It was barely six months ago that Xiaomi updated its Mi Mix smartphone with a refined all-screen design, but the company has just announced the latest update: the Mi Mix 2S. Xiaomi is quick to cite all of the design awards and accolades it’s received for the Mi Mix 2, so it’s not too much of a surprise to see the company keep the design the same for the Mi Mix 2S. There are a handful of notable updates, however, including a new processor, wireless charging, and a new dual-camera system. The Mi Mix 2S will be available in China starting next week, with the rollout to Xiaomi’s other markets planned for shortly after that. It will not be coming to the US, however.
“We are comparing to iPhone X because people say it is the best phone. We just want to show we surpassed the best in many features,” exclaimed Xiaomi co-founder Lei Jun in a crowded Shanghai auditorium at today’s reveal. The Mi Mix 2S is also half the price of Apple’s flagship, starting at 3,299 yuan (about $527).
From the front, the Mi Mix 2S is indistinguishable from the Mi Mix 2. It has a 5.99-inch, full HD plus LCD display, with trim bezels on the side and the top. Tucked in the lower right corner of the phone’s “chin” is the 5-megapixel front-facing camera, which is unchanged and just as awkward as the prior model. It avoids the need for a notch at the top of the phone, but it certainly doesn’t come without other compromises. The Mi Mix 2S will be available in a black version with gold trim or a white model with silver trim.
The phone is still made of aluminum and ceramic, though Xiaomi isn’t planning to produce a full-ceramic “special edition” as it did for the Mix 2.
All of the physical changes are found on the rear of the phone. Under the ceramic panel is a new wireless charging coil, which supports the Qi spec and will be accompanied by a new optional wireless charging pad from Xiaomi. The Mi Mix 2S is the first Xiaomi phone to support wireless charging. (It also supports Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3 wired charging through its USB-C port.) Unfortunately, the Mix 2S doesn’t have any rated water resistance, unlike many of the other premium smartphones available now.
The new dual-camera system replaces the single module on the Mix 2 and has been moved to the top left corner of the rear panel, much like how it is on the iPhone X. The system is comprised of two 12-megapixel sensors, one behind a wide-angle lens, the other behind a telephoto lens, and it supports portrait mode effects. Xiaomi says the main, wide-angle camera is the “best camera it’s ever used,” and it features dual-pixel autofocus, four-axis optical stabilization, and larger pixels than the ones found on the sensor used in the Mi Mix 2. It’s set behind an f/1.8 lens; the telephoto camera uses an f/2.4 lens and has smaller pixels.
In addition to the new hardware, Xiaomi has developed an AI component to its camera software, which is said to improve features like the portrait mode and beautifying functions. Otherwise, the software on the Mi Mix 2 is Xiaomi’s MIUI 9.5, on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. Those who are used to Google’s version of Android will find MIUI rather unfamiliar, as it borrows many interface and design elements from iOS, including an optional gesture-based control system that replaces the standard Android on-screen buttons.
Inside, the Mix 2S has Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor, paired with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on configuration. The battery is the same 3,400mAh cell used in the Mix 2, and the 2S will be available with either 64, 128, or 256GB of storage. Xiaomi says that the new Snapdragon 845 processor provides greater performance, while maintaining the battery life of last year’s 835.
Xiaomi has said that it plans to launch phones in the US in the next year or so, but that’s a promise that’s familiar to those who have been watching the company for some time. It’s not likely that the Mi Mix 2S will be included in that launch, despite the fact that it supports some of the LTE frequencies used in the US. (Xiaomi says this is specifically for Chinese customers who travel outside of the country.)
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge