After loads and loads of rumors and leaks, Xiaomi early this week unveiled the next generation of Mi series flagship device the new Mi 8. Earlier, Xiaomi is thought to bring the Mi 7 moniker to the market but as the company celebrates its 8-Year founding anniversary, Xiaomi instead opted to call their next Mi device as the Mi 8.
The anniversary edition of the Mi series will make a few first in the Android market with one being the first Android device to sport a true-3D facial recognition which we first saw in the iPhone X. Similar to the iPhone X, The Xiaomi Mi 8 will sport a notch and not just a notch that everyone else is trying to have on most Android devices, Xioami’s purpose of the notch is closely similar to that from the iPhone X which holds the key components of the 3D face scanning technology. What really should have gone away with the Mi 8 is the noticeable chin that Xiaomi could have removed given that the notch already have all the necessary parts needed for the sensors on the front.
The new Mi 8 will be available in three variants. As an entry-level of the three there’s the Mi 8 SE version which is basically a toned-down version of the base model Mi 8 and the top of the line variant being the Mi 8 EE or the Explorer Edition version that has a transparent glass back plate and the first Xiaomi device to sport an in-display fingerprint sensor.
First up is the new Mi 8, the base model and the one that gets all the most practicality in terms of specs and price ratio. It is built in a full Metal Aluminum frames sandwich by a sheet of glass. It has a large 6.21-inch Full-HD+ display on an 18.7:9 Aspect ratio on a Samsung built AMOLED panel.
And then, there’s the notch on the display, not just a simple small notch that one could find on the latest Android devices, like we’ve mentioned earlier, the notch on the Mi 8 holds the key equipments for Xiaomi Face ID tech where in the case for the Mi 8, it uses InfraRed Facial Recognition technology as well. Besides the ground braking Facial ID detection, the notch also houses the handset’s front facing camera and its earpiece.
The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset and Adreno 630 GPU. It comes equipped with 6GB of RAM and a choice between 64GB/128GB/256GB internal storage with no option to expand, so it would take a little decision-making to decide which of these are going to fit anyone’s needs. And making things possible on the handset is the embedded 3400 mAh battery which supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ but there’s no wireless charging though.
For Photography, the new handset includes a twin 12 Megapixel sensors on the back with one being a wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 Aperture lens and Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and a secondary Telephoto Lens with an f/2.0 Aperture. These sensors can capture 4K videos at 30fps, users can also take slow motion videos up to 240fps both in 1080p and in standard 720p. On the front, there’s a 20 Megapixel Selfie shooter with an f/2.0 Aperture, a significant improvement over its predecessors.
There’s no flagship in 2018 without AI and that holds true to the Mi 8 as well, with AI beauty modes and scene detection which tells which scenes are being shot, what objects are being focused into and sets a predefined settings to make a perfect shot.
Connectivity-wise, the Xiaomi Mi 8 supports dual SIM with 4G LTE connectivity as well as standard connectivity features such as dual-band high-speed Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 with AptX HD support, NFC, USB-C connectivity and a dual GPS receiver – A first on a smartphone which binds L1 and L5 frequencies to enhance location-based service with better accuracy. One thing to note though is that like the Mi 6, the Mi 8 forgets the 3.5mm audio jack so users could either use a USB-C type earphone or though USB-C adaptor for standard 3.5mm earphones and headsets, better yet use a bluetooth headset and enjoy music wirelessly.
And last but not the least, since Xiaomi already moved into on-screen navigation, the home button has now been omitted and the fingerprint sensor now sits on the back.
Mi 8 Explorer Edition
In addition to the base model Mi 8, Xiaomi also has the Mi 8 Explorer Edition of simple Mi 8 EE for short. It has all the qualities as the standard Mi 8 but one notable difference between them is that the Mi 8 EE has a transparent glass plate on the back which anyone could peak the innards of the handset, though reports have pop out recently that this could be fake and that Xiaomi just slapped a sticker on the back to make it look as users are seeing the actual internals of the handset but according to Xiaomi, that isn’t the case and that the back cover of the handset is actually transparent.
