Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 review

A sliding party piece sets this affordable flagship apart

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

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The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 runs Android 9 Pie – the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system – out of the box, but it comes with Xiaomi's MIUI 10 OS interface layered over the top.

It means you don’t get a stock Android experience, with the app drawer removed and all apps stored on home screens, a different theme and color scheme, and some additional options in the settings menu.

The interface doesn’t feel as cohesive as stock Android, or interfaces from the likes of Samsung and OnePlus. There’s nothing majorly wrong, but a series of little quirks detract from the overall experience.

The app icons are a little childish, you can’t turn an alarm off from the lock screen – you have to unlock the handset first – and when you open multi-tasking when you’re in an app and hit the 'close all' icon it doesn’t close your current app, and small quirk of the app still being open is noticeably jarring. 

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

The latter issue isn’t necessarily a bad way for the multi-tasking, 'close all' feature to operate, as perhaps you want to free up memory space for the current application you’re using, but this isn’t how the function works on other Android phones, and it feels unnatural.

Another oddity comes when you receive a call. If you’re using an app when a call comes through you get a little notification at the top of the screen with a green answer button; however, when you tap this the call isn’t answered – instead you’re taken to the main call screen, where you have to swipe the green call icon up to pick up. 

It’s an unnecessary additional step which could be avoided – and in fact in can be, because instead of tapping the notification you can answer a call immediately by sliding the screen down. Sliding the screen back up hangs up the call, which is nice when you remember, but it took a while for the sliding action to become muscle memory. 

And, as we’ve already mentioned, the slider isn’t the easiest to manipulate, so a one-touch answer facility would help users.

Music, movies and gaming

The uninterrupted all-screen design of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes to the fore when you starting gaming or watching video on the handset.

Thanks to the 19.5:9 aspect ratio on the 6.39-inch display you get extra space when gaming, as there’s no notch or ‘punch-hole’ forcing a black bar at one end of the screen or cutting into the action.

It means you get to see extra mine levels in Idle Miner, and a better view of the game space and additional options in Bloon Tower Defense 6, while the on-screen controls for the likes of PUBG and Fortnite extend right to the end of the display, giving you a better view of your surroundings with less real screen estate covered by your hands.

The Full HD display means graphics aren’t quite as detailed as on flagships boasting QHD resolutions and higher pixel densities, plus the AMOLED screen on the Mi Mix 3 isn’t as vibrant as the displays on the likes of the OnePlus 6T and Samsung Galaxy S9.

Playing PUBG on almost the highest graphics settings provides clear, smooth gameplay, and the Mi Mix 3 doesn’t heat up that much, making for a comfortable gaming experience.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Similarly, streaming Netflix and Prime Video is also enjoyable, and while most of the content won’t fill the display (unless you tap it to do so, and in the process crop off some of the action at either end/at the top and bottom) there’s something soothing about watching without any interruptions to the screen.

As we’ve mentioned, the AMOLED panel in the Mi Mix 3 isn’t the most vibrant, so colors aren’t as bold here as on some rivals, but this doesn’t detract from the action on screen. It may only be a Full HD display, but viewing angles are good, and there isn’t any instantly noticeable loss of quality.

There’s no HDR (high dynamic range) support however, so you won’t be able to take advantage of any content which supports it.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 has a single, down-firing speaker on its base, and it’s one that’s easily muffled by your hands when the phone is held landscape orientation.

Sound quality is good – it’s not going to blow you away with amazing clarity or bass, but the volume does go high enough to give you room-filling audio at home.

There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack here, so you’ll either have to use the adapter which comes in the box to plug in your wired headphones, or use a Bluetooth wireless pair.

Specs and performance

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is a fully-stocked flagship phone, fulfilling the firm's ambition to create a device that can compete with top-tier smartphones. 

It packs a Snapdragon 845 chip, 128GB of storage (a 256GB model will be available in some regions, but not the UK), and 6GB of RAM (8GB or a whopping 10GB will also be offered in select regions). 

While that’s more than enough to keep Android 9 Pie running smoothly on-screen, the chipset isn’t the latest offering from Qualcomm (that would be the Snapdragon 855), which means the Mi Mix 3 may find itself a step behind the competition as more phones launch during 2019.

Right now though, there’s no obvious lag when using the Mi Mix 3, with apps loading in good time, and the phone is capable of running multiple applications simultaneously with a minimum of effort.

We ran Geekbench 4 on the Mi Mix 3, and it returned an average multi-core score of 9,028, which puts it in between the OnePlus 6T (8,461) and Honor View 20 (9,709). In short, there’s plenty of power inside the Mi Mix 3.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.