Xiaomi has grown to one of the world's leading smartphone manufacturers with no real presence in the West. The Chinese company still managed to create a passionate fan base in regions such as Europe, even without official availability in many places.
Xiaomi recently made its official arrival to the UK market with a variety of products including smartphones, electric scooters, toothbrushes, wearables and even a kettle.
- Beautiful design
- Incredible performance
- Good cameras
- Excellent screen
- Super fast unlock
- Slot of considerable size
- No wireless charging
- Poor speaker
- Fingerprint scanner can be hit and miss
About this review
I (Richard Devine) am writing this review after three weeks of using the official UK version of Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro on the Vodafone network. Initially, the phone was shipped with MIUI 9, but has since been upgraded to MIUI 10, which has brought a number of new features. The phone ran Android 8.1.0 and was upgraded to the October security patch with the latest OTA.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro hardware and design
Is there another phone out there now that looks like the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro? Well, that depends on which side of the phone you're looking at. Because the front looks essentially the same as a bunch of other 2018 smartphones. Thin hems on the sides and the bottom, notch on the top, display the filling of the rest. I'll touch the viewer later, but nothing on the front of the Mi 8 Pro is what catches your eye.
It is what is behind the back that stands out. And boy, he's a looker.
The Mi 8 Pro was originally released as the Mi 8 Explorer Edition in Asia, and the transparent back is what really sets it apart. Much has been done by technicians about the fake circuits on display, but here is a brief news. Who really cares? Looks impressive. The actual circuit boards would not look so cool, I mean, have you ever seen what's really inside a phone?
The back of your phone does not look so good.
The rest of the rear, basically the battery, is genuine. You do not have wireless charging, because an ugly block would ruin the aesthetics, but the battery is real, the circuit is not and there are a lot of "inspiring" messages & # 39; all over.
The Xiaomi calls it Transparent Titanium and, instead of being a completely clear back panel, it has a nebulous titanium color that enhances the appeal. No one can deny that this phone exudes a unique sense of style. The sides of the phone look like stainless steel, though they are of course not, and the red power button that matches the details of the red camera adds just enough color to make the whole thing explode.
There have not been many phones in recent times when I'm purposely putting it upside down on my desk so I can keep looking back.
This is not to say that what's ahead is not great, though.
The monitor is a 6.21-inch AMOLED panel that supports the wide range of DCI-P3 colors. By default, the phone is set to a reasonably neutral color profile, but if you turn it on for a bit more contrast, it actually sings. The blacks are deep, the colors are vibrant and, with a maximum brightness of 600 nits, you have no problem seeing it outdoors.
The monitor also supports the now standard reading mode with programmed times to increase heat and give your eyes a rest at night, and since it is an AMOLED, you will also have an always-on active display.
Face Unlocking is far superior to the on-screen fingerprint scanner.
Part of the clean aesthetics of this phone is that there is no fingerprint sensor on the front or the back. The Mi 8 Pro is one of the first smartphone crops to have a scanner on display, and the positioning of it is absolutely perfect. It's a bit louder than you'd find in OnePlus 6, and any hand you hold on the phone seems like the perfect time to put your thumb.
The bad news is that it is not as good as a regular fingerprint scanner. This is not the fault of Xiaomi specifically, but apart from feeling that you are living in the future and showing off to your friends at the pub, the on-screen fingerprint scanner is more frustrating than delicious. It is based on pressure, so the first thing to do is to learn how hard it is to press, but although it is quite accurate, it is not accurate enough. There are many failed authentications, which is annoying when all phones with an external scanner work much better.
The other side is that you do not have to worry about the fingerprint scanner for quick access to biometric security. The MIUI 10 update has unlocked Face Unlock using the front camera's IR camera and is absolutely brilliant. As long as you are looking at the phone, you will never see the lock screen, you are instantly unlocked and on the home screen. And because it uses IR, the same performance applies even in a completely dark room. You can not use it to get into applications, so I've used it next to the fingerprint scanner, but I never use the latter to unlock the phone.
Also note that the speaker of this phone is bad. I have two other Xiaomi phones around now that cost significantly less and have better speakers per one mile of the country. It is abysmal. You can not watch a YouTube video without making it almost complete if you really want to hear it, and your only useful purpose in life is to wake you up in the morning and tell you when someone is trying to call you.
Performance and battery life
While the processor in the back is a failure, what's inside the phone is anything but. The Mi 8 Pro uses Qualcomm's current range-topper, the Snapdragon 845, paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. This in itself puts it at the top of the hierarchy, with internal specs rivaling other recent releases such as the Razer Phone 2 and the ASUS ROG Phone, both aimed at performance-enhancing gamers.
|Screen||6.21 inches FHD + (2248×1080) AMOLED
DCI-P3 color gamut
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo, MIUI 10|
|Rear Camera 1||12MP, ƒ / 1.8, OIS|
|Rear Camera 2||12 MP, ƒ / 2.4|
|Safety||Fingerprint on display, face unlocking|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.0|
Needless to say there are exactly zero performance concerns on the Mi 8 Pro. It swallows everything you play, never slows down and chews the likes of PUBG Mobile with ease at the highest settings.
There are a couple of things that can put some off, however. The first is the lack of a microSD card slot to expand these 128 GB of storage. Personally, that's twice what I really want from a phone, but there are people who just can not use a phone without expandable memory. So the Mi 8 Pro is not for these people.
