Let’s preface this review with a warning: The Mi Max earns its name because it is huge.
The display measures 6.44 inches and the dimensions of the phone come in at 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5mm. The crux of this is that the Mi Max doesn’t quite fit comfortably in one hand, even if like me you have rather big hands.
For instance, with the phone in one hand I cannot reach the letter Q with my thumb without touching every key except the one I want to touch. The Max demands two-handed interface, at all times.
When you do give the Max your full attention though, it’s quite a joy to use.
Power station in your pocket
Perhaps my favourite feature of this phone is its battery. The 4850mAh Li-Ion battery has enough juice to last you four days. That’s four days with WiFi, Bluetooth and mobile data all switched on as well as pushing the screen brightness to 100%.
The trade-off here is that Mi Max takes about four hours to charge up but honestly, plug it in overnight on the fourth day and you’ll be set for the next four days.
If you plan to run the battery down in one go be prepared to give it your full attention. In a PowerMark test we found the Mi Max will go for 14 continuous hours. I shouldn’t have to say it but that is incredible.
Before you think that Xiaomi has cheated and fitted a super dim, low resolution screen I implore you to think again. The Mi Max boasts a Full HD (1920x1080p) display with a pixel density of 440ppi.
This all adds up to a great multimedia experience, it’s just a pity that the Max is so big its not all that comfortable to hold while watching a video in bed.
Performance to the Max
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 system on chip inside the Mi Max does well. When using the handset for texting and browsing simple web pages you might notice the smallest amount of waiting but its nothing to really be concerned by as it is so minimal.
Thankfully you don’t get any of that “chugging along” when using more intensive apps such as Maps or Uber is running. The same can be said for games.
On the subject of games there is a small amount of warming up from the handset but that is to be expected. There is not too much excess heat coming from the Max though which actually surprising considering the size of the display
If you’re more about business than pleasure apps such as WPS Office run incredibly well and having all that screen real-estate to work with makes turning to your phone for a bit of work a viable possibility.
What’s interesting here is that the Mi Max out performs smartphones that are cheaper and more expensive than it. What this should tell you is that the Mi Max is a great performer, perhaps not as high-performance as the Samsung S7 Edge but the Max is almost three times cheaper than our favourite smartphone this year so far.
Two snappers, one star
The rear snapper clocks in at a massive 16MP and manages to capture images at a resolution of 4608x3456p which is huge but the images aren’t without fault.
For instance even in great lighting you might notice a bit of granulation on the images, its not ideal but unless you’re hoping to show off your images at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, you should be fine.
There are options available to tweak your snaps namely adjusting the focal length, exposure time and the ISO. It’s a nice addition to the handset even if it by all accounts this is a very business-minded smartphone.
For selfies there is a 5MP snapper which isn’t as good the primary snapper. Images look terribly muddy in low-light or indoors unless you apply the beauty filter which does a lot to improve the image. You can flip through the gallery below to get a sense of what you can expect from the snappers on board.
At the back of the handset is a fingerprint scanner. It’s not as fast as the one we saw in the Mi 5 earlier this year and touching a digit to the sensor does result in the phone taking a while to realise you want to unlock it. What is nice is that as I used the fingerprint scanner it got better at reading my print even if I put my finger in a position it wasn’t during the enrollment process.
Sadly, if you happen to have a dirty finger or you’ve just done the dishes, the fingerprint scanner can’t read your digit.
These leads nicely into the unlock screen. When you enroll your fingerprint you have to choose a passcode as well which makes complete sense. This passcode can be letters, numbers, special characters or a combination of all three. This makes me feel a bit more secure than a passcode of four numbers but when it comes to unlocking the phone when the fingerprint scanner isn’t reading your digit, its a pain especially if you’re used to being able to type with one hand.
Bigger is better – sometimes
As with many smartphones there are great and terrible things about the Mi Max. The display is great for watching movies, playing games and doing a bit of work. The battery life is amazing, truly remarkable in fact.
However, the thing stopping me from outright recommending everybody switch to a Mi Max is its size.
I understand what Xiaomi was trying to accomplish here. An affordable smartphone with a huge display and decent performance for business people that need more than a morning of battery life is something of a rarity in the market right now. I just find 6.44inches to be too big.
With that having been said if you enjoy a smartphone with a massive display the Mi Max is incredible value for money and I think its worth a every cent of its R4 699 price tag.