It happens more and more often that manufacturers present flagship models, and shortly after that they add an even better construction to their offer – most often with words Plus or Pro added to it. This is what Xiaomi did with its Mi 8 Pro… Is it better than the base model?
However, Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro has a few elements, which distinguish it from its slightly older brother, and with others – it even surpasses it.
|Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro - video review
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
- Housing, set
- Display, interface
- Efficiency, battery
- Communication, sound, security
- Photography, video
- Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
I cannot deny that Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro stole my heart with its looks. I have not seen such a beautiful smartphone in a long time.
Xiaomi packs Mi 8 Pro in a box identical as the one in Mi 8. Even the sign on the package does not show that we have the Pro version in our hands at the first sight. We can only see it after reading the smaller inscription.
The set is just the same as most other Xiaomi models, which have come to me this year. And so – there is a cable and a charger (with QC3), there are of course some papers, needle for opening the card’s tray and a silicone cover.
There are no earphones – instead we receive a simple adapter from USB-C to a minijack. It has a short, thin cable and it does not match the colour of the phone.
On the other hand, I am a huge fan of Mi 8 Pro’s stylization. Making the back wall transparent was a great idea!
It does not matter that what you can see through it is only an imitation – it is eye-catching and you just want to look at the phone. What is more, Xiaomi does not hide the fact that this is a dummy, but it “toys” with the user, placing under the glass interesting dates, notes, or clues about the phone’s specification.
Besides a beautiful back it has a few other interesting details. By looking closer, we can see red accents – around cameras’ lenses, on the power button or inside the USB-C socket. Enough with praising, now it is time for more down-to-earth matters. The housing is stiff, well-made and it provides the vibe of using a high-class product.
Glass panels at the front and at the back are rather resistant to scratches (but I did not try to throw the phone and I do not encourage you to do it), they do not get dirty too much and it is easy to clean them.
Ergonomics is impeccable – everything is where it should be, the device is not too heavy, but we need to hold it tight – it is slick. We need to be careful when putting it on even a slightly leaned surface – it can just slide down.
Elements’ placement on sides is a classical one. Buttons are on the right side, on the left there is a socket for cards. At the top there is only the secondary microphone, at the bottom there is the main one, a USB-C socket and a speaker – with symmetrical grill. The frame is metal, solid, but shiny. If we will make an effort – it can be scratched. Unfortunately, there is another flaw – the smartphone is not waterproof.
The magic is gone once we will turn the phone and look at the front. A sad, dark glass panel. When the display will light up it will be no better, because we will see a large notch and a slightly narrower bezel at the bottom. It is ok, but it should have been prettier.
And since I have already mentioned about the display - Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro has a good one, just like in Mi 8. This is AMOLED with a decent contrast, sharpness and colours representation. Besides the notch it is difficult to criticize anything.
The display works both in sunny days and at night, brightness levels are selected properly. There is an eye protection from the blue light (automated as well) and the possibility to control the intensity and colours’ temperature. The touch panel works as it should, I had no problems with polarization – the matrix works with numerous glasses. If it was not for this notch… I will tell you right away why I am so bothered with it.
Why this notch is such a big problem for me? The reason is simple. It is responsible for one of the features of the interface that irritated me in Mi 8, and here – they have repeated it.
The presence of the notch prevents the phone from showing any notification icons on the top bar. In order to see what we have missed, we need to unlock the phone and slide down the notifications bar. There is the Always-on-display function, but it is of not much help, because it does not show icons either. And the notifications LED is only a poor consolation…
Fortunately this is the only interface element which I can criticize. The rest is ok. The phone has MIUI – lately updated to the MIUI 10 version. Users familiar with this interface will feel like home, and those who are just beginning their adventure with the Xiaomi add-on, will not be lost.
The interface has a flat form – without the tray for apps. Icons are shown on consecutive desktops and we can of course group them in folders. From interesting features – we can navigate using gestures. This is comfortable, though it requires getting used to it.
I, for example – after being hesitant at the begging – got used to this solution so much, that after switching to another phone I was still trying to use MIUI gestures. For traditionalists – we can of course turn on virtual buttons on the screen, there is a possibility to hide the notch by dimming spaces on its sides as well.
There is a floating button, which enhances navigating through the interface, there is a one hand usage mode and the possibility to divide the screen. We can wake the display up with a double tap and change themes. We can personalize sounds and clone some apps – in order to use different user’s accounts, with a separate icon for each one.
In addition, we can ascribe shortcuts to different sequences of pressing phone’s buttons (unfortunately, when using gestures we have less of them), in addition, MIUI offers Second space – that is a place for our secret files and apps. Xiaomi offers their own cloud, to which we can export contacts or photos.
