The Mi Mix Fold is Xiaomi making foldables more affordable and attainable
Xiaomi’s first-ever foldable phone, the Mi Mix Fold, hasn’t even gone on sale officially yet, but the crazy-fast Hong Kong phone import scene has already secured early bird retail units. One of these retailers, Trinity Electronics, was kind enough to loan us a unit to test for an afternoon.
Xiaomi Mi MIX Fold Specifications: Click to expand
|Specification||Xiaomi Mi MIX Fold|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Front Camera||20MP, fixed-focus|
|Audio & Vibration|
|Software||MIUI 12 based on Android 11|
Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold Design: Nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s still noteworthy
If you remotely follow smartphone news, the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold’s design won’t be anything new. It’s the inner-folding phone design first pioneered by Samsung, meaning the large bendable display folds inwards and closes like a book, and there’s a secondary smaller glass screen on the outside.
On the Mi Mix Fold, the outside smaller screen measures 6.5 inches, with a really tall and narrow 27:9 aspect ratio. This gives the phone, when folded, that remote control (or candy bar) vibe of the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 2. The 90Hz refresh rate isn’t the fastest around, but MIUI is well-optimized with cutesy animations, so the UI still feels smooth.
The larger inner folding display measures 8-inches and looks great. It gets up to 600 nits of brightness and can output 10-bit colors. Unfortunately, it’s only got a 60Hz refresh rate, and there’s a crease down the middle that’s noticeable if you look at the phone at an off-angle. The crease issue is also present in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 too, for what it’s worth.
I’m just going to be blunt: when it comes to the folding aspect, the Mi Mix Fold does not have better hardware than the Huawei Mate X2. The problems that Huawei’s foldable “fixed,” such as reducing the crease of the folding display and having a hinge that folds entirely flat, are back here in the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold. The bezels around Xiaomi’s foldable, whether it’s the inside or outside screen, are larger than the Huawei Mate X2’s bezels too.
But context is much needed. Huawei’s Mate X2 is priced at 17,999 Chinese yuan ($2,700) compared to the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold’s 9,999 yuan ($1,500). Plus, the Mate X2 can’t run core Google services due to the ongoing US ban, but Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Fold can. So despite the Mate X2 being the most impressive piece of mobile hardware I’ve ever held (our Editor-in-chief Mishaal has high praise for the hardware too), the reality remains that the Mi Mix Fold has much more mainstream appeal, not just within China but worldwide.
The Mi Mix Fold’s hinge is sturdy, and it has a more rounded feel all around compared to the sharp-ish Galaxy Z Fold 2, especially in the hinge corners.
Inside the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 with 12GB or 16GB of RAM, 256GB or 512GB of storage, and a 5,020 mAh battery. The latter is the largest battery seen in a foldable phone yet. Considering the fact the phone also only has 90Hz/60Hz panels, battery life should be quite epic — I’m guessing a day-and-a-half easily. If you need topping up, the phone can be charged at 67W speeds via the included charging brick.
Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold Cameras: The Liquid Lens works as advertised
The Mi Mix Fold features a triple camera main system consisting of a 108MP main camera that we’ve seen before in various Xiaomi devices, a 13MP ultra-wide, and an 8MP “liquid lens” that Xiaomi hyped up a lot. Self-developed by Xiaomi, the liquid lens features a layer of liquid that changes the sensor’s focus and focal length via electrical voltage. I’m not a camera hardware engineer, but I can tell it works, that one lens can produce a 3x lossless optical zoom and also capture a macro shot.
Around the front of the phone, the Mi Mix Fold has a single 20MP selfie camera. There is no front-facing camera inside the larger screen.
I only had about three hours with the phone so I could only do some surface-level camera testing, but I can say that the Mi Mix Fold’s cameras are pretty good. The main 108MP sensor produces natural bokeh if you’re shooting relatively close to a subject, and produces excellent dynamic range even shooting directly at the sun.
The ultra-wide seems just okay. In the shot below, colors are a bit muted and the dynamic range is not the best. Now to be fair, this is a relatively harsh shooting condition as I am pointing at the sun. I’ve also been spoiled by the industry-best ultra-wide cameras of the OPPO Find X3 Pro and the OnePlus 9 Pro.
That liquid lens works fine as mentioned. I can get a clean 3x zoom, and a macro shot from one sensor. As a zoom lens, it’s better than the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s measly 12MP 2x telephoto lens but falls far short of the Huawei Mate X2’s 10x Periscope zoom lens.
Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold Software: Missing PC mode for now for some reason
The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold runs MIUI 12 over Android 11, and if you’ve used a Xiaomi phone recently, you’ll know the software experience. App icons are colorful, perhaps even garish, and animations are full of whimsical touches (like an app exploding into bits if you uninstall it). I personally place MIUI somewhere like fourth or fifth favorite Android UX skins, below OPPO’s ColorOS and OnePlus’ OxygenOS (my two favorites), but above Huawei’s EMUI and Vivo’s FunTouch. It’s about on par with Samsung’s OneUI and Google’s own stock Pixel launcher for me in terms of rankings.
The software experience on the Mi Mix Fold feels familiar to other folding phones I’ve used. Instagram Stories will cut off the top and bottom if you’re viewing them on the large inside screen, and apps generally need to be restarted and resized if you’re jumping between the small and large screens. MIUI offers split-screen multitasking and floating windows for apps, so the larger screen real estate isn’t wasted.
However, the “PC Mode” (which turns the UI into something resembling a desktop UI) that Xiaomi advertised during the Mi Mix Fold’s launch was not available on my unit. I spent 30 minutes searching through the phone’s settings and could not find the mode. I am assuming this will come later via a software update, but nonetheless, I was disappointed, as this was the one feature that set Xiaomi’s foldable apart from the Huawei Mate X2 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold Early Impressions: Xiaomi really is making “innovation for everyone”
Like I said earlier, if we’re going just by pure hardware, the Mi Mix Fold doesn’t do anything (other than the liquid lens) that smartphone fans haven’t already seen before. If you’ve held the Galaxy Fold or Z Fold 2, the Mi Mix Fold will feel very familiar.
But the Mi Mix Fold is still notable because of its pricing. For the longest time, foldable phone detractors have cited two major causes for skepticism–the supposed fragility of foldables, and the sky-high price that cost twice as much as a slab flagship.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 mostly addresses the durability/fragility concerns in my opinion. I’ve been using it heavily for seven months without issue — its hinge still feels rock solid. I also haven’t seen any widespread internet complaints about Galaxy Z Fold 2’s malfunctioning, so safe to say, the durability point is mostly moot at this stage.
That leaves pricing, and this is where Xiaomi comes in. The Mi Mix Fold’s starting price of around $1,500 is significantly lower than the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Mate X2’s $2,000 and $2,700 respectively. While $1,500 is still high for the average consumer, it is now close enough to a regular slab flagship phone that the “markup pricing” of foldables is almost gone. Maybe in another half a year, foldable prices can drop another few hundred.
Xiaomi’s motto is “innovation for everyone,” and the Mi Mix Fold again proves that Xiaomi means it. This is the beginning of Xiaomi making foldable phones affordable enough to buy for everyone, not just tech geeks with a lot of money to spend.