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Xiaomi Mi Max review: Good, but too much phone to handle

Xiaomi's Mi Max is a good, cheap large-screen phone, but its 6.4-inch screen makes it hard to use..

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Aloysius Low
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Aloysius Low

Senior Editor

Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.

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3 min read

If the phrase "too big" never made it into your vocabulary, then the 6.4-inch Xiaomi Mi Max was made for people like you. The display is bright and the battery lasts for a good, long time, but the question for any phone this large will always come back to size: is it too much for you, or can you work with it?

xiaomimimax-1.jpg
7.4

Xiaomi Mi Max

The Good

The Xiaomi Mi Max has a brilliant, massive 6.4-inch screen and ridiculously good battery life.

The Bad

The phone's enormous size makes it hard to use one-handed; it's also heavy and sticks out uncomfortably in your pants pocket.

The Bottom Line

The Xiaomi Mi Max's premium build, amazing battery life and superlarge screen make this a good phone for watching videos and playing games but the size makes it hard to use with one hand.

I'm personally not a fan. Phones don't need to be small, but they also shouldn't be hard to use one-handed. And let's be clear here, the Max is a strictly two-handed affair if you want to use it without difficulty (unless you have really large hands). I found it hard to reach apps, and it's just a pain to keep adjusting my grip to reach stuff at the top of the phone. Still, I guess the Mi Max is really useful to shade your face on a sunny day, and I do really like how the metal chassis feels in my hands.

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The Xiaomi Mi Max is big enough to use as a shade if it's sunny outside.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Of course, the real reason you're buying this phone is to watch video and read -- e-books, articles, Facebook, whatever -- and the Mi Max is perfect for this. The large 6.4-inch full-HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) is sharp and vibrant, and Xiaomi's Sunlight Display technology makes details like words and images clearer under bright sunlight. Gaming on the phone was great. Asphalt 8 ran smoothly on High settings, and I actually liked having a bigger screen here.

Retailing at 1,499 yuan ($230, £160 or AU$315, converted) for the cheapest model with 32GB of storage, this big screen phone does offer a lot of value.

Get a load of the very big 6.4-inch Xiaomi Mi Max

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Too much phone?

The Mi Max runs a custom Android version called MIUI, and it boasts a few features not found in stock Android. For example, you can quickly turn on the flashlight by holding the home button down; and a feature similar to the iPhone's Assistive Touch that gives you quick access to the phone's home, menu and back buttons while also adding other features such as taking a screenshot. While I suppose it does help make the Mi Max less awkward to use, I found that I had to move the button to the top so it wouldn't get in my thumb's way.

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The assistive touch buttons can be moved around the screen at fixed points, but I found this position a little too low and it often got in the way.

Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

The Mi Max's bigger size does give it one big advantage over other phones -- room for a super-large 4,850mAh battery. While it's nonremovable, I pretty much never ran out of juice during a full day of use. In our CNET Labs video test, the phone, like the fabled Energizer battery, lasted a crazy-long 22 hours. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 hexa-core processor also did great in both benchmarks and real life use, I was able to play Asphalt 8 on High graphics with nary a stutter. The 16-megapixel camera also did well generally -- you'll have no issues there.

Xiaomi Mi Max camera test shots

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If you just want a phone that lets you watch Netflix and chill together with a friend, perhaps the large screen will work out. I do like just how ridiculously long the battery lasts, and heavy users will definitely appreciate it as well. The phone is currently available only in China, but expect this to launch in India next and other markets in Southeast Asia where Xiaomi has a presence. You'll likely only be able get one in the US, UK and Australia online through third-party sellers. If you fancy other big-screen phones, there's always the Huawei 6.8-inch P8 Max or the recently announced Asus ZenFone 3 Ultra.

Hardware specs comparison

" " Xiaomi Mi MaxAsus ZenFone 3 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.4-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels6.8-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 342 ppi324 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.81 x 3.48 x 0.3 inches7.34 x 3.7 x 0.27 inches
Dimensions (millimeters) 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5186.4 x 93.9 x 6.8mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.16 oz (203g)8.22 oz (233g)
Mobile software Android 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 6.01 Marshmallow
Camera 16-megapixel23-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel8-megapixel
Video capture 4KFull-HD
Processor 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 6521.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652
Storage 32/64/128GB32/64/128GB
RAM 3GB or 4GB3GB or 4GB
Expandable storage Up to 256GBUp to 256GB
Battery 4,850mAh (nonremovable)4,600mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Back coverHome button
Connector Micro-USBUSB-C
Special features Dual-SIM, Assistive Touch software buttonDouble speakers
Price off-contract (USD) Converts to $230 (base model)$479
Price (GBP) Converts to £160£330
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$315AU$670
xiaomimimax-1.jpg
7.4

Xiaomi Mi Max

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Camera 7Battery 10
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