Review Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Slider design & up to 10 GB RAM for $591.48
It’s all happening at once: only six months after the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 (Sept. 2017) the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (March 2018) was released. And now the successor, which Xiaomi introduced recently, is already released. The biggest feature: the slider mechanism, which is actively pushed up by the user. In addition: up to 10 GB RAM and 5G support. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 claims the title “Smartphone of the Year”. But the slider doesn’t just bring advantages!
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 (6/128 GB)
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 (8/128 GB)
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 (8/256 GB)
|Display||6,39″ AMOLED Display (2340 x 1080p, 19,5:9 aspect ratio, 403 PPI)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845; Octa-Core @2,8 GHz|
|Graphic Chip||Adreno 630 GPU|
|RAM||6/8/10 GB LPDDR4X RAM|
|Internal Memory||128/256 GB UFS 2.1|
|Camera||12 MP wide angle (OIS) Sony IMX363 with ƒ/1.8 + 12 MP S5K3M3+ telecamera with ƒ/2.4|
|Front Camera||24 MP Sony IMX576 + 2 MP OV02A10|
|Battery||3.200 mAh battery, Quick Charge, QI charging capability with 10W|
|Connectivity||LTE Band 1,3,5,7,8,20, WLAN AC, GPS//BDS, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Features||Fingerprint sensor | USB Type-C | No headphone connection|
|Operating System||MIUI 9.5 , Android 9|
|Dimensions / Weight||157.89 x 74.69 x 8.46 mm / 218 g|
Packaging & Scope of delivery
If you want to spend so much money and decide on the new prestige model from the Chinese manufacturer, everything has to be right, including the packaging. Xiaomi always pays special attention to the Mi Mix series and you can already see this with the square black box that was in our customs checked package. A simple, golden “MIX” increases the anticipation immensely. Two things stand out immediately: Firstly, the box is now slightly hatched, secondly it is a good deal larger than its predecessors.
This is because the scope of delivery has been slightly extended. Besides the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 you get a white USB charger with Quick Charge 3.0 support, a white 1m USB type C cable and, what’s new, a Qi charging station in white. In addition there is a USB type C to 3.5mm adapter and the SIM needle. The Chinese manual can be safely ignored, the case is much more exciting.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 Case
In the run-up, the case was a particularly interesting discussion – and rightly so. How can you protect your expensive slider smartphone? The supplied hard shell case does its job pretty well in this respect. The workmanship is really good for an included case, the matt surface gives the phone a better feel than the glass back. Basically it’s the case of the Mi Mix 2S, but of course it’s bigger now and “open” at the bottom. This is necessary to be able to use the slider mechanism without any problems.
The last half centimeter on the right and left side as well as a large part of the underside remains open so that the display can be pushed out downwards. The left and right corners are still partially protected, at least most of the immovable part. This is handy, because in case of a fall the probability is higher that it will fall on one of the edges. The movable display remains completely unprotected at the bottom.
Of course, the case fits very well overall, but you also notice that the stability decreases towards the bottom. Here, the cover can be loosened more easily and the gap dimension is slightly thicker. But Xiaomi also thought wisely about the thickness of the cover. Finally, the case manages to make the rest of the phone level with the camera so that the back is completely flat.
Vivo NEX, is that you?
Honestly: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 reminds you at first glance of the Vivo NEX. Because of the real rimless design you get few Xiaomi characteristics on the front. Although it’s a bit smaller with a 6.4 inch screen diagonal, it’s not immediately noticeable. In the end, we are dealing here with dimensions of 157.89 x 74.69 x 8.46 mm.
A visible screen border surrounds the display, but the Mi Mix 3 fulfills the “borderless” requirement like only a few other smartphones. Especially towards the sides, it’s very narrow, especially in contrast to its predecessor, the lower edge of the screen is much thinner. After all, it no longer has to accommodate the front camera. A comparison with the Xiaomi Mi A2 shows that it is really “space-saving”. At 158.7 mm in length, this is the same size as the Mix 3, but “only” offers a screen diagonal of 5.99 inches.
