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What is missing is the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S to really catch up with the iPhone X

On March 27, I was in Shanghai at the presentation of Mi MIX 2S, the new flagship from Xiaomi, which the company consciously served as a clone of the iPhone X. The main detail is the rear camera, it was given the most attention: the Chinese managed not only to reproduce it externally, but also to achieve the same quality of shooting according to the evaluation portal DxOMark.

I spent two weeks with Mi MIX 2S, and before that – almost half a year with the iPhone X, so for me a detailed comparison of these two smartphones was obvious. The only problem is that the Xiaomi flagship has been released only for the Chinese market, and some announced functions are not yet available, and others (like a voice assistant) are completely useless for those who do not live in China or speak Chinese. In addition, the journalists were given test and very unstable assemblies, as a result of which the experience of use was blurred in the direction of negative impressions: the product is still raw.

Briefly about my observations: if you throw aside the camera, while the fact that Xiaomi portrays the successful reproduction of the capabilities of the iPhone X – it’s rather a marketing pull for the ears (not necessarily bad). But there are many good decisions: I’ll start with them.

The shooting on a double camera here is just as convenient

The dual camera in the iPhone X has no outstanding unusual modes. A set of standard – video, slo-mo, regular pictures, portrait, panorama. All this is also in Mi MIX 2S: the exception is the professional mode, where you can fine-tune the settings, in much the same way as it is implemented in the Samsung Galaxy S9 .

A feature of dual cameras is the possibility of a double zoom due to the switching of a wide-angle lens on a telephoto. In Mi MIX 2S, even the zoom interface is implemented in the same way as in the iPhone X, and works just as conveniently.

Mi MiX 2S does not have “live” photos, as in iOS. But in the camera application, an algorithm is built in (it is claimed that on the basis of artificial intelligence), which determines the parameters of the scene to be shot – the location of the objects, their illumination, and so on – and in accordance with them, setting the required parameters for the survey. I can not say that this is something original: it is assumed that all the automatic shooting modes work about the same, so I did not even notice its effect.

There is also a small advantage in convenience: the ability to take a picture by clicking on the fingerprint sensor (the function is turned on in the settings, the default is off). This is convenient when you need to remove something on an outstretched hand: so the grip of the smartphone is more confident, so there is less likelihood that the hand will falter when shooting and will smudge the frame or that the phone will slide out of the fingers and fall to the ground.

Image quality is consistent

During the trip to China, I made a series of identical images on Mi MIX 2S and on the iPhone X. The photo was uploaded to two separate photo galleries: you can turn one by one and compare the quality.

My conclusion is this: even with complex situations the cameras are coping equally well.

But for comparison – examples of the work of the photo mode. Here I forgot to turn off the watermark, which Xiaomi puts on its pictures by default (do not repeat my mistakes), but it will be easier to distinguish on collages, which camera was filming. According to my impressions, iPhone X portraits do better.

Gestures work. But not without problems

One of the main features of the iPhone X is the lack of a “Home” button, which makes it possible to make a larger screen with smaller dimensions. But we had to solve the problem of navigation – with the help of gestures.

Mi MIX 2S copies the basic gestures of the iPhone X, although by default they are not included. In the smartphone “out of the box” the usual navigation of Android works with the help of three virtual buttons – “Multitasking”, “Home”, “Back”. They can be turned off and replaced with gestures: a swipe up from the bottom of the screen works like “Home”, and if you stop the finger at the end of this svayp, the panel with running applications opens.

There is also a gesture “Back” – this is a svap sideways from the bottom of the left or right edge of the screen. In words it sounds difficult, but in reality – as conveniently as on iOS: you get used to gesticulations very quickly.


True, there is one problem here. When you click on the bottom of the screen, the buttons (for example, the bottom row of letters on the keyboard or Backspace) sometimes do not work: the system thinks I’m starting to do the svayp, and do not hold down the key. Since I still have a test assembly of the OS and an engineering sample of the device, I could write it off to the general dampness of the product, but the defect is a flaw, and it makes the use of gestures very difficult.

Mi MIX 2S would not look like an iPhone X, if not for a dual camera – it misleads others

The other day there was a situation: I went to my haircut, and the hostess girl invited me to take part in a contest where you can win an iPhone X. Answered: yes, I already have, thank you, not interesting. She looked at the phone in my hand, first nodded understandingly, and then her eyes widened: they say, what kind of button do you have in the middle? It really took the Mi MIX 2S from the side for the iPhone X – but only because of the camera.

In fact, on the camera the similarities almost end. The back cover of Mi MIX 2S made of ceramics feels like glass, but looks a little different. The side frame is not made of chrome-plated aluminum, but from the usual – it looks not so chic.

If you look at the smartphone from the front, the difference is striking: in the case of the Mi MIX 2S, the lower ledge, where the front camera was located, is much wider, but there is no signature cutout (“bangs”, “beards”, “caps”, whatever). In this case, the side frames have the same thickness and for Mi MIX 2S, and for the iPhone X.

