There was a time when smartphones were smaller than they are today. The 5-inch mark for a smartphone screen was considered just about where a phone was considered a phablet, and indeed the earliest smartphones to be touted as phablets had screens just larger than five inches. Things have changed of late, and phones with 5.5-inch screens are now considered to be normal. The six-inch mark is now where phones are considered larger than usual.
So therefore, thanks to its 6.44-inch screen, we have no qualms about calling the new Xiaomi Mi Max 2 a phablet. Visibly larger, heavier and more unwieldy than most other smartphones, the Mi Max 2 is a large phone meant for people that want a large screen and big battery. Priced at Rs 16,999, the Mi Max 2 is the successor to the Xiaomi Mi Max and Mi Max Prime. With an updated specification sheet and design, the Mi Max 2 hopes to be much more than its predecessors, and we’ve reviewed the phone to find out just what the latest big-screen smartphone from Xiaomi is all about.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Design and Specifications
Let’s start with the good bits. The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is a lot like the incredibly successful and critically acclaimed Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, something that can be verified when you compare the specifications of the two phones. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, the Mi Max 2 has the same basic innards as the Redmi Note 4. You also get a dual-SIM hybrid slot, which allows for either two SIMs simultaneously, or a SIM card and a microSD card for expandable storage.
However, there are some key ways that the Mi Max 2 has improved, and as a result feels very current and up-to-date for a mid-range phablet. The phone has a full-metal unibody with antenna lines that stick to the edges at the back, much like those on the Apple iPhone 7 and OnePlus 5. The phone is also slim at 7.6mm, which helps keep the weight low for a large device. That doesn’t mean that the phone is light; at 211g, the phone is a heavyweight. However, all of these efforts in design do keep the phone as manageable and easy-to-handle as a large phone can be.
The only thing making the phone unwieldy and not-so-pocket-friendly is the size itself. The 6.44-inch screen is no doubt huge, and despite the fact that non-screen space and thickness has been minimized to keep the phone as compact as a 6.44-inch phone can be, it’s still a phone that is noticeably larger than most others. I did have trouble keeping it in my pocket on some occasions, and had to hold it in my hand or leave it in my bag, so this is a definite factor that needs to be considered if you intend to use the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 as your primary smartphone. This also shows when you use the fingerprint sensor, which takes some effort to reach. During my review, I found that there was no reasonable way to use this phone with one hand, and had resigned myself to two-handed use, including with the fingerprint sensor and any general use of the phone.
In terms of layout, the phone follows a fairly standard one, albeit with a few additions that wil go down well with buyers. The right has the power and volume buttons, the top has the 3.5mm jack and IR-emitter, the left has the dual-SIM tray and the bottom has the speaker grille and USB Type-C port. Although not a lot of manufacturers offer IR-emitters, Xiaomi continues to do so with some of its smartphones, and this might come in handy for some users.
Additionally, the use of the newer Type-C format for charging and data transfers will go down well with buyers. The phone also has a stereo speaker setup, where the earpiece functions as a speaker along with the primary speaker at the bottom of the phone. This is particularly useful when you’re watching videos on the phone, and matches up well with the large screen and media-friendly positioning of the phone. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Vs Xiaomi Mi Max
The phone’s screen is of course its biggest feature, and is a 6.44-inch full-HD IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 342 pixels-per-inch. While a QHD screen at this size would have been ideal, the price factor makes this a good proposition even with the full-HD screen, and the pixel density is high enough for you to not be able to perceive any individual pixels. Thanks to the IPS LCD display technology, it’s also bright and excellent when it comes to colors and detail. It’s fantastic when it comes to watching videos and movies, thanks to the large screen, and is also useful when you’re just browsing social media or looking at pictures.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Software
Xiaomi phones have always done so and continue to use MIUI, now up to version 8.5 on the Xiaomi Mi Max 2. What we are pleased to note is that the phone runs on Android 7.1.1 out of the box, with the May 2017 Android security patch in place. As has always been the case with MIUI, the interface is heavily customized and tweaked to make the best of the phone’s hardware and features.
Now, Xiaomi’s MIUI also has a reputation for being either excellent or unnecessarily complex, depending on how you look at it. I’ve personally grown to like the interface over the years that I’ve reviewed Xiaomi devices, although I do still prefer the stock or near-stock interfaces that you get on other smartphones. That said, there are certain qualities of MIUI that are worth highlighting.
