Review Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S: Xiaomi’s best (camera) smartphone so far for $485.99
Towards the end of last year, there were already signs of a successor to the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, but only about six months later it is on the (digital) shop shelves and offers the current top processor, a dual camera with AI functions, but remains true to the familiar design. But we ask ourselves: How necessary was this upgrade? Do owners of a Mi Mix 2 have to be annoyed now? Our Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S test tries to answer this question!
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (6/64 GB)
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (6/128 GB)
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (8/256 GB)
|Display Size||5,99 in|
|Display Resolution||2160 x 1080 p|
|Display Panel||LCD IPS Display|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Graphic Chip||Adreno 630|
|Internal Memory||64-256 GB|
|Camera Type & Aperture||wide angle (OIS) with ƒ/1.8 + 12 MP tele camera with ƒ/2.4|
|Front Camera||5 MP|
|Connectivity||LTE Band 1,3,5,7,8,20, WLAN AC, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Features||Quick Charge, Qi charging capability, Fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C, No headphone jack, Face Unlock|
|Operating System||MIUI 9.5, Android 8|
|Dimensions||150.86 x 74.9 x 8.1 mm|
Unboxing – Xiaomi recycles
If you order a smartphone in this price segment, at least I have a certain expectation of the packaging. When I opened the package, I thought we were sent the wrong smartphone. Why? Xiaomi recycles the packaging of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, a square black box with a bronze MIX in the middle; it looks familiar! Only by the name on the bottom we can validate that this is the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. Of course, the decision is understandable. As someone who has already unpacked the predecessor, the enthusiasm here naturally keeps to the limits – a pity! If you are not one of them, let me tell you that the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is very stylishly packaged.
The scope of delivery includes a USB charger with CN plug, a black USB type C cable, a SIM needle, a 3.5 mm to USB type C adapter, the Chinese operating instructions and the very stylish case. All this is under a personal greeting from Xiaomi boss Lei Jun, which was also 1:1 in the predecessor.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S in the old design
In the past, the rumors about the features of the Mi Mix 2S were persistent. Originally it was supposed to look similar to the iPhone X. But this concept was thrown out and will probably be found in the Xiaomi Mi 7. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, by and large, retains the design of its direct predecessor, the Mi Mix 2, which means that the Mi Mix 2S has almost no edges and only a slightly “thicker” screen border on the underside.
The WOW-factor we had during the unboxing of the predecessor is not as strong here, after all we are already familiar with the design and use the Mix 2 daily. Nevertheless: for people who haven’t had the honour so far, the Mix 2S should create enthusiasm. The 5.99-inch display takes up most of the front, as with the predecessor, this is reflected in a screen-to-body ratio of 81.9%. With dimensions of 150.86 x 74.9 x 8.1 mm, it is almost identically high and wide, but about half a millimeter thicker. What may sound like a lot on paper is not noticeable in reality. The slightly increased weight of 192.8 g is also not noticeable.
If you only see the front sides of the 2 and 2S, you can only determine which is which by guessing. To recognize a difference, you have to turn the device, because the differences reveal themselves on the back. The metal housing frame more or less merges into the ceramic back, the fingerprint sensor is also again centrally located in the upper third. Below it runs the lettering “Mi Mix designed by Xiaomi” in a slightly modified form. The most striking is probably the dual camera, which sits in the upper left corner. The body frame is also almost identical, only there is a recess for the loudspeaker on the underside.
Like the Mi Mix 2 single camera, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S dual camera is surrounded by a golden ring. Here again, the ceramic back is both a curse and a blessing. The ceramic material looks like a glass back and mirrors accordingly. Just unpacked it looks very noble, but after the first minute of use fingerprints are unavoidable. For this we also use the included case, which protects the back, provides a better grip and also looks good!
Overall, however, we feel it is positive not to jump on the Notch trend, but we still don’t like the positioning of the front camera on the underside. The design revolution does not offer the S upgrade, but to be fair you have to say that this is not a Mi Mix 3, but in large parts only a hardware upgrade.
