New Delhi: Smartphones with bezel-less screens have become one of the biggest trends this year with handset majors like Samsung, Apple, LG and Micromax turning to displays with 18:9 aspect ratio for an immersive viewing experience.
But it was Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi that started the buzz last year with Mi Mix -- the first Android smartphone to ditch thick bezels and the traditional aspect ratio of 16:9. Mi Mix was introduced as a concept phone, and this year the company has taken a step further with the introduction of Mi Mix 2 that has a premium design language and refined ergonomics.
The Rs 35,999 smartphone falls in the "affordable flagship" category and is being seen as the company's attempt to break away from its usual "value-for-money" image. How does it fare when it comes to real-world performance? Let's see. At the first glance, Mi Mix 2 impresses with its ceramic body and premium looks. The frame is made of 7-series aluminium alloy that renders a sturdy feel, appears to be strong enough to withstand a few falls.
The ceramic back has a glossy finish and catches light that makes it look incredible. In fact, it is the only mainstream ceramic smartphone that competes with Android co-creator Andy Rubin's "Essential" phone which is not yet available in India. The 5.99-inch IPS display has good brightness levels that helps lessen the reflective nature of the glass.
Moreover, the Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the front, an 18K gold-plated camera ring and gold-coloured "Mix designed by Xiaomi" branding at the rear makes the device stand out in the crowd. Mi Mix 2's primary 12MP camera equipped with Sony IMX386 sensor is the same that comes with the company's flagship Mi 6 smartphone.
The rear shooter with an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and dual LED flash captured good photos, with enough details in proper light only. Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset with 6GB RAM that results in smooth performance.
Xiaomi's custom user interface (UI) MIUI 8 based on Android Nougat 7.1.2 is decent enough. However, fans of stock Android operating system (OS) may dislike the interface because it has slightly larger square icons for apps and customisation is limited.
In addition to impressive looks, we found the smartphone's battery life to be among the best. The phone runs a 3,400mAh battery but there is almost zero battery drain when the device is idle, unlike many flagship phones out there. Having said that, we also did not notice the smartphone getting heated up during browsing or while running multiple applications in the background.
The battery lasted a little over a day on moderate usage which should appeal to most users.
What does not work?
Unlike what we had expected, there was noticeable distortion in the images in low-light conditions and inconsistent ambient lighting. The location of 5MP front camera is rather awkward as it has been moved down to the chin of the device. It is capable of taking selfies that are not up to the mark.
Conclusion: Mi Mix 2 is a good attempt by Xiaomi to break away from its usual "budget smartphone brand" image. The smartphone has an appealing ceramic body phone and offers good battery life. However, smartphones such as OnePlus 5 and Honor 8 Pro easily outperform it in terms of camera performance.