One of the best of these is the Security app on MIUI, which lets you keep track of data usage, permissions, your blocklist and more. You can also scan for viruses and malware, create a second space or dual apps, secure certain apps with the fingerprint sensor or pin, and more. The single-layered interface also includes well-designed system apps and very little bloatware, apart from a handful of third party apps and some of Xiaomi’s own unnecessary bloatware.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Performance and Battery
When it comes to performance and battery life, the Mi Max 2 is geared towards efficiency and getting as much power out of a single charge as possible. This is made possible by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC under the hood. The chipset is known for its battery efficiency thanks to its 14nm fabrication process, and also offers reliable and stable mid-range performance. While it isn’t quite as powerful on pure performance as the Snapdragon 652, it certainly has more to offer when it comes to power efficiency.
As a result, what you get is a phone with a big battery and a system designed to pull every last drop of power out of that battery. During my time with the phone, I was able to go for at least two full days without needing to charge the phone, despite heavy use of the screen. Depending on how you use it, it’s possible to go even longer, particularly if you’re using it as a second phone. Performance is generally reliable, and I had a good time playing games on the phone without significant loading times or any lag and stutter. If you aren’t too particular about top-level performance, the Snapdragon 625 offers a decent balance of power and efficiency, and the Mi Max 2 gets this right in all ways.
Now, while charging a big-battery phone can typically be a painful affair, Xiaomi has ensured it isn’t as tedious a task with the Mi Max 2. Bundled in the sales package is a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0-compliant fast charger, capable of power output up to 18W. It’s possible to charge the device fully in ust about two hours, which is excellent considering the size of the battery. One hour of charging will get you between 50-55% of charge, which is enough to get you through a day of use. There’s also USB Type-C connectivity, which makes the process of plugging in your charger a bit easier. ALSO READ: The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 might be a great phone, but it’s still too big to be taken seriously
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Camera
The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is a lot like the Redmi Note 4, but the camera is one department where it’s different. While the Redmi Note 4 has a 13-megapixel primary camera, the Mi Max 2 uses a 12-megapixel camera, with a Sony IMX386 sensor. This is the same sensor as the one used on the primary camera of the flagship Xiaomi Mi 6, and promises better camera performance, thanks to the use of larger 1.25um pixels. Video recording is possible at up to 4K resolution, while slow motion video recording is possible at 120fps at 720p. The front camera is a 5-megapixel shooter, and the rear features dual-tone LED flash.
The key advantage of the larger 1.25um pixels is that the sensor is able to capture more light and detail, thereby theoretically allowing for better low-light photography. This is visible to an extent in low-light shots, which are clean and well composed for a phone that is priced at Rs 16,999. In good light, images are sharp, free of visible grain and full of detail that remains visible even on zooming in. This can be seen even in close-ups and artistic shots that might play with focus.
What is missing, however, is a dual-camera setup. The current rage for smartphones, dual-camera systems can be found in phones priced at even under Rs 15,000, and this may have made a difference to the camera skills of the Xiaomi Mi Max 2. The upcoming Gionee A1 Plus will sport a dual-camera set-up, and the similarly priced Nubia Z17 Mini also uses this to good effect. On its own, the camera is decent enough and does a good job with taking pictures without any of the fancy effects that come with a good dual-camera setup.
Purely objectively, the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is a great phone. It’s built beautifully, has a decent camera, a battery that takes a while to run out and a screen that’s big, detailed and excellent for media. At its price of Rs 16,999, there’s very little to fault about the phone on the face of it, with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and the efficient and reliable Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC under the hood. And even for a big phone, it feels like a phone thanks to its slim design and excellent hand feel.
But switching to opinion, I do feel that the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is perhaps too large and unwieldy to be taken seriously as a primary smartphone. While there is a segment of buyers that want a large phone, and another that might accept the size as a compromise for all of the other benefits such as a big battery and big screen on offer, it’s lack of pocket-friendliness means that the Mi Max 2 isn’t quite as perfect as its specification sheet makes it sound.
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However, as a second phone that you don’t need to keep in your pocket, the Mi Max 2 is fantastic. I’ve had a blast watching videos, shows and movies on the big screen, and indeed have nothing to worry about when it comes to the battery. While my primary smartphone does the heavy lifting and serious work, the Mi Max 2 works fantastically as a back-up device for everything else. And if phone size doesn’t matter to you, there’s decidedly nothing better than the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 at this price.