The evolution of the Xiaomi Mi A1
The evolution of the Xiaomi Mi A1

Any presentation of Xiaomi raises excitement for the interest aroused by their smartphones. From the cheapest to the most expensive, all are devices that will be searched a lot.

However, as always, there are categories and if there is a family with interest within the popular Chinese manufacturer is the Mi family. The banner of each year is the one that carries a simple number and this year it was the Xiaomi Mi 8. Well, we should really say the Xiaomi Mi 8, because they have been nothing less than three models presented, and maybe in the future there will be some more.

In addition to the expected Xiaomi Mi 8 and the most expensive version and with some new features such as the fingerprint sensor on the screen, the Explorer Edition, a variant was announced that did not have the same processor and features but was included within the same family. We refer to the Xiaomi Mi 8 SE, an idea of ​​the brand to bring high-end mobiles at more popular prices.

Features Xiaomi Mi 8 SE

  • OLED screen of 5.88 inches in 19: 9 format and FullHD + resolution (2280 x 1080)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor
  • RAM memory: 4 GB
  • Internal memory: 64 GB
  • Double rear camera: 12 Mpx + 5 Mpx
  • Front camera: 20 Mpx
  • Battery: 3120 mAh
  • Android version: 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 9.5
  • Others: fingerprint sensor, face unlocking, type C USB, Irda, Bluetooth…

A comfortable and premium design

This year we have seen how Xiaomi has drawn very clearly on iPhone X. However, of the three models announced, this is probably the one that least does it: it has much straighter lines.

Visually, it’s a curious change, because even though the mobiles of this brand have never been particularly fluid, the angled line of the Mi 8 SE makes it quite recognizable.

The structure is made of metal, with a pleasant finish to the touch and the corners and rounded edges, which makes it comfortable in the hand. It is also smaller than you might expect.

The back part is made of glass and reflects the environment very much. It is not a mirror but it certainly does not look like the other mobile phones we have tried. At least that’s the feeling that has given us in the color black.

In the upper part we have the infrared sensor and in the lower part the USB C connector and the speaker. We only have one and it shows a lot when it comes to using it.

In materials it is a high range. No stick

On the sides we have the slot for dual SIM or SIM and microSD and the three physical buttons, two volume and one power. On this occasion Xiaomi has chosen to differentiate the latter by a rough texture.

A new power step

Until now mobile manufacturers had two great options when choosing a mobile with a decent power if they wanted a Qualcomm processor. They could opt for the 800 family, the highest, or the 600, designed for the mid-range but with several steps inside it.

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The announcement of the Snapdragon 710 was a turning point in this regard given that the American company created a new category, that of mid-high-end processors. Xiaomi has been the first to use this chip in a model , this Xiaomi Mi 8 SE.

The feeling in the use of the day to day is that there will be few users who really notice the difference with an 800 family processor. We have been doing numerous tests, with powerful and demanding games and contrary to what happened in some processors of The 600 family here not only is there no type of lag or delay is that even the applications are slow to open.

That Xiaomi has opted for this chip to control the cost of this model seems to us quite logical. There will be users who value having more power and those will have to look at the Xiaomi Mi 8.

If you can, opt for the model with 6 GB of RAM

The same thing does not happen with the RAM memory and it is that the 4 GB of the model that we have analyzed does notice that there is something scarce when it comes to keeping games in the background. We have compared it with mobiles with 6 and 8 GB of RAM and as we say, there are differences. It is also true that the many options of MIUI for the control of applications in the background come into play here.

The connectivity is up to the expected, with the presence of the infrared transmitter, to use the mobile as a command, of the dual-band Wifi, which however has not seemed as stable as in other models, or bluetooth 5.0. The NFC is missing.

We do not have a 3.5 mm audio jack or a headphone port, something that is inherited from both his older brothers and the star terminal of last year, the Xiaomi Mi 6.

The fingerprint sensor, located in the rear area, is very fast, as expected, but does not offer many options, beyond being able to be used to take pictures and, of course, unlock the terminal. We can also unlock it with the facial unlocking system, which uses the front camera and which, being fast, is not as fast as Huawei’s.

