As statements of intent in phone design go, it’s hard to think of a stronger one than the original Mi Mix. Calling it a “concept phone” and drawing on the talents of legendary designer Philippe Starck, Xiaomi built a minimalist slab dominated by a huge screen with tiny bezels that foreshadowed the biggest trend in 2017's smartphones.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most practical phone to actually use. But now, just under a year later, Xiaomi is ready to reveal a sequel — and on first glance the Mi Mix 2 looks like a phone that you’d be far more likely to want to live with.
A smaller screen with a narrower aspect ratio
At 5.99 inches, the screen is quite a bit smaller than the colossal 6.44-inch panel used in the original. It’s likely to feel a little smaller than those numbers would imply, too, because it uses an 18:9 aspect ratio compared to 17:9, meaning the display will be even narrower across. The “chin” below the screen has been shrunk by 12 percent, and the corners are also more obviously rounded.
The phone in general is more obviously rounded, actually, in a break from the sharp lines used previously. The aluminum frame surrounds a ceramic back panel, and Xiaomi is also releasing a special edition Mi Mix 2 that it claims will be the first ever phone to use a full unibody ceramic design.
Xiaomi has also tweaked some of the original Mi Mix’s quirks. The Mi Mix 2 now uses an actual speaker rather than a piezoelectric ceramic driver on the rear; sound is now piped through a tiny slit on the top edge, which should be an improvement but is still likely to represent a compromise of sorts.
Another compromise is the front-facing camera, which has been more seamlessly integrated into the bottom panel but will still require you to hold the phone upside-down for selfies. The rear-facing camera, meanwhile, uses the same 12-megapixel sensor with 4-axis OIS as the Mi 6, but pairs it with a single f/2.0 lens — no dual-camera action here.
Otherwise, the Mi Mix 2 has what you'd expect from a high-end flagship phone in terms of specs. Here’s the critical info:
- 5.99-inch 2160x1080 LCD at 401ppi
- 151.8mm x 75.5mm x 7.7mm, 185g
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
- 6GB of RAM (8GB on ceramic special edition)
- 64/128/256GB storage options (special edition is only 128GB)
- 3400mAh battery
- No headphone jack
- Bluetooth 5.0
- MIUI 9, based on Android Nougat
- 43 LTE bands
That last spec might be the most important if you’re considering this phone, as it means the phone should work properly on US LTE networks. Xiaomi itself still won’t be selling the phone in the US, however — it’s just saying that it’ll work if you find a way of getting one over there. It’ll also be available in most of the global markets where Xiaomi has a presence after an initial launch in China.
As for how much that’ll cost you, Xiaomi is pricing the Mi Mix 2 from 3299 yuan (about $500) for the model with 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. The 128GB version costs 3599 yuan ($550), meanwhile, and the 256GB model will be 3999 yuan ($610); the unibody ceramic special edition with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at 4699 yuan ($720).
We’re at the launch event in Beijing — stay tuned for more coverage.