Chinese language producer Xiaomi is a jack of all trades. It makes quite a lot of related devices, together with TVs, toothbrushes, scooters, and even kettles. But, we all know it principally as a smartphone maker, and it’s now the fourth-largest on the planet. It’s reached these lofty heights because of a easy promise: high quality hardware at rock-bottom costs, and its flagship Mi 8 lineup is a major instance of that.
Now that Xiaomi is formally promoting merchandise within the UK (forward of a attainable try to take action within the US), it means we will take a better take a look at the telephones. The Mi 8 begins at simply £459, with the Pro mannequin going for £499. In comparison with a base mannequin OnePlus 6T (£499), the Mi 8 presents most of the similar specs — Snapdragon 845, twin rear cameras, and extra — whereas additionally including infrared face unlock. For the very same worth, the Mi 8 Pro matches the 128GB of storage and in-display fingerprint scanner and throws in an additional 2GB of RAM (8GB in complete). So, it’s clear who Xiaomi is making an attempt to compete with right here, however are these telephones as much as the duty?
I principally used the Mi 8 Pro throughout this assessment, however you’ll be able to assume all the similar factors apply to the cheaper mannequin until said in any other case.
Hardware, design, what’s within the field
Apart from the boundary-pushing Mi Combine collection, Xiaomi is understood for copying the most effective design decisions of its rivals. That is considerably cultural since Chinese language shoppers appear intent on buying telephones that appear to be iPhones however value a lot much less. The Mi 8 collection telephones retain some borrowed traits, corresponding to the overall aesthetic and digital camera module design, however that is to not say they aren’t handsome handsets.
Even the eye-catching clear again displaying the supposed internals of the Mi 8 Pro has been carried out earlier than. It appears nice, although, even when we all know it is simply an phantasm relatively than the precise elements we’re seeing. Cringeworthy slogans resembling “Be the coolest company in the hearts of our users” and “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen” adorn a few of these elements, however are fortunately sufficiently small to go unnoticed until you level them out. The delicate purplish hue on the edges goes properly with the purple energy button, making for a classier end than some current telephones. The identical pink tint might be discovered across the digital camera lenses and contained in the Sort-C port — each good touches. Sadly, solely one of many two speaker grills both aspect of the port is useful — the opposite is only for symmetry — and there is no earpiece speaker to supply stereo sound. It isn’t super-loud, however it’s enough.
The Mi 8 Pro from all angles.
Whereas unoriginal in design, the construct high quality right here is spectacular. The Mi 8 Pro is a bit thicker because of the in-screen fingerprint sensor and the pretend elements, however each really feel slender sufficient and have a pleasant weight to them. Regardless of all that tumbler, there’s no wi-fi charging. The entrance of the telephone will put many off, however the sizeable notch might be defined by the IR face unlocking hardware crammed into it, whereas the massive chin is probably much less excusable. Nonetheless, subsequent to a Pixel three XL, it doesn’t look fairly so dangerous.
Left to proper: Mi 8, Google Pixel three XL, Mi 8 Pro, Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
The display on each telephones is identical 6.21-inch AMOLED (2248×1080, 402 ppi) panel with an uncommon ratio of 18.7:9. It could possibly apparently rise up to 600 nits, and it’s undoubtedly brilliant sufficient. The show is of respectable high quality with no imperfections that I could make out. If there’s one large destructive level for the design and construct, it is the shortage of waterproofing. Not having an IP score is one factor, however Xiaomi does not point out water or mud safety in any respect, which is a fear.
The common Mi 8, which was slightly onerous to photograph because of that shiny rear.
Each telephones include the identical equipment within the field, consisting of an 18W charging adapter, USB Sort-A to Sort-C cable, and headphone jack adapter. There’s additionally a TPU case which is skinny and clear, displaying off the Mi 8 Pro’s fairly again.
Google, Huawei, and Samsung nonetheless paved the way with regards to telephone cameras, however the trailing pack has closed the hole considerably within the final yr or two. Naming the OnePlus 6T our Smartphone of the Yr is a testomony to its imaging enhancements, and the Mi 8 cameras (the identical on each telephones) are additional examples of cheaper hardware producing wonderful outcomes. Check out a few of my photographs under.
Xiaomi put two 12MP sensors on the again, with the secondary telephoto lens providing 2x optical zoom. The cameras actually shine in well-lit environments, offering a shocking degree of element together with good distinction and colour copy. As long as you don’t have the beautification settings turned on, the post-processing is not too heavy-handed. Automated HDR and AI scene choice additionally assist to ensure you get probably the most out of any given state of affairs, and photographs in low mild additionally got here out a lot better than I ever anticipated them to.
As you’ll have observed, my first few pictures had an annoying watermark which actually should not be on by default. Full guide settings are there for many who know what they’re doing, and for the Instagram era, there are many bokeh and front-camera face-altering choices obtainable. Video recording (in as much as 4K at 30fps) makes use of OIS properly, and sluggish movement as much as 240fps is on board too. All-in-all, the cameras are a triumph particularly when you think about the worth of those telephones.
