Once again, Xiaomi has proven that you don't have to pay your body weight in gold to get a quality, feature-packed phone -- so long as you aren't looking for cutting-edge features.
And for the first time ever, Android fans will be able to use a Xiaomi phone on LTE no matter where they live. The snappy, all-screen Mi Mix 2 includes the right radios to latch onto the fastest networks in the US and other countries across Europe. Before this, Xiaomi phones would ride slower 3G networks outside their home countries, which typically included China, India and Brazil, if they worked at all.
Although the Mi Mix 2 will still only sell in those limited markets and a few more besides, the fact that this high-value handset will work wherever it goes, is a step in the right direction for fans or the Xiaomi-curious that are resourceful enough to get their hands on one.
Still, don't think of this as a phone intended for the US or UK, though its dual SIM capabilities mean you'll be able to use it there if you frequently swap carriers or travel internationally. Any Mi Mix 2s bought in China will come without Google Play Services installed, but those sold through India's retail and online outlets should come with Google apps right out of the box; you'll want to play it safe and double check.
Though the Mi Mix 2 falls at the pricy end of Xiaomi's spectrum, it comes in below handsets such as the Galaxy S8 Plus . The base 6GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage model costs 3,299 yuan, which converts to about $535, £405 or AU$665. There are configurations with more storage that cost more (128GB, 256GB), with the most expensive special edition priced at 4,699 yuan, which converts to $720, £545 or AU$895.
Mi Mix 2 brings the goods
As with the iPhone X and Samsung's Galaxy Note 8, the Mi Mix 2 has a dazzling, edge-to-edge screen. Its 6-inch, 2,080x1,080-pixel resolution display is smaller than last year's 6.4-incher. This gives you a slightly less immersive feel, which I noticed right away, even though it's easier to hold. Its cool ceramic backing hangs on to fingerprints, but it also resists scratches and feels great in the hand.
The Mi Mix 2 doesn't have the dual cameras we're now seeing on almost all flagship phones, but the lone 12-megapixel shooter at the rear does a good job of taking bright, colorful and detailed images in full lighting all the way down to low light. Front-facing photos were at best decent, and comes with Xiaomi's beauty modes to make you look better. One major downside: You'll have to flip the phone upside down, which is a pain if you're a selfie fanatic.
Behind the scenes, the Mi Mix 2 runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, the same powerhouse chipset inside the Note 8 and S8. Games such as Asphalt 8 played gorgeously on the highest settings, and the phone runs smooth as silk.
Battery life was also is pretty good at 15 hours of runtime during our video loop tests (in airplane mode), and the phone's Snapdragon 835 processor matches similar handsets. While the battery didn't last as long as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 's 17-plus hours of run time, it got me through a whole day on a single charge.
Unlike the original Mi Mix, which used technology to turn the whole phone into a speaker (Xiaomi called it a "cantilever ceramic piezoelectric actuator"), the Mix 2 falls back to an actual speaker that plays sound from a tiny slit that sits at the edge of the display. Calls are clear and the sound quality is good.
Water-resistance is conspicuously lacking, a misstep because it's quickly become the standard in flagship phones. You also won't find wireless charging, which isn't surprising because right now only comes in the top Samsung Galaxys and this year's iPhones .
With the Mix 2, Xiaomi proves that it does have the design and engineering chops to make a flagship phone that's markedly different from Apple, and if you're none too keen on the expensive iPhone X, the Mix 2 is worth a grab for that all screen goodness, low price for a flagship and global LTE support. Otherwise, there's always the LG G6 for another big-screen-small-bezel device, or the more expensive Pixel 2 . Savvy buyers will also want to keep an eye out for the OnePlus 5T.
Hardware specs comparison
|Xiaomi Mi Mix 2||Samsung Galaxy Note 8||iPhone 8 Plus||Google Pixel 2 XL|
|Display size, resolution||5.99-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels||6.3-inch; 2,960x1,440 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||6-inch; 2,880x1,440 pixels|
|Pixel density||403ppi||522ppi||401 ppi||538 ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.98x2.97x0.3 in||6.4x2.9x0.34 in||6.24x3.07x0.30 in||6.2x3.0x0.3 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||151.8x75.5x7.7mm||162.5x74.8x8.6mm||158.4x78.1x7.5 mm||157.9x76.7x7.9 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6.53oz; 185g||6.9 oz, 195g||7.13 oz; 202 g||6.17 oz; 175 g|
|Mobile software||Android 7.1 Nougat||Android 7.1.1 Nougat||iOS 11||Android 8 Oreo|
|Camera||12-megapixel||Dual 12-megapixel||Dual 12-megapixel||12-megapixel|
|Processor||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.45GHz+1.9GHz)||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.35GHz+1.9GHz) or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 (2.35GHz+1.7GHz)||Apple A11 Bionic||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Storage||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB||64GB, 256GB||64GB, 128GB|
|RAM||6GB or 8GB||6GB||3GB||4GB|
|Expandable storage||None||Up to 2TB||None||None|
|Battery||3,400 mAh||3,300 mAh||2,675 mAh (Apple doesn't confirm this)||3,520 mAh|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back of phone||Back cover||Home button (Touch ID)||Back cover|
|Special features||Global LTE support||S Pen stylus, water-resistant, wireless charging||Water resistant (IP67), wireless Qi charge compatible||Google Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready|
|Price off-contract (USD)||Converts to about $535||AT&T: $950; Verizon: $960; T-Mobile: $930; Sprint: $960; U.S. Cellular: $963||$799 (64GB), $949 (256GB)||$849 (64GB), $949 (128GB)|
|Price (GBP)||Converts to about £405||£869||£799 (64GB), £949 (256GB)||£799 (64GB), £899 (128GB)|
|Price (AUD)||Converts to about AU$665||AU$1,499||AU$1,229 (64GB), AU$1,479 (256GB)||AU$1,399 (64GB), AU$1,549 (128GB)|