Decent filling, excellent display, convenient gadget format for consuming content on the road – and this at a price of $200. I’ll try to figure out if Xiaomi Mi Max really offers the most for its money.

How I got sick with microplates

In 2013, Sony inadvertently created a new category of devices called microtablets. Since then, a couple of worthy but expensive alternatives to the Xperia Z Ultra have emerged, including the 6.8-inch Huawei P8max. A good gadget, but after a long conversation with the Huawei MediaPad X1, I was afraid to contact the “Chinese” again. There were a number of annoying nuances in the proprietary shell, which could not be removed due to the almost complete absence of alternative firmware.

I note that since 2007 I have had an iPhone as my main smartphone. Only generations have changed. It’s currently the iPhone 6s Plus, before that it was the iPhone 6 Plus. As a backup gadget, I always tried to take something on Android – a joy for the gadget-manic soul, plus an alternative OS is sometimes required for work.

Having worked with Samsung smartphones for a long time, I decided to try the exotic in the face of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. First of all, I was impressed by the convenient size specifically for consuming content on the road – watching movies, YouTube, surfing the web, reading. But there were disadvantages, such as a washable oleophobic coating, a mediocre camera, no flash and a weak speaker.

I continued my search for the perfect companion for the iPhone and tried the Huawei MediaPad X1 – good, but worse for video due to a different aspect ratio (16:10 vs. 16:9), plus brakes due to the poor adaptation of Android to the old generation of proprietary Kirin processors, and even the above-mentioned features of the Emotion UI proprietary shell.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S was purchased next, which pleased with a chic display, but frustrated with poor autonomy and wild battery consumption in standby mode (up to 30–50% per night). It was possible to get confused with alternative firmware, but such a desire did not arise. And the size turned out to be too big, you can’t put it in a waist bag.

As a result, Samsung’s flagship tablet found a new owner, and I continued to experiment with the more compact One Plus One and Nexus 6 models. Great devices, and the latter is still in stock, but more often at home than traveling with me. It will soon become the wife’s main phone, as the old Nexus 4 began to fail.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that when using a 5.5-inch iPhone as the main smartphone, there is not much point in having an Android phone with the same diagonal display in my case. Yes, this is a container for a second SIM card, but no more. The iPhone handles the rest of the functions – watching movies, surfing the web, social networks. No new experiences.

I wanted wider functionality and here I remembered the experience with Xperia Z Ultra. Comparing it with other models tested over three years, I realized that this format is the ideal Android companion for the iPhone. Compact enough to take up minimal space in any, even a waist bag, while the display diagonal is very comfortable for watching videos, surfing the web and other Internet activities. Plus, it works well with the Google on-screen keyboard with two hands in any display orientation (typing on the road, mail, replying to comments, social networks, etc.).

As it turned out, now there are many cool alternatives to the old man from Sony. Among them Xiaomi Mi Max, Huawei Honor Note 8 and ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra. So far, only the first one is available for free sale, and I have long wanted to feel the gadgets of this company and the MIUI proprietary shell. Which, in fact, he did. I share my impressions.

Not for all

For the role of the main phone, monster phones with a display diagonal of more than six inches are suitable only for a small group of users who clearly understand the nuances of working with these gadgets. I tried to use the Xperia Z Ultra in this mode and for a long time I was not enough. And the operating experience of Xiaomi Mi Max only reminded me of those impressions.

At first, enthusiasm boils with a sincere belief that you will get used to the size, and the tablet phone will easily replace both a full-fledged tablet and a phone. That is, you will not need to carry two devices with you. But this is only until the moment when you need to put it in your jeans pocket, and there is no way to take a bag with you.

The second point is the use of the phone with one hand. Even with 5.5-inch devices, there are difficulties and suffering. Without fear of dropping your smartphone, you can only do the simplest operations, such as calling a selected contact (3D Touch rules here). But not more. Such manipulations with a 6.5-inch phone are fraught with its fall and sad consequences. Or damage to the joints of the fingers.

