Mi Max 2 is Xiaomi’s latest phablet release. Compared to last year’s Mi Max, the new model sports a way more power efficient SoC, more RAM and a larger battery. Looks like it has all it takes to be the king of the upper mid-range category .
Packaging – Specifications
Just like with Mi A1 (reviewed here), Mi Max 2 arrived in a same type plain white cardboard with its specifications written on the back.
Inside you will find the smartphone itself, a wall charger (quick charging is supported), a USB charging cable, the SIM eject tool and basic documentation. Do not expect any type of earpieces.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is supposed to be a mid-range smartphone which is intended for users who will exploit all benefits coming from its large size and make due with all the difficulties that come with it.
4GB of RAM, 64GB of ROM, Dual SIM (Dual Standby, Hybrid with Micro SD) capability, a 12MP camera, a very precise fingerprint reader, an IR blaster, FM Radio , a power efficient Octa-core Snapdragon SoC and a 1080p 6.44” IPS standout display compose a seemingly overpowering smartphone/phablet.
Also, the beefy 5300mAh battery and the advanced Dual Band Wi-Fi and BT4.2 connection protocols are way more than the average user could ever ask.
The dimensions of the Mi Max 2, 174.1 x 88.7 x 7.6 mm, are considered normal for a 6.44” phablet but definately big for a smartphone. Screen to body ratio is almost 75%, a definitely good number considering the dual speaker layout.
(Side to side with 5.5″ Xiaomi Mi A1)
Build Quality – Layout
Build quality is stellar. When compared to premium smartphones from other companies, this one can certainly hold its own. It sports an all metal unibody chassis just like the Mi A1 we reviewed earlier. The excellent construction is directly perceived by the user from the first touch.
Design from the other hand is simple, but still very beautiful, with round corners that help towards giving the impression that the device is a bit smaller than reality.
At the back you will find the main camera (12 MP (f/2.2, 1.25 µm) with the two tone flash and phase detect auto focus. The fingerprint reader in is the middle.
At the top you will find the IR Blaster with the noise cancelling microphone while at the bottom you will see the USB-C port, the talking microphone, the headphones jack and the speaker.
On the left side the Hybrid Dual SIM slot is the only thing you can find, while on the right side the volume rocker and the power on/off button are all there is to see. A typical Xiaomi layout, identical to Mi A1’s.
On the front, the huge 6.44” IPS display occupies the bigger part and at the top you will find the 5MP selfie camera (with all of smartphone’s hidden sensors) while at the bottom the capacitive buttons (Home, back and multi-tasking) occupy all the remaining space.
Software – Performance
Google’s Nougat (7.1) OS is behind Xiaomi’s MIUI launcher. It is actually a modified custom ROM with many tweaks and features integrated. There is no application drawer, so each app will take space from one of your launchers main pages. This is similar to the way IOS works but this makes things more crowded, especially if you are used to have many widgets. Dual apps and dual spaces are two features that allow you to install an application twice and have two different main screen layouts respectively. Amazing features that may come in handy in cases you use dual SIM setup (for example, install a Viber app twice, one for each SIM phone number).
The lock screen is very functional with the expected notifications, time and shortcuts. Double tap to wake is supported for your convenience. Split screen is also supported and is a joy to use at such a big screen.
Our unit arrived with MIUI 8 (Android 7.1) and immediately received the monthly security updates and latest MIUI 9 version (Android 7.1.1). Android O(reo) should arrive next year.
Performance wise, Mi Max 2 proved to be a well-balanced beast. Menu navigation and task switching/Multi-tasking was lag-free due to 4GB of RAM and the snappy performance of Snapdragon 625 SoC.
Although benchmark tests do show the mid-range level of the Snapdragon 625 SoC, in real life and with the majority of application you will be challenged to notice major differences compared to pricier higher-end devices. Fortunately the internal ROM, although not as fast as the ones found on Samsung and Apple flagships, is fast enough (>210Mb/sec read speed) to not cause any severe delays when launching or installing an application from the Play Store.
Screen performance is very good with Xiaomi promising 450 nits of maximum brightness. A 1080p resolution is a well balance choice between clarity and performance. Contrast ratio and black levels appear to be very good and definitely better than the majority of IPS screen you will see out there. Certainly less punchy than the Super Amoled displays found on Samsung flagships.
LTE (4G) performance is good but not in par with Samsung’s S7 Edge performance that was nearly 3 times better when tested from the same position with the same SIM card and carrier.
Speaker and microphone performance is very good and certainly above average. Stereo landscape performance is also good with acceptable stereo effect, but don’t expect really loud volume levels (like the ones in Nexus 6/6p)
Fingerprint reader is one of the best around. Extremely accurate and very fast compared to previous generations (Nexus 6p). It is again the same implementatio as the one used in Mi A1.
Camera – Battery Life
The performance of the camera is good, and almost identical to Mi A1’s. Xiaomi chose a 12MP Sony IMX386 sensor with f/2.2 lens and 1.25μm. The overall setup is identical to Mi6 flagship model minus the optical stabilization.
Day light photos have very good detail and color rendition with low noise. Dynamic range is good, even without the use of HDR mode. HDR mode will do a good job in shadow detail though.
Low light performance is a totally different case since you will get either a slightly darker image or washed out one. Using manual settings can give you better results but that will most likely make you lose the “moment”, unless of course you are shooting static objects/scenery. The dual LED flash is capable and will save your photos in small areas or close-ups.
The layout of the camera application is practical and all options are just a click or a swipe away. There is a plethora of available modes like panorama, beautify, straighten, timer among others for you to use per your request.
Selfie cam is good, as expected with enough detail and good contrast. Certainly better than the one used in my Samsung S7 Edge (the software algorithm destroys any facial details).
Video recording can get up to 4K@30fps which is really nice for a mid-range smartphone. 1080p@30fps and 720p@120fps are also available. 4K videos look impressive with vivid colors and low noise. 1080p recording is not that good with less detail and the result looks over processed. Still very acceptable, but we recommend to shoot in 4K. 720p@120fps recordings are good and very impressive if you wish to make slow-motion effect videos.
Battery life is nothing short of class leading. Snapdragon 625’s power efficiency in combination with the huge 5300mAh battery, offer at least two days (probably more) of heavy duty use. In our case, with three active Gmail accounts in sync, Google photos backup enabled, Amazon Prime backup enabled, Google now enabled and constant home security cam updates, Mi Max 2 lasted two and a half days witn more than eight hours of screen time and one hour of phone calls. Mind you that this was with dual SIM usage. It was the first time I was leaving to work in the morning with 60% battery mark and I knew that even with intense use I would not have to search for a charger until I get back home at night. This alone is a good reason to buy the Mi Max 2.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is the definition of power efficiency combined with very good performance and specifications in all areas. You get a generous 6.44” display with high contrast ratio, solid build quality, a powerful (when needed) SoC with 4GB of RAM, a dual hybrid SIM slot, IR blaster, FM radio, great daylight camera performance and the best battery life existing on the market today.
The main shortcoming is the low light camera performance but it should be expected at this price range and cannot ruin the overall remarkable display. You must be aware though that two hands will be (mostly) required for its proper, and safe, operation.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is also not expensive. You will find it with less than 250$ and perhaps way cheaper when found on sales.
Overall, if your budget can’t exceed the 250$ mark and you can handle the big size/screen, then look no further. Mi Max 2 is the one for you.