Interface and reliability
- MIUI is a clean and customizable Android skin
- Number of pre-installed apps is unnecessary
Xiaomi has cleaned up its Android MIUI skin greatly over the past year or so, and while it's a long way from being a "stock" style experience like OnePlus' Oxygen OS, you do get a neater on-screen interface which borrows elements from iOS as well as other Android skins.
The most obvious difference from stock Android is the missing app drawer, which is something of an acquired taste and definitely makes things look cluttered. You either need to rearrange the apps in folders or you can install a third-party app drawer for a more typical Android-style experience.
While many Mi Mix 2s ship with MIUI 8, MIUI 9 is available now and will most likely download the moment you take your phone out of the box.
Running underneath is Android 7 Nougat which puts the phone behind the curve slightly when compared to some rivals, but Xiaomi has already begun testing an Android Oreo upgrade, which we'd imagine will arrive next year.
Even if you prefer the stock Android experience, MIUI remains one of the finest Android skins available right now.
Exclusive features like the Quick Ball – which almost makes the navigation keys redundant – and dual apps – which let you use two instances of a single app on the same phone – are baked in, while almost every element of the interface can be customized using themes.
Xiaomi also has its own screen recording application, which is easy to use and pretty unique.
Having said all of that, Xiaomi certainly does things its own way with MIUI. In its native China, Xiaomi's phones are sold with Xiaomi services installed, not Google ones. So the Mi Store supplants the Google Play Store and you're expected to sign in with a Mi Account first and foremost.
The international MIUI ROM which comes installed on the Mi Mix 2 we reviewed strips away some of these connections, but you still have to contend with other Xiaomi foibles, such as a needlessly aggressive memory optimization system which causes notifications to be delayed or not come through at all.
Thankfully a few tweaks are all that are required to disable these features and get things working like normal.
For all of its quirks, it's impossible not to fall in love with MIUI. It's such a clean and refined UI that it even puts stock Android to shame; little features like the wallpaper carousel – which automatically downloads gorgeous lock and home screen wallpapers from Xiaomi's cloud servers – really add to the user experience.
It's also rock solid from a reliability standpoint, and we noticed very few force-closing apps or stutters.
Music, movies and gaming
- Videos look stunning
- Gaming is smooth
- Stereo speakers
With processing power to spare, stereo speakers and a massive, full HD edge-to-edge display, the Mi Mix 2 is a good choice for multimedia aficionados.
The flagship Snapdragon 835 chipset is present inside the Mi Mix 2, along with 6GB of RAM to ensure impressive gaming capabilities, meaning this handset can handle anything you throw at it.
Holding the phone in landscape while gaming may block the loudspeaker on the bottom edge or result in accidental touches here and there due to those thin bezels, but it's not hard to adopt the ideal holding position over time.
There's also a front-facing speaker in the earpiece which fires audio directly towards your face, but it's disappointingly weak.
As noted earlier in this review there's also no 3.5mm headphone jack, so you'll have to use the included adaptor or wireless headphones if you're not happy with the speakers.
- Fast, fluid operation with no lag
- Apps open quickly and multitasking is smooth
As mentioned above, the Snapdragon 835 chipset along with 6GB RAM is a great combination to take on almost any task you could ask a smartphone to do in 2017.
Apps load swiftly, Android runs smoothly, and the Mi Mix 2 can run multiple apps at the same time without breaking a sweat. It will also keep your minimized tasks saved for a long time and let you jump between them without a hitch.
During our entire time with the phone we've yet to experience any stutter, pauses or freezes – the Mi Mix 2 is butter-like in its smoothness and that goes a long way to ensure the user experience is a pleasant one.
If you've purchased Xiaomi phones in the past then you may be aware that some of their devices have had issues operating on all global LTE network bands.
Thankfully the company has included support for a massive range of international bands with the Mi Mix 2, so it should work on your network no matter where in the world you happen to be from.