Here it is worth remembering a cool Xiaomi chip with a decrease in the active screen area from 3.5 to 4.5 inches at the user’s choice (configurable in the options). He swiped the Home button to the right or left, and the picture shrank to the selected size, moving in the appropriate direction. In part, this should solve the problem of using a smartphone with one hand in a situation where “urgently needed”. In practice, the smartphone tends to fall out already at the moment when you try, holding it with one hand, to perform the mentioned gesture.

But the fingerprint scanner on the back for quick unlocking of a large smartphone is very convenient, but I will talk about this a little later.

I hope the rose-colored glasses fell off potential users. Now you can discuss directly the gadget itself.

Tricky Specifications

Mi Max has an interesting feature in the filling – the same model can be equipped with different amounts of RAM and processor cores. Only Huawei was naughty with the first in the past, but the shamanism with the cores is the know-how from Xiaomi.

In particular, there are available on the market following device configuration options:

  • 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Qualcomm MSM8956 Snapdragon 650 6-core processor (two Cortex-A72 1.8 GHz and four Cortex-A53 1.4 GHz, GPU Adreno 510);
  • 3 GB RAM, 32 GB flash, Qualcomm MSM8956 Snapdragon 650 6-core processor (two Cortex-A72 1.8 GHz and four Cortex-A53 1.4 GHz, GPU Adreno 510);
  • 3 GB RAM, 64 GB flash, Qualcomm MSM8976 Snapdragon 652 octa-core (four Cortex-A72 1.8 GHz and four Cortex-A53 1.4 GHz, Adreno 510 GPU);
  • 4 GB RAM, 128 GB flash, Qualcomm MSM8976 Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor (four Cortex-A72 1.8 GHz and four Cortex-A53 1.4 GHz, GPU Adreno 510).

The rest of the specifications are the same:

  • Display: 6.44 inches, 1920×1080 resolution, 342 ppi, Gorilla Glass 3, 420 cd/m2 brightness, 950:1 contrast ratio, 91% sRGB color gamut.
  • Net: GSM, HSDPA, LTE (FDD-LTE 1, 3, 7), dual SIM support (microSIM, nanoSIM), 4G+ and VoLTE support.
  • microSD slot (combined with nanoSIM slot, supports cards up to 128 GB, FAT32).
  • Interfaces: Wi-Fi (ac/b/g/n) Dual-Band, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, microUSB for charging/synchronization, 3.5 mm audio jack, infrared port.
  • cameras: main – 16 MP with autofocus and flash, f / 2.0; front – 5 MP, f / 2.0.
  • Navigation: GPS (there is support for A-GPS), Glonass.
  • Sensors: fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensors.
  • Battery: 4850 mAh, there is support for Quick Charge 3.0 (80% charge in 30 minutes).
  • Dimensions: 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5 mm.
  • The weight: 203

What does it really mean

According to the actual speed of the processor Snapdragon 650/652 comparable to Snapdragon 810, which was in most of last year’s flagships, including HTC One M9, Sony Xperia Z5, Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. That is, this performance is more than enough for any needs of ordinary citizens.

Personally, in this regard, the device suits me more than. By the way, I took an average model with 3/64 GB RAM / Flash and an 8-core Snapdragon 652. There are no complaints about interface lags or incomprehensible delays when launching applications and switching between them, which is often observed in Nexus 6 (Snapdragon 805). The browser works great, social networking and Gmail clients fly, watching Full HD videos in MX Player is great (also thanks to the large display).

Moreover, for those who like to play, the capabilities of a smartphone are also enough. Especially against the background of the fact that the screen resolution is Full HD, not 2K. Returning to the comparison, the Adreno 510 video chip is about 50% behind the Adreno 430 in the Snapdragon 810, but is comparable in speed to the popular Mali-T880 (the one found in Huawei flagships like the Mate 8).

For example, a graphically loaded Hearthstone flies, while on the Nexus 6 it slows down fiercely. One of the best modern scrolling shooters Sky Force Reloaded works well. Beautiful and high-quality Xenowerk functions smoothly, no worse than on the iPhone 6s Plus.

