Hands-On, Smartphone

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 Hands-On: Third Time’s the Charm

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix series has always been about pushing the envelope of what’s possible in a smartphone. The first Mi Mix was a beautiful device with its ceramic build and almost bezel-less design, but it was a huge device, and it had a rather large chin. The Mi Mix 2 and Mi Mix 2S, on the other hand, were just more practical versions of the original Mix.

Now at its third iteration, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is arguably the most exciting device of the series yet. Heck, I’d even say it is Xiaomi’s most impressive phone to date. I spent a brief time with the Mi Mix 3 in a media session held in Malaysia, and I’m very impressed with it – especially its sliding mechanism.

Let’s start with the most unique feature of the Mi Mix 3: its “magnetic slider design.” Unlike the Oppo Find X and Vivo Nex’s use of a tiny motor to power their slide-out cameras, the Mi Mix 3’s sliding mechanism requires the user to manually push down on the display to reveal the front-facing cameras. Yes, there are two of them: a 24MP primary shooter, and a secondary 2MP depth sensor.

Personally, I find the Mi Mix 3’s slider design much more appealing than Oppo or Vivo’s implementation. It is very satisfying to activate – many other members of the media is of the same opinion here – and the whole mechanism feels robust. I also love the fact that the slider’s action is customisable: users can choose to launch the selfie camera when the slider is activated, or even change it to answer a phone call. Very neat.

Speaking of customisation, there is an extra button on the left side of the Mi Mix 3. For the Chinese market, the button is used to summon Xiaomi’s own digital assistant, Xiao AI. The best part is, you can change what the button does, whether it’s to launch the camera, take a screenshot, or summon Google Assistant.

Xiaomi may have taken inspiration here from Samsung with the company’s dedicated Bixby button, but at least Xiaomi is giving consumers the freedom to change what the button does.

Okay, let’s move on to something else, like the Mi Mix 3’s sleek design. Its ceramic back feels premium, the aluminium frame is nice to the touch, and I really dig the phone’s minimal bezels, lending to an almost all-screen design. It would’ve been great if Xiaomi can further reduce the “chin” of the Mi Mix 3 at the bottom of the display, but hey, it’s a much smaller bezel than the one found on its predecessor – or the Pocophone F1.

Display is also another strong suit of the Mi Mix 3. Sporting a 6.39-inch 2340 x 1080 AMOLED display, it’s a vibrant, bright display. On top of that, because it is an AMOLED panel, the Mi Mix 3’s display has very good black levels – that’s the inherent property of AMOLED.

Now then, what about performance? Very good, naturally. Powered by Qualcomm’s best chipset to date, the Snapdragon 845, the Mi Mix 3 feels very fast and zippy. This, paired with up to 10GB of RAM – that’s right, 10GB of RAM – and 256GB of fast UFS 2.1 storage, this phone will not disappoint in the performance department.

Last but certainly not least is the Mi Mix 3’s camera performance, and in my brief time with the phone’s primary 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens dual camera system, it’s…well, promising. The camera interface doesn’t feel sluggish, there’s no noticeable shutter delay, and the image output looks great at a glance. Then again, I only managed to try out the Mi Mix 3’s camera in broad daylight – things may change dramatically in low light conditions.

That being said, DxOMark did give the Mi Mix 3’s camera performance an overall score of 103, edging out the Huawei P20 and Samsung Galaxy S9+. But until I can spend more time photographing with the Mi Mix 3’s, I’ll reserve my judgment.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is the sleekest, most refined device in the Mix series yet. As I’ve said before, I really think this is Xiaomi’s most impressive smartphone to date, and I absolutely cannot wait to take it out for a spin – okay, perhaps the fun factor of the sliding mechanism plays a role here too.

As for availability, the Mi Mix 3 will not be introduced in Malaysia anytime soon; Xiaomi mentioned that it is only planning to release the device in the country by the end of the year or early 2019. Until then, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is the latest Mix device in Malaysia – its retail price has also been revised to RM1,799.