Xiaomi has been one of those companies that stuck to its design principles, and that has been the case with almost all the phones we have seen from the company. But that does not mean that there are no exceptions. There are a few happy exceptions like the Xiaomi Mi Mix that the company launched a while back, as well as the Black Shark gaming phone. But like I wrote in my first impressions of the Xiaomi Black Shark, the Mi 8 Explorers Edition is also one of the phones that Xiaomi experimented with.
From the front, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition is identical to the regular Mi 8, but that changes when it is turned around. The back glass panel of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition is made of a transparent black tinted glass. This shows what the innards of the phone look like. And it certainly does make the phone look very unique, I have to admit. The only other phone to come with a see through back is the HTC U11+ which has a translucent back panel and not a transparent one. It’s important to point out that everything is not what it seems though, and there’s a bit of trickery in the visuals with Xiaomi using a fake circuit board.
In terms of the specs, the phone is similar to the normal Xiaomi Mi 8 with some differences here and there. The differences are primarily in the RAM and storage segment. The Explorer Edition comes with 8GB RAM and one option for 128GB storage, while the normal Mi 8 comes with 6GB RAM and options for 64/128/256GB internal storage. The other difference lies with the security of the phone where the Explorer edition lacks a physical fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone and has one embedded under the screen. The last difference lies win the battery, where the Explorer Edition has a smaller battery than the Mi 8 by 400mAh.
The phone performs exactly as well as a flagship should and with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 GPU and 8GB RAM, its does that with ease. The UI of MIUI 10 is pretty much the same as the other Xiaomi phones, though screen transition times were hardly present. The dual-camera setup on the rear with 12 megapixel sensors produces some decent images that could ideally have been better considering the price of the device. The dual-front cameras with 12 megapixel sensors also elicited the same reaction from me as with the rear cameras. It was during the ChinaJoy expo that I was able to take a look at the device and hence could not spend as much time as I would have like with it and as many of the features as I wanted.
And I wanted to save my comments about the design of the phone for last because that is what makes this phone unique. And like I said, the front of the phone look identical to the Mi 8, but the rear of the device is what grabs my attention. The transparent display appears to show the components inside the phone, that include the PCB, battery, the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, RAM and other things with the Xiaomi logo printed on the glass. But in reality it is just a decorative layer that is a representation of the units used on the real mainboard underneath the decorative one.
The right panel of the device houses the volume rocker keys as well as the power button which is red in color and helps accentuate the whole design of the phone.
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Despite the fact that the back panel of the phone does not show the real innards of the device, it does make for a good looking phone and the specs of it are top notch. And those things work in its favor and give the device a unique flavor in the crowded flagship segment right now.