The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is a slight disappointment but worth the upgrade

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi on Thursday launched its next generation Mi Max phablet at an event in Beijing, China. It’s a 6.44-inch mid-range phablet with one outstanding feature: a 5,300-mAh battery that can charge the iPhone 7 Plus twice over.

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Much like its predecessor, the Mi Max 2 stays true to Xiaomi’s reputation of offering up decent specs at a competitive price but some would argue it’s a slight downgrade over the Mi Max when it comes to raw processing power. Below, we take a look at the Mi Max 2 and breakdown whether or not it makes sense to make the jump to the latest version.

The display hasn’t changed

The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 has the same 6.44-inch full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution display we saw on the original Mi Max smartphone with 2.5D curved glass, and a peak brightness of 450 nits. These are decent specs for a mid range device that give you a pixel density of roughly 342 ppi, which is more than enough to provide sharp text and rich graphics.

It’s a little larger and heavier than the Mi Max

Despite having the same size display and build, the new Mi Max is slightly heavier when compared its predecessor. Measuring 7.6mm thick, the Mi Max 2 is just 0.1mm thicker than the previous model, giving room for the larger battery.

The Mi Max 2 favors efficiency over raw processing power

Unlike the Mi Max that was gunning for raw power courtesy of a Snapdragon 650 SoC, the Mi Max 2 is all about power saving and thermal efficiency courtesy the slightly dated Snapdragon 625. Some rumors were suggesting the Mi Max 2 would be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 octa-core SoC, instead the phablet is actually powered by a 2GHz octa-core processor coupled with an Adreno 506 GPU.

The main highlight here is that the Snapdragon 625 is the first 600-series chipset to be built on the power-efficient 14nm finFET process, which allows the processor cores to run at higher clock speeds without overheating and draining the battery to fast.

In typical usage scenarios, you’re likely to get much longer battery life and little to no overheating since the Snapdragon 625 consumes up to 35 per cent lower power than its predecessor (the Snapdragon 617), according to Qualcomm. Xiaomi has had a fine run with the Redmi Note 4 courtesy the Snapdragon 625, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Xiaomi stuck with the same processor for the Mi Max 2 as well.

The added efficiency, however, comes at a catch. The Adreno 506 GPU inside the Mi Max 2 is good but not better than the Adreno 510 found inside the original Mi Max. Graphical intensive gaming could leave a lot be desired on the Mi Max 2, just the way it did in the case of the Redmi Note 4.

There’s no 6GB RAM version as previously rumored

Unlike the original Mi Max, which offered up a 3GB and 4GB model, the new version will launch with 4GB of RAM. Previous rumors had suggested that the Mi Max 2 would be available with 6GB of RAM but Xiaomi has not hinted toward that possibility.

The original Mi Max was available with 3GB RAM + 32GB, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor. Later, Xiaomi released the Mi Max Prime with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 coupled with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage.

Battery performance is impressive on paper

Xiaomi claims that the larger 5300mAh battery Mi Max 2 can be charged up to the 68% mark in just one hour thanks to Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. The company also claims up to 18 hours of video playback time and an impressive 57 hours of talk time.

What’s more, the phone can double up as a power bank too. Xiaomi has enabled reverse charging and claims that on full charge, the Mi Max 2 can charge the iPhone 7 Plus twice over. Xiaomi’s Lead Product Manager, Jai Mani jokingly tweeted that it’s bigger than a power bank.

It will be interesting to see how the Mi Max 2 battery actually stands up to the hype up once its released. The original Mi Max came with a 4850mAh battery and had a regular micro-USB charging port and Quick Charge was not a feature in all markets.

The camera has better low light performance

At the rear, the Mi Max 2 features a 12MP f/2.2 primary camera utilizing the same Sony IMX386 sensor with 1.25 micron sized pixels found in the Mi 6 flagship, which will boost low-light performance compared to the original Mi Max with a 16MP rear camera and f/2.0 lens.

For selfies, the phablet includes a 5MP snapper on the front with an 85-degree wide-angle f/2.0 aperture lens. Xiaomi is promising a significant improvement on the camera front, and has also shared some interesting camera samples as well.

The Mi Max 2 has stereo speakers

One of the best improvements on the Mi Max 2 by far is the addition of dual power amplifier stereo speakers over the single speaker unit found on the original Mi Max. The new phablet includes a front facing and a bottom-facing speaker, which are said to intelligently switch from mono to stereo when the device is moved into a landscape orientation.

The Mi Max 2 supports 256GB memory cards

Both the Mi Max and Mi Max Prime supported expandable storage via a microSD card up to 128GB. The latest version of the Mi Max now supports cards up to 256GB, giving you up to 384GB of total space.

Xiaomi has ditched the ugly antenna lines

Just like the original Mi Max, the new smartphone also boasts a full-metal body, except this time Xiaomi has pushed the antenna lines that once ran across the top and bottom of the device toward the extreme edges (similar to the iPhone 7). Now the Mi Max sports a full metal unibody, giving it a much sleeker look from the backside.

The Mi Max 2 will come in two variants

While most of the specs listed above will be shared by both variants, the two will differ when it comes to storage capacity and price. The entry-level 64GB variant has been priced at CNY 1,699 (roughly $250) while the 128GB storage variant will set customers back by CNY 1,999 (approximately $290).

Both variants will also run on MIUI 8 and come equipped with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, as well as an IR Blaster placed on the top of the device that can be used as a universal remote to control third-party electronics & appliances. A recent TENAA listing reveals the device will come in five colors – gray, silver, gold, black, and white.

It will probably never make it to the US

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 has only been launched in China for now. We’ll have to wait and see whether the phone will be available to the US and at what price. Mi Max 2 will be available from June 1 in China.

Bottom Line: The Mi Max 2 is worth the upgrade, unless you need performance. Although there is much to be desired in terms of raw processing power, the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 has a sleeker design, a better camera, increased battery life, and stereo sound.

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