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Interface and reliability
- Runs Android 9 with MIUI 10
- No apps drawer
Running Android 9, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G is in a great position from a future-proofing point of view, and that also means the phone has access to the wealth of apps available on the Google Play Store.
Xiaomi’s skin, MIUI 10, may be highly customizable, but it is also a very mixed bag. Like iPhones and Huawei devices, Xiaomi doesn’t load up an apps tray on the Mi Mix 3 5G by default, so forces users to organize apps into folders or install a custom launcher. Moreover, while Huawei gives you the chance to activate an apps tray, Xiaomi doesn’t.
If you’re anything like us and have transferred all your apps from an old phone to the Mi Mix 3 5G, you’ll have 132+ shortcuts strewn across your home screens to organize into some kind of order - frustrating.
Get past that first hurdle, and you have a variable number of home screens to populate, a Xiaomi 'Guide' screen to the left, with shortcuts to apps and a few tools, and a notifications bar.
There are also plenty of handy customizations in the settings, from gesture inputs through to a dark theme to truly take advantage of that AMOLED display.
Trial number two comes in the form of third-party ads every time you install a new app. The Mi Mix 3 5G scans them for viruses, totally interrupting whatever you happen to be doing in the process, and does so with adverts. This can be disabled, but it doesn’t deliver a premium user experience.
So while we don’t love what Xiaomi is doing with Android, we can appreciate parts of it, and everything we didn't take to is overridable, provided you don’t mind a quick dip in the Google Play Store to find an excellent custom launcher.
Multimedia and specs
- Snapdragon 855 and 6GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage, no microSD card slot
With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Mi Mix 3 5G is as competitive as it needs to be from a power perspective.
While Geekbench was blocked on our device, with an AnTuTu score of 364,180, it beats out pricier phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (running the Exynos 9820), so handles demanding games like a champ.
What is annoying is that Mi Mix 3 5G still applies a black bar to one side of the screen when gaming despite the fact it doesn’t sport a notch - this detracts from the gorgeously immersive all-screen experience the phone showcases the rest of the time you use it.
Watching content is, as a result, very enjoyable on the Mi Mix 3 5G. Whether Netflix, YouTube, or videos you’ve recorded, it looks sharp, bright, and vibrant and the sound produced, while from a lowly mono-speaker, is loud enough for all but the loudest environments.
It doesn’t produce the clearest sound around, so you won’t want to listen to it at max volume for long, but for a quick clip or two, it’s fine.
The lack of a headphone jack might irk wired headphone fans, but there is a 3.5mm to USB-C adaptor in the box at least. There’s also 128GB of storage included which should be ample for most, though this isn’t expandable.
Naturally, this phone also gets fast over 5G networks, with data speeds of up to 250Mbps in our tests when we were in the right spots in London. There aren’t many ‘right spots’ in the world right now, so if you pick up a 5G phone, you’re paying a premium that may not be worth it.
In turn, buying any of the 5G smartphones available today should be regarded as a future-proofing measure that you will benefit from down the line.
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Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.