The profile shows that the slider mechanism also has a marginal disadvantage. In this sense, a thickness of 8.46 mm is a step backwards compared to its predecessor, even though 0.3 mm is still within the frame. Otherwise, the metal case frame resembles its predecessor and also the other current top Xiaomi models. The only difference: the Mi AI button is now on the left side. This is a dedicated button for the intelligent speech assistant of Xiaomi, Mi AI (formerly “Xiao AI”). More about this in the further course of this article.
So the back reminds us of the last Mix model again, glass is used here as well. Therefore there is also renewed support for wireless charging with Qi. Only the Forbidden City edition is set in ceramic. In addition, the “MIX” lettering has been changed. This is no longer arranged vertically, but horizontally and has been reduced. Where else you can find the Mi-Logo, you can now find “MIX by XIAOMI”.
The last two Mi Mix devices were initially available in two different colors: black and white. Later an additional green edition was released. The Mi Mix 3 starts directly with several colour variants including the Jade Green and a blue version. In addition there is of course a standard black! On the back there is a dual camera, which is arranged vertically again.
Handling & Weight
A big difference to the predecessor is the increased weight. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 noticeably exceeds the 200g limit and now weighs in at 218g. That’s a good 25 g more than its predecessor and a good 40 g more than the Mi 8 – you can see that. This is certainly due to the slider on the one hand, but also to the size. For my feeling, however, you quickly get used to the extra weight and it gives the Mix 3 some extra stability.
The phone is large, but even if it seems so, not larger than mid-range 6 inch models. So if you come from a device like the OnePlus 5T, then you don’t have to get used to the size. The manufacturer also achieves good handling through the typical rounding of the back. That resembles here rather the Mi 8 than the Mix 2S, which I personally like better.
Slider mechanism (almost) as before
The rumour that a new concept for the Mi Mix 3 had been considered was circulating in the net long before the release. Originally we were talking about a pop-up camera, very similar to the Vivo NEX. But in the last weeks it turned out that a slider mechanism had been chosen. The only function of the slider is to reveal the front camera for Selfies and Face Unlock. However, this works differently to the Oppo Find X and is completely mechanical with the Mix 3.
That means: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 consists of two parts. The display is the movable part and makes up a good 2 mm of the total 8.4 mm thickness. You have to press this part down if you want to use the front camera. Thereby, one has to use a little force. By pulling the display only slightly downwards, a kind of spring pulls the display upwards again. If one overcomes approximately 50% of the slider, the display pushes down almost automatically.
In my opinion, the slider mechanism is really well balanced in its functionality. The feedback from the device is really good, and yes, it’s really fun to use the slider. You don’t just hear the phone “clicking” when the display clicks into place. No, MIUI also outputs a sound on request that confirms the mechanism used. Xiaomi apparently invested a lot of time and optimized this feature a lot.
One of the things that makes Xiaomi smartphones so unique is the quality of their workmanship. Whether budget smartphones á la Redmi 6 or flagships like the Mi 8, Xiaomi always delivers a well processed product. All the more astonishing is the fact that the Xiaomi employees seem to have reached their limits with the slider concept.
It’s by no means that the processing is bad or the Mi Mix 3 “rattles”, but two or three aspects have to be definitely mentioned. In the retracted state, gap dimensions can be seen at the top and bottom. So it is possible to look “through” the smartphone. The gap between the two parts is large enough to see what is behind it. However, this is only possible if you hold the smartphone exactly perpendicular to your eyes. If you look at it from an oblique angle, you won’t notice it because the gap is at most half a millimeter.
As a result, you can hear a click when you press the upper or lower third of the screen. Then the moving part meets the immovable part. In the middle are probably the sliders that connect the two parts of the device. The gap dimensions are most noticeable, at least in our test device, on the right side including both corners. It’s no problem for me to go into this gap with my fingernail at all four edges and press the display up a bit.
