Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: More than a Galaxy Note 7 Lookalike
Chinese manufacturers have been taking the smartphone market by a storm, rolling out interesting phones at surprisingly affordable price points. Another trend that these manufacturers have set rolling is of creating smartphones that are basically clones of the leading flagship devices already in the market. Xiaomi’s premium offering, Mi Note 2, too would have fallen into this category for its striking resemblance with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, but got saved by a whisker as Samsung has discontinued the Note 7. That definitely seemed to have worked in Mi Note 2’s favor, as it filled the gap created by the exit of Galaxy Note 7 as a worthy alternative for nostalgia-riddled users.
An Overview of Xiaomi’s Mi Note 2
The Mi Note 2 was released two years after the Chinese manufacturer unveiled the first Mi series smartphones, the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro, and Xiaomi has since come a long way in terms of building a market presence. The arrival of a new Xiaomi smartphone now stirs a certain excitement among buyers. Even so, the Mi Note 2’s arrival on the aisles was somewhat lackluster as it was overshadowed by the launch of the Mi Mix that attracted a lot of eyeballs thanks to its remarkable bezel-less design. But that does not take away from the fact that the Mi Note 2 is a fantastic phone.
The Mi Note 2 may not sport a design as revolutionary as the Mi Mix what with a bezel-less display and all, and has even been typecast by many as just another Galaxy Note 7 clone. That’s a shame because the Mi Note 2 is a robust, well-rounded device with an attractive design, big screen, global LTE connectivity and a lot of power under the hood. It would be a disservice to confine it as a mere Galaxy Note 7 replica. It’s a lot more than that.
In this review, we break down the different aspects of the Mi Note 2 to tell you exactly why:
The Mi Note 2’s Design
As has been mentioned about the Mi Note 2 over and over again, it bears a striking resemblance to the Galaxy Note 7 in terms of design, albeit a tad less refined. For instance, the visibly thicker bezels that lend an overall wider look to the phone or the lack of sophistication in the way the glass merges with metal on the sides. Apart from that, the design of the two devices is essentially identical.
So, you get a curved glass on the rear and front – which Xiaomi calls the 3D glass – encased in a solid metal frame. The build quality is superior and the Mi Note 2 is a beauty to hold in your hands, as long as you can keep it safe from smudges, fingerprint marks, and dust that it is prone to. At the bottom of the device, you get a USB Type-C port flanked by symmetrical grills housing the speaker and microphone.
The audio jack and the IR blaster that can be used to control peripheral devices such as your TV have been placed on top. The right side of the handset sports the power button and the volume rocker, whereas the dual SIM slots have been placed on the left. There is a physical home button below the display screen, which also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. The home button is equipped with good capacitive functionalities, allowing users to access the home screen with a single touch on the home button as soon as the device is unlocked. Then you have two dots on either side of the home button that can be used as a Recent Apps button and a back key. Users have the option to choose which task they want to assign to which button and change the order at any time.
The Mi Note 2 sports a 5.7-inch screen with AMOLED display. Curiously enough, Xiaomi decided to roll with a 1080p resolution for the Note 2 even though it was already using Quad HD display resolution in some of its other devices. Nonetheless, the display is bright and sharp enough, and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference in resolution unless to decide to use your handset for an immersive VR experience.
The use of AMOLED screen definitely enhances the display quality, bringing high contrast, deep blacks, and vibrant colors alive on the screen. There is, of course, an option in the Settings menu to adjust the contrast and color as per your preference, but the most notable feature here is the inclusion of a reading mode that is designed to make reading in dim lighting easier on your eyes. The Mi Note 2 is a delightful device for an engaging media consumption experience, specifically because of its screen display quality. The makers have done a fine job of leveraging the large screen size of the Mi Note 2 to enhance the overall user experience.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Specs
The Mi Note 2 has all the specs of a high-end flagship phone under the hood. Both versions of the smartphone are powered by the advanced quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, capable of clocking a top frequency of 235 GHz. The Mi Note 2 is available in two space variants – 4GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage, and 6GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage. There is no room to expand the phone’s memory, but with 64GB and 128 GB of built-in memory space, you probably wouldn’t feel the need for it too. The device comes with dual SIM slots, with the 128 GB variant offering support for 22 LTE bands globally.
The integrated fingerprint scanner on the home button is very responsive and unlocks the device in well under a second. The fingerprint scanner failing to respond to your touch is an eventuality you’ll hardly ever face. The placement of the fingerprint scanner on the front makes it easier to access the phone even when it is placed on a desk or table.
The use of 1080p display works in favor of enhancing the battery longevity of the device, making the massive 4,070 mAh battery seem almost inexhaustible. On a single full charge, the Mi Note 2 will easily last you an entire day with moderate usage and even longer with light usage. Even if you use your Mi Note 2 to play games, browse social media, watch videos and more, you can still get an uninterrupted run time of over 6.5 hours, which is pretty great. Making the already awesome battery performance even better is the fast charging capabilities that the Mi Note 2 is equipped with. Using the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology, you can get your Mi Note 2 battery charged up to 83 percent in just 30 minutes.
The Xiaomi flagship device runs the MIUI 8, which is developed along the lines of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This latest iteration of Xiaomi’s home-grown operating system was introduced in 2016 and comes loaded with a host of improvements and new features aimed at enhancing the overall user experience. One of the key improvements to the MIUI OS comes in the form of a revamped notification panel where Quick Settings toggles have been bundled with notification updates for easy accessibility.
Apart from improved accessibility, the MIUI 8 also brings a great deal of interesting new features to the device, such as the inclusion of the Dual Apps features that allows you to run two interfaces of the same app, completely independent of each other. This could be helpful in case you want to access Facebook on your mobile with two different logins or run WhatsApp messenger for the two mobile numbers you are running on this dual SIM smartphone.
Another impressive feature is the Second Space that lets users create an add-on profile on the phone complete with its own apps and home screen. This too functions completely independent of your primary profile and can be of great use if you use the same mobile device for work and leisure, allowing you to separate your professional and personal phone profiles and go back and forth between the two with ease.
The rear camera of the Mi Note 2 comes with an impressive 22.56 MP of resolution and a f/2.0 aperture. You also get an 8 MP front camera. The camera app in itself is pretty basic with a handful of modes such as group selfie, panorama, manual, and beautify but the primary camera itself offers some striking electronic image stabilization. All in all, the Mi Note 2 is capable of capturing some really good shots with abundant sharpness and detail. Sometimes the camera struggles with too much or too little exposure and getting the white balance right, which may not be a trouble for everyday clicks but may interfere with the image quality if you are using your smartphone for some serious photography. These small shortcomings can, however, be corrected with the help of an HDR.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is not just yet another clone originating from China but a flagship device in its own right that has the potential to impress both in terms of its looks and performance. Xiaomi had rolled out this device exclusively for the Chinese market but it is now being shipped globally through platforms such as Gearbest where the 64GB variant is currently selling for $269.99.