When Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Mix last year, it was the first of its kind. A phone with a front panel that was all screen, no buttons, no sensors, no ear piece — just display from corner to corner.
Xiaomi called it a concept phone, their vision of what the smartphone of the future looked like. In the succeeding months, rival smartphone brands followed suit, LG with its G6, Samsung’s entire flagship line, up-and-comer Essential with its PH-1, and most likely Apple’s next iPhone also.
Earlier in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled the phone’s successor, the Mi Mix 2 — learning from their concept phone and turning it into a device that everyone can use.
The sequel looks just like a smaller version of the original but with several refinements; now with a 6-inch display (instead of 6.4 inches), rounded corners, and a new 18:9 aspect ratio that makes it narrower and easier to grip. The size adjustment fixes one of our biggest complaints about the first Mix: It was big, unwieldy, and impossible to use comfortably with one hand.
Both phones look like they were cut from the same cloth. In terms of build materials, the Mix 2 has the same aluminum frame and glossy ceramic back. Xiaomi is also shipping a special edition model that’s made from a single block of ceramic. While we imagine this to be very delicate, the white model in particular is stunning. Xiaomi describes it as a “perfect piece of jade from heaven.”
On the phone’s front panel right above the display, Xiaomi added an earpiece, something it took away last year in lieu of technology that sent sound waves through the display. It was a cool feature that didn’t quite match the call quality of actual speakers, so we’re glad to see the traditional earpiece back.
The bottom chin carries the selfie camera. While Xiaomi’s done good by further reducing the size of the chin, bringing the phone close to its its bezel-free promise, the selfie camera is still in the same sore spot.
For best results, we recommend flipping the phone upside down while taking selfies, the camera app will adjust, except on third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
The Mix 2’s back side is pristine with only the main camera and its circular gold accents breaking up the monotony. Beneath the camera is a fingerprint sensor; quick, reliable, and now because of its smaller form factor, easily reachable even with smaller fingers.
The only physical buttons on the device are the volume rocker and power button on its right side. It’s got a dual nano-SIM card tray on the left, with no provisions for expandable memory. You’re stuck with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB built-in storage options. On its bottom are speakers and a USB-C charging port. Also missing is a headphone jack. Xiaomi ships an adapter in the box, but unlike the rest of its phones, it skips on bundled headphones, as well.
As great as the phone looks on the outside, its insides too live up to the leadership role the Mix 2 espouses. The flagship is powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM. In the time we spent with the phone, we found the user interface snappy and responsive. Games ran fine, and multitasking was hiccup-free. The phone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box with Xiaomi’s new MiUI 9 skin.
In the day we used the phone around Beijing, the Mix 2 powered through, not needing a top-up. But we want to put its 3400mAh battery through a more rigorous test for our full review. One thing we can vouch for now are quick top-ups thanks to Quick Charge 3.0 support.
Unlike the dual-camera-touting Mi 6, the Mix 2 only has one main 12-megapixel camera. Performance was pretty standard, apart from a bit of processing lag when taking HDR photos. Photo quality was great across all lighting conditions. Check our gallery below:
You’ll also find that low-light performance has been significantly improved from the Mix to the Mix 2.
Night shots are now very good, thanks in part to the phone’s 4-axis stabilization, which also did a decent job even from a rickety rickshaw (check out our video review for the footage).
Is the Mi Mix 2 your GadgetMatch?
We’ll reserve judgement until we’ve had the time for a full review, but in the limited time we’ve used the phone, it’s safe to say there’s no denying the Mi Mix 2 is a great phone.
What sets the phone apart is its price tag, starting at about CNY 3,299, which comes to around US$ 500. That makes the Mix 2 significantly cheaper than any other bezel-less smartphone from 2017.
On top of that, the phone supports an unprecedented 43 bands, meaning it should theoretically work with the most number of cell networks in the world. The phone was clearly designed to appeal to a broader global market, in keeping with its image of not being just a concept anymore, but a phone for everyone.