At its 8th anniversary celebrations Xiaomi announced a brand new smartphone called the Mi 8. The Xiaomi Mi 8 outpaces its currently available flagship, the Mi Mix 2S, which was more focussed on the design rather than featuring some innovative tech when compared to the first Mi Mix.
At the same keynote, Xiaomi founder, Lei Jun also announced a smaller Mi 8 SE, which comes with slightly toned down specifications.
As for the Mi 8, it will be available in three RAM and storage variants, a 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage version at CNY 2,699 (roughly Rs 28,000), a 6 GB RAM + 128 GB variant and the top of the line option that comes with 6 GB + 256 GB internal storage at CNY 3,299 (roughly Rs 34,000).
Then there is also the more interesting variant of the Xiaomi Mi 8 called the ‘Explorer Edition’.
The Mi 8 Explorer Edition adds an under display fingerprint reader and 3D face unlock capabilities using structured light to analyse face patterns in 3D. The device also comes with 8 GB RAM which is the highest of the lot, but pairs that with 128 GB of storage. All of this hardware is now actually visible to the naked eye, thanks to its transparent rear glass screen. The Mi 8 Explorer Edition is also the most expensive Xiaomi smartphone available at CNY 3,799 (roughly Rs 40,000). So yes, this is quite the jump from the standard stuff we have seen from the Chinese smartphone maker so far.
So how all of this hardware fare against the current “flagship killer”, the OnePlus 6? Moreover, how does the Xiaomi Mi 8 compare with the premium flagships from Apple, Samsung and Huawei? Let’s first glance through a specifications comparison of the same in the table below.
|Smartphone||Xiaomi Mi 8/ Explorer Edition||OnePlus 6||Samsung S9+||Huawei P20 Pro||Apple iPhone X|
|Display Size (inch)||6.21||6.28||6.2||6.1||5.8|
|Resolution (pixels)||1,080 x 2,248||1,080 x 2,280||1,440 x 2,960||1,080 x 2,244||2,436 x 1,125|
|Pixel Density (PPI)||402||402||529||408||458|
|Display Type||AMOLED||IPS LCD||Super AMOLED||AMOLED||OLED Super Retina HDR|
|Dimensions(mm)||154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6||155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8||158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5||155 x 73.9 x 7.8||143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7|
|Dual SIM||Yes||Yes||Yes (Variant)||Yes||No|
|Connectivity Types||GSM / HSPA / LTE||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE||LTE, SCDMA, CDMA EV-DO Rev. A, UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA, GSM/EDGE|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Exynos 9810||Hisilicon Kirin 970||A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture|
|CPU Cores||Octa-core||Octa-core||Octa-core, Octa-core||Octa-core||Hexa-core|
|CPU Clock Speed (GHz)||4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 385||4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 385||4x Kryo 385 Gold @ 2.7 & 4x Kryo 385 Silver @ 1.7 and 4x Mongoose M3 @ 2.8 & 4x Cortex A55 @ 1.7||4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.4 GHz & 4x Cortex-A53 @1.8 GHz||Hexa-core 4 x effieciency cores + 2 Performance cores|
|GPU||Adreno 630||Adreno 630||Adreno 630, Mali G72 MP18||Mali-G72 MP12||–|
|RAM||6, 8 (Explorer)||6, 8||6||6||3|
|Ruggedness||–||–||IP68||IP 67||IP67 under IEC standard 60529|
|On-Board Memory||64, 128, 256||64, 128, 256 (Avengers)||64, 128, 256||128||64 GB, 256|
|Expandable Memory||No||No||Yes, up to 256||Yes, up to 256||No|
|Sensors||Face ID (Explorer), fingerprint (rear-mounted), under-display fingeprint (Explorer), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass||Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass||Iris scanner, fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Heart-rate, SpO2||Fingerprint Reader, Gravity Proximity, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass||Face ID|
Ambient light sensor
