Welcome to the review of Xiaomi Mi 8. I must admit that it has been a long time since I have reviewed a phone for so long and had such problems with assessing it.
Despite the fact that I have been using the phone for two months I am still not entirely sure if I can recommend you to buy Xiaomi Mi 8. On the one hand, this is not a device that I should discourage you from buying. Mi 8 has a few flaws and features that irritate me, but on the other I am still using it and I even like it a bit. You will find out what is going on from the following text.
The smartphone offers a flagship specification and it looks attractive, but how does it work in an everyday usage?
|Xiaomi Mi 8 - video review
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
- Housing, set
- Security, display
- Communication, sound
- Photography, video
- Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
Along with the smartphone, we receive: a quick charger, USB-C cable, needle for opening a cards’ tray and a silicone cover. It is nice that we can protect the phone from the start, but the fact that there are no earphones in the set is less nice. There is only an adapter from USB-C to minijack and in this moment we realise that the phone does not have a minijack socket. The first disadvantage.
But there are advantages as well. The housing is made perfectly and assembled in a way that is expected from a highest class device. At the front we have a 2.5D glass, while at the back – a glass with strongly curved edges. There are rumours that both panels are made out of Gorilla Glass 5, but neither the manufacturer of the phone nor the glass do not admit this. In any case – glasses look great and the long time of using the phone assured me that they are highly resistant to scratches and even smaller falls do not damage them.
The metal frame that keeps the phone together proves to be solid, but if we will make an effort it can be scratched slightly easier than glass panels. The housing is stiff, there are no clearances, nothing knocks or creaks. Different elements are placed in a rather classical manner. Volume and power buttons are on the right side, while on the left there is a tray for cards. The socket is another disadvantage, because it can only store two nanoSIM cards, without the possibility of enhancing the memory with a microSD card.
The upper wall of Xiaomi Mi 8 is basically smooth (there is only the secondary microphone) and the lower one pleases us with its symmetry. In the middle there is a USB-C socket, and on both sides we have symmetrical holes, which suggest a presence of two speakers. Unfortunately, there is only one and the other side hides the microphone.
At the back there is a fingerprint scanner, discrete logo and certificates, while in the upper corner there is a dual camera, which lenses along with the LED flash are placed in a common frame that slightly stands above the housing. You can complain that Xiaomi Mi 8 looks a bit like iPhone X – but I do not share this belief, there are too many differences, though the stylization is in fact “hackneyed”. However, I very much enjoy the shape of Xiaomi Mi 8 and I consider the phone as a pretty.
Waterproofness would have been great, but I appreciate the fact that the phone lies in hands comfortably, buttons and the scanner are perfectly under our fingers and the whole does not have a tendency to catching dirt, and when it appears we can easily clean it. The only thing that bothers me is the dust that stays in the proximity of the back camera.
I like the display of Xiaomi Mi 8 very much. This is AMOLED, so we have a great contrast, intensive colours and a deep black. Because of the Full HD+ resolution we cannot criticize the sharpness of the image. The display has a good maximum brightness, there are no problems with using the phone in sunny days, there are no problems with polarization – we can easily wear sunglasses.
The minimum level is equally good, the manufacturer did not forget about the blue light filter, which intensity can be controlled, and it can turn on automatically in selected hours. In addition, we can control the contrast and the temperatures colour. The touch panel works correctly, and after two months of usage I cannot see anything disturbing when it comes to the matrix. It would be great if it was not for the notch. It is a big one and it causes other problems, which bother me in Xiaomi Mi 8.
First of all, the phone does not show notifications. And it will not show them, because the size of the notch prevents it. Second of all – icons showing the status of the device are cramped and small – it is difficult to read the battery level. The possibility to mask the notch is not a comfort, because it does not solve these problems.
Xiaomi Mi 8 has a great fingerprint scanner. It works fast and ably, I do not remember it ever failing me. The scanner is placed perfectly and in addition it can control the camera’s trigger or it can secure access to apps or payments. If it only worked as a touchpad for browsing lists or notifications bar…
Xiaomi Mi 8 has a facial recognition system as well – and it is equally good as the scanner. It works in the dark, it scans ably and quickly, it cannot be deceived by a photo. It is all because it uses infrared sensor. What is more, the scanner recognizes the user whether he or she is using glasses or with few days old facial hair. I would have praised this solution equally strong as the scanner, if it… had worked without some meddling. I will tell you where the problem is.
Facial recognition works only in a few regions in the world. There is a possibility that in our country we will not see this feature in our menu. In order to run this – we must “deceive” the phone and convince it, that our region is, for example, Italy or India. Then it works. The problem is known, it occurs in Pocophone F1 - but for now there is no solution. I have waited and waited, in the meantime there was an update to MIUI 10 – and nothing has changed. Neither notifications on the bar, nor the facial recognition. It is a pity that such trivial things ruin the pleasure of using this phone.
