Xiaomi is always known for making smartphones with the best specs at an unbeatable price. With the Mi 6, this trend continues and Xiaomi is taking a step further by attempting to make a phone that looks and feels more expensive.
Xiaomi clearly isn’t cutting any corners when it comes to raw specs. The Mi 6 runs on a 10nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and all variants will get 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM. But is it all good? Read on for our first impressions of Xiaomi’s new flagship smartphone for 2017.
At first glance, the Mi 6’s build quality is a major improvement over the old Mi 5. The 4-way 3D glass back is a nice touch and the glossy metal frame does give it a dash of bling. Unlike the Mi 5, the Mi 6 is smoother to hold and the metal frame is flush to its rear panel but it tapers off sharply towards the front since the Mi 6 uses a flat screen.
Among all the colour options available, the blue version stands out the most but it’s a pity that the glass back is just a solid slab of colour which is similar to the HTC U series. The glass back isn’t as sexy as honor 8’s multi-layer glass design that reflects light in a more interesting manner.
As you would expect with an all glass and high gloss frame, this phone is a huge fingerprint magnet. You would probably spend a lot of time wiping this device if you don’t use a case. There’s a stunning silver version with its mirror-like finish. Like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, it is great to look at but impossible to keep it free from prints. Meanwhile, the black colour variant gets a nice stealth look especially with its all black glass appearance with black gloss finish on the metal frame
The front gets a 5.15″ display and despite it pushing just full HD resolution, it looks pretty sharp with great viewing angles. Xiaomi could have gone with a dual-curve screen but instead, they have put more focus on the usability of its display. Apparently, in extremely low light situations, you can dim the screen down to just 1 nit which is enough to be visible in the dark without illuminating your entire face. The screen brightness peaks at 600nits for better outdoor visibility.
Compared to the Mi 5 which is super light at 129g, the Mi 6 is a much heavier device. The standard Mi 6 weighs 168g while the ceramic version ticks the scale further at 182g. Part of that heft is attributed to its larger 3,350mAh battery, which is one of the biggest capacities for a compact flagship smartphone.
Over at the back, Xiaomi has introduced a dual-camera system which is somewhat identical to the iPhone 7 Plus and ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom. Both are 12MP cameras and Xiaomi has managed to offer optical zoom without having a visible camera bump.
In this dual-camera setup, the main 12MP f/1.8 camera is doing most of the work and it is assisted by a 4-axis Optical Image Stabilisation. The secondary 12MP f/2.6 shooter is used purely for zoom and this would only work when you have good lighting. Otherwise, it will rely on the primary camera with digital zoom.
To zoom, you can tap on the round 1X icon to switch to 2X Zoom and for any incremental increase, you’ll need to tap and hold the 1X/2X icon first before you can drag to zoom. We didn’t get to test out the camera extensively but it certainly feels more snappy and responsive than the 16MP f/2.0 shooter on the Mi 5.
The Mi 6 camera also gets a dedicated portrait mode that would automatically blur your background. There’s even a watermark option that mimics Huawei’s Leica dual-camera watermark branding. Over at the front, it gets an 8MP camera instead of a 4MP Ultrapixel selfie shooter.
As you would expect, the Mi 6 feels buttery smooth and it should be since it runs on the top of the line processor and RAM. On board it comes with either 64GB and 128GB of storage which should be enough for most users since it lacks a microSD expansion slot. Out of the box, it runs on Android 7.1.1 with MIUI 8 which is currently much cleaner than its previous iterations.
The fingerprint sensor tucked underneath its glass panel is one of my favourite features of the Mi 6. It unlocks lightning quick at a mild tap which is quite similar to the Huawei P10. It also doubles up as a non-mechanical home button accompanied by two capacitive buttons for home and recent apps.
While it retains an infrared blaster at the top, the Mi 6 unfortunately, lacks a headphone jack. This is quite a surprising move especially when Xiaomi is still making a lot of 3.5mm in-ear headphones and they have yet to introduce a USB Type-C model or a Bluetooth stereo headset. We are told that each Mi 6 will come with a 3.5mm to USB Type-C adapter, so there’s no escaping dongle-life for now.
For the first time on a Xiaomi smartphone, the Mi 6 pushes stereo audio utilising the earpiece and the down firing speaker. While it is decently loud, it doesn’t sound like a stereo set up in real life. The left channel handled by the top earpiece is way too soft and most of the sound is coming from the bottom loud speaker.
The Mi 6 is without a doubt a phone that gives you the most performance for your money. Priced from 2,499CNY (about RM1,599) for the 64GB version and 2,899CNY (about RM1,855) for 128GB, that’s about half price of most new flagship smartphones and it even undercuts the OnePlus 3T that comes with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage for RM2,229.
The biggest question is, when will the Mi 6 come to Malaysia? Xiaomi has yet to announce its global rollout and they will definitely prioritise their home market in China first with sales commencing on 28 April. Hopefully, it won’t take up to 6 months like how it did with the Mi 5 in Malaysia.
Well, the good news is that even if Xiaomi Malaysia decides to bring in the lowest variant, we would still be getting a Snapdragon 835 powered smartphone with 6GB of RAM for under RM2,000. That is of course, if our currency doesn’t continue to slide any further. If you can’t wait, expect grey importers to sell China units locally as early as next month.