Flashback: Xiaomi Mi Mix made jaws drop with its near bezel-less design
Half a decade later, the Xiaomi Mi Mix is still one of our favorite devices. Its almost borderless design made it look futuristic, and it was also practical and fitted a huge 6.4 ”screen. The attentive mix introduced several new things to the smartphone world.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix was stunning
However, the design was not one of them, though it is its most recognizable feature. This was nothing new – this layout first appeared on Sharp Aquos Crystal a few years earlier, complete with moving the selfie camera to the thick bottom frame.
This was a time before notches and potholes, you see, and was a pretty awkward location. But it made it possible for the top and side panels to be razor-thin – in our hands it felt like holding a screen instead of a phone.
The selfie camera is not the only thing that should move. There was also no room for an earpiece, so Xiaomi used a piezoelectric ceramic driver under the screen itself. Later, Huawei adopted the same design, but if we are honest, it was never our favorite.
Xiaomi apparently agreed, the second generation Mix had a slightly thicker top edge to accommodate a traditional earpiece. Even Huawei seems to have given up under earpieces under display.
With Mi Mix, Xiaomi tried to make most of the structural components of ceramic – the entire backplate, frame and even the volume and on / off keys were made of ceramic. Microcrystal zirconia, specifically the kind of thing that ceramic knives are made of.
This was not its first Danish ceramic, a special version of the Mi 5 had a ceramic back and was launched a few months earlier. It was advertised as an almost indestructible material (see the video below), although in reality it turned out to be prone to cracking if you dropped the phone.
Xiaomi included one of the best cases we’ve seen in the retail package, so it’s not like you had to carry your Mi Mix without protection. Plus, the black version was a nightmare of a fingerprint magnet due to its high-gloss finish, so it was recommended to use the case.
Mi Mix retail package, including a quick charger and a nice protective case
Mi Mix is known for its screen with a ratio of 17: 9 – it was the first phone that got wider than 16: 9. And just a year after launch, there were 40 phones with ultra-wide screens. Looking back on it now, 17: 9 was too conservative – the phone was 81.9mm wide, which is way too wide to keep comfortable.
And the sidebars were as thin as possible at the time most of the overall width came from the screen, and there was no way to shrink beyond expanding its image format.
Xiaomi Mi Mix next to an iPhone 7 Plus
As happens with every pioneer, Mi Mix ran into trouble. Developers had to update their apps to handle wider ratios than 16: 9. Although Google was slow, it took a whole year to add knife-to-zoom to YouTube so users could make videos in full screen without pillarboxing .
The 6.4 ”IPS LCD was tailored by none other than Sharp. It had a resolution of 1,080 x 2,040 px, and Xiaomi claimed to cover 91.3% of the front. Our own calculations showed a lower value, but the phone was no less impressive to look at because of it.
The screen quality of the screen was impressive in itself with great color accuracy, high contrast and brightness. We never found out with certainty whether it was protected by tempered glass. Different people who performed scraping tests came back with different results. Our own unit acquired a few accidental scratches during the review process.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix was equipped with the hardware you would expect from a flagship of its time. It was powered by the Snapdragon 821, which blazed fast at the time the 4,400 mAh battery sent an excellent 97-hour endurance rating, and the Quick Charge 3.0 adapter managed to charge it from 0% to 35% in 30 minutes. Not bad for 2016.
The camera was the only thing that felt subpar. To begin with, there was only a single camera. And it had a small sensor with 1.0 pixelsm pixels and no OIS. Picture and video quality turned out to be pretty good, but the camera still felt pretty boring on an otherwise very futuristic phone.
Mi Mix was not a perfect phone. But it was one of the most ambitious devices that Xiaomi has ever made, something that became the tradition of the series. We hear that a new Mi Mix is coming on Monday, which made us resume the original. It has big shoes to fill – the first mix was jaw dropping in its time.