The review Xiaomi Mi 8 came to me with the MIUI 9.5 interface on board, but it end up with MIUI 10. How do I asses the interface? Mostly positive. Mostly, because I am irritated with the problem with notifications mentioned before. Why do I need to slide the bar down to see them? This does not make any sense… Just like the shortened version of the Always-on Display.
Xiaomi Mi 8 shows a discrete clock with the date on the dimmed display – but nothing more. On the notch there is a notifications LED, but it is a weak one and it is easily missable, what is more I have noticed that it not always signalizes all notifications. Basically – I have gotten used to checking notifications from time to time, not hoping that the phone will reveal them to me in any way. This is a good option for a user that does not want to be distracted, but for me – it is irritating.
And it is a pity, because besides these flaws, the interface is a practical one, comfortable and friendly. In standard, MIUI 10 offers a flat form of the interface, without the tray for apps. It does not have a preinstalled garbage, and what Xiaomi offers from itself – are practical additions.
The only thing that we do not need is the shortcut to the MIUI community – but we can uninstall it. The rest – are rather handy additions, like a business cards, barcodes or text scanner, the possibility to record what is happening on the screen or even an enhanced app for managing the system.
There are of course standard elements, like a calendar, recorder or a calculator. Xiaomi adds its own gallery, music and video player or a WWW browser, but in the system we cannot find an FM radio and… a files manager. However, we can clone apps (in order to use different user accounts) and set a private zone in the interface (“Second Space”).
We have the possibility to work on a divided screen, decreasing the interface to one hand usage or induce a floating button – Quick Ball. We can ascribe shortcuts to buttons and different combinations of them and swich the interface to gesture usage, similar to iPhones.
We need to get used to gestures, but later on it turns out to be comfortable.
From the visual side, the new MIUI has gotten more transparent and has some eye-pleasant curves. The last used apps menu was reshaped, just like the representation of the volume scale to a vertical, much more comfortable one. It is simply neat, clear and aesthetical.
Xiaomi Mi 8 is one of the fastest smartphones. It shows great numbers in benchmarks, but if you prefer more solid examples, I will put it shortly – this is a beast. If you are looking for a phone that can handle top games, you can easily consider this model.
Similarly, if you expect the phone to ably fulfil all other tasks that you will place in front of it. Maybe that is why it is difficult for me to part with it – it simply works, keeps up with the user and does not scare us with lags.
What is more, it does not heat up too much and it does not irritate with sudden lags due to an increased temperature. We will notice them while making consecutive benchmarks or with longer gaming sessions, but during a normal usage – not necessarily.
MIUI “kills” processes working in the background ably, to such an extent that in some cases we need to manually show it which apps it is not supposed to “optimize”. This is another element that positively influences the work speed of the phone, especially for less experienced users. In the software we can find a gaming mode, in which we can adjust some elements (like a backlight or the way we receive calls), so that they want disturb our gameplay.
Many users will be bothered by the inability to use a microSD card. The internal memory is fast, we have around 53 out of 64GB from the beginning – but this is not all. We can either pay more for the 128GB version or we must do with what we have.
Just like with the smoothness of work, Xiaomi Mi 8 convinces us with its battery capabilities. This is another smartphone that I have lately reviewed that is capable of working without charging for two, sometimes even three days. The battery does not have an impressive capacity, but clearly the manufacturer took care about optimizing the power usage, because it is almost impossible to empty it in one day, during a normal usage.
Of course there are some, who can do it in 3-4 hours – but let us be honest: we rarely use the full power of a smartphone for a longer time. Charing the battery takes slightly more than an hour and a half, we can use Quick Charge 4+, but the added charger supports only QC 3.0. Unfortunately, there is no wireless charging.
As a communication device, Xiaomi Mi 8 works perfectly. Using the dialler and DualSIM function is typical, there are no surprises – maybe besides the possibility to record calls. The quality of sound is very good, Xiaomi Mi 8 does not fail as a music player either. It has an equalizer plus a few predefined settings for different earphones types.
The sound is good, there is nothing to complain about, besides the lack of minijack. The speaker – as I have already mentioned – is a single one, but it is rather loud and clear – it works appropriately as a loud speaking device.
I did not notice any problems with the work of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, Xiaomi Mi 8 did not have problems with maintaining network coverage in “troublesome” places either.
The manufacturer boasts with a Dual GPS solution, which is supposed to support itself with an additional satellite signal. To be honest, I did not notice any major changes, though the navigation works perfectly, even in the walking mode it shows the location of the phone accurately, including with a fast refreshing of the direction that we are heading towards to. In other words – tourist should be interested in it. I will add that this time Xiaomi has not forgotten about NFC – we can pay with it!
