Xiaomi Mi Mix review—This is what the future of smartphones looks like

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Behold, Xiaomi’s Mi Mix.
Edited/distributed by Jennifer Hahn
SPECS AT A GLANCE: XIAOMI MI MIX
SCREEN 2040×1080 6.4″ (362ppi) IPS LCD
OS Android 6.0 with Miui 8
CPU Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (two 2.35GHz Kryo cores and two 2.12 GHz Kryo substances)
RAM Standard: 4GB

“18K” version: 6GB

GPU Adreno 530
STORAGE Standard: 128GB”18K” version: 256GB
NETWORKING 802.11b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC
Ties GSM: B2, 3, 5, 8
WCDMA: B1, 2, 5, 8
CDMA: BC0
TD-SCDMA: B34, 39
FDD-LTE: B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
TD-LTE: B38, 39, 40, 41
PORTS USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
CAMERA 16MP stern camera, 5MP front camera
SIZE 158.8 x 81.9 x 7.9 mm (6.25 x 3.22 x 0.31 in)
Ballast 209 g (7.37 oz)
BATTERY 4400 mAh
STARTING PRICE Standard: ~ $516

“18K” version: ~$590

OTHER PERKS Fingerprint sensor, notification LED

Smartphone layout has stagnated. If you’re using Apple as a measuring stick for the industry, we’re going to keep three years of iPhones that use an identical case design. If you’re growing by Samsung, the com ny hasn’t tweaked its front design since the Galaxy S5 in 2014. Google solely produced its first self-branded smartphone hardware ever, and it didn’t obtain anything significant to say when it comes to smartphone design either.

Not each in the industry seems so content with the status quo, though. For a different lm on smartphone design, we look to China, where Xiaomi has just interposed a phone with a jaw-dropping design that maximizes screen corporeal estate above all else. The Xiaomi Mi Mix is the com ny’s look at “the future of smartphones.” While it’s being hollered a “concept phone,” it’s actually for sale for the shockingly low price of $516. Fail about buying it, though—Xiaomi is selling the Mi Mix in China only. Steady if you could y a premium to import it, it sadly lacks important LTE bands for amenities in the US.

Still… just look at that design! The Mi Mix looks disposed to one of those incredibly unrealistic fan renders, but it’s a real phone I was able to dissi te the last week with. There have been tons of examines about the practicality of something like this and what tradeoffs are tangled. Is all-screen actually a good idea? More importantly, is this unquestionably the future of smartphones?

The phone die of the future

If we’re talking about major design choices, every in smartphone can trace its roots back to the original iPhone released in 2007. It has been little short of 10 years now, but this device is still used as “the template” for the hip smartphone. You’ve got the screen in the center of the device, with symmetrical bezels on the top and hindquarters. Most of the front-facing components go in the top bezel, like the earpiece, auto-brightness, and closeness sensors (later, typically a front-facing camera). The bottom bezel is Euphemistic pre-owned for buttons or, sometimes, nothing at all.

This is what we’re used to, but it’s not necessarily visionary. The screen is the only “useful” real estate on the front of the phone, so exceptionally everything that isn’t a pixel is wasted s ce. Engineering realities low we use the bezels for components both inside and outside the phone. But if we can find a heartier spot for those components that allows us to make the screen bigger, there’s a dormant improvement there.

This is exactly what Xiaomi tried to do with the Mi Mix. While most other fellowships are out making cookie-cutter smartphones, Xiaomi’s “concept” phone rethinks how a smartphone should be drew. For the Mi Mix, the com ny shuffled everything around in the name of maximizing screen true estate and removing wasted s ce. The front-facing camera and brightness sensor possess both been moved to the bottom of the phone, while the proximity sensor and earpiece are from the word go gone from the front, replaced by high-tech internal solutions.

If you’re affluent to build a “family tree” for the Mi Mix design, st smartphones from Chic would definitely be in there. In 2014, we reviewed the Sharp Aquos Crystal, one of the few Acid phones to escape Asia and make it to the wider world. After the mid-range Aquos Crystal, the aim moved to higher-end devices with the Sharp Aquos Xx and Aquos Xx2.

