Xiaomi's Mi Mix 2s offers iPhone and Galaxy performance for almost half the price

Benchmarks for the Android Oreo-powered phone show comparable performance to other flagships in processing speed, camera performance, and more.

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  • The Mi Mix 2 supports international LTE bands, making usage on mobile networks in the United States possible, though stateside availability has not yet been announced.
  • Xiaomi's Mi Mix series has typically been seen as a concept phone intended to display the company's manufacturing and design capabilities.

Tuesday, Xiaomi announced the Mi Mix 2S, the third phone in the Mix series. Like Samsung's Galaxy S9 family, the Mi Mix 2S is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, running at 2.8 GHz. It has a 5.99" 1080x2160 IPS display, and is available in three SKUs: 6GB RAM / 64GB storage for 3299 RMB ($525 USD), 6GB / 128 GB for 3599 RMB ($572) or 8GB / 258 GB for 3999 RMB ($636).

The phone will first be available in China on April 3, with international availability not yet announced. It ships with Android 8.0 (Oreo) and Xiaomi's custom MIUI 9.5 theme.

Of particular interest is the Sony IMX363 image sensor used in the dual-camera setup for the phone. In a test by DxOMark, the phone received an overall score of 97, and a camera score of 101, which the benchmarking firm notes is equal to the iPhone X, and three points shy of the Samsung Galaxy S9+. The phone also is the first from Xiaomi to support Google's ARCore technology.

Additionally, the Mi Mix 2S supports high-speed (7.5W) wireless charging, which appears to be a first for a ceramic-cased phone. (The Essential PH-1 has a charging dock, but it connects using the pogo pins used for the 360-degree camera.) For the 8GB / 256GB SKU, the charger is bundled, though is otherwise sold separately for 99 RMB ($16).

Given that the pricing for the Mi Mix 2S undercuts the iPhone, as well as the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S9 family, it may be an attractive option for enthusiasts and people who buy phones off-contract. Additionally, as the phone ships with Treble support, it would be possible to flash a generic Treble-enabled ROM to the phone, which should assuage concerns of businesses or individuals who have concerns about buying phones from Chinese vendors.

Xiaomi's Mi Mix series has typically been seen as a concept phone intended to display the company's manufacturing and design capabilities. The first in the series, released in 2016, was a flashy, 6.4" phablet designed by French designer Philippe Starck that had limited distribution due to the lack of support for international LTE bands. The Mi Mix 2 was released just six months ago, adopting the smaller and more manageable 5.99" 18:9 screen also used in the 2S. The the Mix 2 was the first to see a wider release, as it supported about 24 different LTE bands, including those used by mobile networks in the United States.

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While the Mi Mix 2 also supports international LTE bands, making usage in the United States possible on AT&T and T-Mobile, Xiaomi may run into difficulty selling the phone stateside amid a renewed wave of pressure against Huawei and ZTE. That pressure is speculated to be the cause behind big-box retailer Best Buy stopping sales of unlocked Huawei phones, though given the contract-bundling terms that mobile operators operate by, it is unclear how many phones Best Buy sold to begin with. Similarly, Huawei's attempts to court US carriers have not fared well, as a planned launch with AT&T was scuttled due to pressure from Washington, according to Reuters. Earlier this month, the CEO of Xiaomi announced an intent to sell phones stateside by the end of the year.

In the same launch event, Xiaomi also announced a gaming-focused version of their Mi Notebook family, powered by last-generation (7th) Intel CPUs, with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB SSD + 1TB hard drive combo, with prices set at 8999 RMB ($1432) for the highest-end SKU. The company also announced a mini version of the Mi AI Speaker, a personal assistant speaker in the same category as the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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