The other is the battery life. By removing the scanner from the back fingerprints and having a nice clear back, the Mi 8 Pro actually has a battery less than 3000mAh than the Mi 8. Usually not something you would expect from a "Pro" model of anything , and while Xiaomi had his reasons, I'm not sure if the battery is something to shrink.
The good news is that it's still plenty enough to get through the day, and in addition to the times I've used it as a hotspot while I traveled or used it with my DJI Spark, arriving until the time I turned up for the night was not always a problem. But there is certainly no multi-day phone in anyone's world.
The Mi 8 Pro has at least Quick Charge 4+ behind its USB-C port (which is also where you will plug in your headphones), so if you need to recharge, this can be done very quickly. I've left the charger overnight almost every day, turning it on while eating breakfast and keeping the kids dressed, and when I'm done I'm fully charged and ready for the day.
A bigger battery would still have been better.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro Software
Android stock fans look away now because MIUI is as far from it as you'll find anywhere. MIUI is not just a skin, it's a complete overhaul of Android from top to bottom. While in the West is fully equipped with Google, in China native to Xiaomi, MIUI is built to operate without El Goog, so absolutely everything is personalized.
It's also one of the more custom versions of Android you'll find. Of course, appearance will split opinions – it's done forever. But in addition to its appearance, MIUI's performance was overall excellent. It's incredibly well optimized and if you're running a top Mi 8 Pro line or the Redmi 6 entry level, MIUI will provide a consistent and impressive experience.
In Mi 8 Pro, out of the box was MIUI 9 built on Android 8.1 Oreo, but during the course of this review, the MIUI 10 update has arrived, which has changed many things for the better. It's still based on Android 8.1 and, in addition to a more recent security patch, there are no platform changes.
The way Xiaomi handles MIUI is refreshing because as long as there is an update for Android 9.0 Pie (the regular Mi 8 is already starting to get it), it will change very little up front. Xiaomi adds a ton of great features, and the Android version below is in no way responsible for any user-facing user interface changes.
The great feature that MIUI 10 unlocked for the Mi 8 Pro is Face Unlock already mentioned, but the user interface also had a rather heavy overhaul and also introduced the gesture control of Xiaomi. They allow you to remove the buttons on the screen and navigate with a number of thefts, and I can say with joy that I think they run much better than Google's efforts in Android 9.0.
Xiaomi has its own full set of applications, some of which you'll ignore, but some of them are very useful. File manager and MiDrop applications work together and are very good, with MiDrop allowing you to send files quickly between devices. It even works on non-Xiaomi devices, provided you can install it or the Play Store file manager application. I used it with a Fire HD 10 tablet with great effect.
A preloaded application that does not work in the UK is the Themes store. The easy solution is to move your region to Hong Kong and then it works very well. The standard theme is very white, but I had no problem making the change in the region, applying a scorching black theme, then moving region to UK and all was well.
The MIUI stock launcher remains an app-drawer free case, but nowadays it has App Vault, a panel to the left of the home screen that you can pin apps and shortcuts to, but if you want an app drawer you I'll be using something else. The Little Launcher from Xiaomi is in the Play Store now, as found in Little F1 and it has a drawer, but it does not come preloaded in this version of MIUI.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro Camera
The camera does not receive an update on the normal Mi 8, so you get the same dual-camera 12MP setting with a 4-axis wide-angle lens with ƒ / 1.8 and a 12MP telephoto and portrait lens at ƒ / 2.4.
It also has an "AI mode" as many other leading smartphones are beginning to add, essentially intelligent scene detection, with the aim of making your photos appear without having to edit them yourself. It does the job very well without being too aggressive.
The Xiaomi camera application is also not overly complex, with complete manual controls included. A little annoying is that you can not simply choose the size of your images in megapixels, just the frame rate and the high, medium or low settings. The dual-camera watermark is also enabled by default, so you'll probably want to turn it off. Video recording can be done in 4K to 30FPS resolution and up to 240FPS for slow motion in 1080p.
The picture quality is generally very good, although it falls a bit in low light. I think it's partly down to AI mode trying to brighten up everything that just leaves you with noise, but if you have the patience, you can certainly work around it. It's not Pixel 3, though.
The dynamic range and detail are good and having the OIS certainly helps keep things sharp. Portrait mode has excellent edge detection, but when shooting close-up pictures, you can also get a fairly solid depth of field without it.
The front camera is 20MP and has most of the same software available, including HDR and portrait mode. Edge detection in portrait mode is also great on the front camera, so your selfies are always at their best.
Should You Buy The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro? Yes!
Terms like "flagship killer" have been used in the past by various brands, but in the case of Xiaomi, it is basically how the company built its smartphone business. The name may be new on the shelves of the UK, but the brand is still known around the world for providing high quality hardware at more affordable prices.
The Mi 8 Pro is the best dog from the Xiaomi launch line and worth every pound of its price tag of £ 499. It's not perfect, but in a sea of smartphones, no other looks like this, and definitely has the performance to do backup. I wish the battery was bigger and the speaker was as good as the cheaper Xiaomi phones, but the overall experience is great.
There is also innovation such as the use of a fingerprint scanner on the screen, all the while feeling like a quality product that the established brands charged for more.
The biggest competition for the Mi8 Pro in the UK comes from the similarly priced OnePlus 6T and Xiaomi's Poco F1, which is a bit cheaper, but with similar internal hardware. The Mi 8 Pro is exquisite, and if you are attracted to it, buy it and be very happy indeed.
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