Xiaomi Mi Max

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Marie Brewis

Xiaomi’s Mi Max is a beast of a smart­phone, with a hulk­ing 6.44in screen, de­cent per­for­mance and a mam­moth bat­tery.

Price

Our re­view unit came from GearBest, which of­fers free ship­ping to the UK, though you will more than likely be called on to pay im­port duty on its ar­rival in the UK.

As we will dis­cuss below, you get an aw­ful lot of phone for your money with the Mi Max, mak­ing it in­cred­i­ble value - es­pe­cially to those of us used to pay­ing in ex­cess of £600 for phones of this qual­ity. How­ever, UK users should note there will be a few dif­fer­ences to the phones that are of­fi­cially sold in­side the UK.

First, al­though our re­view sam­ple was pre­in­stalled with Google Play, Xiaomi phones are not usu­ally dis­trib­uted run­ning the soft­ware. If yours isn’t you can eas­ily down­load it your­self from the in­cluded Mi App Store, at which point you will prob­a­bly also like to down­load a UK key­board such as the Google Key­board.

As it stands you’ll find some Chi­nese pre­in­stalled apps on the Mi Max (some of which you can unin­stall; oth­ers can be tucked away from view in a ded­i­cated folder), but on the whole it’s easy to find your way around.

Check­ing which fre­quency bands are sup­ported by your net­work is also im­por­tant when buy­ing a phone such as the Mi Max. In the UK, for ex­am­ple, it sup­ports the 1800- and 2600MHz 4G LTE bands, which is fine for all op­er­a­tors ex­cept O2, which re­lies solely on 800MHz for 4G (also Gif­f­gaff and any other op­er­a­tors that pig­gy­back O2’s net­work). You can still use the Mi Max on those net­works, but you can’t use 4G.

De­sign

We’ll start by stat­ing the ob­vi­ous: the Mi Max is enor­mous. Mea­sur­ing 173x88mm and weigh­ing 203g this is the largest phone we have ever re­viewed. And yet it is in­cred­i­bly thin – just 6mm thick – which stops it be­com­ing overly un­wieldy. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve there is a 4850mAh bat­tery in­side, which prom­ises ex­cel­lent run­time.

The Mi Max is too big for this re­viewer, but Xiaomi has made sev­eral soft­ware tweaks that make it eas­ier to man­age, and for many peo­ple it will be an ideal de­vice for uses be­yond mak­ing phone calls and send­ing texts (though the large screen will also come in handy here for those with eye­sight prob­lems). If you want to play games, view films and video, use a smart­phone for nav­i­ga­tion or as a drone flight con­troller, you ab­so­lutely can’t beat a huge-screen phone – and that’s ex­actly what we have here.

The Xiaomi Mi Max is fit­ted with a 6.44in full-HD screen, which runs vir­tu­ally edge to edge (a thin black bor­der sur­rounds it), and there is space at top and bot­tom for the back-, home- and re­cent but­tons, and a speaker and front cam­era. This is a 2.5D curved­edge panel, which com­bined with the slightly curved rear edges of this hand­set, make it eas­ier to hold, with ev­ery­thing sit­ting flush to ev­ery­thing else. The screen is very de­cent, crys­tal clear and with good bright­ness and con­trast, and ex­cel­lent view­ing an­gles.

If you want to play games, view films, use a hand­set for nav­i­ga­tion or as a drone flight con­troller, you can’t beat a huge-screen phone

Build qual­ity is im­pos­si­ble to fault. This is a metal uni­body smart­phone with a fin­ger­print scan­ner set into the rear, an easy in­dex fin­ger’s reach up as you cra­dle the Mi Max in your palm. Twin speaker grilles sit ei­ther side of the bot­tom-fac­ing Mi­cro-USB port, and a power but­ton and vol­ume rocker sit just within reach of the thumb on the Mi Max’s right­hand side. Up top is a 3.5mm head­phone jack and, some­thing that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rare th­ese days, an IR blaster.

De­spite its enor­mous size, the Mi Max is a very good-look­ing phone: it’s big and it’s beau­ti­ful.

Per­for­mance

That’s not all the Mi Max has go­ing for it ei­ther, since per­for­mance is out­stand­ing at this price point – in gen­eral pro­cess­ing, in graph­ics and in run­time. We ran the Mi Max through our usual bench­marks, for which you can see the re­sults below, but it’s im­por­tant to note that even in real-world use this ph­ablet feels fast and ca­pa­ble of what­ever task you have in mind.

That’s not a huge sur­prise, fit­ted as it is with a hexa-core, 64-bit Qual­comm Snap­dragon 650 pro­ces­sor clocked at 1.8GHz, the Adreno 510 GPU and 3GB of RAM. Clearly flag­ship octa-core phones with 4GB (or now even 6GB) of RAM will out­per­form it, but this is suf­fi­cient muscle for ev­ery­day phone jobs.

More com­pelling still is the amount of stor­age packed in­side this Xiaomi, with 32GB as stan­dard (of which around 26GB is avail­able) and an ex­tra 128GB pos­si­ble through mi­croSD (though you will for­feit the sec­ond SIM slot in do­ing so). See all smart­phone re­views.

And bat­tery life is im­mense. We have seen smart­phones out­per­form its 10-hour-dead Geek­bench 3 re­sult (6001 points), but none with a screen of this size. The bat­tery doesn’t sup­port wire­less- or ‘Quick’ charg­ing, but it is ridicu­lously ca­pa­cious at 4850mAh.

For gen­eral per­for­mance anal­y­sis we ran the Mi Max through Geek­bench 3 and AnTuTu 3D, and it man­aged re­spectable scores of 3825- (multi-core) and 74,156 points re­spec­tively.

