Xiaomi Launches the 6.44″ Mi Max, MIUI 8 Based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
In an event in China, Xiaomi has launched the physically mammoth Mi Max, its largest smartphone in recent years; and MIUI 8, the next iteration of its home brewed custom OS/skin based on Android.
The first thing that one would notice about the Mi Max is its massive size. Bearing a 6.44″ FHD LCD display, the Mi Max is unapologetic about its size, made for users who want nothing smaller than a phablet in their pocket. The phone itself looks close to the Redmi Note 3, with a metallic back (and likely plastic bits on the top and bottom cover). On the back is a fingerprint sensor, with the rear camera setup on the top left corner.
Speaking of specs, the Mi Max comes in a total of three variants. The basic variant of the Mi Max comes with a Snapdragon 650 SoC and 3GB of RAM, coupled with 32GB of storage. The other two variants bump up the SoC to the Snapdragon 652. In comparison to the hexa core Snapdragon 650 (4x A53 + 2x A72), the SD 652 is an octa core SoC with two additional A72 cores for higher performance output. The Adreno 510 GPU is shared across both the SoC’s, which should be sufficient for powering the gigantic but FHD display.
The top variant of the Mi Max couples the Snapdragon 652 with 4GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The middle variant chugs along with 3GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. The Mi Max comes with a hybrid dual sim tray, so you have options for expandability as well.
Of course, since the phone is physically big, there’s more room to cram in a battery. The Mi Max features a hefty 4,850mAh battery, and still manages to remain 7.5mm thin with an albeit dense 203 g of weight. The phone also supports Quick Charge 3.0, which is a very welcome addition considering the size of the battery. The Mi Max comes with a 16MP rear shooter with dual LED flash, and a 5MP front camera. The Mi Max also features other staple additions, like the IR Blaster and fingerprint sensor.
The Mi Max will be available in Silver, Light Grey and Gold colors, going on sale on May 17 in China. The base variant with SD 650 will cost CNY 1500 ($230), the middle SD 652 + 3GB RAM/64GB storage variant will cost CNY 1700 ($260) while the top variant with SD 652 + 4GB RAM/128GB storage will set you back by CNY 2000 ($300). Availability outside of China is not known, but we expect the device to at least make its way to the Indian market, to compete with local Indian players and their recent phablet devices.
Along with the Mi Max, Xiaomi also took the wraps off MIUI 8, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Featuring a colorful facelift of several apps, MIUI 8 also adds in new features. The user interface elements change colors based on the weather. Also mentioned on the forum announcement was Multi-Window Support, a feature that is not ready for prime time just yet on stock Android. Multi window makes the Mi Max much more practical, as otherwise the stylus-less phablet would have just been a large phone.
Another notable addition to MIUI 8 is a power saving mode which goes a step ahead by freezing background app activities, suspending app syncs and background tasks. MIUI 8 also limits chain start-ups from unessential apps, further giving you more headroom with processing and battery.
The camera and calculator apps have also received significant rework. The calculator app can now support advanced calculations and conversions, while the camera app can also solve high school level Math problems in Chinese and provide step-by-step answers, which is a very handy addition to a stock app. Further employing image recognition and visual search in the stock camera in other areas, users can snap photos of products and purchase similar items online.
The stock MIUI Gallery app has also received some love. There is a functional image editor with the ability to change filters, doodle on the images and even add stickers. Editing is also being extended to videos as well, as you can now crop videos, add filters, captions and music to videos, without needing any other external app.
MIUI 8 will come as a Developer ROM to all Redmi and Mi Note series devices, as well as the Mi 2, 2S, 3, 4, 4C, 4S and 5. Initially, MIUI 8 will be limited to China ROM during beta, with registrations for China Beta starting on May 16, with beta testing beginning on June 1. MIUI 8 will then roll out to China Developer branch by June 17. The forum announcement does not mention when MIUI 8 will roll out to China Stable, Global Developer, and Global Stable branches of MIUI; though all of these will be after the China Developer branch rollout.
While the Mi Max may fill in a niche role in the market, it is still another area which Xiaomi now competes in. Bearing very good specs for a mid-end phablet, the Mi Max is also budget friendly in the Chinese market, although the price is likely to adjust for Indian/Global availability. Xiaomi did not include any stylus support with the Mi Max, which will likely hurt its competitiveness, and pose a barrier for optimum utilization as a large phablet.
Nonetheless, the Mi Max and MIUI 8 bring a lot to the table. If nothing, they spur other OEMs to make competing products, providing an incentive to introduce innovation if they are to compete with Xiaomi and its price-value ratio.
Xiaomi also had a few other products in the offering. There’s iHealth Box, which is a blood pressure monitor. There was a new 10 Ah USB Type C battery pack unveiled, along with an appearance onstage from the new Mi Band.
What are your thoughts on the Xiaomi Mi Max and MIUI 8? Do you look forward to even larger devices? Let us know in the comments below!
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