I have been writing a lot about Xiaomi recently, not because they are the most innovative company on the market but because the Chinese super brand churns out some amazingly specced cheap phones. Sadly, these phones are rarely available from major UK suppliers, and you must instead rely on buying them from grey importers such as Gearbest and Banggood.
In this case, the Xiaomi Mi 8 is available from Eglobal Central for £364.99. While Eglobal doesn’t have the best of reviews I have used them in the past for my LG V20 and had no issues, I doubt you will get the same level of service as Amazon, but if you have warranty issues, the device is sent back to a UK agent rather than China like other sellers.
If you are willing to take the risk on a grey import, you can end up with a flagship phone for less than half the price of other brands.
Xiaomi is in their 8th year so they decided to skip number 7 which can be perceived as either unlucky or lucky in Chinese culture, while number 8 is their luckiest number.
Xiaomi Mi 8: Specifications
- Body: 7000-series aluminium frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back; 154.9×74.8×7.6mm, 175g.
- Display: 6.21″ Super AMOLED, 2,248×1,080px resolution, 18.7:9 aspect ratio, 402ppi; HDR 10 and DCI-P3 compliant.
- Rear camera: Primary 12MP, Type 1/2.55″ sensor, 1.4µm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; Secondary 12MP, Type 1/3.4″ sensor, f/2.4 aperture, autofocus; 2x zoom. 2160p/30fps, 1080p/240fps slow motion.
- Front camera: 20MP, 0.9µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture; 1080p/30fps video recording.
- OS: Android 8.1 Oreo; MIUI 9.5 custom overlay.
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: octa-core CPU (4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver), Adreno 630 GPU.
- Memory: 6GB of RAM; 64/128/256GB storage; nomicroSD slot.
- Battery: 3,400mAh Li-Po (sealed); QuickCharge 4.0+ fast charging.
- Connectivity:Dual-SIM; LTE-A, 4-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.16/13 (1Gbps/150Mbps); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; dual-band GPS; Bluetooth 5.0
- Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; single down-firing speaker; infrared face recognition; no 3.5mm jack.
Xiaomi Mi 8: Design and Build
Xiaomi is not revolutionising the phone industry with the Mi 8; they have churned out something that looks good but nothing special. It is about as generic as you get for 2018 with close to 84% screen to body ratio and a rather large notch and chin. The screen is larger than other companies at 6.21-inches, it is running at 1080 x 2248 pixels and uses AMOLED giving you a nice rich contrast of up to 60000:1
The large notch features a 20 MP, f/2.0, 0.9µm selfie camera with infrared face recognition while on the rear is a dual pixel 12MP primary cam and an extra 12MP one for 2x zoom as well as the fingerprint scanner. The notch also includes a notification light, a feature I am fond of.
There is no 3.5mm port, and the phone uses USB-C as you would expect from any flagship device, which is capable of using Quick Charge 4.0+ to charge the decent sized 3400 mAh battery.
The phone uses a glass front and rear encased with an aluminium frame giving a total weight of 175 g which is lighter than my daily driver the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. In fact, even though the screen is larger the dimensions are almost the same as the Mate 10 Pro at 154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6 mm vs 154.2 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm, so the phone isn’t excessively big.
With some phones pushing the screen to body ratio even higher, you could criticise the Mi 8 for having quite a prominent chin at the bottom, but I don’t find it that offensive and it is a small sacrifice to make for an affordable phone.
Performance & Software
Similar to laptops that use the same processors, it is almost moot talking about the performance of flagship phones using the Snapdragon 845 SoC. It is a beast that can handle anything you throw at it, some brands may be able to squeeze out an extra percent or two of performance with software optimisation or better cooling, but your average user will not notice the difference.
So yes, the Xiaomi Mi 8 performs exceptionally with no issues with day to day use. The 6GB/64GB combo is good but not great in the world of flagships nowadays, with no microSD slot it could be worth paying a little extra for the 128GB model.
The AMOLED display is glorious but no better than other phones using the same technology. You don’t get that eye burning brightness, but you do get beautiful vibrant colours and a good level of readability in the sun.
As with most Xiaomi phones, excluding the special Android One models, the Mi 8 comes with a heavily modded version of Android, 8.1 Oreo called MIUI, and this is running the latest 9.5 version, with 10 due out soon. If you want vanilla Android then this may not be for you, there is no apps tray here, so you get something more akin to the iPhone. The obvious fix for this is to install Nova or another similar launcher.
There are various swipe gestures you can do; there is also a dual apps option allowing you to have multiple social media accounts. You get an effective face unlock which is a much quicker alternative to using your fingerprint, though less secure.
The settings section is also heavily redesigned, but there is a search option so you should find everything you want quite quickly.
The Mi 8 features a dual-camera at the rear with two 12Mp lenses. One of the lenses is a Sony IMX363 with four-axis OIS, dual-PD focus, f/1.8 aperture, 1.4um pixels and a dual-LED flash; the other a 12Mp Samsung S5K3M3 lens with 1.0um pixels and a f/2.4 aperture, which enables telephoto and portrait capabilities. As well as 12Mp stills it can shoot 4K video, but OIS is supported on only one lens.
You get AI enhancements with the ability to automatically select one of 206 preset scenes to help you get the best shot.
The overall quality of the camera is excellent, it may not be class leading, but for a based on my questionable skill, I can’t tell the difference between one flagship and another.
The lower-resolution screen (compared to some) and decently sized 3,400mAh mean the Mi 8 has better than average battery performance, it can’t compete with the Mate 10 Pro, but it should last you a full day of heavy use easily.
Sadly, there is no wireless charging, even though it has a glass back, but with Quick Charge 4.0 support this is not a major issue, you can put your phone on charge for a few minutes, and it will give a significant boost to a low battery. It is worth noting that the supplied charger is QC3, but that still boosted the phone to over 50% in around 30 mins from close to dead.
Coming in at around half the price of phones from Sony and Samsung while offering an almost identical specification with excellent build and deigns there is not really a great deal to criticise about here.
It is an excellent phone with astonishing performance at an amazingly wallet-friendly price. There are some sacrifices some phones such as the P20 Pro have bigger batteries and better cameras, it is not waterproof, and there is no wireless charging. All small sacrifices for such a considerable saving in cash.
The primary consideration to make is the warranty issues with grey imports, many companies say they will honour a warranty, but the manufacturer won’t so you are reliant on the customer service from where you buy it. If that is too high of a risk, then the OnePlus 6 offers very similar specs but for £100 more, or the Honor 10 is another great affordable alternative.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Review