High-end screen, without boasting

One of the biggest differences of this model with the Mi from previous years, or one of the biggest similarities with its older brothers, is the screen.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 SE has a current design, with a display of contained edges, within the expected, but with a large notch in the upper area. The models Mi 8 and Mi 8 EE have an infrared system for the facial release that explains the size of the notch but the Mi 8 SE does not. That makes the loss of notification icons meaningless. A strange decision.

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On the positive side we can put the panel technology, OLED, and of course the expected FHD + resolution. We continue without an incredible pixel density but that is also noticeable when evaluating the battery.

We said we had a notch and we also have to emphasize that Xiaomi, like other manufacturers, has decided to put a software option that camouflages it. What it does is put a black fence on the sides and although it still uses the same for the time and some icons does not draw much attention.

Among the advantages of this type of panels is to be able to use the ambient screen or Ambient Display, which allows us to see the time at all times as well as the icons of the notifications that we have, although there is no access to read them.

Finally, we can also turn on the screen with a double tap, something useful because when we want to use the facial unlocking will not be necessary to press any physical key.

In terms of color quality, brightness and reflections we can say without any problem that the screen of this model is a high-end terminal. It does not have the brightness of an LG G7 or the resolution of an S9 but of course it is one of the best, if not the best, in this price range.

A very good camera but without optical zoom

The photographic section is usually one of the benefits that most differentiate mobile phones from one category to another, although it is obvious that little by little all improve.

When Xiaomi announced that there would be three models in the Mi 8 family, we doubted if they would all be up to standard, especially in the photographic section.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 SE is the one that has a camera with, on paper, worse specifications. The reality is that the result obtained in most circumstances is more than good and even at night the shots are very good.

That does not mean that the camera is perfect and is that while we have advanced features such as recognition of scenes with artificial intelligence the speed of capture has seemed improvable. It’s weird because Xiaomi has always excelled in this aspect but we hope it will improve in future updates.

In the photo gallery you will see quite complex shots, like those that took place at a night party with very improvable lighting conditions.

The portrait mode is one of the most elaborate aspects and the photos captured thus remain very well. What is missing, that their older brothers have, is the optical zoom and that the camera of this model focuses on getting good photos and using the dual sensor to measure distances and to make a quality portrait mode , as we said it does.

The lack of 2X optical zoom is the biggest drawback of the photographic section

I know that many people optical zoom is something that does not matter but personally I think it is a leap backwards with respect to the Xiaomi Mi A1, Mi 6, Mi 6X and surely My A2.

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An autonomy that surprises

We have done several tests of autonomy and we have obtained decent figures. Although, of course, the consumptions vary depending on whether or not we are indoors with Wifi or the brightness of the screen, the results are always positive.

On average we can say that we arrived at 5 hours screen with a day and a half of autonomy. These results have been playing quite a lot, using social apps, talking on the phone and even taking photos. In an extraordinary way, if we use it more under Wifi than in 4G, we arrive at 7 hours of screen in a day of full use.

Without being the element by which the mobile stands out we can say that the battery is an argument of choice without any doubt.

MIUI 9.5 waiting for MIUI 10

The interface of this model is expected by Xiaomi. Being a terminal that is only sold at the moment in China through import stores we had to install Google services but we have not had major problems.

The gestures have become more fluid and the multitasking and the different options of MIUI are also up to what we expect in a high range.

For now we have Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 9.5 and we know that it is a matter of time that MIUI 10 arrives in a stable way (we can already test the beta).

Conclusion

When we carry high expectations it is easy to become disillusioned. But that is not what happened to us with this Xiaomi Mi 8 SE. It is a terminal that offers high-end quality at the price of the mid-range. It is true that you have to import it and make some adjustments but there is no other mobile that offers what is for the same money, and not for little more. Of course, the lack of NFC is a serious failure in this category.

The quality of construction, screen, photographic, battery… everything is at a level that scratches the high range. The most direct competitor could be the Huawei P20.

No doubt it is a smartphone that represents a turning point in the high-end of Xiaomi and hopefully has continuity next year.

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