After several years of threat, Xiaomi finally came to the UK with a range of budget-priced smartphones that were available from as little as £ 99, including Mi Mix 3. But "China's Apple" has brought something new Just another, forgotten one Chinese smartphone?
At first glance, the Mi Mix 3 of £ 499 seems pretty boring. The front has a huge display, just like the rest. The back looks just like the rest of shiny glass. It has polished metal sides, just like most. Pick up the phone and find it hides more than a secret.
A closer look at the good-looking 6.39-inch full-HD screen + AMOLED shows that there is nowhere a hole anywhere, and it only has a very slim bezel. Instead, the screen slides down from earlier and shows a dual camera ready to take your selfies.
The screen slides with a solid and soothing sound and can be accompanied by your tone dialing. By default, the slider starts the selfie camera, but it can be configured to launch other apps.
The back is not made of glass, but of ceramic. Highly polished and a fingerprint magnet, but surprisingly handy in the hand, which together with the curved sides makes the sticking to the Mi Mix 3 relatively easy considering its size.
With a width of 74.7 mm and a height of 157.9 mm, the Mi Mix 3 is a good choice more or less the same as its direct competitors: the Honor View20 and the OnePlus 6T.
But the Mi Mix 3 weighs 218g, which is 38g heavier than the Honor and even heavier than Apple's 208g iPhone XS Max, which makes it harder to handle.
A rear dual camera pops out in the upper left corner of the back, while a good and fast fingerprint scanner is within reach of the index finger in the center.
Screen: 6.39 in FHD + AMOLED (403 ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM: 6 GB RAM
Operating system: MIUI 10.2 based on Android 9 Pie
Camera: dual 12 megapixel front camera, dual 24 MP selfie camera
Connectivity: dual Sim, LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 5, wireless charging and GPS
Dimensions: 157.9 x 74.7 x 8.5 mm
Weight: 218g  Performance at the highest level
The dual camera on the back has more than a passing resemblance to that of Apple's iPhones. Photo: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The Mi Mix 3 offers the same top-notch Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 6 GB RAM as most of its competitors from 2018, making it just as powerful. Despite the cheaper price you buy a flagship.
That means the Mi Mix 3 does just about anything you want, be it graphically intensive games, photo or video editing. Nothing feels slow when apps are loaded around the clock.
The battery life is also solid, but not exceptional. It lasts about 25 hours between heavy duty loads, about five hours behind its direct competitors. If you forget to recharge the device overnight, it will survive the next morning at least until your wake-up alarm.
Charging with the included cable charger reaches 50% within 30 minutes and is full in 90 minutes. A small circular wireless charger, in which the wired charger is plugged in via USB-C, is included in the box, which is rare on any phone, let alone at a great price.
Like many Chinese smartphone brands, Xiaomi Android adapts its mobile phones to MIUI (Mi UI) software.
The Mi Mix 3 runs on the latest version of MIUI 10.2, which is based on Android 9 Pie. but looks like a cross between Android and iOS. There is no app drawer where all apps like iOS need to be placed on the homescreen, which inevitably leads to folders with app icons that you want to hide.
In addition, several apps are preloaded B. AliExpress, Twitter, Facebook, Opera and the MIUI forum, but you can delete them.
In general, MIUI works well, but there are some odd ways. For example, you can not swipe notifications to the left, but to the right. On the left side of the home screen is the company's own shortcuts screen, your calendar, a security widget, and a notepad that I can swap with the Google Discover feed every day of the week. There's also a confusing mix of DND and mute buttons that can lead to conflicts. Disable DND and the ringtones and tones will be activated even if you have set the phone to only vibrate, which means you need to press the mute key again.
A good part of MIUI is the navigational movement that is close to Apple's best-in-class system for iOS. Swipe from the bottom up to go home, holding down the most recently used apps. Swipe or hold down one of the two edges of the screen to get to the last used app.
The rear 12-megapixel dual camera is similar in construction to most, with one acting as a normal wide-angle camera and the other a 2x telephoto camera.
Images taken in good light are great, and with a good amount of detail and texture, relatively balanced colors, and precise focus when you get a lock. I found it difficult to occasionally get a fixed focus when using the 2x zoom and forced myself to repeatedly tap the screen to slow down the recording.
Zooming up to 8x matches some of the best too, which preserves a good amount of detail at maximum zoom.
The AI system identifies scenes and color adjustments accordingly. This worked pretty well and was not overly aggressive on Instagram-like bursts that produce some similar systems. The performance in low light was okay, but not the best. The portrait mode was just as good, but not great.
The slider selfie camera is a bit mixed. It has the ability to capture a good amount of detail but has difficulty focusing properly more than once. In the beauty mode, skin irregularities can be compensated if too many details do not flatter. The performance in low light conditions was mediocre and caused a lot of noise.
Overall, the Mi Mix 3 has a powerful camera system that can compete with most of the top phones of the last year, but in some areas is not the absolute best