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Xiaomi Mi Note 3 first impressions: AI-powered beautification

The Xiaomi Mi Note 3 looks a lot like the Mi 6, comes in two color options, and starts at RMB 2,499 (around $385).

Published onSeptember 12, 2017

In addition to the Mi Mix 2, Xiaomi also took the wraps off the Mi Note 3 this week. This new mid-range device looks sharp, features a dual camera, and comes with new beautification features that promise to make selfie even more of a science. Let’s see what the Note 3 is about.

Xiaomi Mi Note 3 specs

The device sports a 5.5-inch display (featuring a reading mode) and is powered by the Snapdragon 660 chipset. It has 6 GB of RAM and comes with either 64 or 128 GB of storage. It’s not quite as compact for its size as the Mi Mix 2 as it doesn’t feature the so-called bezel-less design, but Xiaomi wants to make it clear that the bezels are still relatively thin, making the device smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus.

One of the biggest features of the Mi Note 3 is its dual-camera setup on the back. It features a 12 MP wide-angle lens along with a 12 MP telephoto lens offering 2x optical zoom. Xiaomi has also mentioned that the cameras have a 4-axis optical image stabilization and will, of course, allow you to capture those bokeh images that we all love.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2: Great specs, but a few things are missing

The secondary camera, on the other hand, features a 16 MP sensor with what Xiaomi calls an Adaptable AI Beautify mode. What this apparently does is offer a “realistic beautify effect” that won’t compromise the quality of the image.

It packs a 3,500 mAh battery and also comes equipped with NFC, an IR blaster, as well as stereo speakers. Other things worth mentioning are a fingerprint scanner that’s embedded in the home button below the display, a USB Type-C port, and a facial recognition feature that gives you another way to unlock the device. Although it’s a nice feature to have, this technology hasn’t proved to be the safest one in the past.

Xiaomi Mi Note 3 hands-on impressions

The Mi Note 3 takes a lot of cues from the Mi 6 that we saw a number of months ago, right down to its design and dual cameras. The curves on the back make for a phone that is easier to handle than many of its blockier peers, but the Mi Note 3 is bigger than Xiaomi’s last flagship smartphone.

Even the colors are the same, with black taking the lead and an electric blue again taking the spotlight with its eye-catching sheen. Other than that, there isn’t too much to be overly excited about with the Mi Note 3, if users have already been using Xiaomi’s previous phones from the past year.

All of the software guts are largely the same and will feel very familiar to veteran MIUI users, despite the UI’s weekly update schedule. All of the different features return here, like the Quick Ball that adds the soft keys and a couple extra buttons to any portion of the screen, Dual App for ghosting another version of maybe a messenger app for multiple account usage, and the app drawer-less homescreens that some may like and other may quickly replace. Of course, as this is a China-only phone, this might not affect as many people this time around.

Similarities to the previous Mi 6 continue with the camera package, which is largely the same as the dual 12MP regular and zoom lens combo that brought the first portrait mode to Android. These two cameras performed decently well, with the portrait mode taking much of the attention, but if it’s anything like the previous attempt, we might be seeing some less-than-decent low-light shots. I would be interested to see if the zoom capabilities can be used in video mode, which was not the case in the Mi 6 – and software updates did nothing to rectify that.

AI Beautify

A limited release can perhaps be explained by Xiaomi trying to experiment with a couple of features before making them more readily available to the masses. This is perhaps most apparent with the AI Beautify mode. With a powerful 16MP front facing camera, it is clear that Xiaomi is really trying to capture the imagination of its beautify-addicted user base, as it was clear in their marketing for the phone. Crazy video packages and gorgeous models aside, the phone uses face scanning to find the different zones of face and provide more accurate (if that is even the word to use) changes to the user’s visage. Eyes can be pinpointed for enlargement, the chin can be singled out for easier slimming, and the cheeks can be airbrushed to remove spots, to name a few options.

There are even different settings in order to add what could be described as “virtual makeup” to take it to the next level. Xiaomi even made a big deal about their new AI Beautify working for men just as well as women, but this remains to be seen.

All of these features, allegedly, get better at identifying the best touchups to apply to the user’s face, the more they take selfies using the mode. All of this sounds good and well for users who really want their faces to be altered by their smartphones before snapping, but I wasn’t able to really understand how it was any different from other beautify modes we’ve seen in other Chinese phones. All of the toggles and sliders are about the same and when cranked up to the max, my face looked far from the original.

And without any knowledge of the written Chinese language, I wasn’t sure if I was missing any other of the makeup features to add to my new face. It’s all in good fun, however, what is interesting about this feature is the possibility that Xiaomi could put it in more phones moving forward. It’s possible that they are testing it in their home market before touching up their more global-ready offerings like the Mi Mix 2.

Xiaomi Mi Note 3 price and availability

In terms of pricing, the 64 GB version will set you back RMB 2,499 (around $385), while the 128 GB variant will retail for RMB 2,899 (around $445) — only the black model. There’s also a fancier blue version of the device available that only comes with 128 GB of space and is slightly more expensive at RMB 2,999 (around $460).

Unfortunately, Xiaomi hasn’t shared any info regarding the release date of the Mi Note 3 yet. No need to worry though, as soon as we hear more on this topic, we’ll be sure to let you guys know.


Meanwhile, feel free to let us know what you think about Xiaomi’s smartphone in the comments below. Would you consider getting it?

Read more: Best Xiaomi phones

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