Xiaomi turns up its Mi flagships to 8


Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi showed off all kinds of shiny new devices at a launch event in Shenzhen today, chief among them the Mi 8, the latest in the company's series of line of high-end Android handsets. Xiaomi says the glass-backed Mi 8 is the first Android phone with dual-frequency GPS (using the L1 and L5 bands) for finer-grained location and navigation services. The manufacturer also claims the special Mi 8 Explorer Edition is the first Android smartphone with 3D face recognition and a pressure-sensing fingerprint sensor below the display for authentication. The company also showed off the smaller Mi 8 SE, the first phone with Qualcomm's just-announced Snapdragon 710 upper-midrange SoC.


Xiaomi Mi 8

The most obvious feature of the Mi 8 is the notched 6.21" (15.8 cm) Samsung AMOLED display with a resolution of 2248x1080, which translates into an odd-duck 18.7:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density just over 400 PPI. The screen covers 87% of the phone's front side area. All that glass surrounds an aluminum frame that in turn envelops a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC and 6 GB of memory and up to 256 GB of onboard storage. Older members of the Mi family lack microSD card slots, and Xiaomi didn't mention one, so buyers should probably pick their storage option with an eye toward the future.


Xiaomi Mi 8

The Mi 8 has a pair of 12-megapixel cameras on the back side and a 20-MP snapper on the front. Xiaomi says the front camera has some pixel-binning secret sauce that can team four pixels together to create a larger 1.8-µm pixel for enhanced clarity in low-light scenarios. The company says the rear-facing camera team earned a photo score of 105 from DxOMark, good for fourth-place on the outlet's leaderboard, though we saw a score of 99 and a fifth-place position at the site.


Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition

The fancier Explorer Edition (EE) version of the Mi 8 moves the fingerprint sensor under the display. The pressure sensing baked into the Synaptics sensor turns on the actual reader in order to save power. The EE version also gets 3D face authentication. Xiaomi says both of these features are firsts for Android handsets, though we've already seen 3D face-mapping technology on the iPhone X. The regular Mi 8 also has face unlocking, but it uses a more commonplace IR camera with its own IR illuminator. The EE also gets a bespoke transparent glass backside that shows off the internals.


Xiaomi Mi 8 SE

The manufacturer provided less detail about the smaller Mi 8 SE. That phone will get a 5.9" Samsung AMOLED display with the same resolution and aspect ratio as the bigger Mi 8. Xiaomi says the SE will be the first phone based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 710 and that the freshly baked SoC is faster than the previous-generation Snapdragon 660 while using 30% less power. The SoC is paired with either 4 GB or 6 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage space. The smaller phone gets a 20-MP user-facing camera and a 12-MP main camera on the rear that's augmented by depth information from a 5-MP sensor.


Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition

All three Mi 8 phones will get Xiaomi's MIUI 10-skinned version of Google's Android mobile OS. MIUI 10 got a new driving mode for voice-activated control of features like navigation and text messaging while its owner shepherds several tons of steel, aluminum, and glass at high speed. The new version of the OS can also perform bokeh effects on photos using a single camera. The company said it will offer MIUI 10 for a number of existing models, but didn't say what version of Android is churning beneath that custom skin. The company didn't have anything to say on the subject of water resistance or headphone jacks for all three handsets, so we assume neither feature is present.


Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition

Xiaomi also showed off what it calls the largest LED TV ever made, the 75" Mi TV 4, along with a third-generation Mi Band wrist fitness tracker and its self-branded version of the Oculus Go for the Chinese market. Chinese buyers will be able to lay hands on the Mi 8 on June 5 for ¥2699 (a bit over $420) and on the Mi 8 SE on June 8 for ¥1799 (about $281). The manufacturer said the Mi 8 Explorer Edition would cost ¥3699 ($580), but didn't provide a release date.

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