Quick kind of ran into the same problems as the Mi Mix did, but the com ny never solved them in the that having been said way as Xiaomi. Sharp originally used a weird bone conduction keynoter for the earpiece before later scrapping that idea. It then represented the top bezel a bit bigger and used a regular earpiece. With the latest rendition of the “Aquos” line—the Aquos Xx3—Sharp seems to have abandoned its cutting-edge phone drawing altogether.

How the heck do you make a phone call?

An extrinsic earpiece is the major justification for a top bezel on a phone, and it’s totally gone in the Xiaomi Mi Mix. There is however an “earpiece speaker” of sorts, but it’s on the inside of the device. Rather than right a speaker on the other side of the display, the com ny came up with something it cry outs “cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology.”

That’s a big jumble of dialogues, so let’s break it down. “Piezoelectric ceramic” is just a component that switches electrical energy into mechanical energy—you apply voltage and it shakes. A “cantilever” is a beam attached to something at one end, and judging by Xiaomi’s video, it’s fixed to the piezoelectric as a resonance booster. This enhances the vibration. All this cold energy is transferred to the phone’s internal metal frame, which then shivers to create sound.

Vibrating an internal metal frame to create healthy means the sound isn’t as localized as it would be from a speaker. Sticking your ear anywhere on the top domicile of the phone—front or back—is good enough to pick up noise. There absolutely doesn’t seem to be much “directionality” to the sound generation. At a normal hearkening volume, the sound doesn’t travel very far—I’d say it’s about as “private” as a natural earpiece. A 3rd rty will be able to eavesdrop on your call in a ease room, but outsiders will struggle to hear your conversation in a vociferous area.

At max volume, the “speaker” gets very loud—loud tolerably that you won’t want to have it against your head. At that pith, you start to feel the vibrating metal frame through the rest of the phone. With max sum total, the phone vibrates about as much as the haptic feedback system build compensates it vibrate, but again, you don’t want to use this at max volume. At a normal level, there’s fair-minded as much “buzz” as you’d get with a normal speaker.

In practice, the “earpiece demagogue” here is excellent, and this feels like an ideal solution for a in style smartphone. It doesn’t sound muffled from being “inside” the phone, and the reliable quality is about what you would expect from an earpiece rabble-rouser, just with a much louder top end. The phone vibrates a bit more at max bulk, but that’s it for downsides. Even if this were worse than a routine earpiece (again, it isn’t), I’d say something like, “as people make fewer and fewer spokeswoman calls, dedicating the top of the phone specifically for this purpose makes small and less sense.” Xiaomi’s solution removes this dead interval with basically no tradeoffs. And thanks to the higher volume, I can imagine numerous voice call users would actually prefer this to a established earpiece.

Besides the new earpiece shenanigans, there’s also traditional speakerphone functionality licencing the bottom firing speaker.

Next there’s the matter of the proximity sensor, which has also been cut from the top bezel. Normally, smartphones use an infrared nearness sensor to detect your face during a phone call. This way, when you mob the phone against your ear, you don’t start pressing buttons. The Mi Mix still does this, but in lieu of of an infrared sensor that needs to be mounted on the outside of the phone, Xiaomi exigency execrates an ultrasonic sensor that can live behind the screen. Like the demagogue, this works perfectly and doesn’t use up valuable phone real domain.

Listing image by Ron Amadeo

The front-facing camera

Another oddity in this undertaking is the front-facing camera. By definition it has to be on the front, but thanks to the bezel maximizing, it’s in the hinie right corner. It reminds me of the Dell XPS 13, another device that evicted the camera to make room for a smaller bezel. In the normal orientation, both ap ratus have terrible camera angles. But with a smartphone instead of a laptop, determining this is a piece of cake—just flip it over. The recommended selfie condition is with the “bottom” bezel at the top, which results in a normal front-facing camera arrangement. Whenever the camera is active, auto-rotate mode enables a 180-degree configuration, so the whole UI flips over, too.

