Hands-On With Xiaomi’s Bezel-Free Mi MIX 2 Android Flagship

September 11, 2017 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Xiaomi has taken the wraps off of the highly anticipated successor to its nearly bezel-less smartphone, the Mi MIX 2. Last year, the company announced the Mi MIX which had a huge display in a rather small footprint. Now, after selling the Mi MIX as a “concept” device last year, the company is back with its successor which will be more widely available.

The Mi MIX 2 does have a few differences compared to the original Mi MIX. For one, Xiaomi has gone back to a traditional speaker, making it smaller, however, so that it can fit in the small bezel at the top of the phone. The front-facing camera is still in the lower-right hand corner. However, they added a darker coat of paint so that the camera does actually hide a bit more than it did on the original Mi MIX, allowing the user to really focus on just the display on the Mi MIX 2. The last major change from the original Mi MIX is in terms of the display. The Mi MIX had a 17:9 aspect ratio display – which Xiaomi was the first to use a display that was not a 16:9 aspect ratio and Google actually updated its requirements after the Mi MIX launched. Now the Mi MIX 2 has an 18:9 aspect ratio like the LG G6 and V30. Which means the resolution is slightly altered, but still fullHD+. It’s not a 2160×1080 resolution display, as opposed to the 2040×1080 resolution that the original had.

Since the Mi MIX 2 does have a smaller display – 5.99-inches versus 6.44-inches on the Mi MIX – it makes the device easier to hold in the hand. Xiaomi says that was one of the main reasons for them going with a smaller footprint over the original. Xiaomi also went with making the frame of the Mi MIX 2 aluminum and curved, which really makes the Mi MIX 2 feel great in the hand. The edges of the back and front are slightly curved as well. These curves are so subtle that you really have to look hard at the Mi MIX 2 to see that it is curved – and if Xiaomi hadn’t said that it was curved, you probably wouldn’t even notice that it was. The display, despite it being a fullHD+ resolution panel, still looks quite nice, even when it’s stretched out to 5.99-inches. Now, this should not come as a surprise, if you’ve used Xiaomi’s recent products. The company typically sticks with 1080p displays, and they always look really good, and make you wonder if Quad HD is even necessarily – other than for VR.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 ships with MIUI 9, which isn’t a brand new version of MIUI, but it is newer than what was on the Mi 6 when that launched back in April. Xiaomi is always working on MIUI and listening to its users on what it needs to change, fix, or even add to its software. MIUI was Xiaomi’s very first product – even before it had hardware for it to run on – and it’s something that the company still focuses pretty heavily on. So far, in our limited hands on, MIUI 9 appears to run very smoothly on the Snapdragon 835 and 6GB of RAM model, which is nothing surprising really. It’s what you would expect with this kind of hardware, to be honest.

There are some pre-installed apps on the Mi MIX 2, and none of them are really surprising. Outside of Xiaomi’s usual bevy of apps that it has pre-installed, there’s also a folder full of Microsoft apps. This is part of a partnership that the company started with the tech giant last year, where it pre-installs some of its apps on its smartphones. These are mostly Microsoft Office apps. For instance, on the Mi MIX 2, you’ll find Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype pre-installed. Otherwise, you won’t find many apps pre-installed here. And storage isn’t really an issue with the Mi MIX 2 anyway, since it is offered in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models – there’s also no expandable storage. On our 256GB model here, we had over 240GB free out of the box. That’s plenty for storing your videos, photos, and music on the device and not having to worry about cloud storage.

One of the biggest disappointments with the Mi MIX was the camera. It was just all around bad. Xiaomi has improved the camera and is using the Sony IMX386 sensor on the back of the Mi MIX 2. This is a 12-megapixel sensor, and it is the same camera that was on the Mi 6. Instead of going dual-camera here, the Mi MIX 2 uses a single 12-megapixel camera. And again, in our limited time with the Mi MIX 2, the device seems to be much improved in the camera department, and that is a very welcome change. Now the front-facing camera, it’s still a bit weird to have it in the lower right-hand corner, but you can easily flip the phone upside-down and take your selfies. So that’s not a big deal.

The Mi MIX 2 is a true upgrade from the original Mi MIX, which was a concept device. Xiaomi took what they learned from the Mi MIX with its customers and applied it to the Mi MIX 2. That included going back to a traditional speaker on the phone, making the camera darker, and even the phone a bit smaller. The Mi MIX 2 is not a concept device, and will actually be sold in all of the markets that Xiaomi is officially available in. However, it will be a staged rollout. The Mi MIX 2 is another small-bezel smartphone, and there’s plenty of competition out there right now from Samsung and LG. But the Mi MIX 2 will definitely stand out, due to its design and price tag.