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Xiaomi Mi 8 Launched

At its 8th anniversary celebrations Xiaomi announced a brand new smartphone called the Mi 8. The Xiaomi Mi 8 outpaces its currently available flagship, the Mi Mix 2S, which was more focussed on the design rather than featuring some innovative tech when compared to the first Mi Mix.

At the same keynote, Xiaomi founder, Lei Jun also announced a smaller Mi 8 SE, which comes with slightly toned down specifications.

As for the Mi 8, it will be available in three RAM and storage variants, a 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage version at CNY 2,699 (roughly Rs 28,000), a 6 GB RAM + 128 GB variant and the top of the line option that comes with 6 GB + 256 GB internal storage at CNY 3,299 (roughly Rs 34,000).

Then there is also the more interesting variant of the Xiaomi Mi 8 called the ‘Explorer Edition’.

The Mi 8 Explorer Edition adds an under display fingerprint reader and 3D face unlock capabilities using structured light to analyse face patterns in 3D. The device also comes with 8 GB RAM which is the highest of the lot, but pairs that with 128 GB of storage. All of this hardware is now actually visible to the naked eye, thanks to its transparent rear glass screen. The Mi 8 Explorer Edition is also the most expensive Xiaomi smartphone available at CNY 3,799 (roughly Rs 40,000). So yes, this is quite the jump from the standard stuff we have seen from the Chinese smartphone maker so far.

So how all of this hardware fare against the current “flagship killer”, the OnePlus 6? Moreover, how does the Xiaomi Mi 8 compare with the premium flagships from Apple, Samsung and Huawei? Let’s first glance through a specifications comparison of the same in the table below.

Smartphone Xiaomi Mi 8/ Explorer Edition OnePlus 6 Samsung S9+ Huawei P20 Pro Apple iPhone X
Display Size (inch) 6.21 6.28 6.2 6.1 5.8
Resolution (pixels) 1,080 x 2,248 1,080 x 2,280 1,440 x 2,960 1,080 x 2,244 2,436 x 1,125
Pixel Density (PPI) 402 402 529 408 458
Dimensions(mm) 154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7
Weight (gm) 175 177 189 180 174
Dual SIM Yes Yes Yes (Variant) Yes No
SIM Type Nano-SIM Nano-SIM Nano-SIM Nano-SIM Nano-SIM
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Exynos 9810 Hisilicon Kirin 970 A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture
CPU Cores Octa-core Octa-core Octa-core, Octa-core Octa-core Hexa-core
CPU Clock Speed (GHz) 4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 385 4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 385 4x Kryo 385 Gold @ 2.7 & 4x Kryo 385 Silver @ 1.7 and 4x Mongoose M3 @ 2.8 & 4x Cortex A55 @ 1.7 4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.4 GHz & 4x Cortex-A53 @1.8 GHz Hexa-core 4 x effieciency cores + 2 Performance cores
GPU Adreno 630 Adreno 630 Adreno 630, Mali G72 MP18 Mali-G72 MP12
RAM 6, 8 (Explorer) 6, 8 6 6 3
Ruggedness IP68 IP 67 IP67 under IEC standard 60529
On-Board Memory 64, 128, 256 64, 128, 256 (Avengers) 64, 128, 256 128 64 GB, 256
Expandable Memory No No Yes, up to 256 Yes, up to 256 No
Sensors Face ID (Explorer), fingerprint (rear-mounted), under-display fingeprint (Explorer), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass Iris scanner, fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Heart-rate, SpO2 Fingerprint Reader, Gravity Proximity, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass Face ID
Three-axis gyro
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Primary Camera 12 MP, f/1.8 + 12 MP f/2.4 16 MP, f/1.7 and 20 MP, f/1.7 12MP, f/1.5-2.4, 12 MP f/2.4 52 mm 40 MP f/1.8, 20 MP f/1.6 and 8 MP f/2.4 12 MP wide-angle f/1.8 aperture,
telephoto f/2.4 aperture
Optical Image Stabilization Yes Yes Yes Yes (for 40 MP) Yes
Camera Array Dual Camera Dual Camera Dual Camera Triple Camera Dual Camera
Autofocus System Dual pixel, phase detection autofocus Phase detection autofocus Phase detection Phase detection and laser autofocus Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Secondary Camera 20 MP 16 MP 8MP, f/1.7 24 MP, f/2.0 7 MP, f/2.2
Video Capture 1080p @30 fps, 2160p @ 60 fps 720p @480 fps, 1080p @ 60 fps, 2160p @ 60 fps 4K, 720p 960 fps, HDR 4K (30fps) 4K upto 60 fps
Flash LED Dual-LED LED dual-LED Quad-LED
OS Version Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo-based EMUI 8.1 iOS 11
AI (Smart Assistant) Google Assistant Google Assistant Yes, Bixby Google Assistant Siri
GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, DLNA, hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz + 5GHz, Wi-Fi hotspot 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD v5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX v4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR, aptX HD v5.0
NFC Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Infrared No Yes No Yes No
Fingerprint Scanner Yes, Rear button/ Under display Yes, Rear button Yes, Rear button Yes, Home button No
3.5mm jack No Yes Yes No No
Radio No No Yes, FM Radio Yes, FM Radio No
USB Type Type-C 1.0 reversible connector Type-C 1.0 reversible connector Type-C Reversible connector Type-C reversible Reversible connector
USB Standard USB v2.0 USB v2.0 USB 3.1 USB v3.1 Lightning
Battery (mAh) 3,400 3,300 3,500 4,000 2,716
Fast charging Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Colors Blue, Black, White, Gold Midnight Black, Mirror Black, Silk White Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple Twilight, Black, Midnight Blue, Pink Gold Space Grey, Silver
Prices in India TBA (estimated Rs 31,000) Starting at Rs 34,999 Rs 64,900 Rs 64,999 Rs 89,000 onwards

