Have you always wanted an iPhone, but couldn't justify the high price tag? Or you liked Xiaomi Mi 6, but wished its screen was bigger? Maybe you’ll find what you were looking for in Xiaomi Mi Note 3, the company’s new mid-range model which looks like a larger version of Mi 6, but feels a lot like Apple’s smartphones at the same time. Let's take a look at the unboxing, the specifications, and of course the in-depth benchmarks for Note 3.
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Table of Contents
The Xiaomi Mi Note 3
On September 2017, Xiaomi released the next version of Xiaomi Mi Note 2 that we reviewed earlier this year.
For Mi Note 3, Xiaomi selected an entirely different appearance from its predecessor. Despite being on the same line, the only thing they have in common is that they both try to mimic other popular flagships.
The Mi Note 2 looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 - hopefully minus the tendency to explode...
...while the Mi Note 3 bears a striking resemblance to the new iPhone 8 Plus.
And not just on the outside. Xiaomi made sure to implement various features we can also find on Apple’s new device.
For example, the phone is targeted to selfie lovers, since it has a 16MP front camera with an enhanced AI real-time processing - just like the iPhone - to improve on our pictures.
The most controversial feature of Apple’s new devices is the face recognition, and Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has its own face unlock feature as well.
The company claims that this tool is as fast as the fingerprint scan, and it’s useful in situations when you can’t use your fingers; i.e., in the winter wearing gloves.
Furthermore, the home button is a touch button instead of the physical buttons we will find on other Xiaomi phones. Plus, the absence of the 3.5mm audio jack is a pretty obvious reference to Apple's "courageous" decision.
At this point, we should mention that Xiaomi Mi Note 3 was released just one day before the iPhone 8 Plus.
Besides the iPhone, you probably couldn’t tell the difference between Xiaomi Mi Note 3 and Xiaomi Mi 6, a device released earlier in the summer.
The new Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has the same design, but it is a little bit bigger than the Mi 6 sporting a 5.5-inch screen, as opposed to Mi 6's 5.15 inches.
No matter the case, its similarities to iPhone and Mi 6 shouldn’t worry you at all. We know that Xiaomi tries to follow the trends, but it always delivers high-quality products, that are far different from other known rip-offs.
Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has a stunning design, with a glass body, an aluminum alloy frame, and a 5.5-inch IPS LCD with FullHD resolution.
As for the processor, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 runs on the octa-core Snapdragon 660, which is not a high-end processor but can deliver more than enough power for everyday usage. Adreno 512 is responsible for the graphics, and it runs Android 7.1 Nougat.
The smartphone comes in two variations, one with 64GB of available space and one with 128GB. Both versions have 6GB of RAM, which is more than adequate for any use.
On the back, we’ll find a dual 12MP camera setup that offers 2x optical zoom, which is the same as Mi 6's.
Here you can see all the specifications in detail.
First of all, we would like to thank the international e-shop GearBest, which provided us a sample for this review.
Moving to the unboxing, Xiaomi’s black box gave a great first impression.
The package was beautiful, and it is worth to mention that the letters that designate the phone’s model at the top and side were iridescent, which unfortunately a static photo can hardly cover.
At the back, we can see the specifications as usual.
The only thing we understood is that our version was a 6GB/64GB.
Let’s open the box.
The black theme continues inside the package, where we found a black carton case sitting at the top. Under that case, we found the smartphone.
Further down there was the charger and a weird small cylindrical package.
We decided to inspect the black envelope case first.
It turned out it was hiding the manual - once again in black, and another wrapped item.
Inside the wrap, there was a silicone back case for the smartphone - guess what color? Black of course.
The manual is in Chinese, but don't throw it right away. You'll need the SIM slot needle it holds on the back side.
Now we’re left with the charger and the rest of the accessories, which are all white for contrast.
The small cylindrical thing was a box, which contained the USB-C charging cable, and a shorter cable.
This cable is a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter; thus we can connect our headphones after all. But not while charging the device.
Mission accomplished; the unboxing was successful.
The device came with protective stickers at the top and bottom.
Once we removed them, and after we held the phone for a few seconds, we were amazed by the feel in our hand.
The design is impressive, while the all-glass rear side is definitely addictive to touch.
The rounded corners made it feel very comfortable to hold, so much that we didn’t want to let go.
