Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity of playing with a slew of smartphones, coming in different shapes and sizes. Some of these have been rather awkward, and others have been just plain boring and bland.
Xiaomi has been an industry leader ever since the original Mi Mix in an effort to combat notches and slim down the bezels that plagued devices for years. The Mi Mix 3 is one of the latest devices that offers a different take, as the company has decided to remove the need for any notch whatsoever, all in an extremely powerful package.
What’s under the hood?
Before jumping into the overall design, let’s take a look at what Xiaomi packs into the Mi Mix 3.
Display: 6.39-inch Super AMOLED
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Memory: 6/8/10GB RAM
Front Cameras: 24MP + 2MP w/LED Flash & HDR
Rear Cameras: 12MP (wide) + 12MP (telephoto)
Software: Android 9.0 Pie w/ MIUI 10
Despite being released in November of last year, this combination of the Snapdragon 845 and up to 10GB of RAM will be more than enough to last you for quite some time. Xiaomi has also moved away from the standard 64GB of storage, offering only 128GB or 256GB of storage, but it’s important to note that there is no slot for a microSD card.
Also missing from the Mi Mix 3 is the 3.5mm headphone jack, leaving you to only rely on some USB-C or Bluetooth headphones. Or you can go old school and just use the built-in speakers that aren’t too shabby. This does not come as any surprise since so many smartphones are being released that lack the headphone jack that was so loved for so long.
As for the battery, the Mi Mix 3 sports a 3,200mAh Lithium-Ion battery, which can either be recharged using Quick Charge 4 at 18W or wireless charging at 10W. Of course, if you want fast charging, you’ll need to make sure that you pick up the right wireless charger to get the fastest speeds possible.
That slider though
When you first take the Mi Mix 3 out of the box you are going to notice that there is not a notch anywhere to be found. This is for good reason as Xiaomi has opted for a slider design that allows you to pull down on the display to reveal the 24MP + 2MP dual front-facing cameras.
Other companies are continuing to tinker with ways on how to give users the most screen real-estate, while still sporting a selfie camera. Samsung has opted for the hole-punch notch for its latest handsets, while Apple and many others still continue relying on the notch. Meanwhile, OnePlus has opted for the mechanical route on the 7 Pro with a mechanical notch that rises from the frame when the front camera mode has been activated within the camera application.
Xiaomi has thrown a couple of neat effects into the Mi Mix 3 whenever you activate the selfie camera. You can customize the noise that the phone makes, along with whether you want the edges of the display to light up when the camera is opened.
You can take this another step further by opting to open Xiaomi’s Tools, or open a specific app when the slider is opened. This is nifty, but chances are the only apps you would want to change this to would either be Snapchat or Instagram so that you can still take advantage of the selfie cameras. I mean, who wants to open your bank app when activating the slider?
Rest of the design
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take note of the rest of the design. Besides the extremely slim bezels, the display is made out of Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which will do the job against drops, but be prepared to worry about accidental scratches. The resolution comes in at 2340 x 1080, but you can adjust the resolution down to 720p in the settings if 1080p is draining your battery.
Xiaomi surprisingly decided to not join the fray when it comes to in-display fingerprint scanners, as the scanner is still mounted on the rear. But this is probably for the best because the Mi Mix 3’s fingerprint scanner may be the fastest that I’ve ever used on a smartphone, including Apple’s TouchID which was my previous favorite.
Found around the frame of the Mi Mix three are a total of three (or four) buttons with the volume rocker and power button on the right-side, and a dedicated AI button on the left. By default, this button launches Google Assistant, but it can be customized from the settings menu with a simple press, a press and hold, or a double press.
On the bottom, you’ll find dual-firing speakers with the USB-C charging port sandwiched in-between. In my testing, the speakers performed rather impressively, even if I’m not one to really listen to music without my headphones. Nonetheless, they will get the job done.
Finally, let’s talk about the finish. The model we tested was the Onyx Black colorway and man oh man, this thing LOVES fingerprints. If you even think about touching it, a fingerprint will appear somewhere, and that’s rather frustrating, so you’ll likely want to pick up a case. Or, make sure that you have a microfiber cloth within reach at all times.
That being said, the Mi Mix 3 is a gorgeous phone to just look at, and is extremely comfortable to use. There is a little bit of heft (it weighs 218 grams) compared to the iPhone XS Max that is my current daily driver.
The kitchen sink and more
Software has been one of my biggest frustrations when using non-Pixel devices over the years. The same rings true with MIUI 10, despite it being based on Android 9 Pie, which I absolutely love.
It should come as no surprise, but Xiaomi literally throws the kitchen sink and anything else in sight into the software section. For those who want to customize every little aspect of their smartphones, this is great. But a lot of the software “features” are things that most folks won’t ever touch or even think about. Take this any way you want.
On the launcher front, I’m actually not as opposed to it as other “Android purists” are. I don’t mind the lack of an app drawer, and I don’t mind just piling my lesser-used apps into folders across the board. What drives me nuts is that the customizable options for MIUI’s own launcher aren’t as useful as one would think.
For example, I have tried and tried to get different icon shapes other than square, but the only way to do that is to download a new theme from the MIUI theme store. That’s fine and dandy, but I just want to be able to change from square to circle, and it’s super frustrating. In an effort to make me forget about that, I just opted to download the latest Lawnchair Launcher beta, and have been happily using that ever since.
MIUI has come a long way over the years, but it’s still not stock Android and until we get closer to that, I won’t truly be happy, despite a gorgeous design. Plus, I’m not going to go through every single settings panel to try and find a new way to change something that doesn’t really matter. But really, if you get the Mi Mix 3, change the battery percentage from the icon to the bar across the top. It’s awesome.
Look at our pretty pictures
I’m not an expert on cameras, as my eyes have just been deteriorating over the years from staring at screens for too long. Instead, take a look at the camera samples.
Xiaomi does a great job with its stock camera app, as there are a few different “modes” for you to work with. These include your standard Photo and Video modes, along with Portrait, Night, Square, Slow motion, and Panorama. Oh, and there’s a Pro Mode for those who are comfortable and familiar with tinkering with the various settings of each picture.
Overall, the Mi Mix 3 gave us an enjoyable experience, even if the camera does not have the software magic from the Pixel 3.
Should you get the Mi Mix 3?
Short answer? Nope, and you can thank Google or Xiaomi for that. Google recently released the Pixel 3a and 3a XL which are some of the best “budget” phones that have been released in some time. You get stock Android, along with some of the best camera processing software that has ever been released.
Xiaomi also shot themselves in the foot with the Mi Mix 3 when it released the Mi 9. While the Mi 9 is not as readily available as the Mi Mix 3 (you can get the Mix from Amazon), it has a spec-sheet that is rather superb.
The Mi 9 packs the latest Snapdragon 855 (compared the Mix 3’s 845) while also including Xiaomi’s best camera system ever. Oh, and there’s a new Mi Mix 3 version for those who want to jump on the 5G hype train before the rest of the world does. So there’s that too.
But forreal. If you like the Mi Mix 3, don’t care about 5G, don’t want a Pixel 3a XL, and can’t get the Mi 9, go for the Mix 3. You really won’t be disappointed as it’s a great phone with unique hardware and has just about everything one could want, if you like dealing Samsung-esque software. OH AND IT WORKS WITH VERIZON.