From what we can see, the Xiaomi Mi 8 does offer good value for money. It’s arch rival will be the OnePlus 6, even though founder Lei Jun, took a lot of pride in comparing the device with Apple’s iPhone X and the Huawei P20 Pro.

While I have used both the P20 Pro and the Galaxy S9 Plus, both of these smartphones belong to the premium price range and deliver stunning image quality keeping in mind their high price tags that also deliver features like water and dust resistance. Both smartphones performed admirably well in our reviews so we will have to wait and see how the new Mi 8 stacks up when it comes to camera performance.

Going purely by the specifications on paper (the table above), Xiaomi does offer plenty of hardware at a low price, with its only competitor being the OnePlus 6.

While it is a bit disappointing that the device does feature a notch after resisting it on previously released smartphones. I would give Xiaomi some credit because it has packed in something more in terms of the infrared face unlock technology (3D Face unlock on the Explorer Edition), something that is rare in this price range.

If we compare the OnePlus 6 with the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, things look even worse for the “flagship killer”, as it packs in both an under display fingerprint reader (like on the Vivo X21 UD) and a more advanced 3D face unlock technology.

And I haven’t even started with the fancy, new MIUI 10 software update that comes with Android 8.1 inside! Indeed, the Mi 8 appears to be winner given the new technologies that it has included in its new flagship. OnePlus used its old formula to deliver the best OnePlus ever, but then again forgot that competition is working on OnePlus killers too.

All of a sudden, it now appears that despite OnePlus’s efforts with the OnePlus 6, Chinese manufacturers are bringing in their A game this year and Xiaomi’s showcase of new technologies is only the beginning.

If you have been keeping up with the rumours, there are more exciting smartphone offerings coming from brands like Lenovo this year. Called the Lenovo Z5, the smartphone’s teasers, by Lenovo VP Chang Cheng showcase a truly bezel-less design, with no display notch4 TB of internal storage and a 45 day battery standby time. Let’s also not forget Vivo who is also out to prove itself by bringing the bezel-less Apex concept into production.

Add up all of the above, and it appears that smartphone scene is about to get a lot more interesting this year, isn’t it?

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