There might be a lot of high hopes about folding smartphones and what that means for smartphone design in the future but right now I’m concentrated on one thing: how companies are working around the front camera notch.
We’ve seen the teardrop style, the pin-hole camera, and now Xiaomi’s latest device is heralding in the slide up selfie camera. Released last year in China, it finally arrived in the UK in January to much anticipation.
Yet is this phone all design and no function? We put it to the test.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Design
Straight up, I love the design of this phone. The back of the device looks distinctly iPhone X-like, with the vertical camera formation and the expensive-looking glass design, but it’s the front where all your attention is focused.
That’s because the Mi Mix 3 sports a 6.39 AMOLED display in a full HD+ screen with absolutely no notch, thanks to a full-screen slider that houses the dual front cameras. It looks very cool and makes other notch-featuring phones feel almost dated in comparison. You’ll certainly turn heads out and about with the Mi Mix 3.
The phone uses a magnetic form to carry out the open and close actions and is supposed to last over 300,000 cycles. We haven’t tested this yet, but considering the average person checks their phone over 10,000 times a year, this should mean the device is up for the task.
As well as boosting an eye-catching design, the Mi Mix 3 slider is functional too. When you slide to unlock, It automatically opens the camera, though you can customise this to open different apps and add sound effects. Sounds may be fun at first but can get annoying after a while.
One issue with this design is that it means facial unlock isn’t as secure as you’ll find on other devices. Given that other companies like Apple and Huawei are working to make sure their facial recognition is as secure as possible, it is disappointing when you find a device where it isn’t as good or isn’t available yet (looking at you Google Pixel).
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Camera
The Mi Mix 3 has the same camera as the Mi 8 Pro, the first phone Xiaomi launched in the UK last November, with one 12-megapixel Samsung telephoto sensor and a 12-megapixel Sony wide angle lens which is ultra-light sensitive. Xiaomi says it has improved on the software for the Mi Mix 3, following in the steps of Google, which also focuses on software over hardware in its cameras.
It appears to pay off. In general scenery shots, the Mi Mix 3 beautifully captures the bright colours of Hyde Park, and the side eye from a goose that was eyeing me suspiciously.
What I didn’t like about the portrait mode is that it zooms in on the subject, so you have to stand further back to get a whole person in – something the iPhone XS portrait mode does too. However, the bokeh depth effect is quite delightful and makes your subject look great.
I briefly tried out the night mode at the Tower of London. Given how lit up the tower was, it actually wasn’t too much of a difficult night shot but the Honor View 20 appeared to extremely overcompensate for the light whereas the Mi Mix 3 managed to capture the moodiness of the sky well.
There are a few things with the selfie camera that I don’t particularly love too. Xiaomi is very into the ‘beautify’ settings in the front camera, including the ability to completely edit your face from your eyes to your chin. You can ignore these settings and just take great selfies anyway but I’m not into these FaceTune-esque aspects as a concept.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Performance
Inside, the Mi Mix 3 features Snapdragon’s 845 processor and has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you start to run out of space, you can use the Cleaner app to trash unnecessary files as well as run a security scan – a handy feature.
Given the RAM available, the Mi Mix 3 is fast and responsive. Switching in and out of apps is smart and intuitive and you get used to the controls of the phone fairly easily. The AMOLED display means colours look sharp and bright too, particularly noticeable when using apps like Instagram and Netflix.
The device has a surprisingly small battery, 3,200mAH, given that other companies are focusing on sizes 4,000mAH and above. That being said, it easily lasts all day when you’re using social media, responding to emails, and streaming music or TV, though it will require a nightly charge.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Extra features
Despite this being an Android phone, running Android Pie software, Xiaomi’s MIUI skin feels very close to Apple’s iOS in terms of the home screen and design of its native apps, particularly notes and messages.
If you’re into Apple’s clean-cut software design, then this should appeal to you – it’s like the OnePlus OxygenOS software in that it can appeal to both Android and Apple users.
The Mi Mix 3 also comes with a wireless charger in the box, which is an exciting move by Xiaomi. Though wireless charging isn’t as fast yet as standard cables, you often have to fork out extra to buy a wireless charger, so it’s cool that Xiaomi is prioritising this kind of accessory for its customers.
It’s worth noting there is no headphone jack on the Mi Mix 3 and the dongle included isn’t the greatest, but if you’ve already made the switch to wireless headphones, this shouldn’t bother you too much.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Price and availability
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is available to buy now for £499 direct from Xiaomi or from Amazon. It comes in two colours: black or blue. We tried the black version but the blue is certainly a more stand out colour.
Is the Mi Mix 3 worth it?
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is a fantastic phone – the design is unusual and eye-catching, Xiaomi’s Android skin is intuitive and easy to get used to – particularly if you haven’t used Android before, and the camera is great too.
The price point is also outstanding for a phone that looks this good. Another Chinese phone company, Oppo, arrived in the UK this week and it has its own slider smartphone, named the Oppo Find X. That device is priced at £799 though, £300 more than the Mi Mix 3.
We’ve yet to try the Find X but when it comes to a well-priced smartphone with a substantial amount of innovation, then the Mi Mix 3 is the phone for you.