When the concept of a slider phone first came out late last year, we have been seeing quite a few of them appearing in the market. One of it is the Mi Mix 3 – where many people calls it as the slider smartphone. How well does the Mi Mix 3 hold up in everyday, day-to-day use? Check out here in this review.
We will be cutting this review shorter since we already covered our initial impressions alongside with some other aspects of the phone.
Note that this is not the 5G version that was just launched, but the overall design and user experience is still the same.
We’ve already done this, but it is one of the most important aspect when it comes to smartphones. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 sure does come in a fancy package – and the unboxing experience is something extraordinary in terms of contents.
Just watch the video here.
As a short recap to the whole unboxing experience, you do get quite a lot of extras. You have the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 itself, an included hard shell case, a USB-C cable, a charger that supports 12V at 1.5A or 9V at 2A, a wireless charging pad (which is nice), and also a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle.
This is indeed the first time a smartphone has a wireless charging pad included with the phone itself. While wireless charging is indeed not my personal preferred way of charging because of its inefficiency, the inclusion of a wireless charging pad is certainly most appreciated.
In terms of design, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3’s novelty is in its slider mechanism – obviously. This is the first ever modern smartphone that is available in Malaysia with a slider! Yet Xiaomi always goes all out in terms of the beauty and materials used to craft the Mi Mix series of smartphones.
The ceramic back of the phone feels fantastic on the palm of my hands, though slippery. The near full screen display at the front just makes me drool since it does not have any notches at all yet the bezels are still thin. This beautiful Mi Mix 3, it catches attention from all directions.
The slider mechanism is surely a magnificent feat in itself. By utilizing magnets and a single rail only, one half of the phone can be slid down and up with ease. This sliding mechanism is smooth and enjoyable to use – especially for those who wants the nostalgic factor. However, for me personally, the novelty does wear out within a day or so.
More on this later – especially on the software side of things.
How the Mi Mix 3 achieved this slider mechanism is by splitting the phone into two parts. The teardown video here actually shows us a lot of considerations and tough decisions that Xiaomi has to make in order to make the Mi Mix 3 a great smartphone.
The Mi Mix 3 is split into two parts – one for the screen itself and the second part to house all of the other components. These two parts will need its own enclosure, hence requiring a certain amount of thickness for the enclosure itself. However, Xiaomi still maintains a very thin form factor for the Mi Mix 3 – which means the phone itself suffers from space limitation.
More on this limitation part later.
Looking at the included hard shell case, Xiaomi once again took the liberty to redesign their case because of the sliding mechanism. There is no way that the Mi Mix 3 can use a typical TPU case because of its flexibility and how the case wraps around the phone. The TPU case will just get loose over time and lose its grip on the phone entirely.
The included hard shell case is actually of high quality and uses the physical buttons themselves as the “anchors” of the case.
I highly recommend using the TPU case even though it covers the beautiful back – and we will talk about the reason why in later parts.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the Mi Mix 3 is actually packing quite a punch. It supports AC-WiFi, which is important since we Malaysians have Unifi Turbo now. It also comes with Bluetooth 5.0 for better connectivity with your wireless earphones and whatnot. This is important because the Mi Mix 3 does not have a 3.5mm audio jack.
And I can understand why. The Mi Mix 3 is thin and the 3.5mm audio jack is nearly as thick as the thicker half of the phone itself. Xiaomi did have the courtesy to include a dongle for the 3.5mm audio jack as well – so I guess that is a compromise that I can accept.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes with a dual nano SIM card slot only and there is no option for microSD card slot.
As for the buttons, the volume rocker and power button are located at the right side of the phone itself.
On the left side, Xiaomi included an AI button. They just call it as an AI button, but there is a menu to customize the shortcuts for the AI button.
At the bottom of the phone we can find the microphone, single loudspeaker, and also the USB-C port. It is quite disappointing at the Mi Mix 3 does not have stereo front-facing speakers or at least have the earpiece act as a secondary loudspeaker. The loudspeaker placement and quality of the Mi Mix 3 can surely be improved.
Since the inception of Mi Mix series of smartphones, it has always been opting for the highest screen-to-body ratio. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 shows that they will take extreme lengths to achieve this goal, even opting for the slider mechanism that comes with a slew of trade-offs.
The Mi Mix 3 comes with a 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display with 2340×1080 pixels in resolution, and obviously zero notch. The display is actually really beautiful, since it is a Super AMOLED display from Samsung.
