Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review: it's the best in everything (except software)

Lo Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it is one of the smartphones with which I have had the most difficulty writing a review. Because the new leaflet of the Chinese brand which, let's remember, for now is not officially on sale in Italy (below you will find a link to purchase it), actually deserves an applause, a pull of the ears and a little controversy. The applause is undoubtedly related to the hardware because, let's face it, Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 has shown that in the end you can make the most of this particular form factor and produce a device that when closed looks like a normal smartphone, but when open it becomes (really) a tablet.

From the point of view of thickness, screens and ease of use, Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 should be taken as a reference point for the folding smartphone market but, especially with these particular devices, having hardware of this level that is not accompanied by software of equal quality, is a bit like having a Ferrari with the LPG system. And yes, this is my very personal pull of the ears to the brand: Xiaomi continues to sin deeply on the software, and on devices like the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 the thing is revealed even more.

What's the controversy, you may be wondering. Simple: Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 uses a standard proximity sensor, which works much better than the "virtual" optical one seen on its other smartphones. Well, you say. Of course it's good, but then why doesn't the brand make this choice also in its smartphones for mere mortals? Mystery.

In short, it is Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it is one of the smartphones with which I have had the most difficulty writing a review. Because it is from an aesthetic and form-factor point of view it is probably the best foldable ever produced but, as some would say, at the end of the games “it's beautiful, but it doesn't dance”.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

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Design and materials

The biggest advantage of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 derives from an incredible engineering feat made by the brand which, with its 5.4 mm thickness from the floor, makes it the thinnest foldable in the world. This means that when it Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it is probably the thinnest Android tablet in the world and when closed, at 11.2mm, it is practically as thick as an iPhone 13 Pro Max with a cover. The weight, then, is relatively low for a foldable: Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 weighs 262g, ie poco more than the aforementioned iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Basically, we are talking about the first foldable that - when closed - looks like a "traditional" smartphone both for the form factor of the external display (which is 20: 9), and for the thickness and weight. The point is, it's really inconvenient to use with one hand. And yes, I know, many of you may be wondering why a person should use a one-handed foldable, but the point is this: if there's one thing I liked about the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 (here the review) is precisely the fact that, when closed, it is also comfortable with one hand and then, when open, it offers more space even if it is more cumbersome (it is large 130,1 x 155,1 x 6,3 millimeters from open e 67,1 x 155,1 x 15,8 mm when closed, with a weight of 263 g).

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From a usability standpoint, one of the biggest differences with Samsung's Z Fold 4 is the hinge. In the South Korean foldable, the brand has worked a lot on the closing and opening mechanism, allowing it to be used at virtually any angle and introducing a way of using it like a "mini laptop" that I really appreciated: a feature totally absent in the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 where, probably to obtain such a reduced thickness, it is possible to use the device only when closed or open and not with the display folded at any angle.

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In a nutshell, the only thing that makes the hinge of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 compared to that of Samsung's Fold 4, is the fact that there is no empty space when the smartphone is closed, which prevents dust and dirt from entering the internal display. For the rest, I much prefer Samsung's solution (also because the Z Fold 4 is resistant to water and dust).

Display

As for the display, nothing to say: they are exceptional, at least from the hardware point of view. The outer one uses a fantastic quality 6.56-inch OLED panel, with a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz and compatible with Dolby Vision and HDR10 +. Its ratio is 21.3: 9, which makes it decidedly more traditional than the Z Fold 4.

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When open, the main screen of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 is a fantastic 8-inch OLED of LTPO 2.0 type, therefore with a variable refresh rate from 1 to 120 Hz. It is covered with an ultra-thin Schott UTG glass with anti-reflective coating, which makes the internal crease less visible than that found in the Z Fold 4. Let's be clear, however, nothing comparable to the excellent work done by OPPO with its Find N (here the review): in the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 the fold is there and it shows, but not as much as that of the Samsung device. Basically, when open the smartphone display has a practically square ratio (4: 3.55) which gives an excellent visual effect, but actually makes it complex and poco optimized management of Android applications and practically impossible to handle with one hand. But before we talk about the real usefulness of these displays, let's think about the numbers.

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For its new foldable, Xiaomi promises 1000 nits of maximum brightness and up to 1300 nits of peak brightness. And that's the first thing I tested when I got my hands on this Xiaomi MIX Fold 2. In my tests, I noticed that the external screen reaches a maximum brightness of about 500 nits (Z Fold 4 reaches about 480 nits), while the internal one is slightly brighter and reaches 522 nits (that of the Z Fold reaches about 500 nits). Then when you are in bright light conditions, the system activates the HBM mode (which pushes the backlight to the maximum) which brings the external display to 940 nits and the internal one to 1050 nits. In short, at the presentation of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 the brand has given truthful data.

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What amazed me in managing the brightness of the screens, however, is not the maximum value that I am able to reach, but the minimum value (which is then the most used, if you hold the smartphone at night or in environments poco illuminated): the external display is able to go down to 2.1 nits, while the internal one up to 2.4 nits. And they are impressive values.

