More power to you: a Xiaomi Mi Max 2 review

How did Xiaomi rise to the top of the smartphone pecking order? Perhaps the Mi Max 2 can offer up some clues

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More power to you: a Xiaomi Mi Max 2 review The Xiaomi Mi Max 2: "more of everything."
By  David Ndichu Published  December 11, 2017

Xiaomi the brand seemed to emerge almost from nowhere a few years ago, rising to the top five of the biggest smartphone brands in the world.

It did so with a series of feature-rich and well-designed devices at much more affordable rates that its (many) competitors. It has since taken that momentum to building a wider portfolio of electronic products ranging from TVs, drones, including LED desk lamps.   

But we are here to talk about the phones, and specifically, the Mi Max 2. 

The Mi Max 2 from Xiaomi describes itself thus: more of everything. Indeed, my impression of the Mi Max 2 was that it tried to cater to the largest audience possible. And that would be the basis of my review, whether Mi Max 2 can satisfy the diverse smartphone user population, specific to their individual needs. 

The selfie addict

At some time during the relatively brief evolution of the smartphone, the camera became THE differentiator between a great phone and a mediocre one. Fed by, and feeding our relentless need for snapping ourselves, smartphone makers have in the past few years tripped over themselves to deliver the most powerful camera that can fit within the increasingly slim silhouette of a smartphone. For premium brands, that means tapping an established electronic brand to provide the camera hardware, in whole or parts of. For The Mi Max 2, Xiaomi called in the heavy hitters from Sony, which supplied the camera’s IMX386 sensor. 

The sensor is the part of the camera that captures the light coming in through the lens to form an image and typically the most expensive part of a camera to manufacture. For the Mi Max 2, the Sony IMX386 sensor is specially enhanced for low-light photography.  Take pictures in low light or in the shadow, and the capabilities of such a sensor becomes clear. Images are clear and bright with the deep tones we have come to expect from high end devices.

The only limitation with the Mi Max 2 is the lack of a dual camera array. These setups are now becoming ubiquitous even in mid-range phones. Dual cameras can be used for a myriad of different functionalities, with the most common one being to add depth of field in images. Xiaomi is missing a major trend here.

The media consumer

We all watch some content on our smartphones, some more than others. Either way, the bigger the screen, the better. The Mi Max 2 screen is definitely bigger than most, measuring at a massive 6.44". It delivers full HD specs with vivid videos.

The speaker(s), placed at the back, deserve a mention here. Mi Max 2 intelligently switches to a dual speaker stereo effect when in landscape mode to create an immersive dual speaker audio. The speakers are also of surprisingly good quality for a smartphone, usually guilty of tinny and distorted sound output. That said, it’s perhaps a better idea to use headphones when listening to audio on a smartphone. 

Xiaomi though does waste precious real estate with the relatively wide bezels with its competitors now offering wall-to-wall- bezel-free designs.  

The power user

A screen that big requires a battery to match. The Mi Max 2 packs a 5300Ah battery, one of the biggest batteries I have come across in a smartphone (In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with a 6.3” display has a 3300mAH capacity, a huge difference). That’s enough to get even the most committed of smartphone users through most of the day.  

The gamer

The phone is powered by an Octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, a pretty powerful chipset from Qualcomm. This, combined with the Adreno 506 graphics, caters to the gaming crowd, optimised for fast gaming action while keeping the device cool. I’m not much of a gamer but I can see how the Mi Max 2 might appeal to the gaming crowd. The 4GB of RAM puts a lot of power in your hands, with the big screen a major plus. 

The multitasker

Say you are watching a highly engrossing video-your umpteenth rerun of Kung Fu Panda for instance-and your BFF wants to chat on WhatsApp. What do you do? With the Mi Max 2 you can un-interrupt your movie while not ignoring your friend thanks to split screen that divided the display into two, with full functionality of both. Again, the big screen helps.  

The busy bee

This is the person who wants to get things done, like yesterday. If they have the Mi Max 2, they will perhaps appreciate the software.

The Mi Max 2 runs on MIUI Xiaomi’s own iteration of Android. The latest version adds some interesting features including Mi Drop, a feature that allows you to transfer documents directly with other Android devices without the need for internet connections. Another one is the App Vault which stores the most used features from apps.

The practical user

Finally there’s you and me, folks who just who want a device that just works and appears not too shabby either. I, and my kindred spirits, will appreciate the build. The Mi Max 2 was built for one-hand use, despite its imposing girth. The hand wraps quite comfortably around its unibody metal body, largely thanks to the rounded edges.

The Mi Max 2 is available online for as little as AED 800, a real bargain for the gadget.

For: Powerful battery; large screen; value for money
Against: Lack of dual cameras; large bezels
Verdict: A mid-market price for features at par with far pricier gadgets.

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