Software program, efficiency, battery life
The best weak spot of the Mi telephones is the software program. MIUI is just not as intuitive or well-organized as Google’s Android (Pixel or Android One), neither is it as straightforward on the attention as OnePlus’ Oxygen OS or different lighter skins. Mi Followers will little question disagree, having seen MIUI enhance immeasurably in recent times, however it nonetheless has some method to go.
Left to proper: Mi 8, Google Pixel three XL, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Mi 8 Pro.
Since I began utilizing the Mi 8 Pro I’ve had a serious replace to MIUI 10, nevertheless it’s nonetheless constructed on prime of 8.1 Oreo — Pie is seemingly coming quickly. As it’s now, I’ve needed to cope with not having any notification icons, solely seeing lock display notifications for the most recent alerts, and an alarm that can’t be dismissed with out unlocking. Because the newest replace, turning the display off and on once more will trigger the alarm to seem with out unlocking, however this isn’t constant in any respect.
To compound the alarm challenge, the fingerprint sensor just isn’t correct sufficient. It is worse than each the OnePlus 6T and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It’s quick sufficient when it does work, however it typically fails to acknowledge my thumbprint — which is frustrating once you’ve simply woken and are desperately making an attempt to silence the alarm. Face unlocking by way of the IR sensors is a bit of bit extra constant, nevertheless it nonetheless sometimes fails in low mild and is lacking a setting to can help you see your lockscreen earlier than swiping as much as open the telephone.
Why are these participant notifications so massive? Why the iOS-style brightness bar?
Notifications have definitely improved because the telephone obtained MIUI 10, however it’s nonetheless a second-class expertise. You’ll be able to lastly snooze alerts till later, however provided that you swipe left; swiping proper dismisses and nothing else, and since I principally swipe my notifications away to the left, it took me a very long time to comprehend snoozing was even an choice. Different bugbears in no specific order: you possibly can’t uninstall or disguise duplicate apps (akin to Xiaomi’s personal calendar or contacts apps), the DND fast settings icon makes it seem like Night time Mild and it clashes with toggles for silent and vibrate (which don’t reset to previous state once you use DND), face unlock wasn’t obtainable out of the field, the final replace tousled customizations to issues like fast settings, and always-on show doesn’t work in any respect. I might go on about issues I’ve with MIUI, however fortunately, Rita has already written an entire submit about a few of the worst features of it.
My many criticisms apart, that is nonetheless Android beneath all of it, and numerous the great things shines via. Efficiency general all is extremely nippy and with 6 or 8GB of RAM, there’s by no means going to be a problem with reminiscence. Battery life might, and in all probability ought to be higher, although. The Mi 8 Pro has a capability of simply three,000mAh, which led to a few touch-and-go moments the place I assumed it will die earlier than I obtained again house late within the day — after heavy use, it have to be stated. On common, the battery life was simply okay. It’s in all probability not a promoting level, nevertheless it could possibly be worse. The Mi 8 has a three,400mAh cell that fares a lot better, so if battery life is a key concern for you, that may be the one to go for.
Do you have to purchase it?
Perhaps. It is unimaginable to not examine to the Mi 8 and Mi 8 Pro to the OnePlus 6 and 6T – the costs and specs make that inevitable — in order that’s been my largest consideration. Each OnePlus telephones are arguably higher wanting, a minimum of from the entrance. In case you actually dig the translucent again of the Mi 8 Pro, that could possibly be purpose sufficient to get it. Xiaomi’s software program is undeniably worse, however to not the extent that most individuals may have an issue with it. For those who use different Android telephones lots, as I do, the problems can be magnified. Efficiency is robust in each camps, and the cameras are ok, however battery life is definitely higher within the OnePlus fashions. I might say that when you’re used to different Android manufacturers, OnePlus is the straightforward choice. In case you’ve owned Xiaomi telephones up to now, you’d be very happy with both the Mi 8 or Mi 8 Pro — they symbolize the corporate’s most refined flagships but.
Finally it’d come down to cost, and the usual Mi 8 is the most cost effective of the lot, doesn’t rely on the inconsistent in-screen fingerprint reader, and has higher battery life than the Pro mannequin. For these causes, I’d in all probability advocate the Mi 8 forward of its costlier sibling. In all honesty, although, for those who can spare the additional pennies, the OnePlus 6T might be the higher selection proper now. In truth, the OnePlus 6 has been closely discounted since Black Friday (£399 within the UK proper now), in order that represents the most effective worth for cash on this phase in the intervening time. If Xiaomi can construct on these efforts, nevertheless, the longer term is wanting fairly rosy.
- You need a less-expensive flagship telephone with respectable cameras, futuristic biometric options, and an eye catching clear again design.
Don’t purchase if:
- You need a nicer software program expertise than MIUI, or you’ll be able to afford to purchase a OnePlus or higher.
The place to purchase
Mi 8 — (£459)
Mi 8 Pro — (£499)