When Xiaomi released the Mi Max in India, many of us raised our eyebrows at the notion of a 6.44-inch display device that stretched palms and trouser pockets, in an era where devices were trying to slim down and get more compact. A year down the line, the phone remains in a ‘phablet’y zone of its own, with an audience that simply adores the real estate that it offers (or so the company claims). And now its successor has arrived in the market.
And at the very first glance, the Mi Max 2 seems cut from a very different cloth as compared to its predecessor. Yes, it sports a display of a similar 6.44-inch size, but just the difference in design is reminiscent of that between the Redmi Note 3 and the Redmi Note 4. Only in the opposite direction. While the Redmi Note 4 had ditched the Note 3’s curvy design in favor of straighter edges and a slightly more boxy look, the Mi Max 2 steps away from the slightly boxy look of the Mi Max and brings on the curves. It looks a lot more sleek and smooth than its predecessor ever did, and in its black avatar (the one we have received for review) is guaranteed to turn a few heads and is an all-metal affair.
The odd part is that even though it is much sleeker and more stylishly designed than its predecessor, it is also actually slightly – ever so slightly – larger and heavier. While the Mi Max had proportions of 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5 mm and tipped the scales at 203 grams, the Mi Max 2 comes in at 174.1 x 88.7 x 7.6 mm and weighs 212 grams. The difference is marginal but surprising because the Mi Max 2 with its round eyes and smooth finish just seems a much sleeker device. The curved sides might make it feel a little slippery, but take it from us, the Mi Max 2 has more flaunt value than its more functionally designed predecessor did. Xiaomi deserve a pat on the back for making big look beautiful even though in terms of usage, this remains as two-handed as a Rafa Nadal backhand!
The layout of buttons, remains largely similar – three touch navigation buttons (backlit) below the display in front, metallic volume rocker and power/display button on the right, 3.5 mm audio jack and IR blaster on top, dual SIM card slot (one of them hybrid) on the left, and speaker grilles on the base, only this time flanking a USB Type-C port rather than a micro USB one. The back is smooth without being glossy, dipping towards the sides gently. It features the fingerprint scanner and a camera with dual flash, only this time the flash is on the left of the camera – it was on the right in the original Mi Max. Surprise surprise, there are no antenna bands either – they were rather prominent (and eyesores in our opinion) in the Max, remember? At 212 grams, this is not a light phone, and at 174.1 mm, it is definitely on the larger side, but it feels good and solid enough. Just handle it carefully – we found it a slightly slippery customer.
The innards of the big phone have seen some changes as well. The display remains a full HD one but seems a tad brighter to us, and with much smaller bezels. And powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, rather than the Snapdragon 650 we saw in the original. Some might think this is a move down in terms of sheer power but the 625 has been winning rave reviews for its battery management (not that this was ever a problem with the Max) without sacrificing too much of raw power. More significantly, the Mi Max 2 comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage in the base model, up from the 3 GB/ 32 GB combination in the first Max. The rear camera goes from 16 to 12 megapixels but we are told is markedly superior in performance to its rather mediocre predecessor, whereas the front camera stays at 5 megapixels. Significantly, the speakers are now stereo! Connectivity options include 4G, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infra-red. And oh yes, one more tiny detail: we reckon the new Max is slightly larger than the first because Xiaomi made its battery even bigger. The original Max had a massive 4850 mAh battery – well, in the Max 2, it is 5300 mAh and comes with support for Quick Charge, and off the record claims say that it will see you through a week of usage with just a couple of recharges (we would not be surprised, given the track record of the Snapdragon 625)! Running on top of all this is Xiaomi’s MIUI 8 on Android Nougat (7.1).
Just like its predecessor, the Mi Max 2 is looking to occupy the middle ground between tablets and phones – a middle ground that some are not sure exists. And it is trying to do so with some style. The sleeker form factor and the addition of stereo sound and (allegedly) improved camera could make the Mi Max 2 a formidable multimedia beast, and we can see spreadsheet, presentation and document tweakers taking a shine to its big display. And at Rs 16,999, it is pretty much in a zone of its own as far as large screen devices go.
It has the looks. The massive display. A whacking great battery. Is it worth stretching your plans and pockets? Stay tuned for our detailed review.