Xiaomi Mi Mix 3: Full, In-Depth, Australian review

The Little Flagship That Could

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Nice software

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • No headphone jack
  • Super scratch prone

Bottom Line

At $899, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 honestly feels like a downright steal.

Would you buy this?

The Pitch

Until now, Xiaomi has been one of the forbidden fruits of the Australian smartphone world.

Like OnePlus, the brand hasn’t been officially not available locally (or even certified for local networks). Still, Xiaomi’s recent devices have been exciting enough for plenty of brave buyers to import them in the meantime.

No longer. Xiaomi is now officially moving to offer its products to Australians, and the Mi Mix 3 sees them enter the local smartphone arena with a competitive and unique edge.

In some ways, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 might remind you a little of Oppo’s Find X. In others, it might remind you of Huawei’s P20 Pro. However, ultimately, this feels like the little-flagship-that-could. Xiaomi’s device has more than enough charm to stand out and a price-tag that, I suspect, will help it seal the deal for those who just want a good phone but don’t want to spend over $1000.

The Specs

Display size: 6.39-inches

Display type:  Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen

Processor: Snapdragon 845

Operating System: Android 9 Pie + MIUI 10

Fingerprint Sensor: Yes, rear-mounted

RAM:  6GB

Storage: 128GB

MicroSD slot: No

Durability: N/A

Ports: USB Type-C

SIM: Dual SIM

Battery: 3200mAh

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) + Bluetooth 5 + NFC

Rear Camera:  12-megapixel wide (f/1.8) + 12-megapixel telephoto

Front-Facing Camera: 24-megapixel primary lens + 2-megapixel depth sensor

Colors: Jade Green, Sapphire Blue, Onyx Black

Dimensions: 157.9 mm x 74.7 mm x 8.5 mm

Weight: 218g

Price:  Starts at $899

Design - Look, Feel & Features

Again, at first blush, the Mi Mix 3 reminded me a lot of the Huawei P20 Pro.

Like last year’s triple-lens debut, the Mi Mix 3 has glossy look, smooth feel-factor and chunkiness to it. The dual-lens camera perched on the back of the device isn’t quite as imposing as the P20’s triple-lens array was but the vertical orientation of the lenses does evoke a similar vibe nevertheless.

The ceramic chassis of the Mi Mix 3 does attract more than its fair share of fingerprints - however, it’s hardly unique in this regard. Most modern flagship smartphones use a liquid glass design nowadays, and most of these designs are just as prone to micro-abrasions and smudges as the Mi Mix 3 is. 

Credit: Xiaomi

Of course, it isn’t until you push down on the screen that the Mi Mix 3’s other major influence becomes apparent. Like Oppo’s Find X, the Mi Mix 3 opts for a hidden front-facing camera in order to offer a full screen, no-notch display. However, importantly, rather than require a mechanism like the Find X - the Mi Mix 3 uses a slider.

You simply push downwards on the screen and the upper layer of the device snaps into place, revealing the camera. The slider on the Mi Mix 3 felt sturdy enough that I wasn’t really worried about breaking it. You can even program shortcuts into it, like opening the camera or Google Maps.

As someone who doesn’t take that many selfies, the inability to take selfies without sliding the camera proved a compromise I was absolutely willing to make for a fully-featured notchless display. Of course, your individual mileage may vary.

The edges of the display on the Mi Mix 3 aren’t curved in the way that Samsung’s Galaxy S10 or Huawei’s P30 Pro are - which I did notice. However, I honestly wasn’t too fussed about the lack of curved glass here.

Even if the Mi Mix 3 felt a little less cutting edge, I wasn’t encountering nearly as many accidental swipes or taps as you do with curved glass. It doesn’t hurt that the screen itself looked quite nice. The resolution left it sharp - even though it didn’t take long for the Mi Mix 3 to accrue its fair share of microabrasions.

As for other features, there’s a traditional optical fingerprint sensor on the back and Xiaomi have even bundled the Mi Mix 3 with a free wireless charger - which is a really nifty point of difference over the alternatives.

Credit: Xiaomi

As for audio playback, the Mi Mix features two grill speakers - however, they’re located at the bottom of the unit, which meant I often accidentally covered them up. Unfortunately, there’s no headphone jack, which will irk the usual brigade of stans and represents a clear disadvantage for the device.

Last but not least, there’s a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left-most edge of the Mi Mix 3. It’s hanging out where you’d find the Bixby button on a Samsung phone. I couldn’t find a way to disable or remap the button - but, as someone who relies on their Assistant a fair amount, I wasn’t necessarily in a rush to do so.

Camera - How Does It Compare To The Competition?

The dual-lens camera system on the back of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 offers up surprisingly robust results.

You won’t find the same level of low-light performance or optical zoom found in the Huawei P30 Pro or Google Pixel 3. However, when you factor in the price, it’s often more than comparable to other big-name flagship shooters like the iPhone XS or Samsung’s Galaxy S10.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Daylight shots look really nice - though, the bokeh effect on portrait mode is prone to producing overly cloudy results and there's a slight fuzziness that I found consistent across most of the photos I took using the Mi Mix 3.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Night shots look decent. They're bright enough but often a little too noisey and not quite as sharp as the results I could get out of other, more-expensive devices.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

You’re limited to 2x optical zoom, so the Mi Mix 3 can’t compete with Huawei’s P30 Pro on that front. Still, it is in line with where most flagships sit when it comes to zoom.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

My gut feeling is that the Mi Mix 3 can’t really be proclaimed the top dog in the space - but it’s certainly above average for a flagship and well above where it ought to be once you factor in the pricing.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Next Page: Performance, Software, Benchmarks, Battery Life & The Bottom Line

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