Times when Xiaomi users (even the flagship ones) could complain about the quality of photos are coming to the past. In Xiaomi Mi 8 we have the camera known from the Mix 2S model, based on the Samsung module with an f/2.4 telephoto-lens and the main Sony module with a mechanically stabilized f/1.8 lens. Both matrixes have 12 megapixels. There are high expectations, but it turns out that Mi 8 does not fail us.
During the day it offers colourful, clear photos which lack major drawbacks. But in this price segment, every smartphone can do this, and problems, as always, appear in weaker lighting. But even here Xiaomi Mi 8 works pretty good.
If the shot is being lighted by lanterns or any other source, which gives only the slightest glow, we can be sure that the photo will be successful. However, if we are on the field and there is dusk, we can clearly see noises – then it is worth suing a tripod and manual settings. They will “draw” something more from the shot than the auto mode.
It is best to use the stabilized lens, which captures more light, and the telephoto-lens is best to be left for daytime shots. The telephoto-lens, which is easy to predict, works much worse in weaker lighting. What more can I complain about? There is a problem with connecting panoramas. We just need to slightly shake our hand and the software has problems with connecting frames.
The camera has of course an artificial intelligence. In an everyday usage it is difficult to see effects of its work, but if we will place two identical shots next to each other and compare them, we will notice that the intelligent auto will underline colours and the contrast between them more clearly then the “usual” one.
Whether we will consider its work as a worthy and necessary, is the matter of our own taste, I recommend trying this, but if you really care about a particular shot, I encourage you to try both options. Just like in the HDR mode – sometimes it gives a great result, other time the shot looks better without it. It is worth trying and “learn” how the camera works in different conditions.
The background blurring works great. I have no concerns towards the precision of cutting out the foreground objects, I will commend Mi 8 for the possibility of using additional effects, including the background blurring animation, saved in the GIF format. Here, however, we need to remember about the lighting. If there is not enough of it, the phone will show an appropriate message – and the portrait will not come out great.
The additional telephoto-lens allows us to make a small zoom of the distant background, but – as I have mentioned – it is best not to use it for night time photos. The digital zoom is here as well, and what is interesting – it gives decent effects, though of course it will not offer a level of details as the optical one.
I have no concerns towards the video recording. The image is sharp and smooth, we can record in 4K, we can even choose between one of two codecs. The sound is recorded appropriately, the exposition does not “jump”, we can sometimes see that the stabilization did not work – but basically, it is pretty good. To make it more interesting, we can record in slow motion. Here the maximum is 240 frames per second in Full HD. Nice.
|Videos from Xiaomi Mi 8
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
The front camera can be assed less positively. Basically – it takes nice photos, but it has an awful tendency to overexpose the background. We just need a bit brighter sky – and we will see a white spot behind us. There is no LED nor a possibility to lighten up the scene with a display – which could decrease the overexposure to some extent. It is a pity, because shots themselves are decent, just like the multi-level beautifying.
The camera has a simple interface, known from other Xiaomi models, based on gestures. By swiping our finger, we can switch to video, background blurring, square shot, panorama or a short clip. In the same way we can move to manual settings, where we can control sensitivity, exposure time, exposition, white balance or focus. The interface has a separate button that activates the AI or switches lenses. I commend the integration with Google Lens and still complain about the access to advanced settings hidden in a sub-menu with programs, which change depending on the selected mode.
As you can see, I have shown a lot of advantages, but a few drawbacks that can irritate some users as well – including me. It would have been a great smartphone if it had been possible to change these tragic notifications. However, if you do not need to closely follow with everything that is going around, I suspect that you can live with this. Just like you can live without a facial recognition, because there is a great fingerprint scanner. Still – it leaves a bad taste…
More users will complain about the lack of minijack or the inability to enhance the memory, not everyone will be pleased with the lack of waterproofness as well. I do not suspect that someone can complain about the quality of the display, efficiency of Mi 8 or the battery’s capabilities. Most buyers will be pleased with the quality of photos and videos as well.
I think that by knowing good and bad sides of Xiaomi Mi 8 you can easily decide whether it is worth buying it. The price – in my opinion – is adequate to the quality and the phone’s capabilities. If you would like to have a new flagship and not to ruin your household budget, consider whether the negative features that I have mentioned before are as important to you, as they are for me. If not – you can buy it.
Advantages and disadvantages
- bright, clear display
- great assembly
- reasonable interface
- high efficiency
- quick charging
- good fingerprint scanner
- etui in the set
- photos quality adequate to the price
- Dual SIM
- possibility to record calls and the display
- accurate GPS
- good sound
- great background blurring with special effects
- lack of microSD cards socket
- no minijack
- is not waterproof
- no radio
- lack of earphones in the set
- lack of notifications on the bar
- inactive (for now) facial recognition
- big notch
- overexposed backgrounds in selfies
- problems with connecting panoramas
Source: GSMchoice.com; viewed: 1904 times.