I draw your attention to the fact that we are talking about a model with 3 GB of RAM. There is a basic version with 2 GB – I do not recommend it for purchase. If you do not notice much difference in the speed of the processor, then the lack of memory may be felt. The fact is that in my scheme of operation, 700-800 MB of RAM are usually free, that is, the device easily used more than 2 GB of memory, although no more than 5-6 applications are running in the background (browser, social network clients, YouTube).

Display – one of the most important components, since it is on its contemplation that we spend most of the time when interacting with a smartphone. Xiaomi Mi Max is fine with that. The picture is smooth (corresponds to the canons of Retina), the color reproduction is good, there is no blockage in warm or cold shades, comparable to the iPhone 6s Plus. At the same time, the colors are slightly more juicy, and the black level in complete darkness is better than that of the Apple flagship. Glow is almost imperceptible when using auto brightness.

It’s a good display, but don’t expect miracles. For example, it glares more than the screen of the iPhone 6s Plus or the latest Samsung flagships. In the conditions of room lighting, the brightness is enough, but on the street, and on a sunny day, it is inferior to the flagship models. Although even under direct sunlight, the screen remains readable. Working with it in complete darkness is also comfortable, the minimum brightness level is impressive.


iPhone 6s Plus, Mi Max, Nexus 6

Auto brightness works average. It adapts quite quickly when you come out of the darkness into the light, but in the opposite direction – slowly. So, when I start reading in the dark, for the first 20 seconds the phone shines like a flashlight, and then it sharply reduces the brightness to a comfortable level.

Sound — there are no complaints on all fronts. In particular, the speaker is loud enough for any conditions (even a noisy street) and you don’t need to aim it at your ear during a conversation. There is only one external speaker, located on the lower edge on the left, moderately loud and bassy, ​​at maximum volume it does not wheeze, but without revelations. It does not reach the level of the iPhone 6s Plus, but it does not cause negative emotions either. For games and videos on YouTube, it is enough. By the way, the same Nexus 6 is inferior in terms of the quality of the acoustics – it is less bassy and breaks into wheezing at maximum volume, but there is also a plus due to the stereo and two speakers.

There are no revelations about the 3.5 mm audio jack, except for a set of equalizer presets for Xiaomi branded headphones. I use Poweramp with my own very decent EQ, so adjusting the sound is not a problem. Again, without revelations – an average audio path capable of pumping any headphones with reasonable resistance (up to 32 ohms). I myself switched to Bluetooth headphones, so I don’t bother with wired ones.

Telephone part and microphones work great. The interlocutor hears me well, similarly, I hear him. The phone keeps a decent signal and the reception quality is comparable to the iPhone 6s Plus.

Opportunities built-in cameras enough to shoot some documents, or create good photos and selfies in very good lighting conditions (street, sun). During the day in more or less normal conditions of room lighting is also ok. But when there is not enough light, then the result will be sad. This is a normal situation for most mid-range Android smartphones. Personally, this moment does not bother me, since the main smartphone is the iPhone 6s Plus, and everything is in order with the camera.

The advantages of the camera can only be attributed to a rich set of settings and effects, like fisheye. Quickly called by swipes.


Sample photos, the fifth one was taken by the front camera, the last two are screenshots of the interface

Case Mi Max mostly made of aluminum, only top and bottom plastic inserts. Due to the tapering edges, it seems even thinner than it actually is, although there are no frills in the design. The camera protrudes a little beyond the body, and the transition between the plastic overlays and metal is a little rougher than we would like. But this is noticeable with direct tactile contact and does not bother you in everyday use.

The display is covered with Gorilla Glass 3 and it is rounded around the edges, but the so-called 2.5D effect is minimal and not as noticeable as in the iPhone 6 and even in the Nexus 6. Nevertheless, it is on topic.