In addition, the display is a bit “loose”. To the left and to the right there is a minimum amount of room, but the case solves this by itself.
One has to be honest: I’m afraid it would be possible to break out the display of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. The movable part is only about 2 mm thick and seems to be fixed only centrally. If one were to get stuck somewhere on an edge in the extended state or come up against an edge with some force, it would probably look bad. Fortunately, Mix 3 is probably 99% of the day in the running-in state, which significantly minimizes the risk of damage.
Apart from the points of criticism I just mentioned, the Mi Mix 3’s workmanship is right and you get the usual Xiaomi quality. The keys have a really good pressure point, everything is cleanly milled and also the transitions between the glass back and the metal frame are almost seamless.
The first Mi Mix with AMOLED
In contrast to the previous models, the display has now been enlarged. While the last two generations still used a 5.99 inch display, the new device uses a 6.39 inch display. This is an AMOLED display; a novelty for the Mi Mix series. Among the top models so far only the Xiaomi Mi 8, the Explorer Edition (Mi 8 Pro) and the Special Edition are equipped with an AMOLED.
The screen-to-body ratio is correspondingly high at 93.4%! The slider mechanism of course also eliminates the need for the notch, as the front camera only shows itself as soon as the display is pushed down. Xiaomi uses an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a screen resolution of 2340 x 1080p, which is referred to as Full HD+. However, it doesn’t contain a fingerprint in the display, which is exclusively reserved for the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition and the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro.
Xiaomi always plays at the top in terms of display, but never quite gets close to the well-known competition. In my opinion this is again the case, the difference between AMOLED and LCD is rather small. The brightness is strong, at maximum brightness the Mix 3 literally shines, but also outside at approx. 15% it is still usable. Thanks to the AMOLED panel, the black levels are of course a feast for the eyes, but with a contrast ratio of 60000 : 1 it’s no wonder. For comparison, the IPS panel of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S offers a contrast of 1500:1.
The sensitivity for touch inputs is of course very good, Multi-Touch with up to 10 fingers no problem. Negative for me is the recognizable Color Shift. If you hold the device at an acute angle, you can see a slight green shimmer. The Always-On mode is a bit hidden in the MIUI settings, but can still be scheduled. It’s a pity that you can only select the preset display option and don’t have 16 different options available like with the Meizu. For me personally the Always On mode is a clear pro-argument for an AMOLED panel.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 with Mi AI button
Xiaomi has used additional physical keys sparingly in the past. Now the Mi Mix 3 uses a dedicated Mi AI button to start the voice assistant and give voice commands. Finally, Xiaomi’s Mi AI Speech Assistant will play an increasingly important role in the future. Fun Fact: when Mix 2S was introduced, the language assistant was still called Xiao AI, which Xiaomi has now changed to Mi AI with Mi Mix 3.
Since this currently only works in Chinese, we can’t get much out of this feature. There is a stubborn rumour that you can use the Google Assistant with the Global Version. A nice extra: in the MIUI settings you can assign an additional function to the button with a double click. Although the Google translator of another menu is necessary, this menu is only in Chinese, but now our test device opens the camera with a double click – very nice!
Focus on the front camera
In terms of the camera, Xiaomi hasn’t changed too much. The main sensor remains the 12 megapixel Sony IMX363, which we saw in the Mi Mix 2S for the first time in an Xiaomi smartphone. With an aperture of ƒ/1.8, the camera is pretty fast. The secondary sensor is the Samsung S5K3M3 with a ƒ/2.4 aperture and also 12 megapixels. The focal length of the second sensor is in the 50 mm range, which makes it a telephoto lens in this context. This enables a double optical zoom and comes into play in portrait mode.