The blueprint for current China smartphones
A 5.99 inch display with a resolution of 2160 x 1080p is used here again. This is an LCD IPS display and not, as initially assumed, an AMOLED display. The pixel density here is 403 ppi, with a contrast ratio of 1500:1. the predecessor has made the 18:9 aspect ratio popular, therefore this does not stop before the successor. Here, too, the corners are slightly rounded, which provides a modern touch. If you compare the Xiaomi flagship with the flagships of Samsung and Apple, a Full HD+ resolution looks a little below average.
What the Mi Mix 2S lacks on the data sheet can be relativized by the MIUI operating system. This offers several setting options, such as a night mode and a read mode. Color temperature, contrast and colors can be adjusted as desired. In addition, there are presets for increased contrast but also for warm colors. Xiaomi actually leaves nothing to be desired and takes in some plus points.
Nevertheless, the display is not the greatest strength of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. In strong sunlight in summer you have to take a closer look, the reflection is relatively strong. In the shade or in rooms, however, the display is very convincing and thanks to a wide range of adjustment options, it can be freely adjusted.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S: Performance killer thanks to Snapdragon 845
That the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is above all a hardware upgrade was already known in advance. Therefore one of the best CPUs of the current market is built into the flagship. The latest processor from Qualcomm – the Snapdragon 845, the successor to the 835 in its predecessor, the Snapdragon 845 drives the flagship smartphones of this generation (e.g. Galaxy S9). In the AnTuTu benchmark, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S achieves an impressive value of 277,178, which is even slightly higher than initially assumed!
This impressive value is no accident. A total of eight Kryo 385 cores ensure this performance. Four cores with a clock frequency of 2.8 GHz are specialized in complex processes, the other four cores with a clock frequency of 1.77 GHz handle everyday tasks. In addition, there is the Adreno 630 graphics unit, which naturally plays a key role in games. The fact that this is a top processor can also be seen in the AI support, which is especially reflected in the camera – more about this later.
The processor has 6 GB RAM at its disposal, in the Special Edition even 8 GB. The LPDDR4X dual channel memory provides super multitasking, but should only come close to the capacity limit in 3D games. For this purpose, 64 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB internal memory are available. However, the memory cannot be expanded using a microSD card.
Since the hardware here is almost this year’s non plus ultra, the performance is of course excellent. Apps open in an blink of an eye, you can close them just as quickly. Multitasking runs excellently, everything runs smoothly. At this point you don’t have to say many words. But how does it compare to its predecessor? To be honest, I can’t see any differences in everyday use. After all, the Snapdragon 835 is still a very powerful processor. Clearly, the benchmarks are impressive, but in the end the practice is the decisive factor. And the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S doesn’t have to hide from a Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone X in terms of performance. This is also proven by the benchmark results:
Dual camera with artificial intelligence
On the back the Mi Mix 2S also gets an upgrade. Photographers enjoy a dual lens camera, similar to the Xiaomi Mi 6, with a resolution of 12 megapixels. Both lenses are vertically arranged, a look that has made iPhone X popular again. The lower lens is the primary camera, which is a wide-angle lens. This is used as standard as soon as you open the camera app. With a ƒ/1.8 aperture, it is relatively bright and also offers fourfold optical image stabilization.
The secondary camera is located at the top and functions as a telephoto lens. It is also used when switching to portrait mode. The Bokeh benefits from the higher focal length, with one the light intensity is not quite as strong. There are different modes in the app, especially exciting is the manual mode besides the portrait mode. There you can set the aperture, ISO, white balance, shutter speed, etc. yourself. A nice feature for experienced photographers. The HDR mode is also integrated and at the latest the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has proven that you can still get a lot out of it!
Large sensor – strong low-light images
Since it is estimated that 80% of the time the wide-angle camera is used, an evaluation of this is probably the most decisive. Personally, I really like the photos very much, which is especially due to the bright colors. The 24 mm focal length provides a generous image detail. The automatic white balance works well, so you can’t see a strange grey haze or anything similar. Also the touch autofocus is a main selling point, which reacts very promptly. The focused point also convinces with its good sharpness. This can be clearly seen in the table tennis picture, where the grain can be seen very nicely, even when zooming in.
Accordingly I like the test photos very much, because the strong colors make the pictures alive. The camera’s responsiveness and fast response makes blurry shots unlikely. Xiaomi actually does everything right here and it’s hard for me to find criticism.
