Xiaomi India today launched its successor to last year’s phablet offering called the Mi Max 2 at Rs 16,999. The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 went official in the company’s home market a few months ago and since the company hauled in the first model, it was a given that its successor would set foot in India as well.
While the earlier Mi Max was launched at Rs 14,999, Xiaomi a few months later also launched a high-end version of the same phablet in a silver finish with 128 GB of internal storage, called the Mi Max Prime.
The Prime variant was priced towards the mid-range at Rs 19,999 and offered pretty much the same specifications with the addition of more internal storage compared to the standard model that just offered 32 GB of space.
Coming to the just announced Mi Max 2, it features specifications that are almost identical to the Chinese model save for the new black finish. The handset was first announced in China only in a gold finish. The highlight is clearly, the bigger battery and the obvious battery life benefits that also came with the older Mi Max, but there’s a little more to this mammoth; things that I discovered when I got my first hands on with the device.
Build and design
While I appreciated the Mi Max for what it offered, considering it launch price of Rs 14,999, the Prime variant did fall short because the plastic caps at the top and bottom really did not cut it for a mid-range handset priced at Rs 19,999.
With the Mi Max 2, Xiaomi has worked on the same. Customers will now get an all-metal construction that feels as good as it looks. It’s still huge, but the rounder edges and corners, make it look more like a tamed elephant, instead of the previous woolly mammoth.
The plastic antenna gaps are colour-matched to perfection, making them almost indistinguishable from the metal body on the black model.
The placement of the headphone jack remains identical to the previous model, but the infrared port has now moved to the center and gets a bit rounded to fit in with rest of the rounded metal body.
The rest of the buttons that include the volume rocker and the power/unlock button sit exactly as on the previous Mi Max, which is on the top right edge. Also available is the fingerprint reader, that is once again, oddly placed on the top back end, which is still hard to reach considering its size.
The bottom as before consists of two speaker grilles and a USB port, but this time around, Xiaomi upgraded it to a reversible USB Type-C port and before you grin, it also allows for fast charging that behemoth of a battery.
What’s also new is the presence of two speakers instead of just one under the right speaker grille at the bottom. The new Xiaomi Mi Max 2 still features one speaker at the bottom (under the right grille) but adds a second one at the top which we think just a more powerful receiver speaker used for calls. From my initial impressions, the output from the twin speaker setup is quite impressive and sounds rich with a proper stereo effect. It will be a great for gamers and those using the device as a portable media player.
The Mi Max 2 features 6.44-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) LCD display. The display looks identical to the one on the older Mi Max, but I had few complaints with the previous one to begin with. Colours look accurate and sunlight legibility is excellent. At 342 PPI, text and icons looked sharp enough, considering that you won’t have hold it up close given its size. What has changed is the fitting and placement of the display that now makes it appear a lot more polished.
Chipset, RAM, storage
As with the Redmi Note 4, that switched from a hexa-core setup of the powerful Snapdragon 650 to a humbler (yet power efficient) Snapdragon 625 last year, the Mi Max 2 gets the same treatment.
Gaming fans may be a bit disappointed with the Adreno 506 instead of the 510, but the Mi Max 2’s 625 chipset is built using the 14 nm FinFET manufacturing process that now brings an octa-core setup with the high-powered cores clocked at 2.0 GHz. In short, longer gaming sessions instead of higher frame rates.
Clubbed along with tried and tested chipset is 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage that is expandable via the hybrid dual SIM slot.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is indeed the first smartphone from the Chinese smartphone maker to arrive in India with Android Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box. The software however is toned down and barely brings out any of the core features to the front. Users on other handsets stuck on Android Marshmallow will barely be able to tell the difference as not much has changed cosmetically.
In day to day usage, the software felt quick, but I’d suggest waiting for the full review as we have yet to fill up our test unit to the brim with apps and games.
Things have improved on the camera front as well. There’s a capable 12 MP Sony IMX386 sensor with large 1.25 µm pixels paired with an f/2.2 aperture lens setup. While the sensor size had dropped from 16 MP to 12 MP, the camera setup offers 4K video recording, along with standard Xiaomi software features and a dual tone dual LED flash. What is impressive, is how the engineers have removed the camera protrusion from the older Mi Max. The camera unit now sits flush with the rest of the surface with only uneven bit being the fingerprint reader. The front facing camera features a 5 MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture.
Battery and connectivity
The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 packs in a 5,300 mAh battery, which is quite the upgrade from the previous 4,850 mAh battery in the Mi Max. While it does add some heft (211 grams to be precise) to the device, the engineers have managed to keep the phablet slim and not thick like other offerings in the market. More importantly, Xiaomi claims a 2-day battery life, no matter what you throw at it, something that I will test thoroughly in my full review.
While the 4,850 mAh battery was a nightmare when it came to charging, Xiaomi came prepared this time around and included fast charging. The Mi Max 2 thankfully packs in Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, which fills up 68 percent in just one hour, a commendable feat considering the mammoth task it has at hand.
As for connectivity, we get the usual support for 4G+, 4G, 3G and 2G bands. There Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.5/5G Wi-Fi), an infrared port, dual hybrid SIM slots and a USB Type-C port that supports fast charging.
Now that you have read through all of the above, it quickly becomes clear that Xiaomi has an all-new Mi Max indeed. Price a bit higher at Rs 16,999, Xiaomi has worked on past imperfections and even offers something new, with some additions to the massive display’s immersive experience by bringing in stereo sound.
It's definitely is a worthy upgrade on paper, but how does it match up against its older sibling that features a better GPU? And how far better can the new chipset stretch the already excellent battery life benchmark set by the Mi Max? More importantly, there’s also a better camera this time around. Is it worth buying over a Redmi Note 4?
Well you will have to wait a bit for all those answers as I put the mighty mammoth on a treadmill and test out every one of its features. Find out all about it in the upcoming review of the Mi Max 2.