AI again plays an important role here, the use of artificial intelligence has received more attention for the first time with the introduction of its predecessor. Xiaomi again uses the DxO benchmark as a quality feature, which is used as a reference for good camera quality. There, the Mi 8 recently achieved a very good 99 points, the predecessor of the Mix 3 also came off well with 97 points. The new Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 reaches a benchmark value of 103 points, which is divided into 108 points in the photo area and 93 points in the video area. Thus, it scores just as many points as the Samsung Galaxy score of 9!
And what can you say? The photos of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 are really impressive. The camera produces beautiful, detailed photos in normal photo mode. I like the color accuracy very much, photos don’t seem artificially saturated. For my taste, the photos could take a little less contrast, but that’s rather a subjective impression. However, I find it hard to tell whether the photo was taken with Mix 3, Mix 2S, or Mi 8. The improvements that Xiaomi has achieved through software optimizations are rather noticeable in other categories.
On the one hand there is the portrait mode, which now looks a bit more natural. The bokeh is really very soft, the foreground is very well separated from the background. This even looks good if you don’t keep the recommended distance. I also like the portrait mode on Mix 3 and other top models better, because the secondary sensor is a telephoto lens. Due to the longer focal length, a more natural portrait mode is also possible.
As with the Galaxy Note 9, Xiaomi has also focused on low-light improvements. The camera app now has a special night mode for this purpose.
This actually does no more than significantly increase the shutter speed. A good image stabilizer seems to work here, because even with a slightly shaky hand the photo succeeds well. Compared to the low-light photos from the normal photo mode, the photos are better, but also not significant. This is especially noticeable with light sources that are not overexposed. But you also get a few more details, dark areas don’t look as “muddy” as in normal photos and overall the photos are a bit brighter.
Video mode: What’s going on with 4K?
Xiaomi also worked on the video mode. First, you can now record 4K videos at 60 fps, not just 30 fps. You can also manually adjust whether the videos should be stabilized or not. But I’m not completely convinced of the quality of the videos. The 4K recordings look great on the mobile phone, but on my computer the saturation is certainly at maximum. We still have to find out what exactly this is. The Full HD shots look good on the whole, but the color profile is a bit flatter.
Another similarity to Note 9: the Super Slow-Mo. With the Mi Mix 3 you can record videos at 960fps, i.e. frames per second. So you can record very long slow-motion videos, after all it’s a 32-fold slowdown. But you have to live with a lot of quality loss. Colors appear much more pale, the image is more noisy and the resolution is lower. In my eyes, the 240 fps slow-motion is enough, which produces an eightfold slowdown with less loss of quality.
The front camera also consists of two lenses. There Xiaomi combines a 24 Megapixel sensor, the Sony IMX576 and a secondary 2 Megapixel sensor. Interestingly, the main sensor is also included in the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. However, the additional sensor provides some additional image information that is used for portrait mode. And that’s something to be proud of! The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 pushes the Xiaomi Mi 8 in terms of front camera from the throne. It’s the portrait mode that really got us going.
The Selfies are altogether very sharp and high-resolution. Color fidelity, autofocus and exposure are really good. With portraits the border recognition is almost perfect, I was amazed how fine Xiaomi manages to separate single hairs from the background. The bokeh always looks very natural and enhances the photo as a whole.
New or old flagship hardware?
In advance, the processor question was an important detail that was concealed until the end. In the third generation of the Mix series, the manufacturer relies on the Snapdragon 845 processor, which works in all of Xiaomi’s current top models. The SD 845 continues to be the top processor from Qualcomm. The eight cores with up to 2.8 GHz were also used in the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. So we still have to wait for the Snapdragon 855.
Accordingly, there are no surprises with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. The mobile phone is a workhorse and doesn’t even come close to its limits in the test. MIUI is meanwhile top adapted to the CPU, navigating through the operating system is extremely fast. Apps open in a flash and can even be left lying in the task manager. The 8 GB RAM built in here leave enough room for multitasking.
