It’s great to see another Chinese smartphone firm launching in Ireland following the massive success of Huawei in recent years.
Three Mobile recently launched the Xiaomi brand here with three separate devices, the most premium of which is the Mi Mix 2S (from €459.99).
It also launched two other phones: the Redmi Note 5 (from €199.99) and the Redmi 6 (from €149.99).
Xiaomi Mi accessories being stocked by Three include ANC Type-C In-Ear Earphones, Bluetooth Speaker (Blue), Sports Bluetooth Earphones and an Electric Scooter.
The Beijing-based manufacturer released its first smartphone in August 2011 and had become China’s largest smartphone firm by 2014.
Mi Mix 2S
I’ve been testing out the Mi Mix 2S, which is a stunning looking and powerful handset for the price point.
There are higher-spec Xiaomi handsets available internationally, such as the Mi 8 Pro, while the Poco F1 would have arguably been a better mid-priced device for Three to launch with than the Mi Mix 2S.
But these machines remain on a huge list of some of the best smartphones of 2018 that Irish network operators did not stock.
The roll call of absentees included the OnePlus 5T, 6 and 6T; Sony’s amazing Xperia XZ2 Premium, Google’s Pixel 2, LG’s G7 ThinQ, Huawei’s Mate 20, Motorola’s awesome Moto Z3 and its acclaimed budget phone, Moto G6.
And that’s just for starters.
Whether Three will in 2019 expand its Xiaomi range remains to be seen.
For now, let’s focus on the Mi Mix 2S.
Mi Mix 2S
It’s a gorgeous, superslim, almost bezel-free, 6in handset that may have no notch but does have a larger than average chin where the bulk of the sensors including the selfie camera are positioned.
But the ceramic back, gold trim and an aluminium frame make it look and feel like a truly premium device. Even though it costs less than half the price of many flagships.
It’s comfortable to use one-handed.
The dual camera set-up on the rear features a top-end primary 12MP Sony IMX 363 sensor with 1.4-micron pixels and a secondary 12MP sensor made by Samsung and used as a telephoto lens.
I found the camera performed well, but not exceptionally. It has onboard artificial intelligence (AI) that kicked in nicely for portrait mode. You can easily adjust the intensity of the background blur and animate the background bokeh.
The cameras fared less well at night, however.
As for the selfie shooter being oddly placed on the bottom of the unit, you might want to turn the device upside down before snapping.
The Mi Mix 2S is an Android with the Chinese firm’s own MIUI 9.5 skin overlaid.
The MIUI interface is easy to get used to – I especially like the gesture controls.
And I was able to copy all of my apps and data from another Android back-up quite easily. I would rate MIUI as stable and fluid.
I found the phone itself is zippy to use in everyday experience. But it would not have the blazing fast ‘wow factor’ of the likes of the Note 9, Mate 20 Pro or OnePlus 6.
A phone of this price always makes compromises though. In this instance, these are no OLED display, no headphone port, rather average quality audio and a lack of Google Pay support.
However, I would guess most consumers will see these trade-offs as fair enough given the price.
Battery endurance is average but Mi Mix 2S does support fast charging and wireless charging.
Should you buy it? That depends entirely on your budget. It’s certainly great value for the cost and won’t disappoint.
But it has a quite similar spec to Huawei’s P20, which is €40 less expensive at Three and has a better dual camera.
If it was me, I would shell out the extra €100 and get a OnePlus 6T which is one of the best phones you can currently buy.