As for color management, in the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 you will find the same settings and performance that we have seen in the Xiaomi 12s Ultra (here the review), in the settings it is possible to customize their preferences, but in the original color mode in this smartphone there is excellent accuracy compared to the sRGB models: in our tests the average dE2000 is about 1.6.

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All beautiful, you will say. True, except one thing: this format does not introduce anything really useful in terms of use, even when open. The point is simple: Xiaomi did not use Android 12L as Samsung did, which means that in 90% of cases you will find yourself using applications with simply wider, but not optimized GUIs.

Also for videos, then, the benefits are not there: when you watch multimedia content on the open screen, in reality the image is no larger than that of a traditional smartphone. In a nutshell: in everyday life there are no benefits either in productivity or in entertainment.

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For example, on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 it is possible to place two applications side by side also horizontally (you can see a video in the upper section, and use another app in the lower one), while in the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it's not possible: apps can only be placed side by side vertically, and this cuts the legs of the device.

Hardware and Performance

To animate Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 we think of a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which is flanked by 12 GB of RAM of the LPDDR5 type and, in our sample, 1 TB of internal memory of the UFS 3.1 type. We are well acquainted with Qualcomm's new SoC update and it is therefore needless to say how much it has improved from an energy management point of view. The performance of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 are the top that you can ask for at this moment from a mobile device, even if (and soon we will see it with the benchmarks) despite the company or its new dissipation system, one thing must be kept in mind: Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 heats a lot.

Coming to the raw numbers, in my tests I noticed a profound difference in the handling of the SoC by Xiaomi compared to what Samsung did, but the differences are substantially noticeable in the benchmarks and in the general temperature of the device which is actually higher than that. to its South Korean counterpart.

With its 1289 points in Single-Core and 4261 points in Multi-Core with Geekbench, the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it seems to be slightly faster than Samsung in operations that use multiple cores, and this is especially noticeable with the 1.052.692 points it scored in AnTuTu which are higher than the 1.019.288 that Samsung's Z Fold 4 scored.

The reason is simple, and you can see it with the AnTuTu stress test: unlike the Samsung device, in the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 the company has throttled core frequencies and related CPU performance far less than we noticed on the Z Fold 4, which resulted in generally more consistent performance but also a more marked rise in temperatures.

Returning to more "human" topics, the audio in the capsule is excellent, as well as the stereo effect guaranteed by two independent speakers, excellent connectivity to WiFi 6E networks and very fast the fingerprint sensor that has been positioned in a very thin power button on the side.

Cameras

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it has four cameras: three on the back and one on the external display. The internal display is totally devoid of it, but honestly no one will miss it especially because you cannot use the smartphone with a 90 ° tilted display to make video calls on Zoom or Google Meet for example (something I love about the Z Fold 4) .

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The main sensor is a Sony IMX766 50 megapixel 1 / 1.56 "large and with Quad-Bayer filter, which uses a stabilized lens equivalent to a 23mm and with an aperture of f / 1.8. The ultrawide camera, on the other hand, uses an Omnivision OV13B10 13 megapixel 1 / 3.06 ”sensor with a 15mm equivalent lens and F / 2.4 aperture. The zoom, on the other hand, is optically stabilized, has an 8 megapixel resolution and is an equivalent of a 45mm (the zoom factor is 2x) with an aperture of f / 2.6. And a little curiosity about the zoom, the hardware reading apps detect that a 663 megapixel Sony IMX12 sensor is used, so there are two things: either it is a simple reading error, or Xiaomi has decided to "limit" the sensor at a lower resolution.

Everything is managed by an application practically identical to the one we have already seen on the Xiaomi 12s Ultra in which, except for the possibility of seeing the preview also on the external display, no software modification has been integrated with which it could have been exploited. the very nature of the smartphone: on the Z Fold 4, for example, Samsung has introduced a flex mode with which to take advantage of the folding display, which is totally absent on Xiaomi.

As for the quality of the photos, we are average. In conditions of good light, the shots taken with the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 they are of good quality, the management of the dynamic range is good (but not very high) and there is no noise even when using the zoom and ultrawide which are clearly of lower quality than the main one. As well as in the Ultra 12s with the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 you can shoot using two color modes created in collaboration with Leica (Leica Vibrant and Leica Authentic), but unlike the brand's cameraphone par excellence, it will happen that the software processing tends to falsify the management of the chromatic range and produce less balanced images and natural. In short, despite the collaboration with Leica, the shots produced with the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 they are not at the level of those of the Samsung Fold 4.

At night things practically do not change. Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it has an automatic processing of the night mode which is activated completely independently of the will of the shooter and which usually uses 1 second of exposure for the main camera and about 4 for the other two. In the end, however, even in this case the photos are good but not comparable to those of the Z Fold 4: in reality the exposure is the right one, the dynamic range is excellent and the color saturation is not bad. Noise is also low, but what is lost when shooting in low light is the overall image detail which, after software processing, remains satisfactory but certainly not the best I've ever seen.

