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

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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.

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.


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.

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 Max Asus ZenFone 3 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.4-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 6.8-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 342 ppi 324 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.81 x 3.48 x 0.3 inches 7.34 x 3.7 x 0.27 inches
Dimensions (millimeters) 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5 186.4 x 93.9 x 6.8mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.16 oz (203g) 8.22 oz (233g)
Mobile software Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.01 Marshmallow
Camera 16-megapixel 23-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K Full-HD
Processor 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652
Storage 32/64/128GB 32/64/128GB
RAM 3GB or 4GB 3GB or 4GB
Expandable storage Up to 256GB Up to 256GB
Battery 4,850mAh (nonremovable) 4,600mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Back cover Home button
Connector Micro-USB USB-C
Special features Dual-SIM, Assistive Touch software button Double speakers
Price off-contract (USD) Converts to $230 (base model) $479
Price (GBP) Converts to £160 £330
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$315 AU$670

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