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Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review – Another Beast from Xiaomi

by Linus 9

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 – the latest flagship made by the company and one of the best-looking and powerful phones on the market right now. But are the awesome looks and the bleeding-edge specs make the smartphone great? Learn more in the full Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review.

Thanks to Oppomart for sending the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 for a review.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: VIDEO REVIEW

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: UNBOXING

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The phone ships in quite a simple box and inside of it, you can find all the usual stuff. No extras included.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: DESIGN and DISPLAY

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I have to admit that this is one of the most beautiful smartphones Xiaomi has ever made. We have a curved glass on the front and rear, a high-quality metal trim and tactile metal buttons.

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We have a gorgeous 5.7” 1080p Amoled panel, which offers deep blacks, punchy colors and it is plenty sharp for everyday use. The bezels are quite visible but I’m okay with that. As usual, Xiaomi did not officially confirm the type of protective glass it used for this phone.

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We have the usual highly customizable and backlit capacitive buttons, and a super fast and accurate fingerprint scanner. Keep in mind that you have to physically press the home button to use the fingerprint sensor but the unlocking process is just seamless and it works 10/10 times.

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On the top, we have a highly customizable LED notification light and the upgraded 8MP camera with f/2.0 aperture and autofocus.

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I’ve never been a huge fan of glass-made phones but I have to say that the Mi Note 2 has a somewhat oleophobic coating that does a pretty good job preventing from fingerprints and smudges.

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We have a powerful 22.5MP camera with f/2.0 aperture and a dual tone dual-LED flash but there is no OIS.

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Xiaomi brought the IR blaster back to this phone, which is great, so you can control devices like TVs. The sound quality via the headset jack is just excellent.

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Same can be said about the loudspeaker. The sound is balanced, rich and it gives you some sort of surround sound effect that a lot of phones lack.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: HARDWARE and PERFORMANCE

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When it comes to hardware, you can be rest assured that you will have all the latest and greatest specs packed into this phone.

My review unit ships with the Snapdragon 821 chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is, however, not expandable. If you are willing to pay more, you can go for the high-end model that has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

As expected, 3D gaming performance is excellent and the whole gaming experience is just great thanks to the large display and a great loudspeaker. Finally, the phone does not have any overheating issues.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: BENCHMARKS

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: USER INTERFACE

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 ships with the Android 6.0-based MIUI 8 that we have already seen on other Xiaomi phones.

As usual, we have a ton of customization options, various settings, tweaks and little features to make the phone look your own. Some of the cool features include a baked-in theming engine, where you can choose from a lot of themes, fonts, wallpapers and so on. Also, you can go to the so-called second space, which is as Xiaomi says “like having two devices” at the same time. In other words, it is like having two accounts on the same phone.

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However, you have to know that the Chinese version of the phone comes with quite a few bloatware apps that may be annoying. A great thing is that you can easily remove most of them.

Finally, I’m fairly impressed with how fast the Mi Note 2  is despite having all those features. The phone is fast, fluid and I didn’t have any hiccups or lag.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: CAMERA

The camera app allows you to take pictures extremely fast. As usual to Xiaomi phones, there are a few shooting modes and settings to play with.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: IMAGE QUALITY

IT IS HIGHLY-RECOMMENDED TO DOWNLOAD FULL RESOLUTION CAMERA SAMPLES TO SEE THE ACTUAL IMAGE QUALITY. THE PICTURES UPLOADED ON THE WEBSITE ARE 50% SMALLER IN RESOLUTION.

In theory, 22.5MP should give you a lot of detail and the Mi Note 2’s camera does produce very detailed photos that look sharp and the colors are natural. Also, the camera handles the dynamic range and contrast pretty well but it tends to underexpose the scenery more often than not.

Most of the indoor and macro shots were taken in very poor lighting. The phone can take some good-looking photos but as usual, the noise levels get quite high in lower-lit situations.

As for night camera performance, it is just average. Well, it is not bad but I would love the software to kick in to brighten up the scene as right now the images look dark. Also, the level of noise could be a lot lower.

As for selfie shooter, it can take some nice and detailed photos.

