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Mi Note 2: Xiaomi’s answer to the Galaxy Note7?

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The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is finally out of the bag and it’s definitely a looker with its double curved display. The original Mi Note launched last year was the first smartphone that has a 3D glass back design and now they are bringing the same approach to the front.

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The resemblance to the ill-fated Galaxy Note7 is uncanny. It even gets a familiar looking home button accompanied by two capacitive buttons. Even the way the frame flows from the sides to the bottom is identical as well. The only way to know it’s not a Samsung, is the lack of any branding on top of the screen.

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Available in either Piano Black or Glacier Silver, the Mi Note 2 is wrapped in metal and glass that looks stunning especially when it reflects light. The black version looks rather stealthy with its dark colour frame but I think the silver colour looks better as it brings out the curves better. Like any phone with glass surfaces, it is also a noticeable fingerprint magnet.

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In the hands, it feels premium and refinement wise, it is somewhere between a Galaxy S7 edge and the Note7. You have the volume rocker and buttons lined up neatly on the right, while the left gets a dual-SIM tray slot. Fortunately, it still retains a headphone jack and the Mi Note 2 also gets an infrared blaster at the top.

Being a flagship device, Xiaomi is cramming top notch specs with a higher clocked 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821 processor with a choice of 4GB RAM + 64GB storage configuration and a higher variant with 6GB RAM + 128GB storage. Unfortunately, storage isn’t expandable. The hardware is actually quite similar to the Mi 5s Plus but it lacks a dual-camera set up.

SEE ALSO:  Xiaomi to launch at least 4 new devices including the Mi TV Stick on 15 July

Despite having a double-edge display, the Mi Note 2 does not pack any extra “edge” features. There are no fancy widgets or quick shortcuts that you normally get from Samsung’s Galaxy edge series. So what’s the point of this? Well, apart from looking cool, the curved screen allows a larger screen to feel slightly smaller in the hands.

Out of the box, it still runs on Xiaomi’s MIUI 8 on Android Marshmallow. I know not everyone likes this interface but the latest version has improved significantly from the previous version. Probably the best addition is the dual-apps feature that allows you run two separate WhatsApps or Facebook apps on the same device.

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The Mi Note 2 display is still pushing a standard Full HD resolution instead of a crispier Quad HD unit. Since Xiaomi is banging big on VR, it is surprising that they are not pushing 2K or even 4K displays on their latest flagship. On its own, the 5.7” display is still beautiful with vivid colours from its AMOLED panel. For biometric security, the Mi Note 2 uses the same fingerprint sensor tech as the Mi 5 instead of a newer ultrasonic sensor that was first featured on the Mi 5s.

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In the photography department, the Mi Note 2 gets a newer 22.56MP Sony IMX318 camera which is rather snappy. It’s the same sensor that’s being used in the current ZenFone 3 Deluxe. There’s no OIS but it comes with EIS for video stabilisation up to 4K resolution. What’s new is the front 8MP camera which supports auto focus. The camera interface remains unchanged and you get the usual selfie features that kicks in based on your age and gender.

SEE ALSO:  Samsung promises three ‘generations’ of Android OS updates for selected Galaxy phones

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When compared to the Galaxy Note7, the Mi Note 2 is slightly thinner but it still manages to pack a larger 4,070mAh battery inside. On paper, this should translate to longer battery life since it pushes a lower Full HD resolution.  Of course, that all depends on its software optimisation.

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At the end of the day, it is the price that makes this a standout smartphone. You can get a cool looking dual-curved smartphone with top specs possible from as low as 2,799RMB (about RM1,721) with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Mi Note 2 is a viable Galaxy Note7 alternative but it’s only for those who are willing to sacrifice the productive S Pen. The bad news is that it won’t be sold outside of China for now. However, we reckon that you should be able to get one through a local grey importer very soon.

Alexander Wong