I had to wait a bit before reviewing Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.
However, I have just stopped playing with sliding the housing – and I am rushing to share with you my impressions from using this device.
|Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 - video review
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
- Housing, set
- Display, interface
- Efficiency, battery
- Communication, sound, security
- Photography, video
- Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
As usual, let us first talk about the set. We can find classic elements in here – a charger that supports the Quick Charge 3 standard (though the phone itself supports the fourth version), the package contains a USB-C cable with a reasonable length as well. The manufacturer added a plastic cover that protects the “backs” of the phone.
On the one hand, it decreases the attractiveness of the housing, but on the other it protects it from any damage and reduces the height difference of the camera module. After putting it on the module does not stand above the housing and the phone stops wobbling when we place it on a flat surface.
In addition, thanks to this cover it is easier to found the fingerprint scanner, traditionally placed at the back of the housing.
In the package we can find some “papers” and a needle for opening the tray for cards (unfortunately – 2 x nanoSIM, without microSD!) and an adapter from USB-C to minijack. Yes, there is no minijack in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, and the adapter itself looks fragile and is the first candidate to be misplaced from this set.
There are no earphones, but there is a plate for the wireless charging… Charging is rather fast for a Qi one – it gives whole 2A. I will add that the whole set is elegantly packed.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 itself makes a positive impression. The housing has a rather simple shape, but the back of the phone made out of ceramic materials adds a bit of elegance, shinning in an interesting way. And it is much more resistant to scratches than a regular glass – though supposedly it can, just like a glass, shatter. Out of obvious reasons I did not conduct a test of dropping it from a height. The back of the phone with the golden logo of the Mix series looks beautiful, but it gets beautifully dirty as well. It attracts fingerprints and dust gathers around the camera’s frame.
The front of the phone is as effective as its backs. The display is surrounded by a really narrow bezel, and along the glass panel there is a subtle, plastic frame. The rectangular display is not ruined by any notch or a hole, but despite a narrow bezel the designers managed to fit in it the additional microphone, sensors and the notifications LED. And where is the front camera and the speaker of the receiver? Under the display, in the slide-out part of the housing. Slider is the most important feature of Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, and – what I am afraid of the most – its biggest curse.
Thanks to this we have an almost bezel-less display, but at the same time, the phone – obviously – is not waterproof, and in addition – it might be fragile. I believed when the manufacturer assured me about the durability of the mechanism – 300 000 cycles. The mechanism is rather simple, it is based on four magnets and does not have a lot of movable parts that could brake down. It should be enough for around 5 years of using the phone. However, there is one thing that cannot be avoided.
Problems with slider will begin, when dirt will get between parts of the housing. I am not worried about the dust from pockets, we just need to blow it out or wipe it, it should not damage anything. But what will happen when we will take to phone to a beach or other place with a lot of dust?
Some mean speck can get into the mechanism and it could scratch the glass protecting the camera while sliding out the housing. And we can forget about taking selfies… This is a bit dramatic scenario – but you must admit, it is a real one, right?
I will add that the slider works with a nicely adjusted resistance, accidental slide happens seldom – mainly after taking the phone out of a tight pocket. I feared that two parts of the housing will make noises while holding the phone – but they do not. Between these elements is a small, barely noticeable clearance – but it needs to be there, so the housing can slide without a major effort. In any case – my device neither knocked nor creaked. The housing is stiff, be should not be afraid of “bendgate”.
The placement of elements is a typical one. At the bottom there is the microphone, USB-C socket and a single speaker, at the top – only the secondary microphone. On the right there are volume control and power buttons. They could have been slightly lower, around the half of the height of the phone. A person with shorter fingers can have a problem with reaching them comfortably.
On the left side there is the previously mentioned tray for cards and an interesting feature: an additional, programmable button. It runs Google Assistant by default – but we can change its work in the menu. Due to the fact that this button is at the same height, as the power button, we can press it by accident.
Let us take a look at the display. This is an AMOLED matrix with an almost 6.4-inch diagonal and the Full HD+ resolution. It is supposedly created by Samsung. There is no reason to dwell about this, the lack of the notch should please us already. And what is more, there is a high level of details, “juicy” colours and nice readability angles. I had no problems with using the phone in sunny days or while wearing glasses with polarizing filters, and the minimum brightness level goes comfortably low.
There is of course the blue light filter, which can work automatically, in selected time of days. We can adjust the balance and colours’ saturation to our needs. In addition, there is a support for HDR and the Always-on-display. The touch panel works perfectly and the glass seems to be durable.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 works on Android Pie with the MIUI 10 interface and security updates from November 2018 (state at the end of January 2019).