There is not much additional apps – still, Xiaomi adds something from itself. Among them we can, for example, record what is happening on the screen, there is a QR or business cards scanner, compass and miDrop for sharing files among other devices with the same app. Xiaomi adds its own browser, notepad, clock or a music player.
In addition, there are preinstalled weather app, files manager or a tool for managing the system. What is important – among preinstalled apps there is no bloatware, but in some – like in the “cleaning” app or in the player – we can find commercials. Fortunately, there are no aggressive pop-ups. Some additions – like a shortcut for the MIUI community – can be uninstalled.
When it comes to the efficiency – I cannot see a major difference between Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8. It is simply good. The phone works ably, basically there is no reason to dwell about it. The smoothness of work is worthy of a flagship.
I had no problems with using different apps, games work as they should, I did not see any problems with decreasing efficiency of hardware after fully using the phone’s potential.
It is worth using the memory cleaning app from time to time – apps can remain in it for a long time, fortunately there is an “abundance” of memory. Switching between apps is instant, after almost a whole month of usage I did not notice any lags.
The only thing that can bother us is the internal memory. There is a lot of it, because around 117 out of 128GB, but we cannot use microSD cards. The USB with the OTG mode and external memories can be some solution, but sometimes a memory card would have been better. This is another detail that bothers me in this model.
Basically, I should not complain about the battery, because it does not give way to other flagships that I use every day. What is interesting, the battery is smaller than in the base Mi 8.
Maybe it is because the back panel needs to fit “ornaments”, and under the display – the scanner…? In any case – you do not need to worry about charging the battery during the day or during a normal, typical usage of the phone. We just need to charge it every evening or morning.
However, if you are not going to use Always-on-Display, you will slightly dim the screen, set a darker wallpaper and you are not going to use multimedia capabilities of the phone too much, achieving two days of constant usage is possible. Still, assume that this is a rather “one-day” model. So – it is good, but it could have been better.
I did not have a charger as the one that is being added to the set, but using a different one with QC3 (that is the one in the original set) the charging took less than an hour and a half.
It is worth mentioning that the phone supports the QC4 standard – so with an appropriate charger we can even shorten this time. Unfortunately, there is no inductive charging, though the glass back allows this.
I have no concerns towards communication capabilities of Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro. The phone offers great quality of sound and calls. The receiver speaker transmits the sound as clear as its bigger brother on the lower wall. The second one – unfortunately – is not great for playing music, but when supporting calls – we cannot complain about it.
The support of the phone was handled to the default dialler, which has similar to other capabilities – but it has something, that is extremely rare: the possibility to record calls, even automatic ones. There is of course a possibility to quickly select contacts or block numbers.
We have Dual SIM, a passive one, with nanoSIM cards. The tray is comfortable in usage, just like the interface dedicated to using two cards. Xiaomi provides its own texting app, but typing was left to the classic Google keyboard.
When it comes to the musical side, the lack of minijack is a big disadvantage, just like the lack of an FM radio. However, we have a nice and comfortable audio player, separate video player, and in “Additional settings” we can find the sound equalizer. If we have earphones signed by Xiaomi – we will find additional, predefined corrections. It is worth noting that the phone has Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX and aptX HD codes support.
Xiaomi boasts with the dual-channel GPS. It is supposed to be much more precise than the classical one. And even though I did not manage to see major differences between Mi 8 Pro and a competitive (but a clearly more expensive flagship) – I believe them. The GPS work ably – just as we could have expected. We do not need anything more… Just like I have no concerns towards the work of the dual-channel Wi-Fi, and NFC is the cherry on the top. It works, we can pay with it…
Have you noticed that I have not mentioned about the fingerprint scanner yet? And have you seen it anywhere in here? The solution is simple and it is one of the key difference between Mi 8 and Mi 8 Pro. In this reviewed model the scanner is placed under the display. This is a modern, effective and a bells and whistles-type solution… but it needs to be perfected.
The configuration of the scanner is identical as with a classical one, the only difference is that we touch the surface shown on the screen. I have the impression that it takes slightly longer to remember the scan than in a classical one. And when it comes to the reading – I think that the screen-scanner works slightly longer and has more errors than the classical one.
In this case, in average, only 7 tries out of 10 were successful. After the update to MIUI 10 there was some slight improvement – but it was so small that I consider it as an autosuggestion. I did not notice any problems with reading when the display was dirty – but it had problems with a wet finger.
The angle of placement does not have a major meaning – just like the force – though we need to “press” it a bit. I did not like this scanner too much – for now this is more of an interesting feature than something useful in an everyday usage.
The facial recognition is something different, it justifies the big notch a bit. Just like in Mi 8, it works similarly. Because I was using this form of unlocking the phone almost the whole time, I managed to take a closer look and see some details, which I did not try to test previously. The sensor works almost in all conditions – in the full sunlight and in the dark.