Graph­ics per­for­mance also proved to be bet­ter than most phones we re­view at this price, with the Mi Max turn­ing in a head­line re­sult of 34fps in the on­screen com­po­nent of GFXBench 3 T-Rex. We also clocked it at 15fps in Man­hat­tan, 10fps in Man­hat­tan 3.1, and 6fps in Car Chase. This is a phone eas­ily com­fort­able with ca­sual gam­ing and movies. JetStream is a tool we use to look at JavaScript per­for­mance, and here the Xiaomi’s 51.53 re­sult is ahead of even the Xiaomi Mi 5 (46.9), and not too dis­tant from the leader of our An­droid phones chart – the Galaxy S7 edge turned in 66.1.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

We’ve touched on this ear­lier within this re­view, but the Xiaomi Mi Max is a 4G LTE Dual-SIM dual-standby phone – ex­cel­lent for sep­a­rat­ing work and play, but with some lim­i­ta­tions. Firstly, it doesn’t sup­port the 800MHz 4G band in the UK, leav­ing some cus­tomers (par­tic­u­larly those of O2 and Gif­f­gaff) in slower 3G ter­ri­tory. Se­condly, you use the ex­tra SIM slot at the ex­pense of mi­croSD sup­port – though with 32GB of stor­age built in that may prove not to be too much of a hard­ship.

There’s no sup­port for NFC, but the Xiaomi cov­ers all other con­nec­tiv­ity bases. There’s a de­cent fin­ger­print scan­ner, an IR blaster, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, GPS and Blue­tooth.

Cam­eras

The Mi Max is fit­ted with a 16Mp, f/2.0 cam­era at the back and a 5Mp, f/2.0 cam­era at the front. We found it took de­cent enough pho­tos with vi­brant colours and no glar­ing is­sues. As usual some miss­ing de­tail is ev­i­dent when viewed at full-size, but not enough that you can’t read a street sign from our sev­enth-floor roof ter­race. On the whole, the Xiaomi is a good smart­phone to have on hand when a pho­to­graphic mo­ment arises.

You get the same cam­era soft­ware as you do with other Xiaomi phones, which means a se­lec­tion of real-time fil­ters sit a swipe in from the right of the main cam­era in­ter­face, while cam­era modes are a swipe to the left. You’ll find the usual sus­pects, in­clud­ing panorama, timer, man­ual and beau­tify, as well as HHT, Tilt-shift and Fish-eye. Press­ing and hold­ing the shut­ter but­ton can ac­ti­vate a burst mode, while HDR mode is ac­cessed from the main cam­era screen. We found it did a good job of sort­ing out the shad­ows in our test shots (you can see our test pic­tures of St Pan­cras Re­nais­sance Ho­tel op­po­site, first in Auto mode and sec­ond in HDR).

For video record­ing you can choose be­tween stan­dard (up to 4K video record­ing is pos­si­ble), time-lapse and slow-mo­tion modes, al­though we found the re­sult­ing footage a lit­tle jerky and sharp.

Soft­ware

The Mi Max will be one of the first phones to run the MIUI 8.0 cus­tom UI when it be­comes avail­able in Au­gust. Un­til then, our re­view sam­ple is run­ning MIUI 7.3 (based on

An­droid 6.0.1). As we’ve said many times be­fore, Xiaomi phones aren’t the best-suited to novice users, since out of the box they don’t (usu­ally) of­fer Google Play and there are sev­eral pre­in­stalled Chi­nese apps and a Chi­nese key­board. Th­ese are all things that are easy enough to sort out with a lit­tle know-how.

That’s as­sum­ing that the ab­sence of Google Play and Google apps will be prob­lem­atic to you, of course, and ac­tu­ally MIUI is a de­cent An­droid OS in its own right, with apps for just about ev­ery­thing you need, in­clud­ing email and me­dia play­back.

There are some nice fea­tures in MIUI, but also some notable dif­fer­ences. There is no app tray, for ex­am­ple, with app icons laid out on the home screen in an iOS-like fash­ion. The drop-down no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar is also dif­fer­ent, with a se­lec­tion of quick ac­cess set­tings as you might ex­pect but also a sec­ond pane for your no­ti­fi­ca­tions. And the Set­tings menu it­self has a slightly dif­fer­ent lay­out – it took us for­ever to dis­cover how to ad­just the screen time­out, which is not in the Dis­play menu but in the Lock screen and pass­word menu.

A cou­ple of soft­ware fea­tures can make it eas­ier to deal with – or per­haps ben­e­fit from – the enor­mous screen on the Mi Max: one-handed mode shrinks the screen size down to 4.5-, 4- or 3.5in with a sim­ple ges­ture, while the abil­ity to shrink or en­large the sys­tem font and text size can ei­ther fit more on­screen or make full use of that space.

You’ll also find quite a lot in the way of cus­tomi­sa­tion, with a num­ber of themes avail­able, plus the abil­ity to tweak the no­ti­fi­ca­tion LED colour. A pinch on the home screen brings up op­tions to move apps, add wid­gets and al­ter the wall­pa­per and ef­fects (the tran­si­tions as you move be­tween home screens).

We also like the Child mode, which lets you al­low ac­cess only to cer­tain apps in­stalled on your phone be­fore hand­ing it over to the kids.

Verdict

If you want a huge phone and you don’t want to pay as large a wedge of cash, the Xiaomi Mi Max is a fan­tas­tic ph­ablet with good looks, de­cent per­for­mance, strong run­time and, most im­por­tantly of all, a gi­gan­tic screen. Not ideal for novice users, but oth­er­wise the Mi Max is a highly rec­om­mended smart­phone.

GFXBench T-Rex

AnTuTu

Geek­bench 3

GFXBench Man­hat­tan

JetStream

Auto mode

HDR on

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