Another key technology that can only be found on the EE variant is the use of 3D facial Recognition technology which refines the InfraRed Facial Recognition on the Mi 8, this tech can be seen as a 1:1 similarity in function as found on the iPhone X. And then without the home button on the front and having the fingerprint scanner on the back seems like old school, Xiaomi first venture into the in-display fingerprint sensor technology starts with the Mi 8 EE and is seen as one of the coolest featured on the handset besides the first true Face Unlock technology on any Android smartphone.
While the EE version has the same processing power as the standard Mi 8, the Explorer Edition handset packs 8GB of RAM and will be available in 128GB of internal storage only. Battery is also a little wind-down to just 3000mah, but that’s probably because of addition components inside the device. Besides these differences, everything else is what the Mi 8 is made of.
Mi 8 SE
While the first two variants of the new Xiaomi flagships are a beast, the third variant is set to tone things down pretty noticeably and the naming convention is even somewhat similar to that from the iPhone with the Mi 8 SE. What the SE stands for though is “Special Edition” according to Xiaomi. But that doesn’t seem to coincide with what the Mi 8 SE actually has for users.
Unlike the Mi 8 and the Mi 8 EE, the Mi 8 SE has no InfraRed-based or the 3D Face ID tech found on the higher end variants however the notch on top of the display is unfortunately is also coming to the Mi 8 SE which only holds primarily the earpiece and the front-facing camera
The display is a little smaller at 5.88-inch but it’s still an AMOLED panel thankfully with a full-HD+ resolution and the same 18.7:9 Aspect ratio. Being part of the flagship series, it also has to be built as premium as the main flagship itself and the Mi 8 SE does also offer that same premium look and feel. It has a full-metal aluminum frame and a glass sheet both on the front and back.
In terms of power and performance, the Mi 8 SE comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, a mid-range chipset which is a little modest than the SD845 chipset but that doesn’t mean lower in performance in real world scenario as the new SD710 series are flagship chipsets for mid-range devices. The handset will be made available with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM and an internal storage of 64GB.
In terms of Photography, the Mi 8 SE also has a dual sensors on the back but houses a 12 Megapixel primary lens which has a f/1.9 Aperture backed by a 5 Megapixel Telephoto lens. It doesn’t mention any OIS in the specs sheet but we’re looking at EIS to play a key roles in its photography needs. It also records 4K video in 30fps and 1080p in both standard and 120fps slow-motion video and 240fps in 720p. The front-facing camera is a 20 Megapixel unit with an f/2.0 Aperture. These equipment is back but AI technologies that are also found on the Mi 8 and the Mi 8 EE.
For connectivity, the Mi 8 SE comes with dual LTE SIM slots and other standard connectivity features such as high-speed Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C and GPS with A-GPS support. Like the Mi 8, the Mi 8 SE has its fingerprint sensor on the back and comes with a 3120mAh embedded battery which supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.
The three new Flagship devices from Xiaomi runs on the latest Android 8.1 Oreo operating system with Xiaomi’s latest proprietary MIUI 10 on top.
The Mi 8 will be available starting on June 5th with prices starting at CNY2,699 for the 6GB/64GB version, the 6GB/128GB variant cost CNY2,999, while the 6GB/256GB option will be sold at CNY3,299. It will be available in Blue / Gold / White and Black color variants both online and offline Mi Stores and partner retailer stores in China.
The Mi 8 EE will be available in single transparent variant and costs CNY3,799, this version of the flagship though will be available a next month.
The Mi 8 SE on the other hand starts at CNY1,799 for the 4GB variant and CNY1,999 for the 6GB version, they will be coming in Red / Blue / Gold / Grey with market availability to be announced on a later date.