The Xiaomi Mi Max is here. It is big and it is powerful!
Xiaomi has seen alot of success with its past devices and it’s getting an Apple-like reputation of becoming the one of the top contenders in every segment it enters.
The last two releases by the brand, the Redmi Note 3 and the Mi 5, both became top-drawer players in their playground. And thanks to them, Xiaomi is today, very well placed in the smartphone world.
And… I personally was very impressed with the Redmi Note 3. Well, the Mi Max is a bigger version of the Redmi Note 3.
Given the Note 3’s popularity, Xiaomi doesn’t seem to be done with that gem just yet. In fact, it seems that Xiaomi’s just beefed up the Redmi Note 3 and cast it out in the next segment.
The Mi Max is still mid-budget but still packs a very strong punch. It makes a very good first impression with it sleek metal body, wonderful display a very able camera and a more-than-able battery unit.
Let’s assess this device qualitatively and see how it fares in practicality as well.
Let’s start with one of the key selling points – the display.
Given that the preferable size in today’s market is 5.5 inches, Xiaomi’s decided that’s not enough. They’ve made the Mi Max push the boundaries well beyond the 6 inch mark! As crazy as that sounds, it’s actually a fairly decent display.
Clearly, when a brand is intending to be that adventurous, in order to make a mark beyond raised eyebrows, the hardware needs to support that punt. And it does.
The Mi Max uses a 6.44 inch IPS LCD Full-HD panel (with a resolution of 1920×1080) and a decent pixel density of 324 pixels per inch (which is fairly decent for a screen that big). Honestly speaking, a quad HD screen would have been better, but a Full HD one works pretty well for this device.
The display in general seems to be very delightful – it is sharp vibrant and very good to look at and it’s bright! The sunlight visibility is decent, not great. But you might not have to worry about that too much, given that anti-reflective tempered glass screen protectors are fairly easily available nowadays. And… the viewing angles on this screen are superb.
The colours seem are pleasant, very well distributed and thus look natural. Saturation levels are in the right zones too. The only issue that I have with display is with the contrast – the blacks do not seem to be as deep as they should. Though you can alter that manually but that comes at the cost of another colour – since you can only boost one colour by compromising on another colour. And, by itself too, the screen does have an inherent blue tinge to it.
Apart from that, the real world experience of this display is wonderful. You can tell by just looking at the screen how bright and sharp it is. Text looks so very clean and distinct, even the smaller prints 😉
All in all, Xiaomi seems to have done a better-than-expected job with the display of this size.
On the whole, the big size does comes in handy on occasion, and predictably after a few days of usage, the difference between the Mi Max’s near-tablet-size and the generally-preferred 5.5 inches becomes stark. It becomes difficult to adjust to the lesser real estate after a point.
So, basically the big screen does have an appeal and that is pretty much what Xiaomi was looking to convince you about!
Let’s make one thing clear – this is a huge device. It is not the biggest phone that we have seen but it still is big. And because of that, one handed use of this device is just not possible. If you can accept that and look past it, only then can you actually appreciate the novelties of this device.
So, having gotten that out of the way, let’s talk.
While the device is undeniably big, it is wonderfully crafted. It is not meant for one handed use but Xiaomi seems to have tried it’s best to make this device as comfortable to handle, as possible.
While it’s tall and wide, it’s relatively thin at 7.5 mm and weighs in at only 203 grams. That may seem like a lot but for its size the device does not seem overweight at all. Consider this, the smaller screen iPhone 6s Plus is at 192 grams (and it carries a 5.5 inch screen). So, Xiaomi’s definitely done something to put it on a diet, and yet, you can’t find where that is.
Just to create the picture in your head, the size of the Mi Max phablet is actually more comparable to that of the Lenovo Phab Plus which weighs in at 229 grams!
The front of the device is covered with Gorilla Glass 4. The top and bottom bezels are pleasantly thin. There are two symmetric circles at the top, one of which is the 5 megapixel front camera lens and the other one is the proximity sensor. The bottom of the screen seats three capacitive buttons – which to me are more preferrable than on screen buttons because they are always there, readily available.
On the right side of the phone is the volume rocker below which is the power button. Both these buttons are fairly easy to reach. On the right side of the device is a hybrid SIM card tray which can support either two SIM cards or one SIM card and a micro SD card.
The back of the phone houses a capacitive fingerprint sensor which is also very easily reachable despite the size of the device. Apart from this there is not much at the back except for a camera sensor along with its flash at the top and a classy Mi logo lower down.
The back of the phone has a textured finish which provides enough grip at all times (unlike some of the more glossy and glassy devices out there). The thoughtful build and size-appropriate material make this huge phablet fairly easy to handle (for its size). There is a lot of grip and hold for you to not lose control of this device or to drop it all the time.
Looks wise too, thehe device looks slim and has quite a classy personality.
All in all, qualitatively the Mi Max’s design is a winner. So… in a practical sense it really depends on you – if you can look past the size of the phone, or not.
The Xiaomi Mi Max comes in two processor-and-RAM configurations.
