Xiaomi Mi Max 2

£216 inc VAT from fave.co/2gZ7OnD

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Xiaomi re­cently up­dated its gi­ant 6.44in-screen Mi Max with a sec­ond ver­sion that of­fers even more bat­tery ca­pac­ity, more stor­age, more mem­ory and an im­proved cam­era.

Price

Xiaomi phones aren’t of­fi­cially sold in the UK, so you won’t find them through any high-street mo­bile op­er­a­tors. How­ever, they’re easy to get hold of via Chi­nese im­porters such as GearBest, which sup­plies

all our Xiaomi phones for re­view. The only thing is you’ll need to buy them up­front and pair them with a SIM-only deal, but prices are good.

GearBest lists two ver­sions of the Mi Max 2: one with 64GB (£216) stor­age and the other 128GB (£299 from fave.co/2gZeguy). Both are in­ter­na­tional mod­els, which means they sup­port Google Play out of the box and are easy to get on with for UK users with none of the Chi­nese-lan­guage apps and no­ti­fi­ca­tions you of­ten see on Xiaomi phones. We’re re­view­ing the 64GB model in gold here, though there is also a black ver­sion avail­able else­where.

Ship­ping is free (un­less you opt for an ex­press ser­vice), but you should fac­tor into your bud­get im­port duty – you may be con­tacted be­fore the phone is de­liv­ered and asked to pay 20 per­cent of the value on the ship­ping pa­per­work, plus an ad­min­is­tra­tion fee of around £11.

Be­fore you dive in with the pur­chase, O2, Gif­f­gaff, Sky Mo­bile and Tesco Mo­bile cus­tomers should note that they will not be able to re­ceive 4G LTE con­nec­tiv­ity on the Mi Max 2. That’s be­cause it does not sup­port the 800MHz band (Band 20), which is the only fre­quency on which those op­er­a­tors of­fer LTE. If 3G isn’t fast enough for your needs you will need to con­nect to Wi-Fi or look else­where.

New fea­tures

The orig­i­nal Mi Max fea­tured a hexa-core Qual­comm Snap­dragon 650 pro­ces­sor with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of stor­age and a 4,850mAh bat­tery. These core specs have been up­dated, so now you get the octa-core

Snap­dragon 625 with 4GB of RAM, 64GB (or 128GB) of stor­age and a 5,300mAh bat­tery that can now be charged sig­nif­i­cantly faster us­ing Quick Charge 3.0.

Per­for­mance is lower, but ef­fi­ciency is im­proved and the Mi Max 2 is much less likely to over­heat. As it stands you’ll eas­ily get two days of use from the Mi Max 2, but some users could get a lot longer.

Po­ten­tially more in­ter­est­ing for con­sumers is the fact the Mi Max 2 also fea­tures some up­grades in the cam­era de­part­ment. Whereas pre­vi­ously the Max fea­tured a 16Mp (f/2.0) cam­era at the rear, the Mi Max 2 now has a 12Mp cam­era. (It has the same 5Mp selfie cam­era as its pre­de­ces­sor.)

The pri­mary cam­era might sound like a down­grade, but in fact it uses the same Sony IMX386 im­age sen­sor as the flag­ship Xiaomi Mi 6. It’s not quite the same cam­era setup, since the Mi 6 also has a sec­ondary tele­photo lens, but in Xiaomi’s flag­ship it does a fine job. The Mi 6 does a grand job of pro­duc­ing sharp, well-ex­posed im­ages that are very de­tailed in good light. In low-light it man­ages to re­tain de­tail yet also do a good job of keep­ing noise at bay. All in all that’s a good sign for the Mi Max 2.

De­sign

With a mas­sive 6.44in screen and a gi­ant 5,300mAh bat­tery, the Mi Max is one of the largest phones we’ve ever re­viewed. It is a per­fect fit for those who ad­mire the larger screens of tablets for con­sum­ing me­dia, but don’t feel they need a sec­ond mo­bile de­vice.