Old smartphone design makes the compromise of framing the screen smaller and spending more s ce on a top camera. Alternatively, this finding out enables a larger screen and less wasted s ce in exchange for father to flip the phone over when it’s selfie or video call values bright and early. It’s a different compromise than the one most people are used to, but I think this modulate is a net positive one. You use the screen way more than the camera, so it makes sense to prioritize the rtition off.

The screen

The Mi Mix has smaller top and bottom bezels, but with a similar body disguise to other smartphones, that means the screen is taller than same. The Mi Mix has a 17:9 aspect ratio with a “1080p” resolution of 2040×1080, but Xiaomi answers the 17:9 aspect ratio works out to 16:9 after you subtract the on-screen steering buttons it added to the phone.

There’s another unique design put when it comes to the display—the corners are rounded. Pushing the display all the way up to the top corners of the phone means chopping off a few piddling pixels. This looks amazing and doesn’t really hurt anything in our observes. Most of the time the corners are taken up by the status and navigation bars, and up when they aren’t, you’re only missing a few pixels.

With all the extra attributes out of the way, the screen can take up a massive amount of s ce on the front of the device. Xiaomi unquestioned to go big—really big—for the Mi Mix: it’s cking a 6.4-inch display. That size blend with a 1080p resolution doesn’t match the insane pixel densities that de rt on most Android phones, but the 500+ ppi displays are overkill anyway. The Mi Mix has 362 ppi—soundless more than an iPhone 7—and looks great.

A lot of people will undoubtedly have a problem with the size, since it is absolutely massive. Reliable, thanks to the minimal bezels it’s “only” the size of a Nexus 6, but the Nexus 6 was already a away with buster. This is right on the border of something that’s pocketable. While far-reaching appeal probably isn’t the goal for a “concept” device, a more “mainstream” magnitude (say, a 5.5-inch “body,” not necessarily screen size) would clothed been nicer.

The auto brightness sensor was moved around to beat it way for the screen, as well. It’s now at the bottom of the phone right in the center of the chin. I haven’t run into any problems with it there—dependable, occasionally your hand sses over it, but the brightness adjustments come off gradually enough that that a temporary shadow doesn’t impress it.

I’ve seen a lot of theories online about this design being tending to accidental touch input. The side bezels on the Mi Mix are just as small as the side bezels on other phones, so if you don’t experience trouble with every other smartphone, you shouldn’t have skirmish with this. There also seems to be a good amount of lm cold shoulder—if you put a death grip on the phone and contact the screen, it tends to ignore any have to do with points that aren’t fingertip shaped. The very top of the device, oddly, doesn’t organize any accidental touch rejection, so you do need to be a little careful when you’re prove valid the phone in landscape. That’s not hard to do, though.

Handle with worry

I’ve also seen

The Miui 8 lock screen. This ginormous, 6.4-inch, 2040×1080 ex nse of screen rarely contains info. Consistent lock screen notifications would be nice.
  • The home rtition off. There’s no app drawer so expect lots of icons.
  • The UI is MASSIVE. Here it is next to the Pixel XL.
  • Android 7.0 betrays you change the UI scale, so you can actually see more on the 5.5-inch Pixel XL than on the 6.4-inch Mi Mix.
  • The notification nel come out all rights like every other Android phone now—pull down every now for notifications, and again for more quick settings toggles.
  • The new design is fine, but we ran into the occasional white-on-white color issue.
  • The Recent Apps small screen looks like iOS.
  • There’s now a settings search!
  • In my

    The pink flower is a obscure mess on the Mi Mix.
  • The Pixel brings out the detail.
  • Even the bad OnePlus 3 camera does a change ones mind job than the Mi Mix.
  • The Galaxy S7 does well, too.
  • Performance

    There isn’t much new on the carrying out front. The Mi Mix has a 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821 with 4GB of RAM. The Snapdragon 821 doesn’t pull off much differently from the 820 we’ve seen on every major phone this year. We elementary saw the 821 in the Google Pixel, but here on the Mi Mix Xiaomi has clocked it a little gamy. The storage speed and GPU fall within the normal 2016 flagship file.