Glasses (even sunglasses!) or hats do not bother the scanner, it simply forks. I will not change my haircut, but I intentionally changed my facial hair during the review – in many different ways, but Mi 8 Pro was not bothered by it. It recognized me. It cannot be deceived with a photo, it cannot be unlocked, when the user is sleeping with his or hers eyes closed. And here it is an interesting fact – we just need to open one eye to unlock the phone.
Putting on glasses – even sunglasses, with a polarizing filter – does not affect the scanner. It still works only with eyes opened. Great. And that is way I recommend future buyers of Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro to use this protection with the face pattern – though it is considered as a slightly less trustworthy security.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro is another model from the Chinese brand that gives no reasons to criticize, when it comes to its photography-video capabilities. Here is a similar set of cameras, as in Mi 8: 20 Mpx f/2.0 at the front and 2x12 Mpx at the back. The main matrix is Sony IMX363 with the f/1.8 lens, and the secondary one – Samsung S5K3M3 with f/2.4 aperture. The second matrix offers lossless, 2x zoom and support for the digital zoom or the background blurring. The camera has AI and a digital and an optical image stabilization as well.
Day time photos are great. We cannot complain about details representation or the work of the autofocus, colours representation is equally good, though I think that photos taken with AI have slightly enhanced colours. On the other hand – effects of the additional software are subtle, and in some cases they improve the captured image significantly.
Photos in weaker lighting are decent as well, though they lack something to be considered the highest class. We can see more noises, and what follows, the details representation is slightly worse than in day time photography – even in more difficult lighting conditions. Fortunately, there is a manual mode, in which we can decrease the sensitivity and prolong the exposure time (just use a tripod) – and take a successful photo.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, just like Mi 8, can make a small close up – but due to a smaller lens – in some cases it can be worse than the one from the main camera. I am of course talking about shots in the weaker lighting. During the day – we can be more flexible in a frame selection, and in addition there is a nice, 8x zoom. I am hesitant to call the digital zoom effects good – but let us say that they are decent and there is no major image degradation.
There is the background blurring as well – but Mi 8 had it too. The image is being cut precisely, we can add “special effects” – it is worth practicing and playing with photography.
The front camera – gives no reasons to complain about, however it is worth not taking photos on a highly lighted background. It is a pity that we cannot light the face with the display, but there is background blurring (a nice one) and the possibility to take group photos. The camera connects several frames, trying to capture all faces with a smile and without closed eyes. And it works nicely, though we need to be careful not to move the phone too much while taking the shot.
We can commend video capabilities as well. We can record in 4K, we can save videos in slow motion – 240 frames per second – but only in Full HD. In this resolution we can choose 120 frames per second, there is a time lapse as well. The image is recorded smoothly, without “jumps” in focus or exposition. The sound – is correct.
|Videos from Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
The camera usage was handled to the preinstalled software, in which modes can be switched with a gesture, by swiping the finger to sides. Available modes are: Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama or Short video. They are complemented by the manual mode mentioned before, in which we can control the sensitivity, shutter opening time, exposition, white balance or focus. There are separate switched for the LED flash, HDR, AI and colour filters – and a switch between front and back cameras’ matrixes. In particular modes there is an additional menu – under the “hamburger” button, that is three bars. Here we can find additional options, which change depending on the selected mode. There is a shortcut for least used settings as well.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro can astonish, but is not free from flaws. Among them we can count the lack of waterproofness and wireless charging, the lack of minijack and the low quality of the adapter, lack of an FM radio and a wide notch, which prevents from displaying notifications icons. We can complain about the quality of panoramic photos and the work of the fingerprint scanner. The battery could have been bigger, and the absence of the memory cards’ socket can be bothersome as well.
But the rest… The rest is great. The phone takes good photos and videos, it has a good display and a great facial recognition system, and what is more – a high-class housing. The efficiency is great, just like ergonomics and interface. I am hesitant to say this, but the stylization of Mi 8 Pro is simply perfect.
The price difference is not high. I can pay more for effective looks and a bells-and-whistle (though sometimes irritating) scanner without a hesitation. Who said that we cannot surround ourselves with pretty things…?
Advantages and disadvantages
- brilliant backs stylization
- bright, clear display
- good and able facial recognition
- good quality of assembly
- reasonable interface
- high efficiency
- quick charging
- etui in the set
- photos quality adequate to the price
- Dual SIM
- possibility to record calls and display
- accurate GPS
- good sound
- good background blurring with special effects
- slow (though effective) fingerprint scanner
- lack of a microSD cards socket
- no minijack
- the phone is not waterproof
- lack of an FM radio
- no earphones in the set
- lack of notifications icons on the bar
- big notch
- panoramas are connected poorly
- average battery capabilities