Outstanding is the low-light performance. Xiaomi has really worked on this and can shine with results. In bad conditions the camera app reacts noticeably slower (still in the frame), but the photos look even better. The 2S manages to illuminate the photos so that you don’t even notice a lack of light source. Of course, there must be some light, otherwise it will of course reach its limits. This is where the open aperture comes into play, but the slightly larger sensor also captures more light.
Pressing the small “1X button” at the bottom of the camera app switches the phone to the top telephoto lens. Thanks to a higher 47 mm focal length, we have a double optical zoom. The transition is not completely fluent and a short “wobble” occurs, but this does not disturb any further. Overall, the photos look just as good as the results from the primary camera. One difference, however, is the low-light behaviour, which is slightly weaker due to the ƒ/2.4 f-stop, because less light hits the sensor. Xiaomi wants to compensate for this with the flash, which is automatically available in such situations.
Ai, Ai, Ai – how intelligent is artificial intelligence?
Thanks to the Snapdragon 845, artificial intelligence has also found its way into the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. This feature has recently become more popular with the new Huawei models. We ask ourselves: What is the point? And, do you notice a difference in everyday use? First of all you have to say that the feature is not tied to your nose. The AI button, which activates the function, is centrally located at the top of the camera app. The premise and main function is that the camera recognizes certain scenes and adjusts the camera settings to produce a better photo. And yes, this works relatively well!
According to Xiaomi, the phone recognizes 206 different scenes, in our test we were only able to recreate a handful of them. An example would be plants. Our office succulent immediately recognized the Mix 2S. He then adjusts the color of the image, but the processor naturally increases the saturation in the green color range of the plant. The overall brightness is also slightly increased. Whether you like it better is of course a matter of taste. The same applies to food: Bananas became much yellower.
Even when photographing text, the smartphone recognizes the scene and increases the white in the photo, which makes the font stand out slightly better from the “sheet”. I’d consider it a basically cool feature to use. However, since the difference is rather marginal, I would not attach much importance to the AI function. However, this technology is still in its infancy and we can’t wait to see where the journey will take us!
Due to the dual camera, the Mi Mix 2S now also has a portrait mode, which was withheld from its predecessor. For the first time we were allowed to try it on the Xiaomi Mi 6. Between this and the Mi Mix 2S lies about a year. A year Xiaomi used to work on this mode. And it was worth it. I like the edge detection better now than with the Mi Note 3, the bokeh is a bit softer and not quite as overexposed. The whole photo looks a bit more natural, the person in focus is well exempted. This works just as well for objects and can quickly enhance a photo!
The app shows you when the depth of field effect is reached in a portrait photo. She recommends a distance of 2.5 m, but the results at shorter distances are also impressive!
With the camera on the front no quantum leap takes place, also here one uses a 5 megapixel sensor. Unfortunately, the front camera is here again very unfortunate positioned on the right underside of the device. For selfies you either have to hold your smartphone relatively high or simply turn it 180°.
All in all there are no clear differences to be recognized here, I still like the selfies. The only feature worth mentioning here is the integrated portrait mode. The Xiaomi smartphone softly draws the image areas that are out of focus, creating a portrait. Logically, this doesn’t work quite as well as with the main camera, but the results are still pleasing!
4K Videos & Slow Motion
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S supports face recognition
The camera on the front also supports face unlock. This is not a completely new feature for Xiaomi, the Mi Note 3, for example, could already be unlocked by face. We were relatively sceptical at the beginning, as the front camera is positioned on the underside. A real scan of the face was not made, only a quick photo was taken.
Unlocking via this works very well and quickly. Much faster than a Doogee Mix 2, but probably not quite as fast as the OnePlus 5T. But we still couldn’t unlock it with a picture of my face. Since the fingerprint sensor on the back acts very quickly, you don’t necessarily have to rely on it. Nevertheless, I like the feature very much, even if it is not as secure as the fingerprint or a code.
If you have installed the Global ROM, this function will not work at first. However, you can click on the menu item Region under Settings -> Additional settings. There simply select India as region and already you can deposit your face data under lock screen & password!
First Xiaomi smartphone with Qi charging function
Xiaomi once again uses a battery capacity of 3,400 mAh. In times of a Ulefone Power 5 this looks almost puny, but the MIUI operating system ensures a slightly above average battery life. Of course, the Mi Mix 2S also supports Quick Charge 3.0, Qualcomm’s fast charge standard. This is not the latest standard, but it is enough to bring the smartphone up to 75% battery life within 35 minutes. The regular charging process takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes. The benchmark has reached a value of 9h 30 min, which is lower than that of its predecessor.
