Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Review: The Supersized Device Gets Premium Touches
The second iteration of Mi Max gets better with its design, camera and packs a bigger battery.
2016’s Mi Max was a bit of a leap of faith for Xiaomi, a fledgling attempt at a large-screen-phone-for-a-budget in a segment that had few proof points. 3 million and some Mi Max units later, the folks at Xiaomi are back with the successor, the Mi Max 2.
Questionably portable smartphone or petite tablet? We’re still grappling with that one, but the Max 2 is, without a doubt, one helluva refined phablet.
- Refined, premium big-screen design
- Expansive screen real estate
- Dual speakers
- Ships with Nougat
- Maxed out battery life
- Good camera let down by low light results
Given the largely functional design of the first generation Mi Max, the Mi Max 2 looks like it went to a salon for a makeover. And would you take a look at the results!
It speaks the same design language as the Redmi Note 4 and the Redmi 4, with similar 2.5D curved glass, a 7.6mm slim unibody anodised aluminum build in that gorgeous matte black color, and an all-out premium feel which punches far above its price class.
Worth noting are small design changes – a suitably loud dual speaker setup (with the second speaker tucked into the earpiece), USB Type-C connector and antennas moved to discreet bands on the top and bottom rear edges, all while retaining the Mi mainstay – an IR sensor.
Make no mistake about it though – this is a large phone that tries its darnedest to feel handy and pocket-able, but it remains strictly in the two-handed-use category. Xiaomi may not have packed in the bezel-less tricks of the S8s, but it does get the placement of the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor spot on with the Mi Max 2.
And then there’s that giant 6.44-inch full-HD LCD display. Sure, stretching 1920x1080 pixels over a 6.44-inch canvas meant this was never going to be the sharpest kid on the block, but the sheer amount of screen at your disposal is probably why many of you will consider this device. Watching a lot of streaming media and play games? The Mi Max 2, with its dual speaker setup, is a great choice for that.
Sunlight visibility is good, and while you won’t get those super saturated AMOLED colors, there’s not much to complain here. An sRGB mode, a reading mode and contrast levels adjustment let you adjust the screen to your liking – pity then that MIUI doesn't leverage the added screen estate with a multi-window mode, though the company did say at launch that the feature should make its way to the Mi Max 2 in the near future.
Under the hood, you have a Snapdragon 625 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which may sound like a step down from the original’s Snapdragon 650, but the 625 is known for its power efficiency and rock solid dependability for mid-range devices.
Everyday tasks benefit instead with the extra RAM, and the only time I ever noticed a frame drop or a sense of stutter was when I fired up a game like Riptide GP2 or Injustice 2, and the phone caught up soon enough and delivered smooth game play for the rest of the session, without breaking a sweat or running too hot.
It runs the latest build of MIUI 8.5 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which comes with the regular bells and whistles of Xiaomi’s feature rich platform.
But it’s on the battery front that Xiaomi has max-ed this baby out, and you get a larger 5300mAh battery in a chassis that still remains a slim 7.6mm! In the week I’ve used the device, the phone went past the two day mark with moderate use, dipping below it on the charge cycles where I put it to heavy use.
More importantly, you get Quick Charge 3.0 over USB-C, which juices up the device to well past the halfway mark in an hour – good for a full day of use.
The Mi Max 2 sports the same primary camera sensor as the Mi 6, which in itself is a bump up, sensor class-wise, from last year’s Max, which means images are rich in detail and colors, and the Auto HDR mode works great in tricky, high contrast light conditions.
Low light performance is where the Max 2 suffers, with images looking over processed and soft, with plenty of grain. The lack of OIS exacerbates the matter, so it’s best to force the flash if you must shoot with the Max 2 in low-light.
And then there’s the other pet peeve of mine – in a device this big, Xiaomi could have afforded the space to fit in a dedicated microSD card slot alongside the dual SIMs, instead of the hybrid-SIM approach everyone seems to love these days.
Why Buy It?
Xiaomi bet on this niche worked well for the brand in 2016, and the Mi Max 2 is a refinement of the idea. Premium feel, big battery, aggressive Rs 16,999 pricing – the Mi Max 2 is a well thought-through device that you really should check out in person, even if you’re not actively looking for a big-screen device.
The big screen and multi-day battery life have a way of swaying those who’re on the fence about getting themselves a supersized device.
(Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist and commentator and has been contributing for the past 15 years to India’s leading newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at @2shar.)
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