As I mentioned above, Google services don't come preinstalled, and if they work, they may not perform correctly. And while you could sideload Google Assistant, the cool feature found on the Pixel phones ($88 at Amazon), you have to do a lot of work to get it working correctly, which also includes rooting the phone.
Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and boasting 4GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, the phone performs pretty much as you'd expect. Fluid, smooth and no lag. Games played great, especially the fast-moving 3D racing game Asphalt 8, and thanks to the large screen, the graphics looked better than ever.
The only problem I noticed was that the odd aspect ratio of the display can sometimes cut some apps off a little at the sides. Otherwise, things generally ran great. See below for how the Mix compared with other similar Snapdragon 821-powered phones, and the iPhone.
The camera isn't the best
Don't buy the Mix for its camera. In good lighting, it takes some great shots, but at night it struggles. The HDR sensor is accurately calibrated -- an improvement on my previous experience with Xiaomi phones, which have tended not to detect when HDR needs to be turned on.
The front 5-megapixel selfie camera's placement at the bottom of the phone is as awkward as it sounds. To get it to fit in the bottom required a custom sensor that's half the size of a normal one. Honestly, Xiaomi could have done away with the camera and gone for a perfectly bezel-less phone instead. The selfie camera isn't bad, but I'm not a selfie person, so it doesn't bother me too much.
Check out the gallery below for more shots.
Xiaomi has yet to make a waterproof phone and the Mix is no different, so don't expect to survive a dunk on this phone. Your best bet is to stay away from water.
The battery has staying power but...
With a 4,400 mAh battery, you'd expect battery life to be good. But the phone seems to drain 30 percent when left idle overnight, which isn't good at all. In our lab video battery test, however, the phone lasted 17 hours 52 minutes of continuous video playback, which is fantastic. I was able to get a full day of use with the phone, but you should leave it plugged in when you're not using it to avoid that drain.
The Mix employs Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 charging technology, which is supposed to let phones charge up to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Xiaomi's own specs say it only charges 20 percent faster and I managed only to get about 35 percent charge from zero in 30 minutes, which honestly doesn't seem any faster than a normal phone.
The future is now
Xiaomi's Mi Mix is a device that shows off the company's technological prowess. And while I'd say it's worth getting, a major problem is that the phone probably isn't very useful in the US, due to limited 4G band support (though it may work on T-Mobile, but we haven't confirmed that).
Elsewhere, the phone will work on some 4G LTE networks. In the UK, you'll get some joy on 3, EE and O2, though Vodafone will likely have the best band support for the phone. In Australia, Optus and Telstra should work for you. You should have no trouble in Asia, especially in Singapore, where this phone was reviewed.
I'm loving the phone, and know I'll miss it terribly when I return it to Xiaomi after this review. Don't get it if you're not willing to jump through a few hoops, but if you are you'll probably enjoy using tech that won't be available to the mass market anytime soon. You'll draw envious stares every time you take it out in public. The Mi Mix is the blueprint of future phones, and I honestly can't wait until more are here.
Xiaomi Mi Mix specs comparison
|Xiaomi Mi Mix||Google Pixel XL||Apple iPhone 7 Plus||Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge|
|Display size, resolution||6.4-inch; 2,080x1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels|
|Pixel density||362 ppi||534 ppi||401 ppi||534ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.25x3.22x0.31 inches (at its thickest)||6.1x2.98x0.34 (at its thickest)||6.23x 3.07x0.29-inches||5.9x2.9x0.3 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||158.8x81.9x7.9mm (at its thickest)||154.7x75.74x8.58 (at its thickest)||158.2x77.9x7.3 mm||150.9x72.6x7.7 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||7.37 oz; 209g||5.92 oz; 168g||6.63 oz; 188 g||5.5 oz; 157 g|
|Mobile software||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 7.1 Nougat||Apple iOS 10||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Camera||16-megapixel||12.3-megapixel||12-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide)||12-megapixel|
|Processor||2.35GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821||2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821||Apple A10 chip (64-bit)||2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapgradon 820 processor|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||32GB, 128GB||32GB, 128GB, 256GB||32GB, 64GB (varies by region)|
|Battery||4,400mAh (nonremovable)||3,450mAh||21 hours talk time on 3G, 16 days standby, 13 hours internet use LTE||3,600mAh (nonremovable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back cover||Back cover||Home button||Home button|
|Special features||Bezel-less display, ceramic unibody, piezoelectric ceramic actuator, ultrasonic proximity sensor||Google Assistant built-in; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR ready||Water and dust-resistant, Taptic Home button, dual rear cameras, up to 10x camera zoom, Depth of Field mode||Water-resistant, wireless charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||Converted: $510 (128GB); $590 (256GB)||$769 (32GB); $869 (128GB)||$769 (32GB); $869 (128GB); $969 (256GB)||AT&T: $795; Verizon: $792; T-Mobile: $780; Sprint: $750; US Cellular: $780|
|Price (GBP)||Converted: £420 (128GB); £480 (256GB)||£719 (32GB); £819 (128GB)||£719 (32GB); £819 (128GB); £919 (256GB)||£639|
|Price (AUD)||Converted: AU$680 (128GB); AU$770 (256GB)||AU$1,269 (32GB); AU$1,419 (128GB)||AU$1269 (32GB); AU$1419 (128GB); AU$1569 (256GB)||AU$1,249|