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Xiaomi Mi 6 review: Social climber

Introduction

Seven years in the making. That’s what Xiaomi says and you can feel the pride of a job well done. Is it arrogance? Maybe. And it may be surprising but not completely unfounded. A five-inch screen in a hot, curved metal-and-glass body. A dual camera with 2x optical zoom. A Snapdragon 835. The Xiaomi Mi 6 has many virtues and well… modesty isn’t one of them.

The 6th generation comes packed with premium features, as if Xiaomi is trying to pick a fight with every contemporary flagship. The latest Snapdragon 835 chipset may as well have been the only option – no other would’ve suited their best phone yet.

To be fair, Xiaomi did well to refine the series design and even added splash resistance. The dual 12MP camera with a telephoto lens and portrait photography is Xiaomi’s take on what seems to be the latest fad in phones. All of these – at the expense of an audio jack. If Apple can get away with it… What did we say about modesty?

Xiaomi Mi 6 review

Now, being a mix of every new trending feature around the Xiaomi Mi 6 is surely going to step on a lot of flagship toes. And it sure looks like an offer you can’t refuse. Even the premium model is half the price of a name brand counterpart – we’re talking ceramic finish and 18-karat gold plated camera rims.

There are far too many similarities with a certain Cupertino smartphone though – the lack of an audio jack, the added water-resistance, the telephoto camera for portrait photography, and the newly introduced stereo speakers. It’s not that we don’t welcome those upgrades, but it looks like the new Mi is for the first time trying too hard to be cool instead of simply playing to its own strengths – of which it obviously has enough.

Xiaomi Mi 6 key features
Body: 3D glass body with stainless steel frame; curved all around, splash resistant
Screen: 5.15″ IPS LCD display, 1080p resolution, HDR video support
OS: Android OS v7.1.1 Nougat with MIUI 8.2
Chipset: Snapdragon 835 chipset: octa-core Kryo 280 CPU (4×2.46GHz +4×1.9GHz); Adreno 540 GPU; 6GB of RAM
Camera: Dual 12MP Sony IMX386 camera; wide-angle F/1.8 + telephoto F/2.6, live bokeh effects, 4-axis optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, phase detection auto focus, 2160p@30fps video;
Selfie: 8MP front-facing camera with 1080p@30fps video
Storage: 64GB/12GB of built-in storage
SIM: Dual-SIM (nano-SIM)
Connectivity: 1Gbps LTE; Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Bluetooth v5.0; NFC, USB-C port, IR blaster
Audio: Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic; 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res audio
Battery: 3,230mAh non-removable battery, QuickCharge 3.0 support
Misc: Fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers

Main shortcomings
1080p screen resolution falls short of flagship standards (though, not an issue)
No 3.5mm audio jack (but an adapter is provided)
Not fully water-resistant
No microSD slot
Limited market availability, markup on gray import prices takes away its competitive edge

The Mi 6 lost the audio jack in favor of more battery juice, which should have made it easier for Xiaomi to focus on water-proofing. Recent teardowns have revealed that Xiaomi attempted to secure the Mi 6 against water, yet the USB port omits any kind of seals and is left completely unprotected. The company just did not go the extra mile, for some reason. IP68 certification could have made up for the lack of the fan-favorite audio jack.

Xiaomi Mi 6 review

So, the Mi 6. The low-cost flagship redefined. Xiaomi’s most powerful smartphone and an ambitious cameraphone. It looks like an exciting journey ahead. Follow us on the next page where we look closely at one of the best-looking phones lately. Well, perhaps a little too familiar-looking if you know what we mean.

Anyway, let’s see what the Mi 6 is made of and how good it is at what it does.

Special thanks to eudirect.shop for providing the review unit.