Noel Campion welcomes the arrival of Xiaomi to the Irish market, and likes the Chinese firm’s Mi Mix 2S phone.
Chinese company Xiaomi makes great smartphones, among other things, but until recently they didn’t sell them in Ireland.
However, you can now buy a selection of their phones from Three Ireland as well as headphones, smartwatches, Bluetooth speaker, smart body scales, and even an eco-friendly electric scooter.
I’ve been testing the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S as well as the Redmi 6 and Redmi Note 5, which cost €459.99, €149.99, and €199.99 on prepay or free on bill pay respectively. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2S feels like a flagship with premium materials and looks gorgeous. It has a lot of flagship features including a black ceramic back that curves into the aluminium frame.
You get a vertically stacked dual camera with LED flash in between on the top left with an accent of gold around it and a recessed fingerprint sensor.
Directly beneath this is the text “Mi Mix designed by Xiaomi” in small gold lettering.
On the front of the Mi Mix 2S is the notch-less display with distinctively rounded edges and an effort to push the boundaries of a bezel-less design with an LCD display and a front-facing selfie camera.
Xiaomi has a unique twist in that instead of housing all of the usual sensors and camera in a notch or larger forehead, they’ve put these into the chin, which is about half the size of the one found on the iPhone 8 Plus.
There’s no home button so, instead, you have to use on-screen navigation buttons.
The selfie camera is located on the bottom right of the chin and when you open the camera app to take a selfie, it will prompt you to rotate the phone although you actually don’t have to.
For someone like me who rarely takes selfies, this isn’t a problem and I didn’t find it much of an inconvenience.
Like a lot of flagships, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. You do get USB-C and a MicroSD card slot though. There’s only mono external speakers located on the bottom edge and sound quality is only fair at best.
The 5.99-inch IPS LCD screen has a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 pixels with an 18:9 aspect ratio.
Everything is sharp, but the display lacks the high levels of brightness and colour saturation on the best LCD displays found on iPhones and other high-end Android devices.
Under the hood, the Mi Mix 2S is a beast and comes with the latest Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
This is the same specs found on the current flagships from the likes of Samsung. Games play buttery smooth, apps load fast, and the overall UI experience is silky slick.
The Mi Mix 2S also comes with the latest version of Android 9 Pie on-board which is a bonus, but you get Xiaomi’s MIUI skin on top along with a lot of Xiaomi apps and services.
I understand that in China they can’t use a lot of the Google apps and this is why they have their own alternatives, but they should have removed these for the global market. Being new to MIUI, it took some getting used to, but overall, I didn’t have any major issues with it.
The dual rear cameras use two 12-megapixel sensors. The main one has an f/1.8 aperture, while the secondary lens has an f/2.4 aperture, and offer 1x and 2x zoom. Overall image quality is excellent for the most part and especially in good light.
The camera works well and has an easy to use interface with options like short video, slow motion, video, photo, portrait, night, square, panorama, and manual modes.
Although not necessarily a bad thing, it’s clear that Xiaomi took a lot of design cues from Apple in this app. Digging deeper for options reveals extras like burst mode, tap to focus and shoot, fingerprint shutter and watermarks, and timestamps.
Low-light performance isn’t fantastic, but then you get Night mode, which more than makes up for this.
The front-facing camera is only 5MP, but does work in portrait mode and produces decent results.
Video capture quality is good and you even get stabilised video in 4K 30fps.
The camera, in general, isn’t as good as the best out there like the Mate 20 Pro or iPhone XS, but for the money, it fairs well.
The 3,400mAh is good enough to last a full day on a single charge with moderate use, but it won’t compete with flagships that have over 4,000mAh batteries. However, you do get Qi wireless charging and support Quick Charge 3.0.
The Xiaomi Mix 2S represents the fine balance between value for money and performance without sacrificing style and design.
The Xiaomi Redmi 6 has a 4,000mAh battery, dual cameras as well as dual SIM support for an entry-level price.
For €50 more than the Redmi 6 you’ll get a bigger screen, a faster processor, the same 4,000mAh battery, and a higher megapixel selfie camera in the Remi Note 5. All available now from three.ie.