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Xiaomi Mi Note 2 first impressions: Not just a Note 7 clone


The Mi Note 2 is Xiaomi’s most refined phone yet.

After introducing the Mi 5 and the Mi 5s, Xiaomi followed up with the launch of the Mi Note 2 in October. The phone is the first from Xiaomi to feature a dual curved screen, and also the first to offer global LTE bands. With Xiaomi losing out to fellow competitors OPPO and Vivo in its home country this year, the company is counting on devices like the Mi Note 2 to claw back market share.

At a first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the Mi Note 2 as a Note 7 lookalike on account of the dual curved display, symmetric design, and the glass back, but it’s important to know that the design is an evolution of what we’ve seen last year with the Mi Note.

The Mi Note featured 3D curved glass at the back, allowing the phone to easily nestle in your palm. With its successor, Xiaomi is adopting curved glass along the front of the device as well. The curves aren’t as prominent as those on the S7 edge, but are more subdued, like that on the now-defunct Note 7. The overall result is that the Mi Note 2 shares a striking resemblance to the Note 7. But the device has so much more going for it.

The build quality of the Mi Note 2 is top-notch, and the design is Xiaomi’s most refined to date. I used every phone Xiaomi released this year, and this is by far the best of the lot. The curves at the front and back, combined with the glass back, and the slender metal frame culminate to form a device that’s downright gorgeous. The only problem with the design of the Mi Note 2 is the same as any phone that has a glass back — it is a fingerprint magnet. You’ll either have to live with the smudges, or carry a cloth to clean the back every five seconds.

The build quality of the Mi Note 2 is top-notch, and the design is Xiaomi’s most refined to date.

Although the Mi Note 2 sports a dual curved OLED display (with LG providing the panel), the Full HD resolution is a letdown. The 386ppi pixel density is still decent enough, but when compared to the likes of the Galaxy S7 edge or the Pixel, the screen on the Mi Note 2 comes up short.

That’s the only downside in an otherwise feature-rich phone that offers a Snapdragon 821 clocked at 2.35GHz, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage (there’s a global variant that comes with 6GB RAM and 128Gb storage), 22.5MP camera, 8MP front camera, NFC, Wi-Fi ac, and even an IR blaster. The global variant of the phone is particularly interesting, as it offers 37 LTE bands for global connectivity.

Even with heavy usage, the Mi Note 2 should easily last a day without any problems.

In spite of being just 7.6mm thick, the Mi Note 2 offers a 4070mAh battery. I’ve been using the phone for just three days, and in that time I charged the phone just once. Even with heavy usage, the Mi Note 2 should easily last a day without any problems.

The Mi Note 2 features a 22.5MP camera (Sony IMX318) with f/2.0 lens, dual-LED flash, and PDAF. The camera takes great images in daylight, but the 1.0µm pixel size of the sensor makes it challenging to take decent photos in low-light conditions.

On the software front, the Mi Note 2 comes with MIUI 8 atop Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. MIUI 8 is cleaner and feels less bloated when compared to its predecessor. While the notification shade has picked up a much-needed overhaul, the multitasking pane remains unchanged, and like most Chinese ROMs, you’re not going to find an app drawer.

There are a slew of new features in MIUI 8 that I’ll highlight in the review, but the one that will undoubtedly appeal to Asian customers the most is Dual Apps. With Dual Apps, you’ll be able to run two instances of the same app. For instance, you can have two WhatsApp accounts on the same device.

Overall, the Mi Note 2 is a great 5.7-inch phone from Xiaomi. The design is sure to turn heads, and while the display resolution isn’t ideal, colors are accurate and dense. Performance is in line with what you’d expect from a device running the Snapdragon 821, and I’m yet to see any slowdowns.

The phone isn’t going to be sold outside China, but if you’re interested in picking one up, you can get one from reseller sites for $597. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into if you import the phone.



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