I have written many times about the MIUI interface, so in order not to bore you I will send you back to previous reviews. I will just mention about the most important details – and differences that distinguish MIUI in Mi Mix 3.
First of all – there are notifications icons, which lacks bothered mi in Xioamis with notches. There is nicely developed shortcuts panel, and an additional panel with widgets available after swiping the main desktop to the right (we can turn it off). There is the floating button, screen division and single hand usage mode.
We can turn on shortcuts button or edit the buttons’ panel, but I strongly encourage you to control it with gestures.
There are a few things in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 that cannot be found in other Xiaomis. I am talking about features connected with the slider mechanism.
It has a whole separate part in the menu – we can selected different sounds associating with the slider (I recommend “Warrior”), we ascribe different actions to sliding out the housing. The default – and probably the most reasonable one – is running the front camera.
But the slider can turn on a different app selected by us and open a friendly panel of widgets and shortcuts. It can do nothing as well – but it would be a shame to lose an additional option.
Another peculiar thing is the sub-menu dedicated to the additional button on the left side of the housing. It is unnecessarily hidden in the “additional settings” section.
A short press of the button will run Google Assistant, but we can ascribe one of selected actions – it can launch cameras, torch, last used app or the eye protection mode. We can ascribe an action to a single (longer) and a dual press – and it is a pity that we cannot run any app, like in the case of the slider.
I am constantly pleased that Xiaomi does not overdo with the amount of preinstalled apps, and those that are already here are either useful or can be quickly and easily uninstalled.
QR and business cards scanner, screen recording or a file sharing apps can be useful, just like the program to managing the system. Xiaomi provides their own gallery, browser, files manager or a weather app. There is the possibility to clone apps and “Second space”, which is a separate, private zone. There are no obvious bloatwares.
|Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 - a few words about the software and the set
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
And how does it all work? How do you think, since inside we can find here Snapdragon 845 and 6GB of RAM? In a popular benchmark Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 scores almost 300 000 points – which shows that this phone is a monster.
I do not think that there will be a game that could pose a serious threat to it anytime soon. I could write a poem about how common apps work and how fast they run, or how pleasant it is to switch between them…
However, I am not a bard and I do not want to be called a Xiaomi fan boy, so I will limit myself to saying that the phone should fulfil expectations of the most demanding users and it is in the top tier when it comes to the efficiency. I will just mention that during an intensive work it does not heat up too much and it will not work as a hand heater in colder days.
What am I bothered with? We cannot use a microSD card. For many users 116GB from declared 128GB of internal memory – it will be enough. For me, who records a lot of videos, stores a high amount of music files and takes a lot of photos – this is a bit too few. Some files can be exported to a cloud – but I simply prefer to keep them for myself… Some help can be the USB socket that supports OTG, but this is not an ideal solution.
Just after the launch of Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 there were some opinions that the battery does not have enough capacity. However, it turned out that it is not that bad. Yes, we can always benefit from a bigger battery – but the one in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 works pretty well.
The smartphone can work for up to 2 days, a day and a half can be achieved without any effort. I did not manage to deplete the battery in one day (besides some extreme tries), and what is equally important it charges really fast.
Charging the battery in the traditional way takes a bit over an hour (the first few percent appear almost instantly), while on the wireless plate – an hour and a half. For those, who are curious – the lifespan with the display on, depending on the usage scenario – is around 6-7 hours.
In Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 we have a decent ultrasound fingerprint scanner.
It works great, it has a high readability count, it is not particularly susceptible to dirt, it will read a slightly moist (but not a wet one!) finger. It is a pity that we cannot use it as a touchpad – from any other additions we have options like releasing the trigger or authorizing payments.
Xiaomi added the facial recognition system, though by using the slider mechanism this is not the most practical method, as we need to slide open the housing. Still, it works even in the dark (it simply needs to light our face with the display) and it cannot be deceived by capturing a sleeping person’s face – we need to have at least one eye open.
It is not bothered by glasses or changing the hair style – but in weak lighting sunglasses are a problem, the scanning takes a bit longer and sometimes it does not unlock at all.
When it comes to the communication side it is difficult to complain about anything. There is LTE (B20 as well), we can record calls, there is Dual SIM (passive) simple in usage, and a dual-channel Wi-Fi with an interesting feature.
After running the hotspot function, most smartphones will disconnect from WLAN networks, switching to mobile data. This one does not. So it can be an additional access point to another Wi-Fi router… Connectivity modules cover Bluetooth 5.0 (with aptX HD), NFC and GPS (2 ranges), Glonass, Galileo, QZSS and Beidou.
All modules work appropriately and did not cause any troubles in an everyday usage. I did not notice anything worrisome. Unfortunately – there is no FM radio.
