Xiaomi just announced its newest device, but as you can see in our Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S hands-on, it’s a familiar one. The Mi Mix 2S brings back a full-screen experience and tries to update a few key aspects. A new lens on the back brings a dual camera setup, internals are updated, but the impressive design that started it all remains.

Also read: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is official: All the key details

Here are our Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S hands-on impressions.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

Starting off with design, it’s easy to see how Xiaomi really believes in its choices with the Mix series. The familiar and very welcome ceramic backing returns and is highlighted by the metallic frame that separates it from the glass front. Ceramic might not be common in smartphones, but we think it really should be.

Ceramic might not be common in smartphones, but we think it really should be.

It shines really well regardless of which edition you might pick — black or the really bright white. There is no special unibody edition this time around, however. Returning elements include the fingerprint reader in an easy to reach spot and the ‘Designed by Xiaomi’ text that is sideways, centered, and classy.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

The ceramic does slip about pretty easily in the hand, but the material gives the phone a decent heft. And though the material might seem to be a little bit limiting in terms of feature set, Xiaomi has done really well to figure out wireless charging. The Mix 2S supports the Qi wireless standard and Xiaomi will be developing its own charger for users to buy. The best part about that development is the price of the peripheral – around $17. That is a great price, considering how expensive wireless charging mats tend to be, and, if it’s available in multiple markets, it is sure to be a hot seller like many Mi accessories.

The Mi Mix 2 feels good in the hand despite its large screen-to-body ratio.

Handling isn’t bad considering the size of the display. The Mi Mix was one of the original 18:9 full-screen devices and that great viewing experience is continued in the 2S. In order to accommodate this Full HD+ panel, Xiaomi placed a very small speaker slit at the top, alongside an ultrasonic sensor for proximity sensing. When you put the phone up your face, the screen turns off appropriately, like with any other smartphone.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

Continuing with our Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S hands-on, the phone is unlike any others when it comes to the placement of the front-facing camera. Yes, the selfie camera is still at the bottom of the device, which houses the only sizable bezel on the Mi Mix 2S. Given that the notch is appearing on more and more Android devices these days, revisiting this take on how to achieve a great screen-to-body ratio is actually refreshing. It is almost as if Xiaomi presents the Mi Mix 2S as the antithesis to the notch, keeping the Mix unique. We wonder if Xiaomi is going to eventually employ the notch, but if it stays this way, the pitfalls are at least equaled by the positives.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

Speaking of that front-facing camera, it is a 5MP shooter, which is not ideal for selfies, and the act of flipping the phone around will certainly annoy some users, especially those who want to do native Instagram stories or Snapchat content.

The act of flipping the phone around will certainly annoy some users.

Beauty modes return in the main camera app, and, with face detection, the software employs an AI engine to suggest what effects to put on your face. We were not able to really test this out much, as Xiaomi has told us that our global units are not quite finalized, including in the OS and the camera software. Because of that, we will be testing the camera but doing a follow-up review of it when the time comes. Xiaomi’s brand of AI is something we definitely want to try out, especially as it helps the portrait mode of the rear cameras.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

The rear camera is now a dual-lens setup with 12MP sensors. This is similar to the dual setup of the Xiaomi Mi 6, where the secondary lens is a telephoto zoom. It helps with the portrait mode, which is going to use AI to better cut out the subject from the background.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

The main lens has been upgraded to the Sony IMX 363 sensor. This is a big deal because the pixel sizes are now up to 1.4 microns. Just on the hardware side of things, that should mean better low-light performance and detail should be generally improved. We already did a few tests against the previous Mi Mix 2 and we could see an improvement in sharpness and color rendering. This is something that we will have to explore further in our review, so stay tuned for that.

Editor's Pick

Overall, the cameras show that Xiaomi really does believe in what it has already achieved in the Mi Mix, so it’s okay if a dual setup and updated sensor are some of the only improvements in this version.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

The internals have been properly upgraded for this release cycle, too. The Snapdragon 845 is now what powers the Mi Mix 2S and it is sure to bring a much better experience to MIUI. The OS remains familiar but does bring a couple of new features — after all, it is the Android operating system that is constantly updated based on the feedback from users in Xiaomi’s official forums.

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One interesting development we’ve already seen in the software is the ability to swipe for navigation, a la iPhone X. Speaking of iPhone X, MIUI does not have an app drawer enabled by default, but at least that can be changed.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

Everything else under the hood for the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S is high-powered, from the 6 to 8GB of RAM, to the onboard storage that goes all the way up to 256GB. Global bands are available on only the highest spec version of this phone, and if you are a power communication user, the Mi Mix 2S has a dual-SIM slot. Media users might get a little miffed at the continued omission of the headphone jack, as a USB Type-C adapter is required. That’s another accessory readily available in the Mi accessory ecosystem, if users need to buy one for cheap. And finally, the battery is 3,400mAh, which should bring some decent longevity when considering the lower resolution of the display compared to Quad HD panels out there.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

And so, there you have it – our Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S hands-on. This is indeed an iterative update, but there are a few angles by which to view this device (and we’re not just talking about its good looking ceramic).

Editor's Pick

Xiaomi’s take on a full-screen device is increasingly uncommon, as many other manufacturers are making their own versions of the infamous notch. This is a good place to revisit whether or not(ch) such a development can stay or not, considering the mixed feedback regarding the placement of the front facing camera. Speaking of the camera, updating the Mi Mix 2 to have dual lenses is a good move, but perhaps the main development to pay attention to is the new camera sensor. We can already see improvements, and, as long as the final software properly enables all of the claimed AI features, it will be nice to see how the changes actually elevate an already well-regarded phone from China.

xiaomi mi mix 2s hands-on

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S hands-on – Conclusion

I will be using the Mi Mix 2S for a while in its “natural habitat”, as I travel through parts of Asia. This phone will not be made available in the West, but at least the global bands return if you wish to import it. Stay tuned for my full review of the phone including the better camera, and then, when I get my hands on the final review unit and software, I will do a camera follow up to give it the fair treatment.

Read next: Full Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S specs – Iterative, but impressive

Let us know what you think about the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S hands-on in the comments section below.