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Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Hands-on Review

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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.

Mi Mix (left), Mi Mix 2 (right)

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.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Special Edition comes in full ceramic body

Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Unboxing and Hands-On

Near-borderless with a large battery!

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It took a while, but we finally have ASUS’ first-ever near-borderless smartphone. And it’s not just a pretty face; it’s got a hefty battery and a pair of cameras at the back, too. Is there any more to the ZenFone Max Plus? Find out in our unboxing and hands-on video.

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ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Hands-on

ASUS’ first 18:9 near-borderless phone

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Phones with 18:9 displays became the norm last year, and it wasn’t a premium feature that’s exclusive to flagship devices. We’ve seen a few midrange near-borderless phones, and here’s another one from ASUS.

If you find the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus familiar, it’s because it’s virtually the same phone as the Pegasus 4S which was launched exclusively in China last November and landed in Russia shortly after.

Another factor that will make you think that you already saw the phone before is its identical design to its smaller sibling — the ZenFone 4 Max. Basically, the ZenFone Max Plus is a taller and more modern-looking variant of the ZenFone Max family.

What makes this phone modern is its 5.7-inch Full HD+ panel. This is ASUS’ first phone with an 18:9 display or Full View as ASUS calls it. While it’s not as edge-to-edge or borderless as premium phones, the taller display gives the phone a fresh trait among budget smartphones.

On the right are the physical keys of the phone: a long button for volume up/down and a shorter one for power/screen lock. Both have the concentric circle pattern for texture, but we wish the power button were more distinct.

At the bottom are the good old micro-USB port and symmetrical holes for the microphone and loudspeaker. Like its non-Plus sibling, ASUS opted not to bless the phone with the reversible and future-proofed USB-C port.

Up top are the 3.5mm headphone port and the noise-canceling microphone. It’s worth noting that the top and bottom portions of phone’s body are plastic to allow radios to pass through, while the main back panel is aluminum.

Thanks to its fantastic paint job, both materials blend well together as can be seen on the back. The phone has a dual-camera setup with an ultra wide-angle secondary camera. The phone’s fingerprint reader is also found on the back which is easily reachable by the index fingers.

Wide-angle dual-camera setup

The phone’s dual rear cameras are a combination of 16- and 8-megapixel shooters. The main shooter has an aperture of f/2.0 and shoots the usual photos like this one:

The secondary 8-megapixel camera is for taking action camera-like shots with its ultra wide-angle lens:

As with any wide-angle cameras, there’s a noticeable distortion or fish-eye effect from the camera, but that’s already expected.

To show the big difference between the main camera and wide-angle secondary camera, check out these photos:

As for selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel shooter accompanied by ASUS’ feature-rich camera app. It has multiple modes including, of course, “beauty” which boasts a number of beautification features.

There’s also portrait mode which applies an artificial bokeh effect. With a single front camera, the effect is somehow unimpressive.

We’ll be taking the phone for a full spin in the coming weeks. Check back soon for more sample shots from the dual wide-angle rear shooters and selfie camera.

Initial impressions

The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750T processor. Our model has 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but the configuration is region-dependent. Some countries have either 2GB or 3GB of memory and 16GB of storage. There’s a dedicated microSD card slot for additional storage along with two nano-SIM cards.

Android 7.0 Nougat runs on the phone with ZenUI 4.0 on top. We’re not yet sure if the phone will receive Android 8.0 since it’s not named as a member of the ZenFone 4 family, which ASUS promised would get Oreo.

As for the battery, it’s disappointing that it has a smaller 4130mAh cell versus the 5000mAh of the ZenFone 4 Max. But still, ASUS boasts long battery life and fast charging features. The phone can also act as a power bank for other devices through reverse charging with the use of a USB OTG cable. Full battery tests will appear in our review soon.

Official Philippine pricing is PhP 11,995 while in Malaysia is MYR 899.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 4 gets Android 8.0 Oreo update

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OPPO F5 6GB Hands-On

It looks absolutely stunning in red!

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The highest-end model of the OPPO F5 family is here.

This is the OPPO F5 6GB. The 6GB RAM is great for gaming and multitasking. It also has 64GB of storage so you can take more photos and selfies!

Speaking of selfies, this one still has that AI Beauty mode. Plus, it’s available in stunning red. What an eye-catcher!

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