Gadget Review: Xiaomi brings the phablet back in vogue with the Mi Max

For those eyeing a tablet that can make calls, Xiaomi's Mi Max makes for a suitable choice

Just when we thought that phablets have finally become passé, Hugo Barra and team have surprised us once again with the Mi Max, a new phablet now available in India for R14,999. We haven't seen one of these for a really long time, so the first obvious question was: is there a market for this? We think, very much so. There are many curious souls out there — some in our own workplace — eagerly waiting to get a look at the device. So, we are not going to debate the validity of phablets today, but whether or not the Mi Max lives up to expectations. The device goes on sale on on July 13

Build and design (8/10): The Mi Max gets an all-metal build with brushed-metal job. The edges get a slanted finish which adds to the charm. There's a 3.5mm port placed at the edge of the top left corner, whereas the USB port finds space between two speaker grills at the bottom. The device gets a clean back with the rear camera placed at the top left edge along with the LED lights, a fingerprint sensor at the upper half and the Mi logo at the bottom. The device weighs 203g, which is expected of a phablet. Overall, it has a strong build, but you can't shed the fear of dropping it accidentally. We recommend a protective silicon case along with the device. It's also wide at 83mm and long at 173.1mm. It's available in silver and gold colours.

Display (8/10): Till two years ago, a 6.4-inch Full HD display for 15K was unthinkable, and that makes the Mi Max a more enticing product right now. The touch is great, and a pixel density of 342ppi makes the display sharp. Its reflective surface makes things a little difficult to work under a clear blue sky — especially when you are navigating through the dark corners in Need for Speed No Limits — but apart from that it's bright and colourful, and pleasing to work with. For protection, it gets Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Battery (8/10): The Mi Max gets a 4,850 mAh battery, which we found sufficient to meet the daily needs, and a strong point of the device. Though it doesn't support fast-charge, the device can easily last more than a day on regular usage, with more than two gaming hours in between.

Connectivty (8/10): The Mi Max is a dual-sim phone with support for 2G, 3G and 4G LTE along with support for VoLTE. And, as we realised, VoLTE makes a lot of difference when it comes to voice clarity. However, it gets a dual-sim tray, meaning you can either use one sim and a memory card to only two sim cards at one go. It also gets a dual-band Wi-Fi (b/g/n/ac), GPS, Bluetooth and features like Wi-Fi Direct, etc. The device also packs a decent set of sensors including a gyroscope, accelerometer, light sensor, compass, and a step-counter to keep track of your fitness goals.

Hardware & Performance (9/10): The Mi Max gets the same Qualcomm S650 chipset with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage (there's a S652 version also available with 128GB internal storage and 4GB RAM). What this means is with the Mi Max, Xiaomi is basically offering the same performance as available on the RedmiNote3, but on a larger screen. So, as it was during our gaming sojourns, the device did well, but we noticed slight heating along the top edge. It works beautifully while multi-tasking. Thanks to the 6-4-inch display you get extra space to work around. You may, however, have to stretch your fingers little extra, initially, till you get used to the size. The audio quality is decent, but nothing exceptional. The fingerprint sensor is also quick to respond and can store five fingerprints.

Camera (7/10): The camera is one area where Xiaomi fails to excite us in the Mi Max. Both the rear camera (16MP with dual flash) and front camera (5MP) take decent pictures. It can record 1080p and 720p videos at 30fps, but the quality is not that great. The device also supports slow motion videos at 720p with 120fps, but the quality is very bad. But despite that, expect it to get you through most of your photography needs.

OS (8/10): We were hoping to see the MIUI 8.0 in the Mi Max, but it still runs the MIUI 7.5 on top of Android Marshmallow. But despite it being an older edition, we are a fan of the MIUI. The way icons are designed and how every aspect of the phone is neatly highlighted in the settings makes it one of our favourite Android UIs out there. We faced no app crashes, but the constant notifications to sign-up for the MI services and account are irritating. The app also doesn't allow you to restore your backed-up app data and passwords from Google servers, which was a bit disappointing.

Overall rating
The guide verdict first
There's nothing much to criticise Xiaomi except its poor camera and the fact that it didn't ship with MIUI (though both were launched at the same time). And, if you loved the RedmiNote 3's performance you would like the Mi Max too. As for the size goes, we hope, those going for the Mi Max would be aware of the difficulties a phablet comes with while making phone calls. All of this makes the Mi Max a great buy, that is, if a phablet is on your mind

Display: 6.44-inch FullHD 1920x1080, 342 ppi
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa Core with Andreno 510 GPU
Memory: 32GB, 3GB RAM
Camera: 16MP (rear), 5MP (front)
Battery: 4850mAH
Connectivity: 4G LTE with VoLTE, 3G and 2G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm audio jack, USB, GPS, Wireless Display
Price: Rs 14,999

Available ON (Flash sale on July 13)

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