Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review: Connectivity

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is a dual-SIM dual-standby phone. Either of the two Nano-SIM slots can be used for connecting to a 4G network, but the other will then max out at 3G. International buyers should check out the Global version of this phone, which supports GSM 2/3/5/8, CDMA 1X/EVDO 0/1/10/15, WCDMA 1/2/4/5/8, TD-SCDMA 34/39, LTE-TDD 38/39/40/41, and LTE-FDD 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30. The model we review here does not support band LTE-FDD band 20 (among others, though this is the important one for UK use), which means O2 and Giffgaff customers will not be able to receive 4G connectivity. Also see: Best dual-SIM phones and How to tell whether a phone is supported by your network

New in the Mi Note 2 is an incredibly fast fingerprint scanner, which is built into the Home button at the front. This ties in with the full NFC support, which is necessary for making mobile payments. Xiaomi made a big deal out of Mi Pay at the Mi Note 2 launch, though in the UK you’ll be more interested in Android Pay.

Chinese phones can often give poor GPS performance in the UK, but we had no problems with the Mi Note 2’s high-accuracy GPS module. It supports GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS and Beidou.

The Mi Note 2 also caters for 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and USB-C, and there’s even an IR blaster.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review: Cameras

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 has a 23Mp (actually 22.56Mp), f/2.0 Sony IMX318 at the rear with a dual-tone flash and support for 4K video with EIS. Amazingly, despite the thin chassis this huge sensor sits flush to the phone.

The incredibly high megapixel count means photos are huge when viewed at full-size, and an immense amount of detail can be captured. We were even able to read the road signs from photos captured on our 7th floor office roof terrace.

Given good lighting colours are very realistic, and the Mi Note 2 does a great job overall. We haven’t tested the Mi5s Plus camera, though we would expect it to perform better in certain situations with its twin 13Mp cameras.

Interestingly the front camera, rated at 8Mp, also supports an autofocus, which is impressive when even today many selfie cameras are very basic models with low resolution. The selfie camera also integrates Beautify 3.0, which can help you to create more attractive self-portraits.

The camera app in MIUI 8.0 is easy to use, with various real-time filters and photography modes. Also see: Best camera phone 

Below you can see shots taken from our office roof terrace with Auto settings and in HDR mode.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review: Software

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 runs MIUI 8.0, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. As we mentioned in our section on setting up the Mi Note 2 for UK use it does not come preinstalled with Google apps and there are some Chinese-language apps and notifications and a Chinese-character keyboard to contend with. These things are easy enough to fix when you know how, and in a small amount of time you can have the Mi Note 2 up and running as you would any other UK Android phone.

We don't want to completely lose MIUI 8 in our quest for a more familiar UI, however, as it has lots to offer. We touched on the One-handed mode earlier, which is a lifesaver when it comes to mixing big phones and small hands. This setting enables you to shrink down the screen size to 4.5-, 4.0- or 3.5in for easier operation.

Other features that aid usability include the Quick ball, which let you place anywhere you like onscreen a button that can quickly return you to the home screen, back a step, take a screenshot and more. We also like the ability to reverse the order of the back and multitasking buttons on Xiaomi phones.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review

There are a number of changes in MIUI 8. The drop-down notification bar is perhaps the most obvious change, with new quick access icons running along its top. Xiaomi has also moved around a few items in the Settings menu, and introduced some new features such as double-tap to wake, Second Space (which creates a separate space on your phone), Dual Apps (allowing you to run a second version of an app on the phone), individual App Lock and support for Mi Wallet.

Other new features include an energy saving mode, enhanced video-editing tools plus some photo features that allow you to add doodles and stickers and quickly share your snaps, the new and supposedly easier-on-the-eyes Mi Lanting font, updated QR scanner and calculator apps, an enhanced multi-tasking menu, brighter colours and new lock screen wallpapers.

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017

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Xiaomi Mi Note 2: Specs

  • MIUI 8.0
  • 5.7in full-HD (1920x1080) flexible OLED display
  • 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (6GB RAM, 128GB storage model also available)
  • Dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Nano-SIM)
  • supports 2100/2600MHz 4G LTE in UK (Global edition also supports 800MHz)
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Beidou
  • NFC
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 22.56Mp, f/2.0 Sony IMX318 rear camera with dual-tone flash, EIS 4K video stabilisation
  • 8Mp, f/2.0 front camera with autofocus and Beautify 3.0
  • 192kHz/24bit audio
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • 4070mAh non-removable battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • 156.3x77.6x7.8mm
  • 168g
  • MIUI 8.0
  • 5.7in full-HD (1920x1080) flexible OLED display
  • 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (6GB RAM, 128GB storage model also available)
  • Dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Nano-SIM)
  • supports 2100/2600MHz 4G LTE in UK (Global edition also supports 800MHz)
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Beidou
  • NFC
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 22.56Mp, f/2.0 Sony IMX318 rear camera with dual-tone flash, EIS 4K video stabilisation
  • 8Mp, f/2.0 front camera with autofocus and Beautify 3.0
  • 192kHz/24bit audio
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • 4070mAh non-removable battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • 156.3x77.6x7.8mm
  • 168g

OUR VERDICT

The Mi Note 2 was wrongly overshadowed at its launch. This is a gorgeous big-screen Android phone with very decent performance, a great camera and plenty of storage. We'd like to see a Quad-HD screen on Xiaomi's flagship phone, but this one should prove plenty sharp and clear. Google apps are not preinstalled, but there is a workaround if you are happy to do some tweaking.


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