Accordingly, a game of Player Unknown’s Battleground is no challenge. Especially thanks to the big 6,4″ screen this is a lot of fun. Of course, our assessments of this performance also confirmed the benchmark results, which are almost identical with all other benchmarks of the Xiaomi top models. Even though the Geekbench score is lower here than with the Pocophone, you shouldn’t jump to any hasty conclusions.
Even with up to 10 GB RAM
Xiaomi makes a mark when it comes to memory. The Xiaomi Black Shark Helo is the first smartphone with 10 GB RAM. However, the Mi Mix 3 is also equipped with a proud 10 GB of RAM. Of course, this is the maximum configuration, because the Mi Mix 3 is also available in smaller versions. So you have the choice to equip the new top model with 6, 8 or 10 GB RAM and 128 or 256 GB internal memory.
Yes, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is really fast, but that was to be expected. There is simply no advantage in terms of “performance” compared to the cheaper other top models such as the Mi 8. So when it comes to performance, you can actually go for the almost half as expensive Pocophone F1!
Same battery life despite lower capacity?
In contrast to its predecessor, Xiaomi reduces the battery capacity of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 by 200 mAh, so that here we are dealing with a 3,200 mAh battery. Xiaomi can take the liberty of doing this, as it uses an AMOLED display, which is somewhat more energy-efficient than the LCD panel of its predecessor. However, the screen is a bit bigger and therefore needs more power.
With the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 I get a battery life of 10 hours in the battery benchmark. The WLAN was switched on and the brightness was set to 50%. This is actually somewhat above average and better than with the predecessor. And this despite the fact that the Mix series has never been known for a particularly strong battery life. Depending on the individual use, the battery life of course varies, but you simply profit from the AMOLED panel and the good optimization by MIUI.
The Mix 3 of course uses USB-C for recharging, which is made good by the fact that the Mi Mix 3 even supports Quick Charge 4+, a standard that hasn’t established itself yet. Also the included adapter offers “only” Quick Charge 3.0 with 18W. It brings the smartphone forward by 50% in 30 minutes. A charge from approx. 20% to 100% took a little more than an hour.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 wireless charging
However, the unique selling point of the Mix series is the possibility to charge the smartphone wirelessly! This was first introduced with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and has been exclusively reserved for the Mix 2S and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. Especially cool is that the Xiaomi Qi charger is now part of the scope of delivery. This theoretically supports a charging with 18W, which resulted in a charging speed of one hour and 30 minutes for 33% to 100%. So you have to invest a good 2 hours and 15 minutes to charge the phone completely wirelessly!
Smartphone with 5G support?
The Mi Mix 2 has already started to support as many global LTE bands as possible, even in the China version. That doesn’t change in Mi Mix 3 either, the “normal” versions support LTE B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17 and Band 20. Accordingly we had good mobile coverage during the test period and 4G in the office. Local Internet is provided by 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Dual Band WLAN. There is also Bluetooth 5.0 and of course NFC! Contactless payment via Google Pay is no problem!
Like the Xiaomi Mi 8, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 also supports Dual GPS. It uses GPS L1 and L2, which should allow a better position determination. Outside we also have an accuracy of 4m with immediate fix, indoors the position determination is much worse with a fix within 3 seconds and an accuracy of 16m. So we can’t see a real advantage with Dual GPS!
And indeed: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 will apparently be the first smartphone with 5G support. However, the current model doesn’t support 5G yet. A 5G version of the Mi Mix 3 will be released early next year.
Connectors & Speakers
On the physical level, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 works like both predecessors only with a USB type C slot. If you want to use headphones, you should either use the USB type C to 3.5mm adapter or use Bluetooth headphones. If you want to listen to music without headphones, you have to be satisfied with a mono speaker. The sound is generally solid, the volume is more than sufficient, but there’s not as much noise as with a Honor Play or Meizu 16.