The one which we’re talking about has the Snapdragon 650 with 3 GB of RAM and an Adreno 510 graphics processor. The other one has the Snapdragon 652 processor with 4 GB of RAM but the same GPU. The difference between the two processors (if you’re curious) is that the latter has 8 cores while the former has 6.
The performance of the hexa-core version is actually quite satisfactory. There’s a reason for the Snapdragon 650 to have become so popular in mid -range devices.
The device seems pretty fast and snappy. There is no hint of lag while operating the device. Simple day-to-day tasks such as opening and closing of apps, browsing and scrolling through web pages and switching between apps are a breeze. Playing games also does not pose any problems for this phablet.
The main calling – watching videos on this big-screened device is a rewarding experience thanks to the processor-RAM duo that keeps up brilliantly, as does the graphics rendering chip.
In technical terms the two extra cores of the 652 do provide an edge and because of that the 652 version benchmarked skittle along better. But in real world use there is not a lot of difference between the variants. If you do have some money to spare it would be nice to get the 652 one. That being said, you do not feel compromised with the hexa-core version in any way.
All in all, the device performs very well and there does not seem to any problem whatsoever with the performance at any time. And the OS helps too.
The device runs the Android 6.0 Marshmallow straight out of the box. Well, wait… does it really?
It surely does, but Xiaomi’s MIUI that sits on top of it barely makes you find much evidence of Android OS! The device was said to have the MIUI version 8 but that is still in the beta mode. So the device currently runs the version 7 (but 8 should be coming down the pike soon).
The user interface does take some to getting used to, especially for those who come from the “normal” Android background. The lock screen is standard but you may not even see it once you’ve set up the fingerprint reader – as it unlocks the phone directly from sleep! Tap To Wake is available but is switched off out of the box. We recommend you switch it on as it will save you the effort of reaching out for the power button each time.
All shortcuts and widgets of your choosing are dropped into the home screen. You get a docked menu for most used apps and there is also the option to search for the app you want. The notification window is split into two. One of which is for your notifications while the other one has all the toggle keys.
The app switcher resembles that of the iOS where the apps are represented by their icons in a single row.
Themes are supported and you get some preinstalled too, additionally, you can download more and change the way your home screen your lock screen and your app drawer look!
I have been using the MIUI fee quite a while now and seems as though once you get used to it it really is simple to use, much like the iOS. That having been said, if at all you despise the OS you can always install a launcher from the Play Store, because it’s still an Android, remember?
The Xiaomi Mi Max houses a 16 megapixel primary camera that is supported by phase detection auto focus as well as a dual LED dual tone flash.
The photos from the camera turned out to be very good. The amount of detail was very satisfactory and in context of the16 megapixel unit that the phablet has, the camera does not seem to suffer from overexposure and the photos look very well balanced in terms of colour saturation levels and temperature. The colours are very natural too.
Low light shots were good as well thanks to an appreciably low aperture of f/2.0; the amount of detail was not as much as it was in the daytime shots bit it still was better than most in the class. There was a hint of noise and distortion when I zoomed in on the snaps though. But that’s to be expected, given that it’s still a smartphone-class camera, not a DSLR or a mirrorless specially unit.
The camera app is good too. Some of the actions are simplified by swiping gestures. For example you can switch left to change between the two cameras and you can swipe down for the filter menu.
The camera does focus pretty well and the time it takes to actually capture a shot after the shutter button being pushed is really minimal. There were instances though, where the camera did take a second to capture the snap but that might have to do with lighting, and the subject’s movement when the shot was taken. That said, the camera does not do extremely well will moving objects. We experienced a few blurry shots during a sunlit football game.
There are manual settings available for the mature photographer in you and also if you want to enhance the performance of the camera under certain conditions like cake cutting ceremonies or times when you prefer not to use the flash indoors.
The front 5 megapixel camera does well too. It can click some very good selfies which are more than socially sharable. And video calls are a breeze.
So, the big screen works and the performance is good. Well, that usually translates into a good entertainment unit. But there are a couple of other factors that weigh in too.
Such as the device being strongly focused on music. The music app steams with online music charts, online radio stations and tons of music videos. There is no dedicated video player here, but it is not to be dreaded as the Gallery can handle this for you.
The speaker on this big device does very well too – it is easily one of the loudest and cleanest equipment out there at the moment.
Not only does all this seem very impressive individually, but it’s awesome to see how they all combine together to beautifully give you one of the best entertainment units there is.
The wonderful screen along with a brilliant processors and a very good sound completes a very good recipe for an entertainment unit that you may be very unhappy to let go of, whenever you upgrade your device next!
Business is set up the usual Android way with the OS doing most of the work. You do get peace of mind thanks to the fingerprint sensor that plays Monitor against unauthorised access.
The fingerprint senor sits at the back of the device, integrated in a capacitive touch button which for the size given is fairly easy to reach. The sensor is fast and does not pose a lot of problems. But if your hand is slightly wet or dusty it might take you a few attempts to unlock your phone (which is normal for any capacitive surfaces, since they rely on the electric charge normally present on your skin).