Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review

The Mi Mix 2 is the first Xiaomi phone we can truly recommend you buy

For years, people outside of China or India have been denied a fully functional Xiaomi smartphone. Yes, you could import one, but it would inevitably be hobbled by the lack of local 4G LTE network support. That has now changed: Not only can you buy a Xiaomi phone that will connect to 4G in the U.S. and U.K., but it’s the best phone Xiaomi has ever made. It’s the Mi Mix 2, and we’re very lucky indeed. In our time with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, the phone has consistently connected to 4G LTE in the U.K., going way beyond the patchy service seen with older Xiaomi phones.

Well, almost lucky. You still need to import the Mi Mix 2, as Xiaomi doesn’t officially sell its hardware in the U.S. or U.K. No, you won’t find it at Best Buy or in AT&T stores; but unlike phones such as the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X, it doesn’t cost around $1,000. The Global version, through importing retailers like GearBest, is $530. It’s strong competition for the OnePlus 5T and the Honor View 10 — flagship killers.

Astonishing value

The lack of 4G LTE in the U.S. was a caveat we always noted at the end of our Xiaomi device reviews, no matter how much we liked them. But the Mi Mix 2 supports all the bands needed to connect to GSM networks provided by T-Mobile and AT&T (you’re out of luck if you have Verizon or Sprint). The Mi Mix 2 opens up an entirely new audience for Xiaomi hardware, because there are no compromises in service. The question is, should anyone thinking about the OnePlus 5T also consider the Mi Mix 2? The answer is yes. This is an astonishing phone for the price, and ticks every box from capable camera and stunning screen to an ultra modern design.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The original Mi Mix was one of the first phones with an almost bezel-less display, where the borders around the screen are minimized. The Mi Mix 2 continues the trend. Tiny bezels run down the sides of the screen and above it, where a small speaker sits due to Xiaomi abandoning the piezoelectric speaker inside the display on the first Mi Mix. It works better too because it gets louder.

Below the screen, the bezel is larger but not unnecessarily big. It’s where the selfie camera sits. Yes, you still have to flip the phone upside down to take a sensible selfie, but the software adjusts the display automatically to make the experience less annoying.

It’s strong competition for the OnePlus 5T and the Honor View 10.

Aside from 4G LTE connectivity, the software on Xiaomi phones has also been a setback. The Mi Mix 2 runs Android 7.1.1, and ours came with the November 2017 Google security patch, along with the global version of Xiaomi’s MIUI 9 user interface. The Google Play Store is installed, Google Assistant works, but despite the presence of NFC for mobile payments, Android Pay will not work because of an unlocked bootloader. This gives the user root access to a smartphone, but it disables Android Pay due to security concerns. That aside, it happily ran all the apps we use on a daily basis without argument, and with speed. Lots of speed.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 has a Snapdragon 835 processor with 6GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage space. It’s an absolute monster, taking on the OnePlus 5T, the Galaxy S8, and the LG V30. We put the Mi Mix 2 through an AnTuTu benchmark test, and it scored 180,985. That’s almost identical to the OnePlus 5T. MIUI has improved and is a fluid experience, and the Mi Mix 2’s speed makes it pleasurable to use. Xiaomi will soon introduce a series of gesture controls to speed up navigation even more, much like the iPhone X, in a future version of MIUI. This is still in beta, so we didn’t thoroughly test them.

Decent camera, beautiful design

Then we come to how the Mi Mix 2 looks. It’s a beauty. It has an 18:9 aspect ratio 5.99-inch screen with a 2,160 x 1,080 pixel resolution. The colors are spectacular, video looks great, and it’s easy to stretch content out to take full advantage of the entire display. The auto brightness isn’t tuned well, and we did encounter a lot of glare out in the sun. That made it a little difficult to see notifications at a glance.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The body is made from ceramic with an aluminum frame. The back panel is essentially like a mirror, and sadly it gets covered in fingerprints and is dangerously slippery. We handed the phone to a friend saying, “be careful,” and he almost immediately handed it back replying, “I’m going to drop that.” A case is essential.

