Xiaomi Mi Max 2 review

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 core performance and hardware 

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). (Also see: How to add storage to Android)

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.) 

You can view the benchmark results of all these devices in the graph below.

Of course we’re only talking about synthetic benchmarks here, and it’s real-world performance that matters most. With an extra couple of cores (now up to eight) the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 can handle multitasking, and so is capable of doing several things at once. We didn’t notice any lag in our testing, and think few users will be left feeling frustrated by performance. 

So why is it slower in our benchmarks? Consider that the Mi Max ran a hexa-core processor with four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz and two Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. In this setup the four A53s are tuned for efficiency, and the A72s for performance. 

Now consider that the Mi Max 2 has more cores in the octa-core Snapdragon 625, each of which are clocked faster at 2GHz. Sounds ideal, except all eight of these cores are A53s and not A72s. 

As a result performance may be slower in benchmarks but efficiency is much greater, and in the real world that should prove victorious. The Mi Max could last most users two days; the Mi Max 2 can do this and more, and light users may be able to achieve significantly longer from the device. 

We’re also pleased to see Quick Charge 3.0 support, especially given the now higher-capacity battery that would otherwise take much longer to charge. Xiaomi says you’ll now get up to 68 percent in an hour. (Also see: Best phones 2017)

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 review

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 cameras 

We noted earlier that the Mi Max 2 now has the same Sony IMX386 camera sensor as the flagship Mi6, though not in quite the same setup since this phone lacks the secondary lens. We took a variety of shots 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. 

Mi Max 2 camera

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. 

Mi Max 2 camera

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, 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. 

Mi Max 2 camera

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. 

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 software 

Out of the box our Mi Max 2 runs MIUI 8.5, which is a customised 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 multi-tasking options sit. 

You can make use of a Quick ball, which places onscreen 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.

Xiaomi Mi Max 2: Specs

  • 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
  • 64/128GB storage, microSD support up to 128GB OR dual-SIM dual-standby functionality
  • dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • IR port
  • USB-C
  • 12Mp Sony IMX386, f/2.2 rear camera
  • 5Mp f/2.0 selfie camera
  • rear fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • stereo speakers
  • 5,300mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • 174.1x88.7x7.6mm
  • 211g
  • 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
  • 64/128GB storage, microSD support up to 128GB OR dual-SIM dual-standby functionality
  • dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • IR port
  • USB-C
  • 12Mp Sony IMX386, f/2.2 rear camera
  • 5Mp f/2.0 selfie camera
  • rear fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • stereo speakers
  • 5,300mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • 174.1x88.7x7.6mm
  • 211g

OUR VERDICT

It might not be as fast as the original Mi Max, but performance isn’t the main reason you’ll be buying the 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.


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