The Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer edition clearly and quite justifiably soaked up all the spotlight within Xiaomi's latest flagship lineup. However, as the smoke clears, the value Mi 8 SE is the one gathering fan gazes, left and right. Indeed, on paper, it offers quite the package, without breaking the bank. In some ways, it's almost too good to be true.
Whether you like Xiaomi or not, it's hard to deny the Chinese OEM's rise to prominence over its relatively short eight-year lifespan. As far as celebrations go, the number-skipping Mi 8 lineup is pretty impressive, for more than a few reasons.
The top-tier Explorer edition, with its under-display fingerprint reader and advanced laser facial scanning tech, sadly hasn't made a visit to the office, thus far. Still, we got to review its vanilla Mi 8 sibling, which left a pretty good overall impression.
Enter the Mi 8 SE - the proverbial "Lite" variant in the lineup, with a pretty heavy punch.
Ticking away, under the hood, is Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 710 chipset - the first in a new lineup of silicon, positioned right below the flagship 800 series and above the 600 one, while heavily borrowing connectivity and advanced features from the former. This is the first time we are seeing this chip in action and initial performance results already have us pretty hyped for its potential. With little to no obvious hardware omissions, modern features and plenty of performance to go around, for all intents and purposes, the Snapdragon 710 can deliver a flagship-level experience, aimed at the masses.
The same goes for the rest of the Mi 8 SE package. Sure, some cutback have been made, to step down from the regular Mi 8 and the Explorer edition, but what is left can still easily qualify as flagship-grade. The trendy, extra-tall, notched panel is present, even if a bit shrunken down, at 5.88 inches. Never the less, its of the Super AMOLED variety, even complete with HDR10 support.
The primary camera has also seen a bit of a downgrade. You still get a pair of snappers, but the second 5MP one has a purely supplementary role, for depth sensing in portraits. The fancy new dual-band GPS radio is notably absent, as well. To be perfectly frank, however, that's still a Mi 8 exclusive feature, at this point, s owe can't really be sore form its absence on the Mi 8 SE.
All things considered, the Mi 8 SE offers an amazing package, complete with Xiaomi's exciting new trendy design and an equally exciting fresh chipset setup. All this and more, without breaking the bank, at an MSRP of just around $350.
Obviously, there is a lot of ground to cover with the new Mi 8 SE, so let's dig right in, starting with the retail box and its contents.
Xiaomi's retail box of choice is quite simplistic, in a very Apple-esque way. That is, white all around, with the exception of a sizeable eight figure on the front, in all colors of the rainbow. We can only imagine Xiaomi liked Apple's approach to bringing some attention to the punchy AMOLED color pallet of its device.
Anyway, the box is a standard two-piece affair. Nicely thick and really durable, which is all we really look in a container. Inside - a proper plastic cradle, to keep the MI 8 SE that little bit more secure. Also, a fairly rich accessory package, including a very compact 18W wall charger, certified for Quick Charge 3, just like the phone itself. Also, a Type-A to Type-C USB cable and a type-C to 3.5mm audio dongle.
Yes, not even the Mi 8 SE was spared the "courageous" treatment. Not really a surprise, though, looking back at the Mi 6. At lest, unlike its siblings, the MI 8 SE did have enough room left to fit in an IR blaster.
Also inside the box, a pretty nifty soft silicon case, so you can start using the Mi 8 SE right away, with some extra piece of mind.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.