The sound quality is great. The external speaker, though a single one, is powerful and clear enough. The receiver speaker – this one could have been better. Sliding the housing out helps a bit. The converter is in the “inner” part of the housing and must move through the “tunnel” above the display, which muffles the sound a bit.
When we will slide out the housing – sound waves go directly to our ear – and we can hear better. I will add that sliding the housing seems to be natural – we can take and end calls in this way. I have already forgotten how comfortable it was.
We can say that Mi Mix brought back memories of old phones… Unfortunately, the charm is gone when we try to use wireless earphones. The sturdy adapter rather forces us to switch to Bluetooth.
The manufacturer boasts with 108 points in the DxO ranking, but photography results will probably appeal to you more. The series of test photos can be found here.
Photos taken during the day are perfect – but in this feature even middle phones can show their power. However, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 has an additional lens, which in good lighting conditions gives lossless 2x zoom.
In weaker lighting – the image is composed from two lenses, but without really zooming in it is difficult to distinguish it from the one achieved only with the single telephoto lens. In order to check which lens is being used – we just need to cover it with our finger. If the image does not disappear – we are zooming in with the optical way (do not mistaken this with optical zoom!). In any way – effects are great, and in addition – there is a digital zoom, which gives a decent image as well.
There is a dedicated night time mode in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 as well. It slightly enhances the contrast, decreases noises and makes colours a bit more natural.
Unfortunately, taking a photo in this mode takes a bit longer than in the standard auto mode, and even this can take decent shots after dark – however we will see more noises and a lower level of details. In weak lighting it is best to use the main lens – it captures more light.
The additional lens works better in the portrait mode, which ensures a precise background blurring. In addition, thanks to the software we can use additional effects – like a blurring animation or studio lighting. Still, we know all this from previous Xiaomi models.
We all know about the problem with connecting panoramas as well. Here – I think – it is slightly better than in the Mi 8 series, but it still is not ideal. It is difficult to take a panorama just like that, the camera needs to be firmly hold in order to avoid tearing. Strange, because even cheaper smartphones can glue photos together not forcing the user to care about stably holding the camera. I have almost forgotten! There is of course AI, which work is mostly limited to recognizing scenes and enhancing the colours’ saturation.
When it comes to video recording – it is great. The quality is good, stabilization does its job, the sound and the smoothness are alright… You can see sample videos below:
|Sample videos recorded with Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
We can even record in 4K with 60 frames per second, and in slow motion with 960 frames per second, but only 10 seconds shots. Here the image is not that great and in addition – it is difficult to capture this ideal moment. It is because the phone first records in 30 frames per second at the beginning only to switch to 960 in the last few seconds. It is hard to feel when to press the trigger. The match that you can see in the compilation above required over a dozen tries… This function needs to be perfected.
The front camera can surprize us. The fact that a 24-megapixel matrix can give a good image seems to be obvious… But in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 we have an additional, 2-megapixel matrix for background blurring. And it works great, and what is interesting is that the blurring can be done during video recording as well. Still – it is impressive. There is of course the beautifying mode with the AI enhancement. If we will not overdo it – it will come out quite natural. As an interesting fact I will say that in the DxO rank the front camera was placed higher than the main one…
The camera can be used with the simple and user-friendly interface, known from previous models. I can assess it mostly positive, though I am still irritated with the lack of a quick access to settings, which requires going through the menu of additional modes.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is an attractive proposition. It has a high number of competition, but it distinguishes itself among them with an interesting construction, unusual looks and what is the most important – a large display without weird solution.
The device has a great performance, high quality of housing and its assemble and a friendly, though not overloaded interface. In addition we have great photography-video capabilities, though the camera software requires some adjustments in a few places.
I am hesitant to buy Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 due to the lack of a minijack, waterproofness and the inability to use microSD cards. If these three elements are not important to you, I can recommend this device. Provided that you are not afraid to damage the slider.
Advantages and disadvantages
- unusual stylization
- bright, clear display without a notch
- great assembly
- reasonable interface
- high efficiency
- quick charging
- cover and a wireless charger in the set
- lack of bloatware
- Dual SIM
- possibility to record calls and screen
- good sound
- good fingerprint scanner
- good photos quality
- good background blurring with special effects
- selfie with background blurring (in the video mode as well)
- lack of a microSD cards tray
- lack of minijack
- the housing is not waterproof
- no FM radio
- facial recognition is not particularly comfortable
- chance of damaging the slider
- no earphones in the set
- limited time of recording selfies with bokeh
- it is difficult to record in 960 fps
- problems with connecting panoramas
|Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 - first encounter, before its launch
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
Source: GSMchoice.com; viewed: 354 times.