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Xiaomi Mi Note 2 vs Samsung S7 edge: curvy flagships fight it out

|October 27, 2016 |Samsung, Xiaomi, Comparisons

Samsung’s woes, Xiaomi’s gain. At least that what one can infer from the launch of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2. A flagship device from Xiaomi that was squarely built to take on the Samsung Galaxy Note7 (first impressions). But wait, the Note7 is now defunct, so Xiaomi has its road all clear.

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The only device that competes in the Mi Note 2’s territory with a dual curved display is the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. It’s worth noting that after the ‘Blast gate’ incident, the Korean electronics firm has offered replacements for existing Galaxy Note7 users in the form of either the S7 (review) or S7 edge (review). This would in turn help bolster shipment figures for Samsung. However, it seems that the battery woes aren’t ready to leave Samsung so early; as reports of their Galaxy S7 Edge catching fire has gone viral on the web. So, Xiaomi couldn't have chosen a better time to unveil its flagship Mi Note 2. Nevertheless, let's pit the two devices side by side and find out how they fare.

Design

Xiaomi has taken design cues from their flagship Mi 5 while building its top-of-the-line phablet. The Mi Note 2 features a 3D curved front and rear that comes covered by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on either side. Just for the sake of comparison, the Xiaomi Mi 5 sports a 3D curved glass only on the rear of the device. The frame of the Mi Note 2 is made out of an aluminum alloy that bears the capacitive buttons as well as the USB Type-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

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Incidentally, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 at 7.6mm is slightly slimmer than the 7.7mm profile of the Galaxy S7 edge. At the rear of the smartphone, lies the primary camera that sits flush under the Gorilla Glass panel. The rear shooter is also accompanied by a true tone LED flash. Up front, the Mi Note 2 boasts a rectangular home button that comes with a fingerprint scanner.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge on the other hand, sports a metal unibody design that’s covered by a layer of glass on either side. The design language is, in fact, characteristic of almost all Samsung flagship products that are currently available in the market. That said, the rear camera module of the phone juts out slightly, thereby making it vulnerable to scratches. In fact, it’s quite even stevens in terms of design between the Mi Note 2 and the Galaxy S7 edge. However, there’s one major area where the flagship from Samsung succeeds to edge out its competitor from China. Unlike the Mi Note 2, the Galaxy S7 edge comes with an IP68 water cum dust proof certification. This means that the phone can survive in 1.5m deep water for a period of 30 minutes.
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Display

There’s no doubt that flagship smartphones from Samsung have always had the best display in any smartphone. The Super AMOLED panels which the company uses in their high-end devices reproduce punchy colours with amazing contrast and the same is applicable for the S7 edge. The phablet makes use of a 5.5-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440p) AMOLED panel that curves on both sides thereby giving it an infinity feel of sorts. The dual-curved display can also be seen on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, however, the only difference being in the resolution and the size of the panel. Unlike Samsung's offering, the Mi Note 2 packs a 5.7-inch dual edged Full HD (1920x1080p) AMOLED display. Both the displays come with Gorilla Glass 4 protection.

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Xiaomi however, has baked in an Apple-like Force Touch feature onto its flagship device. The Chinese firm is referring to it as 3D Touch. Here, the display responds to various degrees of pressure and functions differently in different cases. Xiaomi has seemingly tweaked its MIUI 8 interface too to make use of this new feature. That said, this isn’t the first time the company has included a 3D Touch feature on its smartphone. The Xiaomi Mi 5s 4GB RAM / 128GB variant was the first device from the Chinese firm to rock this new hardware feature. 
Besides, it’s also worth noting that the Samsung S7 edge has a higher screen-to-body ratio of 76.1 percent despite sporting a markedly smaller display. It also comes with a unique always-on display technology wherein the display panel shows the time and notification in a black and white mode, every time your hand reaches the device or you take it out from the pocket.

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Performance

Talking in terms of the raw specs sheet, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is indeed the more powerful of the two. It packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip which apparently is the latest and the greatest chip from the leading chipset manufacturer. The SD821, in fact, is a slightly modified version of the much popular SD820 that has found its way to a number of flagship devices of 2016 including the Xiaomi Mi 5, OnePlus 3, and LG G5, among others. Basically, the SD821 boasts of a two clusters of cores – 2 x 2.35GHz Kryo + 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo) and an Adreno 530 GPU that’s clocked marginally higher than the one on the SD820.

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The India-specific variant of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge packs an Exynos 889 octa-core processor that comes with four 2.3GHz Mongoose and four 1.6GHz Cortex A53 cores. This is again mated with Mali T880 MP12 GPU. While this chip from Samsung gave a respectable fight to the SD820, it’s expected to lose out with the SD821. That aside, the use of a full HD display in place of QHD definitely gives an edge to the Xiaomi Mi Note 2.