Xiaomi has done its best to pre­vent it from be­com­ing un­wieldy, and the chas­sis is just 7.6mm

thick. It’s a flat slab with rounded cor­ners and slim bezels to the left and right – the screen-to-body ra­tio is just un­der 75 per­cent. There’s also 2.5D curved glass atop the dis­play, and all these things com­bined can give the im­pres­sion of a smaller phone than what you’re ac­tu­ally see­ing.

There are the usual soft­ware tweaks to make one­handed use pos­si­ble too, with a spe­cial mode that lets you shrink down the dis­play size to 4.5-, 4- or 3.5in.

The metal uni­body de­sign has been en­hanced so that no longer do you see sep­a­rate pan­els top and bot­tom on the rear, but a truly one-piece body. There are new an­tenna lines top and bot­tom, but these are vir­tu­ally un­no­tice­able thanks to the way they bor­der the ex­treme edges of the phone.

Also gone are the cham­fered edges, and the new Mi Max 2 dis­plays much smoother, more rounded curves. It’s ever so slightly larger, now mea­sur­ing 174.1x88.7x7.6mm and tip­ping the scales at 211g.

The new cam­era now lies flush to the rear of the phone, with its dual-tone flash sit­ting to the left rather than the right. There’s also a new USB-C charg­ing port on the bot­tom, with the orig­i­nal Mi Max spec­i­fy­ing Mi­cro-USB.

You still get a se­ries of drilled-out holes that al­low sound to es­cape from a speaker on the right, but now there are just six holes on each side of the USB port rather than the pre­vi­ous eight.

In all other re­spects you could be for­given for mis­tak­ing this Xiaomi for the orig­i­nal Mi Max. You see the same black bor­der run­ning the circumference of the screen, which re­mains a 6.44in full-HD IPS panel with re­al­is­tic colours and strong view­ing an­gles. Bright­ness is pretty good, given the price, and we mea­sured a max­i­mum 430cd/m2.

You might think stretch­ing so few pix­els (many of to­day’s flag­ship phones are smaller but with Quad-HD res­o­lu­tions) over such a large area would re­sult in a ter­ri­bly fuzzy, pixel­lated ap­pear­ance, but ac­tu­ally the Mi Max 2 is very sharp, and with a 342-pixel den­sity ev­ery bit as good as the iPhone in this re­gard.

The build qual­ity is, again, dif­fi­cult to fault. It feels very sturdy and the Go­rilla Glass 4 screen pro­tec­tion is an­other com­fort, know­ing this phone is more likely to end up fall­ing out of your hands than most. A rear fin­ger­print scan­ner is in a use­ful po­si­tion and works well. And we like the fact Xiaomi has re­tained

the IR blaster at the top, since these are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rare.

Per­for­mance

As we touched on ear­lier, the Mi Max 2 fea­tures up­grades in the pro­ces­sor, mem­ory, RAM and bat­tery de­part­ments. Ob­vi­ously these things are all wel­come – the bumped up stor­age, for ex­am­ple, makes it much more likely that you’ll be able to get away with­out in­sert­ing a mi­croSD card and thereby los­ing the phone’s dual-SIM func­tion­al­ity (it has a hy­brid slot).

Our bench­marks don’t ex­actly tally with those of the Mi Max, since the ap­pli­ca­tions have all been up­dated in the year that has passed in be­tween their re­spec­tive launches, but it’s fairly ev­i­dent that the Mi Max 2 is not as fast as the orig­i­nal Mi Max. Rather, it’s on par with the Redmi Note 4 and Note 4X, which use the same pro­ces­sor. (Un­for­tu­nately you’ll need to take our word for that, given that we tested the Chi­nese ver­sion of the Note 4 and the 3GB RAM Note 4X.)

on the Mi Max 2, and were largely im­pressed with its pho­tog­ra­phy skills.