I especially liked the hardware controls: the power button and the volume rocker do not hang out, they sit solidly, the click is clear and moderately hard. There were never any accidental clicks.


The phone is solidly built.. The creaks of plastic inserts, which some smartphone owners complained about in thematic discussion threads, I did not notice in my copy.

I would like to highlight fingerprint scannerlocated on the rear panel. Works instantly and with 100% accuracy. I didn’t even expect such speed from the scanner in a mid-range Android phone. In addition, its work is implemented very well, plus there is support in third-party software (for example, in 1Password and also at the system level).

The battery is mighty, but, most importantly, the software is perfectly adapted and there is no unnecessary energy consumption in standby mode. For two days of very active use, the battery is enough easily. And if you do not use it very actively, then for three days. At an average brightness level, you can expect 12-13 hours of video playback, more than 8 hours of gaming or more than 15 hours of work in reading mode. Contribute to autonomy and flexible settings for energy saving (cleaning RAM on a schedule, turning off certain modules in standby mode or if the charge is less than a certain percentage, etc.).

From other hardware features I liked the presence of the notification LED to the right of the front camera – it is invisible when it is turned off. Notifies you of new notifications (blinking blue) and charging status (less than 80% – solid amber, more than 80% – green).

There is also IR port to control household appliances – a trifle, but nice. Especially in conjunction with the proprietary Mi Remote utility, with which I connected the smartphone to the LG TV in the living room in just 30 seconds.

Finally, I draw your attention to the support of two SIM-cards (both can be 3G or LTE). The only pity is that one of the slots is combined with microSD and this is nanoSIM. I had to look for an adapter from nano to microSIM in order to install my SIM from Nexus 6 and a memory card. But it’s better to have a second slot than not to have one.

There is one feature associated with microSD – although cards up to 128 GB inclusive are supported, it is only in FAT32 format, that is, you cannot write a file larger than 4 GB. For example, Samsung smartphones and tablets can handle progressive exFAT without any problems.

Operating experience and software

Smartphone running OS Android 6.0.1 and branded shell MIUI 7.4. For junior models based on the Snapdragon 650 processor, global firmware with MIUI 8 is already available, but for variants with Snapdragon 652, the company promises to release it only in September.

The device obviously came to me with custom firmware, since there is no official global one for it even on the basis of MIUI 7, only Chinese. Nevertheless, the software works stably, and so far there are no complaints, except for the fact that I will have to change it to the global firmware by hand and by wire, and not by air and in automatic mode. Well, at the same time I will test the Mi Cloud backup and synchronization system.

Even before the purchase of Xiaomi Mi Max, there were concerns about proprietary software – Chinese shells are too far from the Android interface design principles professed by Google. Too radical, which I felt especially keenly while using the Huawei MediaPad X1: a strong bias under iOS, strictly square (and crooked) icons, the overall “heaviness” of the interface in visual terms, a lot of security problems, to the point that applications cannot display the window on the screen on top of the main UI, etc. But in the case of MIUI, the fears turned out to be in vain, and I understood why people praise this shell so much, often using Root access to install it on third-party smartphones.

In general, MIUI pleasantly surprised on all fronts. One can feel the great work of the Xiaomi team and taking into account the wishes of users. So, I personally wanted to see many of the implemented functions on other devices that were in operation. For example, the ability to temporarily disable the touch buttons, which can be accidentally pressed during the game. Here it is implemented from the quick settings curtain. To activate the buttons again, just double-click on Home.

Or how conveniently the flash is implemented in flashlight mode: it is activated through the notification curtain, a click on the power buttons turns off the screen, a second click on it turns off the flashlight. In other Android smartphones, including the Nexus, to turn off the flashlight, you need to open the notification shade and click on the corresponding icon (and before that, press the power button if the screen has gone dark).

The corporate task manager pleased no less. Firstly, there is a display in the form of application icons or thumbnails, which changes with a pinch gesture. Secondly, you can block this or that application in the manager so that it does not close when the memory is forced to clear (click on the cross at the bottom of the screen). Just drag the icon or thumbnail down and release. Plus, I like the classic card-like display instead of the cascade from Android 5+ a lot more. Somehow it is more functional and convenient.

