It definitely took more than a few years, but Xiaomi has arguably managed to traverse the tough road from a start-up underdog to a respectable player in the mobile phone industry - capable of offering exquisite high-end products along with traditionally good value devices to an increasingly international scene. Lofty generalizations aside, even if you don't appreciate the Chinese manufacturer for what it is and how far it has come, it is really hard to deny the appeal of devices like the Mi Mix 2.
But there's a lot more to like about the second generation Mix beyond its stunning bezel-less design as well. Unlike the original Mix, Xiaomi really does have a well-rounded product it can actually offer and expect sales out of this time around. Sure, this might have involved taking away some of the glamour and lustre, but the overall look and feel is still mostly intact. Plus, the end product is not only cheaper, but also more universally appealing this time around.
A trendy new 18:9 display, a more functional traditional earpiece setup, notably improved main camera and a flagship-grade Snapdragon 835 chipset all add up to a truly compelling offer. Not to mention one you can actually buy right now, without mounting a full on treasure hunt and then having to shell out a fortune yourself in the end. In fact, in many markets Xiaomi has already managed to reach, like most of Asia and India, the Mi Mix 2 might just be the cheapest and arguably best-value Snapdragon 835, bezel-less device to consider.
That is not to say, the Mi Mix 2 is faultless, far from it. The display, while stunning in shape and design, could use a bit more brightness and a bit better sunlight legibility to compete in the big leagues. OLED technology would be greatly appreciated as well, not to mention beneficial to overall battery efficiency.
Speaking of battery, while not horrible, the Mi Mix 2 only adequately manages its 3,400 mAh, with much room for improvement. Hopefully, Android Oreo will come soon to bring improvements in this respect. You might want to look elsewhere for a truly excellent camera experience as well.
On to some notable alternatives to consider, in case the Mi Mix 2 rubs you the wrong way somehow. There is also the distinct and quite likely possibility that you simply live in a country outside Xiaomi's area of operation, which means tougher availability, logistics, import taxes and questionable support. We definitely get that and is the reason why we need to level the playing field price-wise when looking at competitors.
The Mi Mix 2 might start at $500 in China and around $550 in India, but a realistic price in most other markets would be around EUR 550. Even at that price point, however, few phones can offer a similar specs sheet and cool looks. Naturally, there is the original Xiaomi Mi Mix, which has come down in price quite a bit since its launch. We already mentioned it in comparisons all throughout this review, so you should pretty much know what you are getting into. The highlights include a bigger panel and battery, worse camera setup and older/slower Snapdragon 821 chipset.
There is also the Mi Note 2 to potentially consider. Unlike its 2017 successor, which drifts a bit into upper-midrange territory, the Mi Note 2 is a flagship offer through and through, complete with a phaphet-sized 5.7-inch AMOLED panel, curved on both sides and the same, still capable Snapdragon 821 chip.
And if cost-saving is a high priority, the upcoming Redmi Note 5 might just be worth the wait. Since it is yet to leave the rumor mill, we can't exactly recommend it. But initial leaks do paint an impressive 18:9 ultra-wide picture and a solid specs sheet to back it up.
On to some more Western-friendly options, while still sticking to the "trendy exterior" requirement, we find the Samsung Galaxy S8 as a prime candidate. Samsung's current flagship has come down in price nicely. Plus, it is so popular that promotions are always popping up left and right. It is typically within budget and has a class-leading 5.8-inch, curved Super AMOLED panel to offer, along with excellent overall performance and a truly great camera.
The LG G6 is also well within budget and equipped with a trendy 5.7-inch, 18:9, IPS LCD display. Its dual 13MP camera setup and Snapdragon 821 chipset, while not class-leading are still solid enough options.
Another potentially eye-catching option is the Meizu Pro 7 Plus, specifically for its secondary 2-icnh AMOLED panel on the back.
If you are not necessarily after a flashy design statement, there are a few notable smartphones to consider. The OnePlus 5 is one, while stocks last, of course. While not as good value as its predecessors, it is still a true flagship, with a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, a decent dual camera setup and a Snapdragon 835.
Another slightly older, but still competitive and nicely depreciated in value device is the Huawei Mate 9. With it you do have to settle for a flat, 5.9-inch LCD panel though. On the other hand, the Leica-branded dual-camera setup is a real treat.
Last and probably least, if you are feeling a bit adventurous, there is potentially a lot of value to be had from a Nubia Z17. You will likely be sacrificing Google Play Services though.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is not exactly an easy phone to recommend. Or, at least not universally applicable as such. For us reviewers, constantly entrenched in the thick of the smartphone realm, with dozens of handsets coming and going, it constitutes a breath of fresh air. A nice shift and interesting new trend in design and take on the tired "slab" form factor.
For many of you out there, a unique look might just be enough to motivate a purchase, which we can understand perfectly. After all, on a broader scale, most mid-range Android smartphones these days are objectively good enough to cover the average user's needs. Flagships just offer up their own specific blend of icing on top of that.
However, if looks are not a number one priority in your book, you need to take into account some of the relative shortcomings of the Mix 2 as well, compared to its rivals. Since, you will have to live with the okay-ish camera and battery life, when you could be demanding more for your money.
So, with all said and done, we can safely say the Mi Mix 2 is an almost universal charmer, but it's not as universally versatile as you'd expect from a flagship device. But it just might be your flagship device of choice if it ticks just the right boxes on your checklist.
Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.