First up is a shot of St. Pan­cras In­ter­na­tional Re­nais­sance Ho­tel, with au­to­matic set­tings and then with HDR en­gaged. We were re­ally pleased with the ac­cu­racy of colours on these shots, al­though to be fair every­thing tends to look bet­ter in the sun. The clouds were ren­dered per­fectly, and noth­ing about the im­age caused us any par­tic­u­lar con­cern.

A lot of de­tail was re­tained, right up to the ex­treme edges of the im­age, and though it’s not quite pos­si­ble to make out the char­ac­ters on the road sign when cap­tured from our sev­enth-floor roof ter­race, sharp­ness on the whole is very good.

With HDR en­gaged the Mi Max 2 does a bet­ter job of deal­ing with high­lights and shad­ows, though not as ob­vi­ously as some cam­eras.

Next we tried a low-light shot (see over­leaf), and ad­mired how much de­tail and colour ac­cu­racy the Mi Max 2 man­aged to re­tain with­out suf­fer­ing from too much noise. This is not the best rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this scene we have seen, but most of the colours are ac­cu­rate and the text on the bot­tle re­mains read­able. Some de­tail is lost in the shad­ows on the dig­ger truck, but a good ef­fort.

The 5Mp selfie cam­era is ac­cept­able but noth­ing spe­cial. The beauty mode has three set­tings: smart, pro or off. Pro mode of­fers a slider for ‘Slim’ and

an­other for ‘Skin’, though we didn’t think ei­ther made much dif­fer­ence. We do like the fact the real-time fil­ters are avail­able for the selfie cam­era as well as the main cam­era, though. There’s also a GroupShot op­tion here that will take mul­ti­ple im­ages so you can choose the best one.

Soft­ware

Out of the box our Mi Max 2 runs MIUI 8.5, which is a cus­tom­ized ver­sion of An­droid 7.1.1 Nougat. It is the in­ter­na­tional ver­sion of the phone, so Google Play is pre­in­stalled. You can pretty much pick it up and start us­ing it as you would any other An­droid phone, though you might no­tice a hand­ful of dif­fer­ences.

The most ob­vi­ous of these is the lack of an app tray, with every­thing laid out on the home screen in an iPhone-es­que fash­ion. You’ll also see some changes in the Set­tings menu, so take full ad­van­tage of the Search bar at the top to find what you’re look­ing for (it works well).

Some new fea­tures new to MIUI 8 in­clude Dual apps, which in essence lets you run two in­stances of one app (this might come in handy if you make use of the dual-SIM func­tion­al­ity, for ex­am­ple), and

in a sim­i­lar vein you can also set up a sec­ond space on the phone – it’s al­most like hav­ing two phones. There’s a Child mode, too.

You can in­di­vid­u­ally lock any app on the phone, should you rather not lock the phone it­self or you want a sec­ond layer of se­cu­rity, and you can tweak var­i­ous things such as the theme and which side of the home but­ton your back and mul­ti­task­ing op­tions sit. You can make use of a Quick ball, which places on screen a short­cut to op­tions such as screen­shot and lock, and there’s the one-handed mode we men­tioned ear­lier. It will likely come in handy on a phone of this size.

Ver­dict

It might not be as fast as the orig­i­nal Mi Max, but per­for­mance isn’t the main rea­son you’ll be buy­ing the Xiaomi Mi Max 2. Cross­ing the bound­ary be­tween phone and tablet, the gi­gan­tic 6.44in screen will leave those of you who like your phones big all hot un­der the col­lar. With more stor­age, an im­proved cam­era and longer bat­tery life, the Mi Max 2 is a no-brainer of an up­grade. Marie Black

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6.44in full-HD (1920x1080) IPS dis­play with Go­rilla Glass 4

• MIUI 8.0 OS

• 2GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 625 octa-core pro­ces­sor

• 650MHz Adreno 506 GPU

• 4GB RAM

AnTuTu

Auto set­tings

HDR on

Low-light shot

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