
Moving on to the selfie camera, which is a 5 MP f/2.2 unit. The major problem with the selfie camera is its weird location, that is at the bottom, which makes up for an awkward angle that is not good enough for selfies. So, if you want to use selfie camera on the Mix, you will have to rotate your phone every time and the camera app is set to rotate even if you have screen rotation turned off. This is quite a hassle really because even though I’m not really a selfie person, ever since I’ve started using the Mix, I have been using the front facing camera even more infrequently. Well, this is one of the trade-offs you’ll have to make for a bezel-less smartphone. On the quality of shots taken by the front-facing camera, they are okay-ish to below average and not really close to the flagship standards.
Like most Xiaomi smartphones, the Mi Mix features dual SIM support and both the SIM slots come with LTE support. However, if you are using 4G LTE on one SIM slot, you will not be able to use 4G LTE from the other SIM card. The phone features 11 LTE bands, and while the phone is aimed at China, I have been using it with my Vodafone and Reliance JIO SIM cards and it has worked flawlessly.
Other than that, the phone features dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac support, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB OTG support and GPS with GLONASS and Beidou. However, there’s no IR blaster, or FM Radio support. Overall, the Mi Mix’s connectivity suit features almost everything that you’d expect from a modern day smartphone.
Mi Mix: Concept Phone Turned Into Reality
When Xiaomi first unveiled the Mi Mix, I was in awe and chances are, you were too, because we have all wanted a bezel-less smartphone and honestly, I still love staring at the gorgeous design of the Mi Mix. Kudos to Xiaomi here, as the Mi Mix is a brave attempt. We all know Xiaomi as the company that brings decent smartphones and other products that are really great value for money. However, the Mi Mix is a phone that really makes me view the company with a lot more respect. The Mi Mix is a bold attempt and I think they have succeeded in making a point and while I appreciate the attempt, should you buy a Mi Mix? Well, if you ask me, the Mi Mix is still a concept phone and while it’s a reality, it’s still a bit away from being a finished product.
The bezel-less display and the ceramic design is pretty cool but there are critical trade-offs, like the poor sound quality from the cantilevered piezoelectric actuator (replacement for earpiece), which replaces the earpiece. There’s also the weird placement of the front-facing camera, the issues with the auto-brightness. However, if you can live with these problems, the MI Mix is a smartphone that will not disappoint you. The performance is amazing, the speakers are good and the best thing is, it will get you plenty of attention.
While there are lot of great smartphones competing with the Mix, at the $600 price point, like the LG V20, Huawei Mate 9, Galaxy S7 Edge, and Xiaomi’s very own Mi 5s, they lack the aura and the edge-to-edge display of the Mix. So, if you live in a country outside China and still want to buy the Mix, you can get it from our friends at GearBest. At around $620 for the 256 GB/6 GB variant, the phone is great value for money.
Special Offer for Beebom Readers:- $609.99 with coupon code ”MiMIXG” on GearBest.
- Stunning Design
- Gorgeous Bezel-less (Almost) Display
- Fluid Performance
- Base Version Features 128 GB Storage
- Value For Money
- Good Audio Quality
- MIUI Features
- Poor Earpiece Sound (cantilevered piezoelectric actuator)
- Average Camera
- The Placement of Front-Facing Camera
- Auto-Brightness Issues
Mi Mix Review: Is Bezel-Less The Future?
The Mi Mix is a great, futuristic smartphone but its bezel-less design also brings a few trade-offs, which if you think about it, are pretty critical, when it comes to everyday use. So, do you think bezel-less smartphones are the future, or you think lesser bezels are the way to go, like Samsung did with the Galaxy S8. Well, let us know your thoughts on this and the Mi Mix in the comments section below.