Of the other pleasant things, which are actually a lot in MIUI, I want to pay attention to the convenient desktop setup. You can collect all the icons on different desktops in the buffer below and then unload them in bulk to the desired folder, and not drag them one by one through all the screens. A good flexible system for setting up notifications, up to activating or disabling the display of icons in the status bar.

I am delighted with the work of the fingerprint scanner, when with one touch you immediately get to the desktop or to the screen of the application that was activated before clicking on the power button. It is also useful when using the phone with one hand. Activating it through the scanner in this mode with one hand is easy – the index finger itself rests on the sensor panel when you take the smartphone in your palm. That is, I took the device out of the bag, one touch and now you are already continuing to read in AlReader or Pocket (swiping with the volume buttons in these applications also helps a lot in one-handed mode).

The MIUI interface itself is light, nimble, with a good selection of transition effects between desktops, widgets (I really liked the calculator, to-do list and calendar) and the ability to change the theme. There is a theme and wallpaper store.

The proprietary utility deserves special mention. security. In this regard, I have always liked the approach of Chinese manufacturers that supply their smartphones with ready-made solutions for protecting against viruses and a set of utilities for cleaning and optimizing the gadget.

In this case, an antivirus, application rights management services (autorun, permissions for certain actions), RAM and drive cleaning, traffic monitoring, a blacklist, an autonomy optimizer and a utility for protecting access to applications using a fingerprint scanner are collected in one place. Yes, yes, any program is easy to block from curious citizens.


Also liked “Children’s mode”, when you yourself determine which applications are available to the child in it. The youngest son often asks for a smartphone on the road to play if the adults are minding their own business, and he is bored. Naturally, a child can call, and launch an application that he should not run, and mess up in the settings. In the “Children’s mode” this problem is solved in the bud: the baby has an empty desktop available, on which there are icons of allowed applications, that’s all. To exit it, you need a parent’s fingerprint or enter a code if you do not use the scanner.

Of the minuses Faced with the fact that you can not install live wallpaper. Or rather, they are installed and even launched, but it is worth blocking the smartphone, unlocking it and that’s it – a static picture returns.

The second caveat is that the Google Now On Tap function does not work yet. This is the one that, by long tapping on the Home button, scans the contents of the screen and gives out related tips (how to get to a cafe, transport schedule, translate the text on the screen, etc.). Can’t say it bothers me a lot. On the Nexus 6, I only used it a couple of times, but this is the case.

The rest is a solid positive. The smartphone works smartly, the interface is pleasant, easily adaptable to my needs and much more functional than the “naked” Android on Nexus gadgets. I would also add Xiaomi an option so that application icons do not fit into a square with rounded corners, and in general beauty. By the way, such a feature appeared in the Samsung Grace TouchWiz UI, which debuted in the Galaxy Note 7.

Do not forget that the release of MIUI 8 is on the way, in which a lot of pleasant little things and innovations appeared. With a strong desire, custom firmware with a new interface can be installed now, but I will wait for the global and official one with updates over the air.

What is the result. The device perfectly replaced the Nexus 6, while I got a smarter smartphone with an ideal display size for any content consumption, whether it’s watching videos, reading, surfing the web, social networks, etc. Naturally, I filled it with videos (which is facilitated by 64 GB own memory + 64 GB microSD) and everything you need to keep busy in any situation.

Now I give it to my child without fear, in the belief that he will not arrange a local Armageddon. I carry it with me everywhere and always, plus this is a personal alarm clock and a bedside gadget. If there was a bedside table nearby, I would use the iPad Pro, but there is no bedside table, and it is not convenient to place the tablet near the pillow.

