When Samsung launched the Galaxy Note back in 2011, the 5.3-inch display looked massive and many even ridiculed its size as impractical. Six years later, the 5.5-inch display is a comfortable size for many. So what would be the next BIG be? Many companies have tested display sizes beyond 6-inch but not been very successful. Anything above 6-inch is a big challenge, people might take shot at the Smartphone as a tab if proper attention is not paid to design.
Xiaomi thinks they have the perfect next big with Mi Max. At 6.44-inch it has a super big screen but is it practical as a phone? I figure it out in this Mi Max review.
Design, Build and Display
- Aluminum body
- 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5mm
- 203 gms
On paper, the 6.44-inch can be intimidating, many questions shoot over your head. Will it look awkward? Can we pocket it? Will it be heavy? What about the ergonomics? No. Yes. No. Good.
The Mi Max is an oversized version of the popular Redmi Note 3, which is a good design reference to lean upon. Like Note 3 which accommodated a large 4000mAh battery and yet maintained a slim profile and an ergonomic body, the Mi Max too surprises us with a 7.5mm thickness and weighing 203 grams in spite of the big real estate and a 4850mAh battery lurking inside. There is always a concern about pocketability, I mostly drive on my bike and wear jeans and I never felt any discomfort carrying the Max in my jean pocket and pulling it out while sitting on the bike, that should address the basic concern about the device.
The design is not particularly compelling but the stress is more upon making it an ergonomic, practical big phone for use. The metal jacket is a neat clothing and the double chamfered edges and rounded corners along with a slim profile makes it easy to use. The imposing big display is the attention grabber and the front has the capacitive buttons at the chin, the 5MP selfie camera, ear piece grille and host of sensors on the top.
The bottom houses the pin hole speaker grill, a microUSB port and a microphone. While there is the grill on either side, the right side houses the speaker and the left side is for balancing out the design as well as holds the microphone.
The bottom of the rear has the Mi branding, at the center of the top half has the fingerprint sensor and at the corner sits the camera and dual-LED flash. The top and bottom has plastic caps and cover the antenna but the color spills over seamlessly between the metal and plastic construction.
- 6.44-inch IPS LCD display
- 1920 x 1080 pixels
- 342 ppi pixel density
- 74.8% screen-to-body ratio
- Gorilla Glass 3
- Reading mode
- Sunlight display
The the huge display has a fullHD resolution translating to 342 pixel per inch, the screen to body ratio makes the Smartphone handy. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and a big display comes good for media consumption especially reading. There is a reading mode that turns on the blue filter and the display offers good sunlight legibility and the sunlight display adjusts the display according to the ambient light. The color reproduction is good too.
Software and UI
- Android OS, v6.0
- MIUI 7
- Can be updated to MIUI 8 (am running MIUI 8 on my device)
Out of the box as of now, the Mi Max comes with the MIUI 7 running on Android Marshmallow but you can head over to the Xiaomi official forum and download the global beta MIUI 8 ROM and set it up. The MIUI 8 is a charm. It brings back the ‘Me’ in MIUI with all the user friendly features. If you are skeptical about the beta, you can wait till Mi India rolls out the stable version pretty soon.
Xiaomi has introduced a Quick ball feature, a combination of five customizable gesture shortcuts that can be moved around the sides of the screen. Personally, I don’t use the feature but for those who think the display is too big for easy access, the Quick ball can come really handy when you start using it. There is also one-handed mode for those who care for it.
My best pick of the MIUI 8 is the Dual apps feature, that replicates a mirror of any app and allows you to run two accounts or sign-ins. And there is a Second space, just in case you need your own comfort zone, simply put you get two phone within a phone. The scroll screenshot makes life easier, allowing you to take a screenshot of the entire webpage. There are new additions to the video edit tool, a very versatile calculator, all this put together makes MIUI 8 an enjoyable experience and brings back the original love for MIUI I felt when I first used the Mi 3.
- Snapdragon 650
- Hexa-ccore processor
- two 1.8Ghz ARM Cortex A72 + four 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A53
- Adreno 510 GPU
- 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 32GB ROM
- microSD card support up to 128GB
- 4850mAh battery
- 5V/2A charging
The Mi Max comes in two variants – a Snapdragon 650 + 3GB ROM and another a Snapdragon 652 + 4GB but what I got here for review is the 650 and that is what available in India right now to buy. The internals are almost identical to the Redmi Note 3, which in itself is a very good pick at its price.
Talking about the performance, the Mi Max is clearly intended for media consumption and browsing. There are set of people who simply love big displays, haven’t we seen people who use tablets as a Smartphone? Well, Mi Max offers a respectable replacement for tablet size but still maintaining the look and feel of a Smartphone. Yes, it is super big but still it is not insanely big and unwieldy as a tablet for everyday use as a phone.
So why a big display? what advantage it brings in? Simply put, you get to see more information on your screen. Like you get more cells on your excel sheets, you can view more conversations on the WhatsApp messages and it gives an immersive experience while playing games or watching movies. Talking about gaming, it performed fairly well even handling heavy games like NOVA 3 decently well. You see minor detailing in games graphics better, it’s enriching as a media consumption device.
The call quality is pretty good and the single side-firing speaker is decent enough. The 32GB on-board storage also helps in stacking more games and videos in the device plus there is a microSD card support, though opting for a microSD card would require you to sacrifice one SIM, since it uses a hybrid SIM slot. The fingerprint recognition works well and I don’t even remember if at any times it failed to recognize my ID.
A big phone can accommodate more battery and Xiaomi has made good use of it with a 4850mAh battery. On my regular days, I don’t even charge the phone full, a 50% charge stands good for a day even at heavy usage with WiFi and data constantly on and syncing. Surprisingly, while the hardware supports quick charge 3.0, there is no supporting adapter thrown in the box. Overall, I had no issues with the Mi Max on performance scale.
- 16MP rear camera
- f/2.0 aperture
- Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF)
- 5MP front camera
- f/2.0 aperture
The Mi Max has a very capable camera for the price it comes at. Images are fairly well detailed and sharp with a nicer color reproduction. The outdoor photos in good sunlight comes naturally well.
When getting up close, the focus struggles a bit but switch to the manual mode and play with the focus, it gets bang on.
Like almost all the Smartphones, the Mi Max too struggles at low light but the indoor shots under not so optimum light levels are still manageable and presentable.
The picture on the right is shot on auto mode while the right has HDR at work. The HDR does a good job at bringing the picture alive.
While the camera app does not offer dozens of presets, there are many filters to have some fun with. Apart from HDR, there are panorama and beauty mode for both front and rear.
To be honest, the Mi Max is not for everyone and it is not supposed to be either. While there are half a dozen phones with screen size 6-inch and above, either they have mediocre specs or costlier. The Mi Max gets everything right in terms of hardware and price and is at an enviable position of being unchallenged in this super-big segment offering amazing value for money. That makes Mi Max a clear winner, a KingKong like no other.