Xiaomi even calibrated the display and has an option to increase the contrast, which makes the colors very closely match the colors on the Samsung Galaxy S9. Bravo, Xiaomi. The display is just beautiful.
To take advantage of the Super AMOLED display, Xiaomi has also implemented the ambient display feature.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes with a total of 4 cameras – two at the back and two at the front. Maybe not exactly the front since I will have to slide the phone to reveal the two selfie cameras.
Anyway, the specs for the cameras on the Mi Mix 3 are as below:
- Dual rear-facing cameras
- Main camera: 12MP f/1.8 with dual-pixel PDAF; 4-axis OIS
- Telephoto: 12MP f/2.4 with 2x optical zoom
- Dual selfie cameras
- Main camera: 24MP f/2.2
- Depth sensor: 2MP
Speaking from my own personal preference, I like the telephoto lens. However, there are people who prefer an ultrawide angle camera instead. As for the selfie cameras, Xiaomi implemented a depth sensor to create bokeh selfies.
As usual, you can click here to check out our full album on Shutterfly. All metadata and details are shown there.
Let’s first take a look at some standard scenes that I test a smartphone with. It looks pretty okay in broad daylight, albeit the dynamic range is a little on the darker side.
There’s a button to toggle to 2x optical zoom too – and once again, the picture still looks rather dark even in broad daylight.
Then I turned on the AI mode by a single touch. That instantly fixes the issues that I have with the overall exposure of the image, which automatically enabled HDR through the AI mode. It made the photo very good-looking! Saturation has also been increased.
For indoor shots, we can see that the Mi Mix 3’s telephoto camera does not perform that well because of the f/2.4. The shutter speed was prolonged so much that some details were lost.
However, the main camera is able to take this picture with its f/1.8. It was dimly-lit, by the way.
I took the Mi Mix 3 to shoot some pictures while the sun is setting and the result is a little mixed. The colors of the picture felt a little mushy and bland. It’s underexposed and the white balance also seem to have shifted to the blue side.
Then comes the night shots. If we just use take the picture with or without AI mode, then the images turned out to be really noisy.
But the Mi Mix 3 has a night mode. It functions similarly to Huawei P20, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and also the HONOR View20’s night mode – prolonged exposure for the shot while lowering ISO even when handheld.
The stabilization on the Mi Mix 3 is done really well. The noise level is pretty minimal other than the dark night sky itself. Though, the picture turned out to be oversaturated and oversharpened but it does look absolutely stunning for social media.
Comparing the indoor shots taken with the Mi Mix 3’s main and telephoto camera, there is a noticeable difference in quality. Take a look at these 2 pictures below.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of selfies – but the Mi Mix 3 does have two selfie cameras – one for capture the image itself and another depth sensor. I took this random selfie and it actually looks pretty good. I however, look completely wrecked.
The camera UI did not change much from other Xiaomi smartphones that we reviewed. It still has the same general design overall, but with some changes.
The “straighten” feature is still one of my favorite. It is only found on Xiaomi smartphones – no matter how low-end or high-end they are – which is fantastic and useful for those who have an OCD on how straight the photos are (like me).
One new feature that I found is enabling the option to display which parts of the image is in critical focus, or “peak focus” as Xiaomi calls it. This is absolutely useful for manual mode photography as it shows which part of the image is in focus.
The selfie camera has this beauty mode but unfortunately, it is not fully translated just yet. I have no idea what it does, but from the looks of it – it ‘augments” my face to look even prettier.
A very useful feature for someone who looks as wrecked as I am in this screenshot.
The MIUI 10 was launched since last year – and it came to the Mi 8 Lite while we were nearly finished reviewing it. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 does come with a lot more additional features too.
Firstly, the AI button – or at least that is what Xiaomi is calling it. This button can be customized to perform other actions through the settings menu.
Then comes the other features where you can set even more shortcuts through gestures by pressing and holding different buttons. Overall, it is quite versatile.
Thirdly, you can customize what does the Mi Mix 3 perform when you slide open the phone. Essentially, this is a customizable shortcut as well. And you can even customize what sound it makes when you slide. No custom chimes, sadly.
Xiaomi also included something called a “booster” for when you are gaming. To find this feature, you will have to go into the “Security” app to find it.
This feature does have some great options in it. This is just the first part of the two-part menu, by the way.
The second part of the “booster” menu is actually found in the game itself. It can’t do much other than screen recording, taking a screenshot, clearing RAM, or blocking notifications. Xiaomi’s implementation is decent enough, but still cannot block Facebook Messenger chat heads. So far, only Samsung is able to block Facebook Messenger chat heads.
