Xiaomi has taken the path of basement China: someone else’s design, standard hardware and some of its own software – that’s the new smartphone. I have already talked about unrealistically similar to the iPhone 7. Now I got to the controversial Note 3.
He’s incredibly cool. If you want to change “iPhone” to “android” – Mi Note 3 will be the best option.
Screen: 5.5 inches, IPS, 1920 x 1080 pixels
What are Xiaomi
The main problem with the Note 3 is positioning. Now Xiaomi is releasing several lines, including budget Redmi (Note) and flagship Mi and Mi Note:
- Xiaomi Mi – compact flagship smartphones,
- Xiaomi Mi Note – flagship smartphones with a 5.5-inch screen,
- Xiaomi RedMi and RedMi Note are budget smartphones with screens of 5 and 5.5 inches, respectively.
Everything seems simple. But the last Note 2 got a flagship processor and a curved screen. And the new one completely copies the Mi 6 compact. Only the processor from the mid-price line (it was supposed in Mi Max 2) and the screen is 0.3 inches larger.
It turns out that we have a pumped Redmi Note 4. Why, “xiaomi”? Xanad. Gadget turned out.
Xiaomi Note 3 language does not dare to be called a “budget smartphone.” This is a real flagship made of glass and metal, bewitching in appearance. The black version got to the review, but there is also a dark blue and several other color options.
The filling of the apparatus is placed on a solid metal plate. Its blued edges turn into the ends of a smartphone. Such a solution with the black Mi Note 3 paint for me, as a process engineer, seems ideal: bluing is much more attractive and much more stable than any paint.
In addition, the engineers managed to achieve build quality comparable to Apple/Foxconn. The SIM card tray is flush with the frame, and the volume and power keys not only do not make noise and are gently pressed, but practically continue the frame. There are no visible gaps between the elements.
The front and back surfaces of Mi Note 3 are made of solid tempered glass panels. Black glass – what could be cooler? Moreover, it is used in front.
The glass edges are ergonomically curved. The tactile sensations are amazing – as in the case of Mi 6: cold envelops the palms, flawless polishing adds stars. Premium segment as it should be. But glass, especially this one, does not like tables – the new Mi Note shamelessly slides wherever it can. Saves only complete cover. But putting a piece of rubber on this smartphone is a terrible blasphemy.
The rear panel flaunts a dual camera and an almost imperceptible logo – another hello to a competitor from Cupertino. A good solution – the scanner is built into the touch key “Home” on the front side and does not violate the geometry.
The front end looks no better. On either side of the central one copied from the iPhone 7, there are two illuminated dots that act as “Back” and “Menu”.
In fact, with the dimensions of Note, the scanner on the rear panel is more convenient. But beauty requires sacrifice.
Black color is used in Mi Note 3 not only for beauty. It completely hides the sensors and the camera on the front panel. Yes, and the auditory speaker is perfectly masked.
The speaker is hidden behind the iPhone-like slots on the bottom. I won’t say that the solution is perfect – but the symmetry of the grilles surrounding the single USB-C port suits this smartphone.
Of course, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is not a Samsung S8, and certainly not an iPhone X. The developers did not move the concept away from the launch iPhone 7 Plus and, for greater similarity, equipped the novelty with a regular IPS-matrix with Full HD resolution and a diagonal of 5.5 inches.
According to users, the matrix may be from JDI or Sharp. In the test sample – the latter. And these are the most reliable, high-quality IPS panels that you can find.
There are no additional explorations. All the same screen that I praised in Mi 5s Plus: bright, contrasty, with large viewing angles. The only drawback is the eye-catching color scheme, which can be calmed down in the system settings.
And do not forget about the large frames around the displayed area. But it’s not the hump of the iPhone – and that’s good.
Hardware platform and features
Xiaomi Mi Note 3 became the first smartphone based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 single-chip platform. Officially, it belongs to the middle price segment and was supposed to appear in the spring.
Delays are not easy. As part of the fresh “six hundredth” incredibly fast computing cores. In processor tests, Mi Note 3 easily catches up with the flagships on Snapdragon 820 and even 821. Therefore, they delayed it – the 660th costs 2 times cheaper.
At the same time, it has a full set of functions of the older, yesterday (before the iPhone X) the most fashionable processor on the Snapdragon 835 market. Where is the catch?
In the video core. It is inferior even to the Adreno 520 from the Snapdragon 820. However, you can trust the tester – no one will notice this for another 3 years. In addition to synthetic tests, there is nothing to load such power with. Mine?
Interfaces and how they work
Because the Snapdragon 660 – a simplified version of 835, the smartphone supports all conceivable and inconceivable network protocols, interfaces, instructions. As usual, the 20th LTE band is blocked – this is such a “trick” of Xiaomi. Like trimming the operating frequencies of the iPhone.
But unlike any Apple smartphone, Mi Note 3 works on all networks, including new generation foreign CDMA. In general, it turned out to be an ideal smartphone for traveling abroad – it will work in all countries where there is a cellular connection. The exception is MTS in Russian villages on the periphery.
