6.3 tech score In most areas, the Mi Mix is a beautiful piece of tech, with a beautiful screen, absolutely top-of-the-line specs, and even a little bit of gold for those wanting to part with just that little bit extra money. The phone is let down by the fact that it's simply not viable as a daily driver, due to its size (and this is coming from someone whose phones for the past few years have been the LG G4 and Samsung S7 Edge) paired with the somewhat outdated candy bar form factor. At the end of the day, this is a concept phone, and that should be considered when thinking about the price, however, I can't help but sense some artificially added value with a phone that has gold trimming before implementing an OLED screen.
Last year Xiaomi decided they were sick of seeing the completely bezel-less Apple and Samsung “leaked concepts” and decided to make their own. However, unlike these “concepts”, the Mi Mix is 100% real. 6.4” screen real-estate, 6GB Ram, 4400 mAh battery, a gold plated fingerprint scanner and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Xiaomi truly are pushing the boundaries on what people perceive as the quality of Chinese manufacturing.
Xiaomi is one of the Chinese technology companies really coming into their own in recent years, along with the likes of LeEco, Vivo, et cetera; and even looking back only a few years it’s clear to see the astonishing rate at which they are growing and improving. Admittedly Xiaomi originally fell more into the category of your average Chinese company, simply ripping-off other companies designs and producing them at a cheaper cost; with their android UI, ‘MIUI’, starting life as a very cheap looking IOS knock-off and transforming into MIUI 8, which although still aesthetically still looks rather similar to IOS, it is one of the most customizable android distribution, not only through the massive list of settings that Xiaomi give you to play with, but also through the fact that Xiaomi allows their users to unlock the bootloader of their devices, and install custom Roms, something that is usually frowned upon by larger companies.
That’s not to say the Mi Mix is Xiaomi’s first high-end flagship, with the Mi5, Mi5s, and Mi5s plus all being similarly spec-ed. What was truly surprising with the Mi Mix is that it is extremely unique. With most Xiaomi phones you can often pick them apart, and find where each piece of the design was ‘taken’ from, however the Mi Mix stands out among any current flagship and for the most part would stand out when compared with any other phone (other than the Sharp Aquos Crystal and Aquos Xx series and possibly some other bezel-less concepts). This sort of innovation is positive not only in the sense that it shows Xiaomi are becoming more independent/unique with their designs, but it is also positive in the sense that when a company like Xiaomi takes such a risky initiative if it was to sell well, it would give the ‘big competitors’ a much-needed shake out of their complacency.
The phone, of course, is not only beautiful in design but also in function. The 14MP camera (although not as good as some) performs amazingly well, the screen is vibrant and bright, the build quality is good, and with all the internal specs it boasts, it is no slouch in terms of performance. However, this doesn’t mean the Mi Mix is without fault. The screen, although quite beautiful, is LCD rather than OLED, meaning much a much lower contrast ratio; the camera is good, however for the price of the phone it should at least be on par with high-end flagships and it isn’t; the phone itself is not only too big (in terms of ergonomics) to use the candy bar form factor it possess, it is also extremely heavy and in terms of a £1000 piece of tech, heavy and awkward to hold is a worrying combination. A final negative which to a degree is irrelevant, is the fact Xiaomi have gold plated the fixtures, which although helps sell it to the Oil rich luxury market, for the general consumer this is a useless addition that does nothing but drives up the price (and probably plays a part in the phone’s weight).
In day to day tasks, although the performance of the phone is exactly what you would expect from a high-end flagship, the battery drains rather quickly due to the size of the screen, and it’s simply not viable to use in the same way you would use say a Galaxy S7 for casual browsing. Overall I think the Mi Mix is a step in the right direction, in terms of unique innovation, however Xiaomi have tried to make a luxury phone by covering it in gold rather than giving it a UHD screen (or even QHD for that matter), or an OLED panel, and I think this means the phone is slightly a case of wasted potential, however, it’s good to keep in mind that this is a concept phone, so it was never really going to have the same level of polish/refinement as a mass marketed phone.