|Primary Camera||12 MP, f/1.8 + 12 MP f/2.4||16 MP, f/1.7 and 20 MP, f/1.7||12MP, f/1.5-2.4, 12 MP f/2.4 52 mm||40 MP f/1.8, 20 MP f/1.6 and 8 MP f/2.4||12 MP wide-angle f/1.8 aperture,|
telephoto f/2.4 aperture
|Optical Image Stabilization||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (for 40 MP)||Yes|
|Camera Array||Dual Camera||Dual Camera||Dual Camera||Triple Camera||Dual Camera|
|Autofocus System||Dual pixel, phase detection autofocus||Phase detection autofocus||Phase detection||Phase detection and laser autofocus||Autofocus with Focus Pixels|
|Secondary Camera||20 MP||16 MP||8MP, f/1.7||24 MP, f/2.0||7 MP, f/2.2|
|Video Capture||1080p @30 fps, 2160p @ 60 fps||720p @480 fps, 1080p @ 60 fps, 2160p @ 60 fps||4K, 720p 960 fps, HDR||4K (30fps)||4K upto 60 fps|
|OS Version||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo-based EMUI 8.1||iOS 11|
|AI (Smart Assistant)||Google Assistant||Google Assistant||Yes, Bixby||Google Assistant||Siri|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, DLNA, hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz + 5GHz, Wi-Fi hotspot||802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO|
|Bluetooth||5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD||5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD||v5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX||v4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR, aptX HD||v5.0|
|Fingerprint Scanner||Yes, Rear button/ Under display||Yes, Rear button||Yes, Rear button||Yes, Home button||No|
|Radio||No||No||Yes, FM Radio||Yes, FM Radio||No|
|USB Type||Type-C 1.0 reversible connector||Type-C 1.0 reversible connector||Type-C Reversible connector||Type-C reversible||Reversible connector|
|USB Standard||USB v2.0||USB v2.0||USB 3.1||USB v3.1||Lightning|
|Colors||Blue, Black, White, Gold||Midnight Black, Mirror Black, Silk White||Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple||Twilight, Black, Midnight Blue, Pink Gold||Space Grey, Silver|
|Prices in India||TBA (estimated Rs 31,000)||Starting at Rs 34,999||Rs 64,900||Rs 64,999||Rs 89,000 onwards|
From what we can see, the Xiaomi Mi 8 does offer good value for money. It’s arch rival will be the OnePlus 6, even though founder Lei Jun, took a lot of pride in comparing the device with Apple’s iPhone X and the Huawei P20 Pro.
While I have used both the P20 Pro and the Galaxy S9 Plus, both of these smartphones belong to the premium price range and deliver stunning image quality keeping in mind their high price tags that also deliver features like water and dust resistance. Both smartphones performed admirably well in our reviews so we will have to wait and see how the new Mi 8 stacks up when it comes to camera performance.
Going purely by the specifications on paper (the table above), Xiaomi does offer plenty of hardware at a low price, with its only competitor being the OnePlus 6.
While it is a bit disappointing that the device does feature a notch after resisting it on previously released smartphones. I would give Xiaomi some credit because it has packed in something more in terms of the infrared face unlock technology (3D Face unlock on the Explorer Edition), something that is rare in this price range.
If we compare the OnePlus 6 with the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, things look even worse for the "flagship killer”, as it packs in both an under display fingerprint reader (like on the Vivo X21 UD) and a more advanced 3D face unlock technology.
And I haven’t even started with the fancy, new MIUI 10 software update that comes with Android 8.1 inside! Indeed, the Mi 8 appears to be winner given the new technologies that it has included in its new flagship. OnePlus used its old formula to deliver the best OnePlus ever, but then again forgot that competition is working on OnePlus killers too.
All of a sudden, it now appears that despite OnePlus’s efforts with the OnePlus 6, Chinese manufacturers are bringing in their A game this year and Xiaomi’s showcase of new technologies is only the beginning.