Not bad videos, which can be recorded at the maximum resolution of 8K at 24 fps, but which do not guarantee uniformity of resolution and framerate between the three different lenses: the ultrawide camera can record in 4k at 30 fps or in FullHD at 60 fps , while that zoom can record in 4K and FullHD always at 30 fps. The EIS works with the optical stabilization of the main camera and the zoom, but its implementation did not make me crazy: in essence, the EIS "fights" the stabilization of the OIS and it can happen that the videos are more shaky than expected and slightly slow in autofocus.

Software

As for software, I make a premise: it is Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 that we received in test uses a Chinese ROM, which has the English language and which integrates Google services and the Play Store. For this, I will just tell you about my experience with the features that Xiaomi has designed for her folding. And here the donkey falls.

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Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it is animated by Android 12 customized by the MIUI 13 Fold. And even if you read about articles in which it is written is animated by Android 12L, in reality it is not so: the APIs of the smartphone operating system are 31 (i.e. those of Android 12) and not 32 (i.e. those of Android 12L). And this is the worst choice that Xiaomi could have made because, unlike the Z Fold 4, the Chinese folding will not be able to give in any way a flexible user interface like the one there is in Samsung's smartphones. And in a foldable device, software is starting to become more important than hardware.

As a Chinese, the smartphone comes with a series of pre-installed bloatware that - fortunately - can be uninstalled in a few moments. Despite this, however, some Chinese elements will remain in the graphical interface or in the system apps and, moreover, it is important to remember that, for example, there is no certification to see Netflix in HD, so the videos on the streaming platform will only be seen in SD.

But there are also positives. The Chinese MIUI of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 has a redesigned and improved widget interface, with tons of options. Of course, despite the removal of the pre-installed apps, Chinese widgets will continue to appear, but the choice is extremely vast.

When open, the first novelty that you notice is that in the home screen it is as if two screens were displayed instead of one, moreover the space for the dock is larger and together with the applications that are displayed on the external display, in the internal screen you will have access quick even to recent applications.

In essence, however, the absence of Android 12L limits the usefulness of the larger display. All applications will not have an optimized graphic interface for 8 ”, but will only increase the available space without any reorganization of the interaction elements. Some apps, such as Settings, Notes, File Manager, use the larger screen by offering a split screen user interface, but as far as third party apps are concerned, the user experience is not improved. Which on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is totally different.

Two applications can be placed side by side, but only vertically, and it is possible to open a third and a fourth in floating mode. The big limitation is that the windows cannot be placed side by side horizontally and, even by side by side vertically, it is not possible to adjust the size of the two sections.

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In the settings there is a menu dedicated to open screen functions but, even here, the options are very few. The most interesting is the possibility to choose whether to transfer the application between one screen and another when opening or closing the device, or whether to directly lock the device when closing the internal screen.

And this is all.

In short, you will have understood that if from a hardware point of view Xiaomi has managed to overcome many of the limits that we see in all other folding smartphones, in reality from the software point of view there are still many things to do. In a nutshell, for my type of use I much prefer to continue using the Samsung Z Fold 4. But the world is beautiful because it is varied, and maybe some of you won't.

Battery life

The battery of the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it is a 4500 mAh, much less capacious than the 5020 mAh seen in the first version of the foldable, but in line with that of its current competitors. And it is useless to get lost in useless words: with the Snap 8+ both performance and energy management are excellent. With the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 I managed to overcome the 7 and a half hours of lit display using the external one, and about 7 hours of lit display using the internal one. And that's not bad, especially considering that the autonomy is slightly higher than what I had with the foldable Samsung.

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And charging is much better too: Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 supports fast charging at 67w which yes, it is not among the fastest on the market, but it is profoundly more powerful than the 25w that we find in the Z Fold 4. With this power, the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 it can be fully recharged from 0% to 100% in about 40 minutes.

How to buy Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 in Italy and conclusions

Xiaomi Fold 2 is a smartphone sold only in China and that most likely will never arrive in the Global version in Italy. If you want to buy it, however, through the box below you can take home the exact same version that we used in this review, at the price of 1627 euros for the variant with 12 GB of RAM and 1 TB of internal memory with Chinese ROM (therefore in English but with Google services fully functional). And yes, it is actually a very high price which, however, is cheaper than the launch price of the Z Fold 4 from Samsung.

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And I know that in your head now you will be mixing these questions:

  • Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 brings something new to the world of leaflets?
  • Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 is better than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4?
  • It is worth buying Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 in Italy?

And if for the first question the answer is a clear yes, because, indeed, it is Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 introduces hardware and mechanical solutions that make it almost unique, for the last two questions things get more complicated: Xiaomi's folding is actually better than Samsung's counterpart, but the Z Fold 4 is much more dynamic in use, it is resistant to water and dust and, let's not forget, it also supports the S Pen. Flex modes are better, it has Android 12L which optimizes multitasking and app interfaces, and it also has better cameras.

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So to answer the third question, my opinion is that if I had to pick a winner, regardless of price, I'd still say the Z Fold 4 is the best device ever. It is worth buying Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 in Italy? It depends on your needs, but one thing is certain: once challenged Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 your eyes will shine every time you look at it.



NB If you do not see the box with code or the link to the purchase, we advise you to disable the AdBlock.

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Buy the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 on TradingShenzen: China version with English language and with Play Store and Google services fully functional.

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