Xiaomi Mi Max 2

Siddharth Chauhan

Xiaomi just launched its latest smartphone dubbed “phablet” in India, the Mi Max 2. The successor to the last year’s product and the subsequent Prime variant that the Chinese company launched, the Mi Max 2 represents the best of Xiaomi. The company’s portfolio in India boasts of some of the best selling smartphones in the country which anyway speaks volumes about the brand’s popularity, but also at their attempt to cater to different segments of our society. The Mi Max sold over 3 million units which solidifies the user base even more for people who love a large smartphone. And then the Max 2 builds upon that.

Now the Mi Max 2 is a bit costlier than its successor but not by much. At Rs 16,999 for the 64GB variant, the Mi Max 2 treads on the line between smartphones and the so-called phablets. We got to test the Matte Black colour variant of the Max 2 and here’s what we found out.

Design

Right from unboxing the smartphone, you get to know that Xiaomi isn’t joking around through its whole “Big is Back” campaign. The Mi Max 2 is huge. And when I say that, be assured that what is mean is that it lies somewhere between “it's really big” and “holy moly, that’s a big-ass smartphone”. At 211gms, it’s a bit on the heavier side of things than its predecessor but is crazy thin at 7.6mm. Considering the battery capacity this time around, you have to give it Xiaomi to achieve that kind of thinness. 

As soon as you pick the Max 2, it doesn’t feel like the usual plastic-build smartphone but in fact oozes high-quality finish. The Max 2 is thin but not too thin, weighs more than the original Max, but not enough. The Max 2 brings around just the right amount of things that work in tandem right from the start. The metal finish on the rear makes the Max 2 provide a sturdy in-hand feel. The edges have been curved and rounded which provides a better grip on the smartphone. 

However, that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s a huge smartphone, but it gives you an inherent feeling of trust that even if it falls off, the damage won’t be catastrophic. More so, because of the metal back, the Max 2 is neatly designed. I especially liked the bit where designers have taken the effort to hide the antenna belt by extending it to the edges of the smartphone. The rear panel houses a fingerprint sensor along with the camera and flash. The volume rockers and lock button find their way onto the right edge, while the left houses the Hybrid SIM slot. The top houses a 3.5mm jack adjacent to an IR blaster along with a microphone and front-facing camera embedded in the bezels while on the bottom, you’ll find a USB Type-C port in between two speaker grills. The design of Max 2 is seamless, right from the matte finished back which curves on the edges to meet the display.

Display

The Mi Max 2 flaunts a 6.44-inch full HD (!920×1080 pixels) IPS panel which is layered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The Max 2 is also the first smartphone in Xiaomi’s catalogue to come with a protective glass on top of the display. The display panel’s size takes up almost 75 percent of the body with bezels on top and bottom. In my usage, I liked the display on the Max 2. It’s sharp, vivid provides crisp details and is bright so much so that using it outdoors didn’t pose any difficulties for me.

Now, you might think that the full HD display on the smartphone of this size will ruin your experience but the display is on par with all the other smartphones available out there. Plus, larger sized display means more pixels, which in turn means a more detailed representation of all your movies, games and pictures.

Camera

Let me just say it outright that in my experience, I found the camera prowess of the Mi Max 2 to be great. The specs sheet details that the Max 2 sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with an aperture size of f/2.2, backed by dual-tone dual LED flash and supported by phase detection autofocus. In comparison, the Mi Max comes with a 16-megapixel camera which might be seen as a downgrade for people who still prefer numbers over quality. Which is why the Mi Max 2’s camera comes with the same Sony IMX386 sensor found on Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone, the Mi 6. On the front lies the 5-megapixel selfie camera with an aperture size of f/2.0.

Using the camera app on the Max 2 is fairly simple. The app lets you focus on a subject in a frame and through a slider, exposure can be adjusted. Tapping the shutter button captures the image while long pressing it results in burst shots. The camera app is the same as found on many Xiaomi devices and comes with a slew of features along with different modes.

During daytime, the pictures came out to be pretty detailed with accurate colours making the Mi Max 2 capable of capturing great imagery. The camera focuses very quickly on different subjects thereby shooting and processing the shot in a jiffy. Different modes let the camera enhance the pictures and you get a different take on the shot as well. 

