Q: So, who is the Xiaomi Mi Max for?
A: Definitely for that uncle of yours who makes phone calls on his 7-inch tablet (and a few other people).
So, Xiaomi held a ‘fan-event’ in Delhi a couple of days ago and in addition to causing a riot while distributing t-shirts to their ‘fans’ (we Indians go neanderthal when it comes to claiming free stuff), made the announcement of their biggest phone (no, phablet) yet, the Mi Max.
After being amused by hearing about the police being called to calm people down at a technology event, seeing Mi Max try hard to make us believe that the Mi Max is totally pocket-able (it isn’t) and noticing the fact that the Mi Max was announced the same week as the release of ‘The BFG’ in theatres (coincidence?), I got thinking as to who could/would actually use and draw tangible value from this device. After all, if companies keep shoving 6-inch phones down our throats (Google tried doing that a couple of years ago with the Nexus 6 and a host of Chinese manufacturers have at least one phablet of that size in their lineups), there has to be a defined user-set who they see using these phones as their daily drivers.
The first user-set on my mind, the technology enthusiasts like you and me, or anyone who is looking to buy the best mid-range ‘phone’ are definitely not the users that would/should prefer the Mi Max over other, better, ‘phones’ (notice how I stress on the ‘phones’ bit) available at the same price range. Out in two variants running a full HD 6.44-inch display with Gorilla Glass 3, 3GB/4GB RAM, Snapdragon 650/652 processor, 32GB/128GB storage, a 16MP PDAF back-camera and a 5MP front-camera for selfies (if you can balance this behemoth in one hand to take selfies, that is) the Mi Max is pretty average in the specs department at the respective prices of INR 14,999 and INR 19,999 from a ‘phone’ perspective. The battery capacity is above average, though, (4850 mAh) and based on the Xiaomi-made video making rounds on social networking sites, can outrun Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s while running GPS (should be good for more than a day’s use, I guess). Xiaomi is also throwing in 3 months’ worth of free movies on Hungama Play and a 1-year subscription to Hungama Music. But, it is still a phablet with an unwieldy screen (hell, I think that even my iPhone 6s Plus’s 5.5 inch screen is unwieldy for 83% of people out there) which is almost impossible to pocket, has average specs (battery aside) which scream mid-range and the worst thing of all, from my perspective, is that it runs a custom Android ROM (Xiaomi’s MIUI). I’ve had some experience with MIUI (on my Mi Pad) and few other custom ROMs and I thoroughly despise them (you may call me an Android purist). For me, the benefits of consistent performance and regular, guaranteed, updates far outweigh any benefits that any of these custom ROMs pitch. That said, I do appreciate slight customizations like those of the new OxygenOS, but, MIUI goes out of its way to ensure that you don’t recognize that your phone is running Android (something that most Chinese manufacturers do with their Android custom ROMs). I think we’d be better off buying Moto G4/G4 Plus (similar specs with almost stock Android and starting at INR 2000 lesser that the Mi Max), Moto X Play (similar specs with a better camera and turbo charging) or OnePlus X (beautiful design, better processor) against the entry-level Mi Max at INR 14,999. For the more power-packed version of the Mi Max, I think that the OnePlus 2 (better design, better specs) or the iPhone 5s (superb design, iOS, the only phone that fits into your pockets with space to spare and holds its own in performance too) would be better bets. Or, given the fact that we buy a phone only once in a while, we could put in more money and go for the best phone money can buy right now, the OnePlus 3 (more on why I think that is the case later). The most important feature that all these options have that the Mi Max doesn’t, they’ll fit in your pockets without making you buy cargo pants.
There is another user-set that I can think of; the people who can’t/don’t want to buy two devices for two use-cases and would prefer to have one device which could be used as a phone, a tablet and sort of a primary computer (the millions of Indians getting onto the smartphone bandwagon for whom (and probably their families) the one device they have will be their primary computer, students with tight pockets who want both a phone and a tablet and those aforementioned uncles who’d prefer slapping a 7-inch screen onto their ears to make phone calls). For this set of users, the Mi Max might make a good choice of phablet/computer (notice how my focus has changed from looking at the Mi Max as a ‘phone’ above to a device with more diverse functions). At these price-points and device-configurations, there are only a couple of devices that stand a chance against the Mi max (Asus Zenfone 2 Laser, Lenovo Phab Plus, Yu Yureka Note) and the Mi Max outperforms each of these in key areas like processor, camera, battery life and the version on Android that it ships with. The specs that the Mi Max offers, along with good screen real estate, makes it a very good choice for this set of users.
Well, those are my thoughts about the Xiaomi Mi Max and who would/should want to get one. Sound off your views in the comments and we can have a good time agreeing/disagreeing with each other about these.
Originally published at techtastic.wordpress.com on July 6, 2016.