When Sharp and the Essential phone pioneered the waterdrop notch, nobody paid attention as they were, well, niche devices. When Apple notch-ified its whole lineup to fit the TrueDepth camera kit at the front and still brag with huge screen diagonals, most Chinese phone makers paid attention and started issuing one notch-y phone after another. Not Xiaomi, though, as it held out on the top bezel protrusion for its flagship devices, leaving it for phones like the A2 Lite, for instance.
Moreover, the "dewdrop" front design certainly contributes to the whopping 88% screen-to-body ratio of the Mate 20, for instance. Such an approach to the venerable "all-screen" design is all the rage these days and has proven successful to leave a bezel-less impression in the user, but there is another budding trend here.
We aren't talking about eventual exotics like a hole for the front camera directly in the display, or a second screen on the back to use the rear shooter as selfie-taker, but rather about the return of the good ol' sliding design. Oppo has one on the Find X, Vivo started it all with the NEX, but Xiaomi went all-out with the just-announced Mi Mix 3 and showed everybody what a true "all-screen" phone actually means.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 Design
With the Mi Mix 3 teasers, Xiaomi hinted at a screen-to-body ratio way above the 90% mark, achieved by separating the screen part from all the other paraphernalia that usually goes into the top bezel, and it delivers. The screen half slides back and forth with a satisfying click to reveal a dual front camera when you need it, but when it is shut, the phone is indeed 93.4% "all-screen" at the front.
The sliding mechanism is magnetic, so there are much fewer things to break or wear out, and it has been tested more than 300,000 times to gauge its endurance. Not only can you assign five different sounds to the sliding motion, but also different actions to be executed when you push the screen down, like answering a phone call, or starting an app, cool!
Granted, the slider approach, while seemingly the Holy Grail of bezel-trimming, comes with its own set of issues. Finding a case for such phone would be a challenge that could entail some protection compromises, but Xiaomi does include one in the box, so you are covered in that regard.
The frame is built out of 7000-series aluminum alloy with tapered ceramic back and the phone and the Mi Mix 3 comes in three enticing colors - a sweet Jade Green, Sapphire Blue, Onyx Black, and a "Forbidden City Palace Museum" special edition that comes with 10GB RAM, and is the most expensive in the bunch.
As you can expect from a Q4 2018 flagship, the Mi Mix 3 comes powered by a Snapdragon 845 chipset paired with 6/8/10GB RAM, and up to 256GB storage. A fairly pedestrian 3200mAh with fast-charging technology is backing the whole set up and there are wireless charging coils under the hood, plus the handset comes with its own 10W charger in the box, sweet! A 6.4" FHD+ screen of the OLED variety fronts the offering, complete with an Always-on display functionality.
The dual camera on the back consists of a 12MP main sensor with 1.4-micron pixels and fast dual-pixel autofocus, paired with a 12MP telephoto lens for 2x "optical" zoom. The usual AI shenanigans like scene recognition, faux portrait bokeh and studio lighting are thrown in, but we'll have more on the camera capabilities when we get a unit for review.
The front-facing kit consists of one 24MP camera and another 2MP sensor for depth perception in portrait shots. The main cam can do pixel-binning, resulting in virtually combined large 1.8-micron pixels that are supposed to gather more light in night shot scenarios.
Besides the unique 10GB RAM version - a first for the industry - the Mi Mix 3 will also have a model with 5G connectivity, coming in "early 2019" when the first 5G phones from other manufacturers are expected to make a cameo, too. Previously, the Mi Mix 3 was rumored to come with Snapdragon 855, so that might be the model bandied about to have Qualcomm's next-gen 7nm chipset.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 price and release date
The Mi Mix 3 is available for pre-order immediately, and pricing takes off at the mere 3,299 yuan ($475) for the 6GB RAM / 128GB of storage model. The next trim is 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for 3,999 yuan ($575), while the record-holding 10GB RAM model is a "Forbidden City" edition that has 256GB of storage and costs 4,999 yuan ($720).
Expect these prices to rise 20-30% when the phone comes in the Westworld, but Xiaomi throws in its 10W wireless charger in the box for free to soothe those markup pains. Pre-orders will run until October 31, and the Mi Mix 3 will start shipping from November 1. Any takers?
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.