At an event in China last week, Xiaomi took the covers off its long awaited flagship, the i 5i 6. The smartphone is among the first to utilise the Snapdragon 835 SoC, the same chipset powering Samsung’s enviable Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ (first impressions) duo. While Xiaomi hasn’t clarified if and when it plans to launch the Mi 6 in India, we got the chance to spend some quality time with the device. Read on for an unboxing and our first impressions.
The Xiaomi Mi 6 unit we used was the Ceramic variant, and unlike the regular glass back variants this one comes in a black box compared to the usual white. Inside the box, you’ll find the smartphone, some documentation, a SIM ejector tool, two-pin wall charger and USB Type-C charging cable.
The Mi 6 doesn’t feature a 3.5mm audio jack, relying on the Type-C port instead. While you’ll have to purchase compatible headphones separately, Xiaomi has included a small Type-C to 3.5mm converter so you can use your existing headphones with the device. Lastly, you also get a slim, flexible TPU case in the box.
Moving on to the phone, the first thing we noticed about the Ceramic variant was how heavy and solid it feels in the hand. The Mi 6 features rounded corners and a back panel that’s curved on all four sides. This adds a nice touch, but compared side by side with the Mi 5 (review), it’s not very different. The black Ceramic finish is polished to a highly glossy, reflective sheen that not only makes it very slippery, but also extremely prone to picking up smudges. It’s a big relief to snap on the bundled case, even though it takes away from the beauty of the phone.
The back panel is also where you’ll find the Mi 6’s most notable addition – dual cameras. On the Ceramic edition they sport 18k gold rims which adds a classy touch. As you might have guessed, Xiaomi’s taken (liberal) inspiration from the iPhone 7 Plus, with two 12MP cameras – one wide-angle and one telephoto. The wide-angle camera features a 27mm lens, 4-axis OIS and f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto lens offers 2x optical zoom. The cameras are also capable of taking photos in ‘Portrait mode’, just like the iPhone 7 Plus. This basically keeps the subject in frame and softens the background. We took several test shots with the Mi 6 cameras, and the Portrait mode in particular was very impressive, delivering results that are comparable to the iPhone 7 Plus. You can check out our Mi 6 camera samples to get a better idea. The back panel is also where you’ll find the Mi logo, and thankfully, it doesn’t make its way to the front panel, leaving the facade much cleaner than previous Xiaomi phones.
The front of the Mi 6 is nothing remarkable – you get a 5.15-inch display which is the same size as the Mi 5. With full HD resolution, the display is sharp enough with vivid colours and good brightness levels. Above the display you’ll find the sensors and 8MP front camera, which turns out well-balanced selfies with natural skin tones.
Below the screen you’ll find the integrated home button and fingerprint sensor, which is now a capacitive button that sits under the glass. The power button and volume rocker are located on the right spine, while the ejectable tray for the SIM cards are on the left. Up top you’ll find a secondary microphone and IR blaster, while below you’ll find the stereo speakers and USB Type-C port.
While the Mi 6 might seem like an evolutionary upgrade from the outside, inside it packs a punch with its Snapdragon 835 SoC and 6GB RAM. There are both 64GB and 128GB storage variants on offer, with the Ceramic variant only available with the latter. The battery on board is a 3,350mAh unit which supports Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0. Our demo unit was the Chinese version running MIUI 8 atop Android Nougat.
After looking at what Samsung and LG have achieved with their latest flagships, the Mi 6 can seem a bit underwhelming at first – especially when you look at the design. But then again, it packs in some solid horsepower and accomplished cameras for less than half their asking price, so we can’t really complain.