To whom I recommend Xiaomi Mi Max

  • Anyone who is looking for a relatively inexpensive, but productive small tablet with a SIM slot. Mi Max has everything you need. Without compromise and for very modest money.
  • Those who want to get a truly universal smartphone to replace the phone and tablet, to carry only one device with them. Just be prepared for its size and the fact that it is almost impossible to work with it with one hand. Plus a rather mediocre camera.
  • For those who are looking for a replacement for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. The hero of the review is more compact (not so wide bezels), has a better display and a very pleasant and highly customizable interface.


In fact, at the current cost of Xiaomi Mi Max from $200 before $380 (depending on the model) he has no real competitors among monster phones. But several interesting alternatives of this format nevertheless appeared.

Yes, recently announced Huawei Honor Note 8. It is distinguished by a 6.6-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2K (1440 × 2560 pixels, 443 ppi), but the size increased by 0.16 inches is offset by the fact that the Android system buttons are on-screen, not hardware. How good the color reproduction is is also a question. In the Nexus 6, the display is very yellow, and in the Huawei Nexus 6p, which supposedly has a high-quality Samsung AMOLED matrix, analogous to that in the Galaxy Note 4, it somehow turned out to be not a fountain.

The processor is slightly more productive (by about 20%), but the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU is similar to the Adreno 510 in terms of speed. Add here the increased resolution compared to Mi Max and you will only get a minus in gaming performance. And the quality of driver adaptation in proprietary HiSilicon Kirin 955 chips still leaves much to be desired.

But the camera is definitely better, judging by eyewitness reviews, the assembly is better, the design is a little more interesting, although the dimensions are larger (3 mm wider and 5 mm higher, but 0.3 mm thinner), and the battery is less capacious (4500 mAh) . The price also matters. The younger model Huawei Honor Note 8 (32 GB of memory, 4 GB of RAM) will cost the same money as the older Mi Max (128 GB of memory, 4 GB of RAM).

The second modern alternative is ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra. It is very similar in characteristics (memory, processor), but it has a larger display (6.8 inches, Full HD), a better camera module and NFC. The price is much higher (+$150 for a similar configuration). I personally would vote for Xiaomi with a ruble. But I’m happy to look at alternatives.

In the dry matter

Xiaomi Mi Max is undeniably good, but you should treat the company’s devices with a healthy dose of skepticism. To do this, I propose to read the sobering article by Nikita Goryainov, and in many respects I agree with him.

Firstly, quality control for Xiaomi, Meizu and other popular “Chinese” is simpler, except that Huawei holds the bar in its flagships and midrangers. Often, buying a gadget turns into a lottery, although I was lucky with Xiaomi Mi Max. And there are comrades who are not so lucky. For some, the display falls into cold colors (“blue”), for others, the illumination of the touch buttons is uneven (the “menu” key almost does not glow), for others, the plastic panels creak.

Don’t forget about software support. Everything is fine as long as the smartphone is new. But will there be an official firmware based on Android 7 for Mi Max? I’m not sure.

Be that as it may, but at the moment, among the monster phones, the hero has no competitors in terms of price / quality. I am personally satisfied with it and for the next six months I definitely calmed down with Android smartphones. Yes, I would like to feel the Galaxy Note 7, but, as I wrote above, I don’t see the point in a diagonally identical smartphone as a companion for the iPhone 6s Plus. If I decide to change the main mobile platform, then I will pay attention to the Korean flagships. These are really worthy devices, albeit with their own “cockroaches”, such as problems with autonomy and “zhor” energy in standby mode.

1 stars2 stars3 stars4 stars5 stars (one votes, overall rating: 4.00 out of 5)
Do you want more? Subscribe to our Telegram.

FavoriteLoading To bookmarks


Decent filling, excellent display, convenient gadget format for consuming content on the road – and this at a price of $200. I’ll try to figure out if Xiaomi Mi Max really offers the most for its money. How I got microplate sick In 2013, Sony inadvertently created a new category of devices called microplates. Since then, a couple of worthy but expensive alternatives have emerged…

  • Before

    EU authorities want to read Whatsapp, Telegram and iMessage users

  • After

    SkidOS for August 23rd. 3 games and 6 applications