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Coming to multitasking both the smartphone come with 4GB RAM on the inside. However, the global variant of the Mi Note 2 features 6GB RAM under the hood, thus placing it in the elite league consisting of OnePlus 3, LeEco Le 3 Pro etc.

Software and Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Xiaomi Mi Note 2 both run Android Marshmallow 6.0. However, due to custom skins, the UI of the duo are strikingly different. While the Galaxy S7 edge runs the company’s own TouchWiz UI on top, the Mi Note 2 from Xiaomi has MIUI 8. The latter lacks an app drawer and offers a number of nifty features that distinguishes itself from many Chinese ROMs available in the market.

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Connectivity-wise, both the smartphones support dual SIMs. However, it’s the Samsung that offers a microSD card slot thanks to the hybrid SIM slot (nano + nano / microSD) implementation. Thus expanding the 64GB internal memory of the S7 edge isn’t really a pain. That said, what the Mi Note 2 misses out in terms of microSD, it makes up for in internal memory department. It has a 128GB internal storage variant which should be pretty sufficient to take care of all your storage needs.

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The rest of the connectivity features are similar on both phones. These include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 A2DP, A-GPS, GLONASS, and NFC. This NFC, when used in tandem with the fingerprint sensor, can be utilised for mobile payments using either Mi Pay or Samsung Pay. In an interesting addition, Xiaomi has added a Virtual SIM feature on the Mi Note 2 which will come in handy for Chinese users while traveling abroad. The company is also touting LTE speeds of up to 6000Mbps (download) and a 3x carrier integration.

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Storage and Battery

Both the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge are available in two storage variants. While the former comes in either 64GB and 128GB internal storage versions, the latter comes in only 32GB and 64GB versions. It’s also worth noting that the 128GB of Mi Note 2 comes with 6GB RAM while both the 32GB and 64GB variants of Galaxy S7 edge come with 4GB RAM. Besides, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge supports microSD cards up to 256GB, thereby helping you to expand storage just in case you need it.
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In the battery department, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 gains a decisive lead over the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. Despite sporting a slimmer profile, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 packs a 4,070mAh battery as compared to the 3,600mAh one found in the S7 edge. Besides, the higher resolution display of the S7 edge is expected to drain the battery faster, thereby resulting in a markedly lower on screen time for the Samsung. That said, both batteries are non-removable and support fast charging. Samsung claims that its Galaxy S7 edge can be charged from zero to 60 percent in just half an hour. The Mi Note 2 on the other hand, comes with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and can allegedly be charged up to 83 percent during the same period. It’s worth noting that both phones use USB Type-C for charging.

Camera

The camera is one area where the Samsung S7 edge has remained the king of the segment so far. It uses the 12MP f/1.7 rear shooter that makes use of a custom ISOCELL camera module. Underneath the hood though, the Korean electronics firm makes use of a Sony IMX260 sensor. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 on the other hand, sports a 22.56 MP f/2.0 rear camera utilising a Sony IMX318 Exmor RS. It however, misses out on OIS found on the Galaxy S7 edge. Instead, it makes use of a three-axis gyroscope for stabilizing the footage; an implementation similar to the one on the Google Pixel.

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Up front, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 makes use of an 8MP Sony IMX268 Exmor RS sensor that useful for clicking wide angle selfies. The Samsung Galaxy S7 in comparison, comes with 5MP f/1.7 front camera with support for dual video call and Auto HDR.

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Pricing and availability

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is now available for pre-orders in China with the first round of shipments scheduled to take place on the first week of November. As mentioned earlier the flagship phablet from Xiaomi is available in two variants – 4GB RAM / 64GB storage at RMB 2,799 (approximately Rs 28,000) and 6GB RAM / 128GB storage at RMB 3,299 (roughly Rs 33,000) These are however China-specific models as the global variant with support for a total of 47 network bands is priced at RMB 3,499 (approximately Rs 35.000)

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Samsung Galaxy S7 edge retails in India at Rs 50,900 for the 4GB RAM / 32GB model. Incidentally, Samsung hasn’t brought the 64GB variant to India.

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge are nearly similar when it comes to their core specs. While the Samsung S7 edge boasts a QHD display, tried and tested cameras, and an impeccable brand repute, the Mi Note 2 features a more powerful processor, higher RAM, bigger battery, and faster charging time. Besides, the most important factor is the price. Even the flagship 6GB RAM/128GB variant of the smartphone is way cheaper than the S7 edge. 
However, the patchy availability of Xiaomi products may be an issue for some as the smartphone isn’t set to hit Indian shores anytime soon, and that's a bummer.



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