We give a review of the latest phone from Beijing – How much phone do you get for half the price of the Samsung S8 and latest iPhone.
Chinese smartphone manufacturers are fighting a war of attrition against their global rivals. Sony, Apple and Samsung have commendable consumer trust. Yet, Chinese phone brands, due to their patchy beginnings selling multi-sim knock-off Android devices on eBay, have had to battle their way into the hearts and minds of the global smartphone market elite. OnePlus, ZTE and Huawei are miles ahead. Yet, another premium provider, Xiaomi, has stumbled in recent years. The company which stole Apple’s head of mobile design and Google’s head of research, has deep pockets and an even deeper pool of talent.
Last year saw Xiaomi release the Mi5 – the flagship – superphone. Yet, those talents acquired from rivals have left. Hugo Barra, from Google, has left to go and head VR at Facebook. Furthermore, Chinese state inspections have resulted in fines for Xiaomi for misrepresenting their products and low quality feedback from Chinese consumers.
This has hurt the brand and the company. However, the big issue is the lack of hardware. The company failed to get Mi6 ready by the January deadline for Mobile World Congress. They stayed away because they had nothing to show. However, the failure to dominate in China will hurt its chances worldwide. The lack of flagship dominance is a major problem and one that could cause a long-term decline in the company’s future plans. So is the Mi6 going to reinvigorate the demand for the brand or will it be another failure to chalk up to poor decisions.
The Xiaomi Mi6
Our heads were turned at Compare and Recycle by the P9, but Xiaomi may have found the formula to attract more buy in from Western markets. They are an already popular brand for deal hunters in the UK and with it’s specifications and price, we can see why. Let’s find out more!
Xiaomi phones run on Android, but like many of the manufacturers they put their own flavour on the system with the MIUI system which deserves thorough scrutiny but the system itself looks like it has some advantages over stock Android.
- High performance Snapdragon 835 processer found in the Samsung S8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium, 6 GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB storage.
- 5.15 screen size at 1080 x 1920 pixel
- 3550maH battery with Quick charge compatible USB-C connection
- Dual 12 MP cameras on the back
- 8 MP camera on the front
Impressive headline specifications. Let’s jump into detail.
The camera and software is lauded as just as impressive as the Samsung S8, with the S8 performing only slightly better in low light, but the portrait mode is what sets it apart from the competition. First introduced with the P9, Xiaomi were keen to promote the Portrait Mode that is sure to be the delight of many a selfie-enthusiast.
The end result is a focus on the subject and blurring the rest of the image. The example pictures look great but we can’t help but feel it’s going to need some great conditions to pull off pictures that look as amazing as the ones supplied by Xiaomi.
Luckily, Ben Sin at Forbes has done a brilliant analysis of the picture quality between the two phones, and as some of the pictures below show, the Mi6 holds up against what is considered the best phone on the market.
There’s no denying the quality of the cameras on the Mi6, so we shall see when we finally get our hands on one whether the camera really stacks up compared to the S8 and iPhone as suggested.
The phone itself is a very familiar size with a 5.15″ screen with curved edges around all the corners, the glass screen covering the home button.
The ceramic version with gold detailing looks as beautiful as it sounds, but be prepared to pay the premium for the design.
In addition to the great specifications and great aesthetics, it comes splash resistant, which should keep it alive in the rain, but not fully water resistant like the competitors. The phone has done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack which will immediately put off some customers. But the inclusion of USB-C to 3.5mm jack converters should keep people happy before the crossover is made to fully bluetooth headphones.
The earpiece itself can be used as a speaker to give the front plate two speakers in stereo, a feature not effectively used since the HTC M series.
The screen goes down to 1nit and has 4096 brightness levels, and a night mode that goes down to 1nit will be less strain on the eyes.
How much is the Xiaomi Mi 6?
There is no official UK release date for the Mi 6 because it will not officially be sold here, but instead sold through Chinese importers such as Gearbest or Geekbuying, just at a slightly inflated price. The current prices on Gearbest are as follows (correct as of 25/04/2017).
A steep price, but if the performance holds up as well as the Samsung S8, this could turn out to be a steal.
What are the problems with buying Xiaomi?
Before you buy the Xiaomi Mi6 be aware it does not support the 800MHz (Band 20) 4G band in the UK (though it does support 2100MHz and 2600MHz). This means if you are on O2, GiffGaff, Sky Mobile or another network that uses only 800MHz for 4G, you will not be able to receive 4G connectivity.
So if you are on EE, Three or Vodafone, or any of the mobile networks associated with these companies, you will be able to get the fast 4G mobile internet.