Color me somewhat jaded about technology reviews, but I have a problem when Apples don’t get compared to apples. Technology websites bask in the glory of having a readership that laps up smartphone reviews which fail to compare and contrast the way God intended.
Here’s a good example. Xiaomi makes smartphones in China and by many accounts their premium smartphones are comparable to Samsung’s Galaxy class models and Apple’s iPhones but for hundreds of dollars less. Have you ever seen anyone with a Xiaomi Mi smartphone? I’ve read about them. The specifications are, well, interesting to compare, and the price seems attractive, but what would help a consideration of compare and contrast if such devices were actually compared against something more than hardware specifications.
After all, it’s the software that drives the hardware, right? Or, do technology reviewers simply think all software is the same? With 98-percent of mobile device malware running on Android devices that notion doesn’t hold much water.
Let’s take the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 as an example. Alun Taylor:
It’s already difficult to avoid people claiming that Apple invented the zero-bezel mobile phone with the iPhone X.
No it’s not. Not even rabid iPhone X fanboys say that. I’ve never heard it or read it anywhere.
They are, of course, talking nonsense.
No, you’re talking nonsense. Please make it stop.
The current craze for ‘all screen’ smartphones is largely down to Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, who released a smartphone called the Mi Mix in November of last year.
Let’s compare today’s newest Xiaomi smartphone with iPhone 6.
As if Apple is always first with such iterative advancements. Since iPhone X’s new Apple-designed OLED display is considered the best display ever in a smartphone, let’s roll with that. And, no, Xiaomi’s screens are not exactly bezel-less. Small, yes; but visible and with an ugly fat bar on the bottom. Micro-bezel designs are the trend– you know, like flat slabs of glass with touchscreens and rounded corners have been since iPhone was introduce in 2007.
How’s the facial recognition?
The general consensus is that ‘bezel-free’ means having a screen that takes up more than 80 percent of the device’s front surface area. In a traditional design that number is much lower — 72 percent for the Samsung Galaxy S7, and a lowly 65 percent for the new iPhone 8.
Ancient technology, no?
All of the top contenders in the zero-bezel stakes — the iPhone X, the Mix 2, LG’s V30 and Samsung’s Galaxy 8 and Note 8 — have screen-to-body ratios in the 81-84 percent range.
Oh, good. I was afraid Apple was falling behind.
Despite its skinny bezels, the first-generation Mi Mix was still a bit of a big lump. No matter how much you minimise the screen surround, a 6.4-inch display still makes for a big phone. The new model uses a 5.99-inch screen, which along with the 12 percent reduction in the depth of the ‘chin’ makes it easier to hold.
No, it doesn’t. The size of the chin has no bearing on whether a device is easier to hold. It’s a flat slab of glass with rounded corners, a few buttons, some cameras, and a battery.
OK, let’s get ready for heaping helping of technological dumb for the sake of being different.
Xiaomi has managed to stretch the screen right to the top of the device without recourse to the unsightly ‘notch’ seen on the iPhone X. However, this has meant moving the webcam to below the screen, which takes some getting used to — not least because if you hold your phone in your right hand it’s all too easy to cover the camera lens with your thumb.
Yep, no notch. But there’s an unsightly chin. Let’s call it a butt. That works. iPhone X doesn’t have a butt. Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 does. Samsung’s Galaxy class newbies, too.
One thing the Mix 2 does give away is waterproofing. Both the iPhone X and Galaxy S8 are water resistant (IP67 and IP68 respectively), but Xiaomi’s flagship is not. Having never dropped my phone in a puddle or down the toilet I’m not too bothered about this, but if you regularly use your phone in the bath or out in the pouring rain you may be.
So, the advantage of this iPhone X killer is half the price and half the hardware specifications that matter. Specifications? Camera in the butt. What about software? Typical for Android smartphones, this one runs last year’s Android Nougat– meanwhile, more than 60-percent of all iPhone and iPad users have iOS 11 which makes older devices even better than when they were new.
Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 is a stunning smartphone. It looks and feels fantastic, performs well and represents a near-miracle of packaging.
Not a word about software or platform or ecosystem and you can’t really walk into a store to see, touch, hold, try before you buy.
And on top of all that, you’ll have a phone that none of your friends or colleagues have.
From the same folks who think iPhone users are sheeple who go for an iPhone as a status symbol.
The iPhone is not just a smartphone. It’s a platform and ecosystem which honors privacy and enhances security for its users. Xiaomi might make some nice hardware at a lower price point than Apple does iPhone X but it just isn’t the same. Remember, the road less traveled is often less traveled for a reason.