For me, the main thing is that the Mi MIX 2S is noticeably bigger than the iPhone X. I’m already used to compactness, and here I have to feel like I’m with the iPhone 8 Plus again. But thanks to its thin cover (the same as the model of the last generation) it is more convenient to carry it in your pocket.

Mi MIX 2S is clearly more powerful than the iPhone X. And at the same time it’s cheaper

iPhone X top-end configuration – 3 GB of RAM and 256 GB of built-in – costs 91,990 rubles in Russia. The Mi MIX 2S has 8GB of main memory and 256GB of internal memory (without the possibility of expansion), and although it is not officially sold in Russia, on AliExpress you can find it with an average delivery of 45 thousand rubles.

Since the last two weeks I’ve always used the iPhone X, then Mi MIX 2S, I had a lot of opportunities to feel the difference in power. On speed and graphics, I have no complaints either there or there – everything works smoothly, quickly, in games like PUBG Mobile you can play calmly on the maximum chart. But the huge amount of RAM Mi MIX 2S allows the system to kill it mercilessly, and even with all its optimized iOS here loses in the speed of switching between applications.

Well and important – the battery in 3400 mAh very much pleases. Last week I was in a position to move into a new apartment and because of this I was constantly sitting in the phone, watching YouTube and listening to music through LTE. This consumed the battery with incredible speed, but Mi MIX 2S still successfully survived until the evening. But it’s not charging very fast – from zero to 100% it takes more than two hours for it even on native fast charging, and when I put it on the wireless, it constantly cursed that I put it unevenly (but kept charging). The iPhone with its 2700 mAh with such loads, I would have to recharge during the day at least twice, so as not to risk remaining unconnected until, say, you return home in the evening.

And yet there is a whole list of reasons why the Mi MIX 2S does not reach the iPhone X

The Chinese from Xiaomi would very much like to convince others that they have succeeded in repeating the success of Apple’s flagship. But with all the merits of Mi MIX 2S – not a clone of Apple’s flagship, although it can be placed in a row with other top-end smartphones on Android.

The main thing is the screen. Galaxy S9 and iPhone X with their excellent OLED displays leave an indelible impression of image quality. The IPS LCD from the Mi MIX 2S is not bad, but it’s still perceived to be lower – although it is rumored that Apple is going to release one of the next generation iPhone models with a liquid crystal display for cheaper price.

The ledge from below, the same as the last generation, still looks disgusting. Get rid of Xiaomi from him, and Mi MIX 2S would become a compact and beautiful smartphone with elegant proportions. Copy the cutout under the front camera and sensors from Apple, apparently, Xiaomi failed.

By the way, the front camera, located in the lower right corner (same as in the previous generation) is also a loss: with video calls and self photography, the smartphone has to be twisted in the hand, it is inconvenient and strange. The fact that she is not in the center makes her use even more uncomfortable. The quality of the survey is low, and this is doubly strange given the obsession of the Asian selfi market and everything connected with it.

Left – iPhone X, right – Mi MIX 2S

At the presentation, the screen unlock function was announced with the help of face recognition – but while it is not there, and at least for the first time it will be available only for the Chinese version of MIUI (the Xiaomi Android build). How it will work, so far no one knows.

Nobody likes voice assistants, but Xiaomi has its own called XiaoAI – although it is also available only for the Chinese market and as a separate device (audio helper-assistant). Whether it is built into Mi MIX 2S in future updates is unknown, but again – it supports only Chinese language, and it is not worth counting on Russian localization in the foreseeable future.

And the last is the ecosystem. Xiaomi has a lot of different products, much more than Apple – but so far they, in my opinion, are very weakly knit into the overall ecosystem, although the company is working hard on it. The reason here is Android. In the Chinese market, the entire Xiaomi ecosystem belongs to it – here and its own cloud service, and an application store, and services localized only for the Chinese market. Not the least role was played by the blocking of all Google services in China, and we must admit that with the technological import substitution, the Chinese are in order (not only in Xiaomi).

In other markets, the company has to tear between what Google offers, and between what it does itself – it turns out an obscure porridge of services, some of which duplicate each other. Complementing the picture is a lack of resources: a young company enters dozens of new markets simultaneously, and everywhere users demand attention to themselves. This hinders the development – in Russia, not officially presented a huge number of products Xiaomi, and in the US, for example, the company does not even sell smartphones.

Despite the fact that the company positions Mi MIX 2S as a copy of the iPhone X of its own design, it is still not a complete replacement, but only an application for the fact that Xiaomi learned something from Apple. In the appeal of Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, who is in the form of a postcard in each box with a flagship, it says: “For the sake of inch of progress, we are ready to go miles.” So: there are still a lot of miles ahead.

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