However, during low-light, capturing shots from the Max 2 is a pain as the camera tends to soften the images, add a lot of noise and over process them. Sometimes, in my usage, I found out that the camera of the Max 2 came out with blurred images because of the inadequate light source. Focusing on a particular subject in such a situation can be really hard for the user as well as the camera. 

The front-facing camera takes nice selfies for your social media needs and does an amazing job around a light source. During low-light, the performance of the selfie camera is yet again marred by over-processing and softening the images, the result being grainy pictures.

The camera on the Mi Max 2 also supports 4K video recording through which I was able to get some great footage.

Battery

The Mi Max 2 comes with a humongous 5,300 mAh battery which is one of the USP of the smartphone. In my daily usage, which happens to be heavy, playing games, watching YouTube videos, browsing the Internet, checking out Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds along with texting on instant messengers led the battery to last for a whole day and then another 9 to 10 hours before I found myself plugging the Mi Max 2 in.

On a fairly moderate usage as a part of the testing procedure, the battery lasts for almost 3 days on a single charge. The battery on the Max 2 brings relief to the users in ways they cannot fathom. Using the Max 2 without any worry of dying battery has been a dream for many smartphone users, especially ones on Android. The Mi Max 2, right here, is able to overcome that issue with fair ease and I wouldn’t be surprised if the battery lasts for almost 5 days off of a single charge. The reason being the inclusion of Snapdragon 625 onboard the Max 2 which is a battery efficient SoC.

As a cherry on the cake, Xiaomi provides users with a Quick Charge 3.0 supported charger which powers up the battery to 68 percent in one hour and around 2 and a half hour to charge it up to the brim.

All in all, Xiaomi has pretty much nailed it in the camera department of the Mi Max 2.

Performance

The Mi Max 2 rocks Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 SoC with an octa core processor clocked in at 2.0GHz and backed by Adreno 506 as its GPU. The is supported by the 4GB of RAM and an onboard storage of 64GB/128GB which can further be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card. The Snapdragon 625 ensures smooth performance throughout the day’s usage along with handling games as well. Switching between apps such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Chrome doesn’t let the Max 2 break a sweat. The smartphone doesn’t seem to budge either when we threw some graphic intensive games such as Injustice 2 and Asphalt 8 albeit some usual frame drops. The Max 2 did get warm though after playing for an hour but it cools down without having to stop the game.

The 4GB of RAM allows the Max 2 to offer some blazing fast multitasking abilities and we tried it while running the Asphalt 8 in the background. Xiaomi’s Mi Max 2 doesn’t let any process hinder its fiery heart and as such offers a bang for the buck in the performance department.

Software

Xiaomi has launched the Mi Max 2 with MIUI 8.5 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat which happens to be a first for the company. Xiaomi’s MIUI is a full custom skin that offers a slew of features for the users. Dual apps allow users to sign two accounts into a single app. So, for examples you have two phone numbers and want a WhatsApp account for each of them, the Dual apps feature would let you do just that. Along with this, MIUI 8 enables users to take longer screenshots of pages. There’s also a built in Caller ID app that uses MIUI’s database and shows users information about flagged numbers. 

Some India specific features include the action buttons below messages from a business. If a user receives a message from their telecom operator regarding their data allowance being finished, MIUI will suggest the user to recharge or if a message arrives after booking a movie ticket, the MIUI will ask users to add the event to their calendar. 

Another feature called the one-handed mode allows users to shrink the display interface to sizes 4.5-inch, 4-inch and 3.5-inch. Though even at 4.5-inch, the display falls short of accessibility. It would have been nice if a larger, say 5-inch screen option were present. Such nitty-gritty features make the MIUI stand out against all other custom UI’s and that’s why it commands a huge developer base.

The user experience on the Mi Max 2 is fluid as it's customised for the skin and anyone who has had a previous experience with MIUI knows that they can do so much more customizations without any lags.

Verdict

Xiaomi knows that not everyone will buy their second iteration of the Mi Max and the company doesn’t want that in the first place. It knows that the targeted user base are people who want a big screen smartphone that serves its purpose of being humongous. As such, the Mi Max 2 takes in all of Xiaomi’s best and enlarges it to suit that demand. The Max 2 is larger than life because it is made for people who want a big and bright display, excellent performance, great camera, lots of storage space and least of all, a big, really big battery capacity. The Mi Max 2 represents the best of Xiaomi, yet.

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