Xiaomi Mi Max “Go big or go home”
Xiaomi has taken the expression “go big or go home” quite literally with its 6.44 inch Mi Max. So how does the Mi Max perform day to day as an affordable mid-range smartphone.
Design & Build
There is nothing particularly shocking about the Mi Max’s design, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mi Max has a metal unibody made up of aluminum material which gives it a premium looking feel. Some design aspects makes the Mi Max easier to use like the side tapers on the rear, the perfectly positioned power button and fingerprint reader. The top & bottom plastic caps which presumably house the phone’s antenna’s are fairly continuous with the rest of the design in both color and feel.
Mi Max does have some creaking noises while holding the phone. Its certainly a weak structure and bends with just a little bit of pressure which is concerning to say the least. Mi Max’s poor build quality shocked us as Xiaomi has generally done an excellent job in the past at this price and lower.
The Mi Max has three illuminated capacitive keys sit on a very slightly curved 2.5d glass with all the Xiaomi standard layout. The display’s side bezels are noticeably small although Xiaomi should reconsider the use of a Black border around the display.
Mi Max’s standout feature is definitely its large display. At 6.4 inch this phone is undeniably huge. This kind of size requires some changes in how you use your smartphone but in exchange for a superior media consumption experience. Well it would have been nice to see a QHD here instead of 1080p (342 ppi) the display on the Mi Max still looks great. The viewing angles are good and the color reproduction is accurate. Sunlight readability is a tad below average and the sunlight mode decreases the contrast significantly. The Mi Max display is covered in Gorilla Glass 4 which we don’t see often in this price point.
Hardware & Performance
Mi Max runs on Qualcomm Snaprdragon 652, 3GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and as we have seen from others devices the everyday performance of Snapdragon 652 is comparable to Snapdragon 808. Xiaomi’s custom software MIUI runs very smoothly on the Mi Max. The base model of Mi Max sports a 3gb Ram which is enough for multitasking. The fingerprint reader at the back is accurate and just as fast as the one found on Nexus 6P.
Xiaomi does seem to have taken a step backwards with the Mi Max with return of micro USB. The decision to not use USB type C is a bit puzzling at this price point. Mi Max has a single speaker at the bottom just beside charging port and it sounds pretty good but slightly distorted at higher volumes. Xiaomi should have opted for front facing speakers which coupled with the large display could have provided a more immersive media consumption experience. Still side firing speakers are better than rear firing.
Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 has also been covered extensively but the Mi Max ships with the new MIUI 8 based on the Android Marshmallow. Users can look forward to many UI and functional improvements with the MIUI 8 update. If your Mi Max has shipped with MIUI 7 then do not worry as they are rolling out the MIUI 8 update within the coming weeks.
MIUI has received many mixed reviews from Western media, some have criticized it for being to similar to IOS while others have praised it for the amount of polish and coherence it offers. After using it day to day myself, I think its a great alternative to stock Android, especially for user to like to customize and tweak. The stack apps are well designed, the UI is remarkably responsive and the ability to restrict data for specific apps is invaluable. MIUI receives weekly updates. You will often get bug fixes and new features.
Mi Max has a 16MP Rear f/2.0 with dual Led Flash proves a very capable package in our testing. Its one of the best we have seen at this price point. The Mi Max captures details remarkably well, its color reproduction is visually pleasing without being to unnatural and HDR is quite good. However, its not perfect as we found the auto-focus too slow and finicky for considerable number of situations. Even when holding the device and the subject still the Mi Max would slightly miss focus then we would normally expect. It also tends to over sharpen images to the point of recognition in certain pictures. Mi Max has a very average low light performance for its price.
The camera app of MIUI has been covered extensively at this point but I will mention that its pretty easy to use while also providing manual controls.
Mi Max did very well in battery life testing thanks to its very large 4850 mAh battery. Although the screen on time varied quite a bit depending on whether the phone was on Cellular Data or WIFI. Even the heaviest user should have no trouble getting the Mi Max to last a full day. Mi Max also supports Quick Charge 3.0 although it does not ship with the Quick Charge 3.0 charger so you will have to purchase that separately in order to avoid several hour long charges.
While the Mi Max will not be the best phone for the average smartphone user, its a great option for those looking for large device on the cheap. The build quality is not satisfactory but the Mi Max still has a lot to offer for its price. Its impressive camera, excellent battery life and smooth performance are all great reasons to buy this phone. The mere size of the Mi Max feels like uncharted territory for Xiaomi that’s clearly reflected in areas like build quality. If you can get past that then the Xiaomi Mi Max is likely the best extra large option in its price range.