The Xiaomi Mi Mix comes with a 16MP camera that features phase detection autofocus, f/2.0 lens and sports a dual-LED, dual-tone flash. On the front is a 5MP selfie cam with f/2.0 lens.
Xiaomi used Omnivision's OV16880 1/3.06" sensor for the main camera with 1.00 µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, and phase-detection autofocus. The specs aren't on par with the flagship crop today, but we are yet to see how the company did with the processing, so there is room for surprises.
The sensor doesn't come with optical stabilization, but there is a gyro-based EIS for the videos, so not all falls into the averageness.
The MIUI 8 camera interface is fairly simple and features toggles for the HDR mode, the flash, and the video camera. The available advanced modes are Panorama, Timer, Audio, Manual (with shutter speed up to 1/4s), Straighten, Beautify, GroupShot, Square, Twilight, and Tilt Shift, as well as the camera settings. Seventeen live filters are at your disposal, too.
Still image quality
First, the good news. The Xiaomi Mi Mix resolves enough detail and the white balance is mostly accurate, especially in our winter fairytale here. The colors are accurate and lively and we like the results. There are no visible defects such as oversharpening or fringing. The dynamic range is way above average, too, and you will rarely need the HDR option.
The resolved detail could have been better, but we guess that's the maximum Xiaomi was able to get from the tiny sensor, so we can only applaud the effort to squeeze the maximum from the OmniVision sensor.
Finally, the noise levels are high, even in bright sunlight, which is not OK. The noise sometimes smears fine detail and while it would never ruin a picture, it's not what we'd expect from a fine smartphone like the Mi Mix. But then again, from the things which could have gotten south, the high noise is probably the least one to worry about.
Overall, the processing is mature and Xiaomi has put a big effort to utilize the OmniVision sensor to its maximum and in the end most of the pictures turned out quite nice. And that's worth something, too.
The HDR mode is conservative enough and rescues both the highlights and shadows without making a flat contrastless mess out of the image. But you'll rarely need the HDR because of the high dynamic range. Sometimes the HDR effect may oversaturate the colors, so you should have that in mind, too.
Low light samples
Unfortunately, the Mi Mix fails miserably at low-light photography. The small sensor and pixels take their toll and the night shots are almost unusable no matter which shooting mode you are using.
Panorama shots are available too. You can capture both landscape and portrait panoramic photos with a 180-degree field of view. Shooting is easy, but the resolution is not a flagship-grade. The result is very good though - the resolution is about 9000x1856px, there is enough detail, no awful stitches and accurate colors. The dynamic range is the same as on the still images, which is great.
The Mi Mix is equipped with a 5MP f/2.2 front-facing camera - nothing overly fancy. It does a decent job with the colors, but the resolved detail is low and image sharpness gets progressively worse as the natural light gets lower.
Since the camera is placed at the bottom of the phone, you'll have to rotate it first so the interface can rotate too, and then you can shoot in portrait or landscape mode. But the rotation is mandatory otherwise you will either obstruct the sensor or you won't get an option to shoot in landscape. We guess that's the price to pay for the edge-to-edge screen.
Picture compare tool
You should also check out our Photo compare tool to see how the Mi Mix stacks up against the competition. It often does better or is on par with the Mi 5, but fails to match the LG V20. Its low-light capabilities are quite poor, though.
Video mode gives you a choice of 2160p @ 30fps and 1080p @ 30fps for common shooting with a 720p @ 120fps option if you want some slow-motion effects. There's no 1080p @ 60fps mode, though, which would make a big difference in fast-paced scenes. Also, changing resolution involves going to Modes and then in the advanced settings, which isn't all that convenient.
Anyway, the 2160p videos are captured at 42Mbps bitrate and have rock solid 30fps. The audio is stereo captured at 96KBps bitrate.
The video quality is very good - the resolved detail is more than enough albeit not the best in business. The dynamic range is as high as on the still pictures, the foliage gets smudged though either because of the small sensor, or because of noise reduction. The framerate is smooth and steady, while the colors are accurate.
The audio quality is OK, there are no traces of compression, but you'll notice it goes towards poor on more demanding scenes (concerts, loud crowds, cars honking, etc.).
The 1080p videos are shot at 20Mbps bitrate and the same audio. The video quality turned out the same as on the 4K samples and shares the same ups and downs - high dynamic range, enough levels and mature processing, but visible noise even in broad daylight and smudged detail by the noise reduction.
The OmniVision OV16880 sensor is capable of EIS and it's your only option for the videos since there is no optical stabilization. It works on both 1080p and 2160p videos and doesn't reduce the field of view. The results are a mixed-bag though. There are some rare occasions we can clearly see the reduced shake, but most of the time it's like the EIS isn't working at all.
Finally, you can use our Video Compare Tool to see how the Mi Mix stacks against the competition when it comes to video capturing in both 2160p and 1080p modes. You can clearly notice how sharp the 1080p videos are.
The Mix videos are the sharpest as the resolution chart, but the Mi 5 resolves a bit more detail at the good light setup. The low-light scenes are often with wrong white balance and rather unpleasant.