I could just post a bunch of beauty shots of Xiaomi’s near-bezel-free Mi Mix (the Exclusive Edition!) and get away without writing an actual review — it’s that stunning. But this is GadgetMatch, and I have to describe my experience with it, as well.

Just look at it!

6.4 inches of IPS LCD with nothing but a tiny chin

It’s gorgeous indoors…

… and outdoors!

The ceramic back is a smudge magnet

And highly reflective

But it comes with a leather case

I can’t verify if it’s genuine leather; only time will tell

This Exclusive Edition has 18K gold rims on the back

Only for the rear camera and fingerprint scanner

Here’s where the front-facing camera is located

You must rotate the phone before taking a selfie or video calling

And yes, there’s an audio port

Despite being really thin at only 7.9mm

There’s no earpiece, so vibrations are used instead

A piezoelectric driver creates vibrations, producing audio through the glass. Wow!

This is how it compares to the Galaxy S8+ and LG G6

Aspect ratios from left to right: 18.5:9, 17:9, and 18:9 — all unlike the usual 16:9 ratio

But how well does it perform?

This being the Exclusive Edition with shiny gold rims, it has two advantages over the regular Mi Mix: 6GB of memory instead of the standard 4GB, and 256GB of internal storage instead of 128GB. Other than those, everything else is identical, including the Snapdragon 821 processor, elongated 1080p display resolution, and dual nano-SIM card slots (no microSD expansion).

All this equates to excellent performance, even compared to the more powerful smartphones that have launched since then, such as Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium. The Mi Mix’s closest comparison is the OnePlus 3T, and that was regarded as the fastest phone of 2016. Xiaomi’s bezel-less handset is no different, providing so much multitasking horsepower that I can’t ask for any more.

It’s worth noting that the Mi Mix’s Android skin, MIUI 8 (based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow), is the most refined version yet. It takes the best of Marshmallow and integrates many more customization options. The only downside to this is the investment needed to adjust settings to your liking when first setting up. For example, lock screen notifications for the apps you install don’t automatically turn on, so you must activate each one individually since there’s no “yes to all” option.

Can it last more than a day?

With a screen this huge and so much silicon muscle, the Mi Mix must last only a couple of hours, right? Absolutely not! Battery life is comparable to the much smaller Redmi 4 Prime we fell in love with a few months ago, meaning we get over six fantastic hours of screen-on time over a span of two days on a single charge. I can’t think of a better device right now for watching movies while on long trips.

My only concern is the time it takes to achieve a full charge. Even though it supports Quick Charge 3.0, the bundled fast charger takes a little over two hours to get to full, and it’s not as fast as, say, an OPPO or Huawei in getting to at least a 50 percent charge. But really, I shouldn’t be complaining; it’s a small sacrifice for the battery endurance I’m blessed with.

Does it take great photos?

I’m making it sound like the Mi Mix is the perfect Android, but that’s because I haven’t talked about the cameras yet. In short: They’re terrible. With overbearing dimensions and no optical image stabilization, producing sharp shots can be a challenge even in daylight. Obviously, it gets much tougher at night, when you’ll need the steadiest of hands to earn something remotely acceptable. And even if you do, photos turn out grainy and mushy most of the time.

The difficulties carry over to the front-facing camera. The results aren’t what you’d call Instagram-worthy, and it’s bad enough having to rotate the entire phone to avoid covering the bottom-mounted selfie shooter. I’m hoping a future software update will remedy this, so that we can pit it against other smartphones in a camera shootout.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Every time I pick up the Mi Mix and gaze at its enormous display and shimmering ceramic back, I feel like I’m part of an exclusive club. That says a lot, because I don’t get that same feeling with the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7 Plus, which are surprisingly more expensive in most regions.

It’s also not as awkwardly narrow as the similarly borderless S8 and G6, making the typing and navigation experience a lot more pleasant. Xiaomi’s MIUI interface can be a chore to set up at first, but it gets better the more you invest your time in personalizing it.

Minus the lousy cameras, i highly recommend the Mi Mix. Don’t be turned off by the unwieldy-looking proportions; in fact, it’s practically the same size as the OPPO F3 Plus, which has a smaller 6-inch display.

The only possible obstacle is actually finding a unit. We acquired ours through GearBest.com and had it shipped internationally. For $689, it’s a great purchase, especially when compared to other premium devices. Alternatively, you could opt for the regular Mi Mix, costing $100 less without sacrificing too much.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi’s white Mi Mix is still stunning, but there’s a catch

SEE ALSO
Xiaomi's white Mi Mix is still stunning, but there's a catch

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