Xiaomi Mi Mix review: A gorgeous concept phone come to life

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.

Benchmarks

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.

Xiaomi Mi Mix benchmark scores

Xiaomi Mi Mix
1,812
3,529
27,011
Google Pixel
1,602
4,241
28,081
Samsung Galaxy S7
1,698
3935
29,031
Apple iPhone 7
3,500
5,977
35,867
LG G5
1,690
3,578
28,757

Legend:

Geekbench 4 (single-core)
Geekbench 4 (multi-core)
3DMark Ice Storm (unlimited)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

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.

Waterproof, not

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.

xiaomimimixfinal14.jpg

Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Mi Mix will not survive a dunk.

Aloysius Low/CNET

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.

xiaomimimixfinal02.jpg
Aloysius Low/CNET

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
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel 8-megapixel 7-megapixel 5-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K
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)
RAM 4GB, 6GB 4GB TBD 4GB
Expandable storage None None None 200GB
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
Connector USB-C USB-C Lightning Micro-USB
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

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