Xiaomi Mi6 review
Wow. That’s what comes to mind when you consider Xiaomi’s new flagship Android phone for 2017. The Mi6 is around half the price of more familiar flagships such as the Galaxy S8, LG G6, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and HTC U11, but it’s just as fast, just as beautiful, and just as much a must-have for anyone serious about their smartphone tech. Also see: Best Chinese phones 2017
A clear contender for snatching the crown for best Chinese phone, the successor to the Mi5 and Mi5s takes on design aspects from the Mi Note 2, adds a dual-camera and forward-facing features such as USB-C audio, and tops it all off with faster performance than anything we’ve seen yet. While Samsung’s still debating whether to add a dual-camera or under-glass fingerprint scanner to its Galaxy line, Xiaomi’s already done it. And though it might lack the Quad-HD Infinity Display and curved-glass edges, the Xiaomi has a great screen and is a much more comfortable size to hold in one hand.
How to buy the Xiaomi Mi6 in the UK
The one drawback of the Xiaomi Mi6 is that, unlike those aforementioned rivals, it’s not available to buy directly from Xiaomi in the UK, nor from any of our major mobile operators.
That means you’ll have to import it from China, and pay for the whole thing up front (though you can save some money with a SIM-only deal). The up side of that is you’ll pay nothing like as much for the Xiaomi Mi6 SIM-free as you would a flagship from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG. You won’t get much change from ?700 for those phones, but with the Mi6 you could almost buy two.
It’s incredible to believe Xiaomi is able to offer such a great deal at what is in essence a mid-range price. Our photo black Xiaomi Mi6 is the ‘International’ edition with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There’s also a version with 128GB storage (neither support expansion via microSD, though few people would find themselves low on space at this capacity) and a ceramic model with the same 18K gold detailing as seen on the revolutionary Mi Mix.
It was sent to us to review by GearBest, which is one of many Chinese companies offering to import tech to the UK and elsewhere. Pricing is just ?381.91 (£479.99/438.16EUR) for 64GB and ?429.65 (£539.99/492.93EUR) for 128GB, though you’ll need to also factor into your budget import duty. This is usually calculated at 20 percent of the value printed on the shipping paperwork, plus an admin fee of around ?11.
We’ve reviewed many a Xiaomi phone sent to us by GearBest, and we’ve never experienced any issues. But we acknowledge that for some customers things can sometimes go wrong, and when they do you need to remember your rights are different when purchasing goods from outside the UK.
We’ve outlined some of the things you need to consider in our Chinese tech buying advice. Something else to consider is that different cellular frequencies are used in different countries across the globe, and these Chinese models may not necessarily work in your country of residence. In the UK what we typically see with Xiaomi phones is that they don’t support the 800MHz/Band 20 frequency which is relied on by O2, Giffgaff, Sky Mobile and others for 4G connectivity.
These customers will not receive anything faster than 3G connectivity without connecting to Wi-Fi, while customers of networks that support other 4G bands but also use 800MHz may find 4G coverage patchier than they have done previously. We’ve outlined how to tell whether a phone is supported by your network here. Another thing that can make Xiaomi phones a poor fit for UK customers is their lack of Google apps.
This is not true of all Xiaomi devices, and wherever possible you should look to buy a ‘Global’ edition of a Xiaomi phone which will include access to the Google Play store and Google services out of the box. Some ‘International’ models also come with Google Play preinstalled, or allow you to install Google Services via the Mi App store. Sadly, the International version of the Mi6 we have here does not come preinstalled with Google apps, and there’s no obvious way to add them.
We’ve read that this may have something to do with MIUI 8.0, a custom version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow that is preinstalled on the Mi6, and if it is then there’s hope there will soon be a fix. Of course we’ve found a workaround, but it is one that won’t appeal to less techy users. Something to keep in mind before you rush ahead and buy what looks to be the best-priced flagship of the year. Also see: Best mid-range phones 2017
How to add Google Services to Xiaomi Mi6
Full credit for this workaround goes to Jaasir, a Diamond Member of the MIUI community forums. o Download the necessary files (RAR; Zip), then extract them to your PC or laptop’s desktop. o Connect the Mi6 via a USB-C cable and open an Explorer window to view its contents (if you’re on a Mac use the Android File Transfer tool). o Browse to Internal storage, MIUI, Backup, AllBackup (create that folder if it doesn’t already exist) and drop the file here to copy its contents to the phone. o On the Mi6 open the Settings menu and go to Additional settings, Backup & reset, Local backups, then tap on the file you just added. o Tap Restore. o When the process has finished, restart the phone, then launch the Google Play store icon on the home screen.
You should be prompted to enter your Google account details.
Xiaomi Mi6 design and build
It’s very rare (although not unknown – remember the LG G5 and the Google Pixel XL) for a company’s flagship to look anything short of amazing. And so it is with the mirror-finish Xiaomi Mi6, though this phone appeals for more than its basic good looks. The Mi6 is fitted with a 5.15in screen, features very slim screen bezels, and is just 7.5mm thick with almost slippery smooth, rounded edges at the rear that make it feel ever so comfortable in the hand.
As manufacturers look to differentiate themselves on screen size and quality, with flagships that get larger with every new release, Xiaomi is sticking to its ground. This is a relatively compact phone that will be ideal for those customers who think the market is beginning to outgrow them.
We still have yet to see a Quad-HD Xiaomi phone – this Mi6 has a full-HD panel with a 1920×1080 pixel resolution and a density of 428ppi – but Xiaomi is not alone.
It’s funny that the company it is most often accused of copying, and one that is perhaps the biggest and best-known in the western world, also has no Quad-HD smartphone in its line-up. (Hint: Xiaomi is also known as China’s Apple.) We have to say we’re inclined to agree with Apple’s claims that you don’t need Quad-HD: though you absolutely can tell the difference between full- and Quad-HD, so don’t believe all that ‘Retina’ BS, the Mi6 is perfectly clear at this resolution. This is not a screen you’d find yourself complaining about.
With increasing screen resolutions also comes increasing demands placed on the battery, of course, and this is a standout area for the Mi6, fitted as it is with a 3,350mAh cell that supports Quick Charge (but not wireless charging) and may even keep going two days. So the full-HD screen is a trade-off we’re more than happy to make – especially when that display is as bright (1- to 600 nits) and vibrant as this one, with great contrast, realistic colours and excellent viewing angles. Xiaomi claims the Mi6 has four-sided glass, which isn’t as amazing – or confusing – as it sounds.
Really it means it is curved on the corners as well as the edges, and only slightly – we’re not talking curved in the same sense as we are with the Galaxy S8.
Xiaomi Mi6 review continues on the next page >>
- ^ Galaxy S8 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ LG G6 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Sony Xperia XZ Premium (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ HTC U11 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Best Chinese phones 2017 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Xiaomi Mi5 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Xiaomi Mi5s (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Xiaomi Mi Note 2 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ how to buy Xiaomi in UK (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ best SIM-only deal (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Mi Mix (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ GearBest (www.gearbest.com)
- ^ Best Android phones 2017 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Chinese tech buying advice (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ how to tell whether a phone is supported by your network (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Best mid-range phones 2017 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Jaasir (en.miui.com)
- ^ RAR (drive.google.com)
- ^ Zip (drive.google.com)
- ^ LG G5 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Google Pixel XL (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)