MIUI 10 directly at the beginning
The latest version of Xiaomi’s in-house operating system has already found its way onto many devices. And the new design Smartphone of the manufacturer is the first Smartphone, which is delivered directly with MIUI 10. If you don’t know the four letters “MIUI”: it’s Xiaomi’s mobile operating system, which is based on Android. However MIUI is more than just a surface and intervenes deep into the system in places. This happens for example in favour of the battery life.
Our test device is based on MIUI 10.0 Stable, which is Android 9 Pie. The mobile phone is the so-called “Chinese & English Version”. As the name suggests, the operating system is not multilingual and can only be used in English or Chinese. However, a China version also means that there are a lot of pre-installed apps on the device that we can’t or don’t need to use. But they are relatively easy to uninstall.
Nevertheless, we still have the feeling in the test that the MIUI has not (yet) been given any special treatment for Mix 3. Where are the “slider sounds” you advertised in the presentation? Also, the default standard sound can’t be deactivated individually yet. However, we strongly assume that Xiaomi will quickly make the necessary settings here.
Install Google Play Store on Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
Google Play Store and all Google services are not pre-installed either. But even the China version is Google certified. This means that you can deposit your Google account directly (picture 1) and sync your Google calendar. The Google Play Store can unfortunately no longer be installed via the Mi App Store. Instead you can simply download the .apk, which is also very easy. You can find the download at apkmirror.com.
The best way is to open the link in the browser of Mi Mix 3, then you can simply install the file. You have to give the Mi Browser the permission to install “unknown apps” (picture 2). You can also change the Play Store to German (picture 4), but for that you have to deposit a payment option. Alternatively you can download the installation file on your PC and drag it onto Mix 3 and install it from there!
You can then download all other Google services from the Google Play Store!
Face Unlock despite Slider
If you want to unlock the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, you can use two further unlocking options in addition to the screen (PIN and pattern). One is the well-known fingerprint sensor. Interestingly enough, it works slightly slower than its predecessor, but still fast and reliable.
Alternatively you can use Face Unlock – despite the slider. Once you’ve saved your face data, all you have to do is pull down the slider and the camera scans your face and unlocks the phone. Yes, it is a whole lot slower than the Face Unlock of the Mi 8, but still works fast enough and really reliable. MIUI is smart enough not to accidentally open an app.
The reduced speed is explained by the two steps the phone has to go through. First open the camera through the slider, then scan the face. If the camera is already open, the unlock is much faster.
Conclusion: Buy Xiaomi Mi Mix 3?
Here it is, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. It’s finally a smartphone again, which stands out from the crowd. The slider mechanism was already known in advance, but is the big highlight of the new top model. A screen-to-body ratio of almost 94% is impressive and shows how much expertise Xiaomi has accumulated in the meantime. The fact that Xiaomi uses the Mix series to make new concepts suitable for the masses is the right step for us. Especially because they are almost abolishing themselves due to the flooding of the market with smartphones…
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is really fun because of this slider concept. However, Xiaomi also shows that the workmanship behind it is not yet fully developed. That’s probably the price of this design. But also the supposed little things make the Mix 3 really interesting: a dedicated button for Mi AI is practical, a included Qi charging station is a rarity and Quick Charge 4+, Dual GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and soon 5G are the standards of tomorrow. So the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 doesn’t look futuristic just because of the slider!
In summary, I would say that you really have to be up for the Mi Mix 3, because you can get almost the same hardware in the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and Mi 8 or even in the Pocophone. The slider is actually the main argument for the surcharge, because the minimal improvements of the camera are not worth an upgrade in my eyes.
But also here I am sure that the price will fall soon and the difference to Mix 2S will be “only” about $80 – $100. Like the Explorer Edition or the Mi 8 Pro, the Mix 3 is also simply a prestige upgrade, which makes an iPhone XS look pretty boring. You have to say.To the gadget