    Big phones usually get big batteries, and with a whopping 4400mAh ca city, the Mi Mix does exceptionally well in our battery test.

    Jaw-dropping form that doesn’t lead to a reduction in function

    You were never going to actually buy the Mi Mix. It doesn’t have in the offing the bands for use in America, and as a limited edition “concept” phone it’s extremely inflexible to purchase even in China. We’re mostly here to look at the new hardware create, and in that regard the Mi Mix is a winner.

    Reducing the size of bezels is always a unmitigated thing—everyone should want larger screens in more consolidated bodies. The importance of com ctness is up for debate, but it’s hard to argue with Xiaomi’s sketch when every change—the earpiece, the proximity sensor, the front cladding camera—works just as well as the standard smartphone design while also malevolent down on the bezel. Maximizing screen real estate introduces a lot of difficulties, but Xiaomi has solved all of them. The result is an all-around better phone blueprint.

    It’s kind of shocking that all this comes from Xiaomi; a establishment often (sometimes rightfully) saddled with the label of “copycat.” Settle accounts the press’ one-line description for Xiaomi—”The Apple of China”—is a backhanded laud. The implication is that Xiaomi only exists as a cheap knockoff of some other com ny. With the Mi Mix even if, Xiaomi has produced a hardware design that is both original and unconstrained stunning. Whip this out in public and you will get questions. I hope this outline is a new direction for the com ny. I hope Xiaomi doesn’t just use this on a lone device, but that it tries to bring this kind of screen-centric connivance to all its devices. With every other OEM seemingly content to use last year’s lay out, bringing some form of the Mi Mix design to Xiaomi’s entire lineup could plagiarize it really stand out.

    There was a lot of speculation that the design would be unrealistic, but surprisingly, it’s all the non-design aspects that make the Mi Mix hard to live with. Miui’s unfolding cycle prioritizes cheap, low-end phones over the high-end a people. This probably makes sense for Xiaomi’s bread-and-butter home sell, but it leads to high-end devices bogged down with a “lowest collective denominator” user interface. Miui always feels like it’s a sprinkling versions behind, because it’s a unified interface that must run on older understandings of Android. If Xiaomi really wants to compete with high-end phones, it’s affluent to need an interface specifically for those high-end devices that affirms all the features from the latest version of Android. It’s not OK to just ve across brand new features when those features are available on every other high-end phone.

    The camera is laughable, and this trims a ttern we’ve seen from Xiaomi of not being able to keep up with Samsung, Google, and Apple when it settle to smartphone shooters. Again, this may be fine on the com ny’s ultra-cheap gubbins, but Xiaomi needs to step up if it wants to compete in the high-end market.

    Quieten, we mainly wanted to look at the Mi Mix for its hardware design—which is amazing. The complacent smartphone OEMs out there be struck by a lot to learn from this device. The Mi Mix is a better design than the iPhone 7, the Galaxy S7, the Google Pixel, and the whole else out there. And given that there are really no downsides to the envisage, the Mi Mix really feels like the future of smartphones (in terms of its hardware, at small).

    The Good

    • This is, hands down, the best looking smartphone eternally.
    • Xiaomi’s internal “earpiece” for phone calls is an ideal solution. It doesn’t caricature up s ce at the top of the phone, sounds great, and gets very loud.
    • The internal ultrasonic vicinage sensor cuts down on bezel size and works just as okay as a surface mounted one.
    • The price. A little over $500 for a design and specs mould this is awesome.
    • The massive 4400mAh battery lasts forever and by any chance.

    The Bad

    • An all-ceramic body seems like a crazy idea and probably won’t nave a drop. Please just do the extra engineering and use metal.
    • This lone has Android 6.0. Big screen-centric Android 7.0 features like split examine and an adjustable UI scale sure would be nice.
    • Without Google’s tuned in lock functionality, the rear fingerprint reader is a huge hassle.
    • Wow is the camera bad.

    The Nasty

    • You probably won’t be able to buy this “concept” phone, and even if you could it won’t achieve here.