The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Now, what we have here is more of a mug - if not the entire teapot - but you know what we mean. Stretching the limits of a smartphone screen is nothing new, but many have tried and failed to leave a meaningful mark in the 6-inch-and-above bracket. Sony's Ultra series are among the better examples and Huawei's had a few phablets right as well.
The Mi Max? Well, that's a pretty simple story and these are the ones that usually work. No stunts, no trickery, not even split screen multi-tasking - just a sensible design, big screen and a big battery.
The Mi Max 2 follows the original pretty closely and does well to improve on the design, screen quality, the camera package and... wait for it... the battery capacity. Fast-charging is another upgrade that's absolutely to-the-point. Xiaomi has also brought the split screen feature to MIUI too, a long overdue update.
Our time with the Mi Max 2 was quite pleasant and almost a bump-free ride. The phablet has a top-notch build, excellent screen, class-leading battery life, loud stereo speakers, a pretty solid main camera and a surprisingly good selfie cam, and gets to keep an amazingly low price tag. The Snapdragon 625 is a popular choice this year in the midrange and serves the Mi Max 2 right, except perhaps in the most intensive graphics-heavy tasks. It's a fitting chipset to this gentle giant.
As for the competition, the Xiaomi isn't under a great deal of pressure in this niche. 6.5-inchers are not exactly ubiquitous and the options are even thinner if you insist on recent devices. That said, the original Max is still quite relevant and its price has fallen to even more attractive levels.
Sony's Xperia XA1 Ultra has a slightly smaller screen and costs about $100 more but you will get a flagship-grade main camera, a high-res selfie shooter with OIS and a flash and, of course, the iconic Sony design. Its battery life is not as impressive, but it's widely available, and the aftermarket support should be much more easy to get.
The 6" Oppo F3 Plus and R11 Plus cost more than the Mi Max 2 but they offer superior performance and camera experience. Their designs are as sleek, while the 4,000mAh batteries will last long enough on a single charge - though obviously not as long as Xiaomi's. If you have more to spend, make sure to check them out.
Finally, if the size is less important than the overall bang-for-buck ratio, maybe the Redmi Note 3 and Note 4 could be the thing for you. Those 5.5" Notes offer leading performance for their class, 1080p screens and very capable cameras. Oh, and their battery life is no less impressive.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is a pretty simple device to describe: a big screen to enjoy all kinds of content on and a quick-to-top-up, massive battery that will last for days. It does itself a huge a favor by delivering on both promises and handles the stuff in-between equally well. With a pretty competitive price tag, this 6+-inch phablet is an easy recommendation.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.