When Xiaomi first announced its Mi Max last year, we were in awe; not just because of its sheer size, but because of how inexpensive it was. It continued on with its Prime variant five months after, and now, we have its latest generation. This is our review of the Xiaomi Mi Max 2.

Before we get into details, let’s take a look at its physique first.

The Mi Max 2 is a huge smartphone…

The enormous 6.44-inch 1080p display

… with solid build quality

The power button and volume rocker on the right

Xiaomi brings USB-C to the Mi Max 2

The USB-C port flanked by the speaker and microphone grilles

The antenna lines look just like the iPhone 7’s

Antenna bands are well-hidden

Clean aluminum slab with an underrated look

One big chunk of golden metal (or black if you have that color)

It runs MIUI 8 on top of Android Nougat

MIUI 8.5 Global to be specific, since we have the international version

It’s the ideal multimedia device

With its 6.44-inch display, the Mi Max 2 is able to deliver multimedia content better than smaller smartphones. The 1080p IPS LCD panel is still sharp at 342ppi despite its stretched dimensions, so I don’t have any issues with its clarity. What concerns me is its saturation and contrast, because when I compared it to other IPS panels, the Mi Max 2 looked slightly muted. There’s a higher contrast selection in the settings, but it didn’t provide the punchy values I was hoping for.

To compliment the big display, a pair of loud speakers is onboard the device. The stereo setup is discreet; we have the main loudspeaker at the bottom while the earpiece acts as the second channel to create the two-channel effect. I do enjoy using the Mi Max 2 to watch YouTube videos and movie trailers, thanks to the combination of the large display and quality speakers.

Also great for mobile gaming!

Gaming is also a strong suit of the Mi Max 2. It’s always better to play your favorite mobile titles on a big phone, as it lets you enjoy the games without the on-screen buttons occupying most of the display area. In addition, the gaming performance of the Mi Max 2 is something to brag about.

Powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor paired with 4GB of memory, intensive titles aren’t a chore for the handset. NBA 2K17 and Asphalt Xtreme run smoothly even on high settings, but some graphics optimizations are not available in other titles.

Camera is just okay

On paper, it has a 12-megapixel rear shooter with phase detection autofocus for quicker locks and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Coming from other Xiaomi phones, we didn’t expect the Mi Max 2 to excel in mobile photography. Let’s take a look at the samples:

While daytime photography is a piece of cake for the handset, its f/2.2 aperture knocks it down when it comes to indoor and low-light environments. The slow shutter speed and noisy image processing don’t help either. The same goes for the front camera, too.

Even the flagship models of Xiaomi don’t do well in photography, if that may act as consolation.

Leave your power bank at home

The “Max” aspect of the phone is not just found in the display, but also in the battery. The Mi Max 2 has a 5300mAh battery which is 450mAh more than its predecessor without the added bulk. It takes advantage of Quick Charge 3.0 from Qualcomm for speedy charging. (Big batteries need fast charging!)

Using the bundled fast charger, I was able to get from zero to 10 percent in 15 minutes. After 30 minutes of charging, the phone gets 19% of juice; while a full charge takes a little longer at about 3 hours. For a cell this big, its charging times are pretty okay, since you’ll get more power on the road in return. With casual usage, the phone can last two to three days on average. Playing games with mobile internet would create a larger impact, but it can still last a full day.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

While the Mi Max 2 is a good smartphone overall, there are a few points that a buyer must think through before considering the handset.

First, it’s a large device that sits between the smartphone and tablet territories. One-handed use is tricky and it’s pretty cumbersome to slip into your pocket. On top of that, it has a lackluster camera, which is disappointing for its range. Lastly, it’s not a big upgrade from last year’s model. If you own the first Mi Max, there’s no need to get this newer one. The older model also has the Nougat update and more or less the same specs.

But, if you’re looking for a big smartphone (and we’re talking 6.44 inches big) that can deliver good performance without the hefty price tag, the Mi Max 2 is an excellent buy. We’ll consider its premium build as the cherry on top since most affordable devices have issues in this regard.

Our review unit is from Gearbest which sells the Mi Max 2 for just US$ 270.

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