The 4K video is good but not great. The footage is quite sharp, the auto-exposure and continuous autofocus work fine and the colors look natural. However, there are quite a few video artefacts going on and overall the footage could look sharper if we compare it to some of the mainstream flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. The electronic image stabilization (EIS) uses the gyroscope sensor and this combo does a pretty good job reducing the shakiness.

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The 1080p video looks quite good but obviously, there is less detail than in 4k footage. The 1080p selfie video looks pretty good and it will be more than enough for the video chats. See the video review for video samples.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: CONNECTIVITY

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When it comes to connectivity, the Mi Note 2 has you covered. It has an international 4G LTE support that assures a fast internet speed, good signal reception and a great call quality.

Also, Wifi, GPS work absolutely fine. In addition, there is NFC onboard.

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The only complaint would be that there is no microSD card slot but you get 2 SIM card slots as any other Xiaomi phone.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: BATTERY LIFE

The Mi Note 2 ships with a 4070mAh battery that performs quite well. I was able to get around 5 hours of screen-on time on kind of heavy usage including power penalty of 2 SIM cards, 4 Google accounts, social media accounts and so on.

The phone supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 tech but the supplied charger can fully charge the phone in about 1 h 45 mins, which is not the best result we’ve seen this year.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: CONCLUSIONS

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The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is a true flagship phone that just looks beautiful but it costs almost $500.

So what are you getting for this amount of money? The phone sports an excellent build quality and that curved glass on the front and rear adds quite a bit of style.

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Also, powerful internals assure that the device performs very well no matter what you throw at it. If you add a feature-rich user interface, a good battery life, great sound quality, you are looking at a very compelling offering.

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However, you have to know that even at this price point, the Mi Note 2’s camera struggles in low-light, the 4k video quality is not on par with the mainstream flagships and finally, there is no microSD card slot for storage expansion.

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At the end of the day, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is still a very solid phone as it offers a lot of flagship-grade qualities but as most of the phones, it has some shortcomings that you have to consider.

4.6

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is a very solid phone as it offers a lot of flagship-grade qualities but as most of the phones, it has some shortcomings that you have to consider.

Design and Build
Display
Hardware
User Interface
Camera
Connectivity
Battery Life
3D Gaming Performance
Overall Performance
Value for Money
Buy Xiaomi Mi5
  • Mark Kitzen

    Hi Linus,
    Other reviewers state that the sharpness of the display is somewhat mediocre. What is your opinion on that?

    • yeah I heard that. I have no complaints, a great display. The panel is similar to the one found on the OnePlus 3 (it uses Pentile pixel arrangement).

      • Mark Kitzen

        Ok. And in comparison with Axon 7 or Galaxy s7 edge? Big difference?

  • balcobomber25

    It’s amazing the difference over the last year between this and the other site for Chinese news. Keep up the good work Linus!

    • MaxPower

      I don’t even remember when I read a review on the other Chinese site, not to mention those articles where they provide a list of phones someone can buy for each budget.

      Now it’s all about rumors, mixed with Elephone articles full of paid commenters.

      My switch over to this site is almost completed

      • Dissapointed

        Another one here, i actually never comment more of a reader, but i couldnt let this one slide. Gizchina fel off. Have been reading your and balco’s comments and recomandations to other readers/commenters for a while but those fake elephone/umi commenters/articles are killing the site. And linus is killing it here (in a good way) with his reviews. Keep up the good work.

      • balcobomber25

        You and me both. I went to the other one for the first time in awhile the other day and there was exactly one article that was from that day. Everything else was 2-3 days old.

  • Qidamin

    Oil painting pictures, what the need of 20Mpixels?

  • Free

    Hey Linus good work! I have seen great improvement in you reviews and one of the few who listens to feedback. Your reviews are very clearly in a good pase and a good seperation in the segments (screen, camera, headphone jack output etc). Only the battery usage or capacity could sometimes be better (pptv king 7). Could do a bit/segment in your reviews with each phone where you loop a video for a while where eventualy get an indication of the battery drainage and also use it as a comparison to other phones where you do the same test. Because lately phonemakers tweak there phones to give higher scores on benchmarks and tests but in real live usage its mostly a different outcome. But good work