Back to the settings menu. The point is, MIUI 10 is available for months already – but it has a bunch of issues that absolutely needs fixing.
Firstly, the settings menu. I have no idea how and why MIUI managed to make things so complicated. I wanted to change the idle time before sleep – and this setting is found in the “lock screen & password” menu instead of “display” like every other smartphone. Why?
Then I wanted to flip the back and menu buttons. I tried to fine everywhere else – and eventually I found it in “full screen display” menu. Again, why?
Samsung just revamped their UI with One UI including the settings menu which I appreciate even more now – and Samsung such a good job cleaning it up and streamlining the overall user experience.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes with – at its time – the greatest hardware that the market has to offer. Here are the list of specs that it has:
- 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display with 2340×1080 pixels in resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- 4x Kryo 385 @ 2.8GHz + 4x Kryo 385 Silver @ 1.7GHz
- Adreno 630 GPU @ 710MHz with 256 ALUs
- 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 128GB UFS 2.1 storage
- 3,200mAh battery
- Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10.0
Further further ado, here are the benchmarks.
The overall benchmark scores of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, is similar to other smartphones that are equipped with Snapdragon 845 chipset – however, there are a little bit of an issue in the next section.
Yes – gaming. Yes, the Mi Mix 3 can run all the latest games. However, the Mi Mix 3 gets hot really fast. And it is hotter than other smartphones with Snapdragon 845 too.
That is understandable because the phone is literally spliced into two parts, and heat can only dissipate through the ceramic back – which is covered by the hard shell case. The little gap of air on the sliding mechanism is not helping either since air is a terrible heat conductor.
Now, from the Mi Mix 3 teardown video, we saw that Xiaomi applied a huge amount of thermal paste on the phone itself – and that is to disperse the heat from the SoC to a larger area as fast as possible. I appreciate Xiaomi for doing that, but it proves to be still insufficient.
While the Mi Mix 3 does get hotter than other phones, it still manages to run games smoothly – but the battery life takes a hit.
Packed with only a 3,200mAh battery, we once again know that this is a necessary compromise since the phone is – again – split into two parts. A larger battery cannot be fitted inside because of the limitation in physical space.
Our battery life benchmark is only performing a repetition of work-related tasks and not gaming, and the Mi Mix 3 scored just slightly above 10 hours.
We can tell for sure that the Mi Mix 3 will have quite a tough time trying to last through the day with a single charge. If gaming is involved, then be prepared to be tethered to a power bank.
As we mentioned since the unboxing part, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes with a wireless charging pad with the phone itself. We put both the chargers to test and see just how long it takes to charge the phone.
We did a total of 3 tests – one with the cable directly plugged into the phone, another one with the wireless charging but without the hard shell case, and another one with the hard shell case.
Why? Because the added width between the wireless charging pad and the phone will hinder the charging time – or so we thought.
We were wrong because the phone slides around the wireless charging pad and does not have a good direct contact with the phone’s wireless power receiver. The case locks the Mi Mix 3 in place when placed on the wireless charging pad.
The wired charging took about 22 minutes to reach 51% and about 35 minutes to reach 75% charge, which is speedy because of the relatively small 3,200mAh battery.
As for wireless charging with the hard shell case on the phone, it took 31 minutes to reach 50% charge and a total of 55 minutes to reach 75% battery mark.
Conclusion time. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is certainly a unique smartphone. It’s beautiful and everything works as advertised – but there are many things that you should take note of, as mentioned in this in-depth review.
In terms of engineering, the Mi Mix 3 is marvelous. The engineers have to design a phone that slides without using any mechanical parts and with magnets only, then have to cramp in all the hardware into an even smaller form factor since the phone is split into two parts and maintain a certain thinness.
I honestly consider the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 to be a niche smartphone as of now. The sliding form factor is a novelty of its own, but comes with a list of trade-offs that I am not ready to make. Thinness of the phone or a larger battery capacity, Xiaomi chose thinness. And that means no 3.5mm audio jack as well. Honestly, I still am not ready to abandon the 3.5mm audio jack at all.
The Mi Mix 3 5G version has a few more difference other than just having 5G – like the new Rogers HeatSORB thermal material to capture heat energy. However, the question of how to expel these heat energy still remains.
For the price of RM2,199, it is worth it – because of the novelty that it offers. Marvelous engineering, but there are lots of improvements that can be done – especially in the software department.