This is an astonishing phone for the price.

How about the camera? Xiaomi hasn’t done anything crazy here. There’s a single 12-megapixel lens on the back which takes good pictures. It doesn’t have a portrait mode that adds blur behind subjects, a monochrome camera, or any other flashy feature; but show it a pleasant day and the HDR mode shines.  The 5-megapixel selfie camera has a more intrusive beauty mode than many other phones, slimming and lightening faces down considerably. Fine, if that’s what you want, but not representative of real life.

The lens sits above a fingerprint sensor on the back of the Mi Mix, which is easy to locate and fast to react.

With the addition of global 4G LTE connectivity on the Mi Mix 2, there is now a strong reason why — if you’ve often been tempted — to try out a Xiaomi phone. The Mi Mix 2 is excellent value for money, has a beautiful modern design, and performs like a true flagship phone should. Now if only it was officially on  sale in the U.S. and U.K.

DT Editors’ Rating: 4/5

Cars that talk to each other are coming soon, and could save thousands of lives

Today’s cars can connect to the internet, but still can’t communicate with the environment around them. V2X technology is about to change, paving the way for safer streets, less traffic, and cities where transportation operates more…

Hateful software kills our enthusiasm for newcomer Realme’s $155 Android phone

Realme is a new smartphone brand with an interesting start to life, as it closely mirrors that of OnePlus, a brand we admire. The Realme 2 is its second phone, and we've given it a try to see if it's a winner.
Product Review

Don't let the bigger iPhones woo you away: The XS is still a masterpiece

Apple’s next smartphone is here -- the iPhone XS. We think it’s the perfect size for an iPhone, and it manages to impress with astounding performance, and sizable camera improvements.

Android 9.0 Pie is finally rolling out to the OnePlus 6

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

The best iPhone XS Max screen protectors to safeguard that huge screen

If you love big screens, then the iPhone XS Max's huge 6.5-inch display is for you. But it won't fare well against concrete. Protect your display with the best iPhone XS Max screen protectors.

Enter to win the new iPhone XS and three Speck Presidio cases

Excited about the new iPhone XS? You may be in luck: We've teamed up with Apple and Speck to give one lucky winner a brand new iPhone XS and Speck Presidio case bundle, a combined $1,120 value. Read on for more details and enter now for…

From Android 1.0 to Android 9.0, here’s how Google’s OS evolved over a decade

It's hard to believe, but Android has been around for almost a decade now. From Android 1.0 to Android 9.0 Pie, here's the history of Android and the changes that came with each new software iteration.
Social Media

Snap, then shop? Snapchat’s camera will soon buy stuff from Amazon

Want to Snap that item and buy it for yourself? Snapchat is testing an option to shop on Amazon using the camera. The tool works similar to Shazaming a song inside Snapchat; users tap and hold on the screen inside the camera mode.

Google Feed is now known as ‘Discover,’ will be available on mobile browsers

As part of its 20th anniversary, Google unveiled its plans to improve Search starting with its Google Feed. Now known as Discover, the update brings along a redesign to help you find content that aligns with your interests.

Renders for Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL leak in black and white colors

Forget the Pixel 2: Google will announce its latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, on October 9 in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Apple iPhone XS Max vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Powerhouse face-off

Can Apple's heavyweight smartphone beat Samsung's reigning champion? We decided the compare the iPhone XS Max to the Galaxy Note 9 in a few different categories to see which smartphone comes out on top.

Leaked renders show upcoming Huawei Mate 20 Pro in three stunning colors

Huawei is no stranger when it comes to big phones. And this year it plans to go even bigger with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Here's what we think we know about the new range.

Mint Mobile is one of first prepaid carriers to offer the iPhone XS and XS Max

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.