By the way, Bluetooth is the latest, version 5. With the support aptX and other cool audiophile codecs. There is no official aptX Losseless yet – but it will be.
And all because, according to its tradition, Xiaomi equipped Mi Note 3 with a separate audio codec. What? Not yet known. But the smartphone sounds no worse than the Meizu Pro 7, which has the coolest DAC and amplifier.
But there is no headphone jack. Comes with a tiny adapter. Xiaomi is following in the footsteps of Apple, pushing to buy branded headphones.
The smartphone comes with MIUI 8.5 and is readily updated to the latest version 9 of Xiaomi’s proprietary add-on. They are based on the proven Android 7.1.1. Interestingly, for the user of Xiaomi Mi Note 3, there are almost no visible differences.
In MIUI 9, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has a dual-window mode.
Both versions of the system have a similar interface, huge customization options and a bunch of chips, which you will read about in our review of MIUI 9. And, more importantly, both are equipped with the Face ID function.
Face ID from Xiaomi: first try
It works in the same way as on Apple smartphones. You set up a password or pattern, go to the appropriate tab and take a picture of your face. The picture is created for some time – the smartphone tells you how.
Face ID from Xiaomi works well, but for now it’s more like a test feature. Glasses interfere in 2 cases out of 10. Poor lighting – in 3. In the dark, of course, the chip does not work. But you can use. We will go into more detail in a separate article.
Camera: quick test
Mi Note 3 has the same main cameras as the main flagship of the company – Mi 6. This time everything is fair: not only the characteristics of the sensors are the same, but also the quality of their work.
The main rear camera is based on the sensor Sony IMX386 with optical stabilizer and f/1.8 aperture. At the heart of the additional is a sensor Samsung S5K3M3 with a wide-angle lens and increased light sensitivity. With their help, Note 3 implements:
- double zoom,
- improved color reproduction
- increased image clarity and contrast,
- bokeh effect.
All of them are hardware, and due to high-quality stabilization it allows you to take very good pictures. Even slightly better than the original Mi 6, which competes well with the iPhone 7 Plus.
The front camera uses a crazy 16 MP module. The Chinese love big selfies, there’s nothing to be done.
The pictures come out bright, clear, high-quality – but only in good lighting, since no one has canceled the need for a flash and high aperture.
The budget Redmi and Redmi Note have earned popularity, not least due to their capacious 4,000 mAh batteries. Xiaomi flagships cannot boast of this. The style obliges to a thin body – that’s why the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has a 3,500 mAh battery.
Many or few? Slightly smaller than Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X. If you use 2 SIM cards, LTE, Bluetooth – the smartphone easily shows 10 hours of screen operation at an average backlight level. For comparison, Redmi Note 4X in similar conditions works for about 13 hours.
Similar results became possible thanks to the new economical architecture of the processor. It also provides fast charging according to the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 standard, with which the smartphone battery is charged in just 1 hour 10 minutes from scratch. Appropriate charger included – this is not the iPhone 8!
I test almost all new Chinese smartphones. Most of them are similar to each other, and do not cause any feelings.
But I really liked Xiaomi Mi Note 3. Black glass, blued metal, a minimum of protruding elements – stylish, catchy. The shape of the smartphone provides the most comfortable grip. And these are not the only advantages.
The smartphone always remains cold, even when running “heavy” applications or games. Still – the processor works with an enviable margin, which is enough for a couple of years with any development of Android applications.
The work of the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 communication module, unlike most Chinese, does not cause any complaints. The system has diagnostic modules that allow you to analyze the operation of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in real time. Really convenient for those who are in the subject!
Speaking of Mi Note 3, one cannot fail to mention the sound quality. As the main one, I use the musical ZTE Axon 7 with two powerful speakers and excellent audio decoupling. After listening to the new Xiaomi, I first thought about replacing it – its sound (in headphones and through the speaker) is louder, richer, brighter.
I won’t say anything about the camera this time. She is cool and worthy of a detailed study, which I will introduce you to. If I call it “the best in Chinese smartphones”, I won’t be mistaken.
Despite the strange positioning and the choice of a budget platform, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has become a successful continuation of the flagship line. We don’t buy a smartphone for synthetic tests, do we?
Xiaomi Mi Note 3 perfectly copes with all the tasks of modern smartphones. Copes quickly, efficiently, without brakes and system lags.
Perhaps the most serious drawback of Mi Note 3 was the high price. For the variant with 6 GB of RAM and 64 permanent memory, you will have to pay $ 350, the modification of 6/128 GB will cost only $ 10 more.
There are many competitors in this price range. For example, a very similar Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6s Plus. Each of them is interesting in its own way. Xiaomi can offer a well-designed MIUI and serious autonomy – much higher than its peers. And excellent multimedia capabilities – the Mi 6 camera only loses to the iPhone X and Samsung S8.
What will you choose?
Like the iPhone, only cooler: black glass, no bugs, dual camera and Face ID!
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