At the bottom, we can see the USB-C port, along with the microphone and speaker grills.
The home button is minimal, along with the other two touch buttons on the left and right, which all give an exquisite look to the device.
Camera and AI beautification
As we already mentioned, one of the best selling points of Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is the AI Beautify mode.
The smartphone uses a face scanning technology to find and enhance the different face zones on a picture, and thus tweak them accordingly. Of course, we can't expect it to perform miracles.
The software is supposed to differentiate the beautification between men and women.
As for the rear camera, we found it to be extremely fast at taking pictures. The 2x optical zoom allows us to shoot high-quality pictures with a zoom-in, and you can see the results in the images below.
A close-up photo looks detailed as well.
At low-light situations, the camera performed pretty well. We could see some noise though, but nothing we didn’t expect.
Here you can find all the images in the initial resolution.
The video quality is impressive. The 4K footage is full of details, and the colors are accurate, as far as we can tell.
The 1080p version has a lower quality and more grain, but it is still good in general.
Fingerprint and face recognition
The fingerprint sensor is on the home button, and it’s quite fast. We had no complaints whatsoever about its accuracy.
The face recognition works well too, and it hasn’t failed so far to unlock the device.
Even in low light situations, it managed to unlock without a problem.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has a 3500mAh battery, and you might think that it wouldn’t last more than a day with video shooting, gaming, browsing, etc.
In fact, the phone did a great job with the battery life, as it stood for around 10 hours with constant tinkering (all the above). In the meantime, we didn’t notice any overheating, even during gaming.
To prolong your device's battery life though, read our detailed guide.
With an average everyday usage, the battery dropped from 100% to 30% in about two days.
The device came with the latest MIUI 8.5 Stable, based on Android 7.1.
However, it was the Chinese version, and we soon realized that it didn’t have the Play Store, but Xiaomi's “App Store.”
Of course, the English language is still available, and you can always install Play Store and other Google services in less than a minute, but there are also some Chinese apps pre-installed.
We checked the latest rom releases from Xiaomi’s official website, and the global version was not available yet on the phone. This is a bit disappointing for users that don't want English, but we are confident that the company will release a global version soon.
As for our device, we installed a custom global rom, to be able to run the necessary benchmarks.
Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is currently on a flash sale and comes at a price of $409.99 for the 128GB version.
The 64GB version costs 380$, which of course is not worth it, as long as the larger model is on sale.
Regarding benchmarks, we won’t see much of a difference, compared to phones with the same processor. Taking that into consideration, we wanted to compare the phone with devices in a similar price range.
Thus, we run some benchmarks, and below you can see the results.
For our comparison, we used the Mi 6, which has the same price, besides the almost identical hardware.
The Mi 6 seems to win in most of the benchmarks, but with a minimal difference.
Just for reference, we also made a comparison with the iPhone 7 Plus.
As expected, the iPhone wins in most benchmarks, but we shouldn’t forget that it costs more than twice as much.
The comparison with lower price models shows that Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is the clear winner.
Is it worth it?
Simply put, yes. We used the phone for around ten days, and we didn’t have any complains whatsoever. The experience was smooth, lag free, and the phone delivered what it promised.
The most prominent disadvantage of the device is that it comes with a Chinese rom with no Play Store. Since it was released only a month ago, there’s still no official global version.
If you don’t know how to flash a custom rom or if you want to spare the trouble, we recommend you to either wait until a global rom is released, or have a look at the Mi 6 instead.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind a Chinese rom with English, or you enjoy tinkering with roms, and you want a powerful device that focuses on selfies and photography in general, we highly recommend it.
Below we summarize the pros and cons of Xiaomi Mi Note 3, to help you decide.
- Dual rear camera setup
- Selfie enhanced front camera with AI beautification software
- 2x optical zoom
- Elegant design
- Lightweight and steady grip
- Face recognition
- Touch home button that responds instantly
- Powerful hardware and lag-free experience, even in gaming
- No 3.5mm audio jack
- Currently no official global rom
Did you like Xiaomi Mi Note 3?
We took the phone for a spin, and it managed to amaze us. How about you? Did you like our review? Do you have a question regarding the device?
Would you buy the Xiaomi Mi Note 3?
Feel free to leave your comments below.