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Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S Hands-On and First Impressions: It's a looker

The original bezel-less phone is now in its third iteration, with improved specifications and camera. We had a chance to try it out.

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Highlights

  • The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S was launched in China earlier this week.

  • The phone is powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC.

  • The Mi MIX 2S also features a dual-camera setup at the rear, touted to be Xiaomi's best ever camera phone.

Well before the current crop of screen-first smartphones came the first Xiaomi Mi MIX in 2016. With a screen aspect ratio of 17:9 and what can be called as one of the first bezel-less screen designs, the phone was limited to being a production concept that only sold in China. A year later, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 took the concept global, and the phone was launched in India towards the end of 2017.

Now, less than a year later, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S has been launched. It isn’t radically different from its predecessor; it sports nearly the same design and styling, with only small aesthetic changes. The big changes here are under the hood, with the new phone being powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, and sporting a dual-camera setup at the back. We had a chance to use an early unit, and here are our first impressions.

Design isn’t very different

While early rumors may have suggested that the phone would have a notch or a small corner cutout for the front camera, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S sticks to the design language of the range. Xiaomi is among the manufacturers that has actively chosen to avoid the notched design, and the Mi MIX 2S retains its large, evenly-shaped screen. As a result, the earpiece remains piped into a narrow slit above the screen from behind it, and the front camera is still in its awkward position at the bottom of the screen.

While the default camera app lets you flip the phone and take regular selfies with the camera in a reasonable position, this still doesn’t work with third-party apps. Thus, your Snapchats and Instagram selfies still look weird, and tend to focus on your chin.

Key changes in the design can be seen at the back of the device. The phone continues to use a combination of metal for the frame and ceramic at the back, with the distinct ‘Mi MIX designed by Xiaomi’ text being retained. The fingerprint sensor is still at the same place, but the big change is the camera. The phone now has a vertically-aligned dual-camera setup, comprising of two 12-megapixel sensors with the LED flash sandwiched in-between.

I had a chance to use both the white and the black variants, and I personally prefer the black because it suits the bezel-less screen concept better. However, it is more reflective and therefore shows fingerprints and grime more obviously. Performance on the device is decent at first glance, but we’ll be able to speak about this in more detail once we’ve had a chance to review the Mi MIX 2S.

Much-needed improvements to the camera

While the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2’s camera isn’t bad, it’s not particularly good either. It is quite capable of shooting good pictures in regular conditions, but tends to suffer a bit in low-light conditions. The Mi MIX 2S improves on this by adding a sensor to it; it’s now a dual-camera setup with two 12-megapixel sensors. This enables depth-effect shots, and 2X lossless zoom. The primary sensor itself sees improvement, and is now an f/1.8 sensor with a larger 1.4-micron pixel size. The front camera is still a 5-megapixel shooter, but does get a pixel size boost to 1.4-microns.

At first glance itself it is clear that the camera is much improved. The unit I used still runs on in-development software, and any functionality that uses the second camera was not fully functional, so I wasn’t able to try out the portrait mode, and lossless zoom. However, the primary camera was working fine, and I was able to get an idea of how the phone performs when it comes to photography. Low-light photography in particular is good, as is general composure and color. Take a look at some of the camera samples above.

WATCH: Xiaomi Mi MIX 2s First Look

Final thoughts

After spending a little while with the device, I’m convinced as to why this is the Mi MIX 2S and not the Mi MIX 3. It’s iterative in what it changes, with the core design and experience remaining largely the same. The key differences are under the hood and in the camera, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 powering the phone and the dual-camera setup at the rear.

The improvements to the camera are significant, and performance is expected to be excellent thanks to the hardware. For this reason, the Mi MIX 2S looks to be an excellent option, if we do see it launch here in India. It remains a niche device, offering users an experience that is suitably backed by quality specifications.

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Xiaomi Mi MIX 2

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Android Nougat with Xiaomi’s MIUI 9
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core 2.45GHz 64-bit Processor
12 MP with IMX386 sensor, 4-axis OIS, f/2.0 aperture, 5P lens, PDAF, HDR
Xiaomi Mi MIX 2s
Android 8.0 Oreo
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC
Dual 12MP + 12MP
  • Published Date: March 30, 2018 4:53 PM IST
  • Updated Date: March 30, 2018 6:19 PM IST