So far we have assumed that only the Xiaomi Mi 7 will be the first Xiaomi smartphone with Qi charging function, but that has now been done. Because the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is currently the only and thus the first Xiaomi smartphone with Qi charging function. This is a nice feature, of course, but it’s more of a luxury than necessary. One advantage is that wireless charging also works with the supplied case. Also MIUI is so smart to let you know if the device is not optimally located on the Qi surface. In the course of introducing the 2S, they also presented the in-house Qi charging station. It offers 7.5 W of power and we would recommend such a power, a 5W device tested by us simply does not have enough power to charge the phone quickly.
Xiao AI – intelligent assistant à la Siri
Intelligent language assistants like Alexa and Siri are becoming more and more important and more present. XiaoAI, the intelligent language assistant of Xiaomi, who we already know from the Xiaomi AI speaker, finds its way into the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. This can be triggered by a long press on “On-Screen Home Button”. The possible functions are of course known, the weather can be displayed or a certain app can be opened, should Xiao AI not pose any problems.
At the moment Xiao AI only supports Chinese and is not usable for us. She understands English, but you can’t do much with the results of the search. If anything changes in the future, we will of course let you share it directly.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S with LTE
The fact that the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 has already enjoyed relatively high popularity here is also due to a small but not unimportant detail. Finally, it has LTE and over 40 other global LTE bands. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S also supports LTE, but the more than 40 global bands are now reserved for the most expensive 256 GB version.
Away from the mobile Internet, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S offers everything you could wish for. Local Internet connections are 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, coupling to wireless peripherals is via Bluetooth 5.0 and GPS and A-GPS are also integrated. Physical connectivity is limited to the USB Type C connector on the bottom. A 3.5 mm jack connector is not required, but an adapter is included. In addition, the Mi Mix 2S supports NFC, which makes mobile payment via mobile phone or fast coupling with Bluetooth loudspeakers or cameras, for example, no problem.
The voice quality of the Xiaomis was rated 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. The voice sounds a bit muffled, but nevertheless there were no noises and the quality was not unpleasant. The microphone does a good job overall. Recording directly into the microphone sounds clear and powerful. However, the device seems to be trying to filter out ambient noise, which doesn’t work so well, causing some strange noises to be heard in the background. The loudspeaker at the bottom also does a good job. This is more than enough for occasional music and YouTube videos!
Conclusion – the best Xiaomi smartphone so far
The Xiaomi Mi Mix one of my former top gadgets, so we were all very excited about the successor. And yes, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S can definitely live up to expectations, in my eyes it’s a top smartphone that outshines in almost every respect. Probably the biggest shortcoming of its predecessor was the camera. That’s exactly where Xiaomi came in, eliminating errors and now the 2S doesn’t position itself in front of an iPhone 8 Plus for nothing. The performance is also beyond all doubt thanks to the Snapdragon 845. Well-functioning features such as Face Unlock, Qi-charging, fingerprint sensor etc. round off the overall package and offer further advantages over the predecessor.
Even if the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is a killer eye-catcher, the big WOW effect is missing. But that only because we have already tested the Mix 2 extensively and it has been in the editorial office for some time. Someone who joins the Mix 2S will be rightly impressed! Thus the design is a big plus point, but also a weak point, because the whole is not innovative (more). This also raises my question about the Xiaomi Mi 7, because it is probably equipped with identical hardware. Since it is speculated that it will come with fingerprint sensor in the display, this could be the decisive difference to the Mi Mix 2S.
Buy Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S?
Now the question arises: Should you buy the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S if you already have the Mi Mix 2? I can only say “yes” to this if you place a lot of value on mobile photography. Xiaomi puts a special focus on this and we liked the quality overall very much. The additional features like wireless charging are very nice, but don’t make a big difference to me. In terms of performance, one will hardly notice any difference in everyday life! Otherwise, the changes are probably too small to justify a new investment.
If you are looking for a new smartphone and want to take some money in your hands, I can give you a clear recommendation to buy the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S.To the gadget