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Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro Review: If Only It Came Sooner

by John Nieves  November 27, 2018


We review the Mi 8 Pro!

When Xiaomi introduced the Mi 8 Explorer Edition a few months ago, the phone was met with excitement and quite a lot of hype. Xiaomi’s flagship releases always generate their fair share of buzz, and the new seemingly transparent smartphone created quite a bit of discussion (both good and bad) when it was announced back in June.

We’re referencing the Mi 8 Explorer Edition because, for all intents and purposes, the Mi 8 Pro is the same device with a few minor alterations. While it’s great that the phone is finally in the Philippines, its late entry means it’s going up against the OnePlus 6T, a phone that is proving to be every bit as good as the Mi 8 Pro.

What is it?

The Mi 8 Pro is the top-end version of Xiaomi’s Mi 8 family of smartphones, and like we said earlier, is basically the Mi 8 Explorer edition without the 3D face unlock feature, which means you’ll have to settle for an IR scanner.

That’s quite a unique looking back.

It is, and it’s one of the best things about the Mi 8 Pro. Now, we know that the components aren’t actually real (even that carbon fiber on the battery is a sticker because why would you put carbon fiber on a battery) BUT we honestly think that the transparent rear is way more interesting than most glass-backed phones nowadays. Kudos to Xiaomi for trying something different.

The frame of the phone is metal, and the rear is made from glass. The Mi 8 Pro has similar ergonomics to the cheaper Mi 8, though obviously, it doesn’t sport the same fingerprint scanner on that particular phone thanks to the in-display reader integrated on the front.

The phone as the power and volume buttons on the right, with the SIM slot on the left. On the bottom is the two speaker grilles and the USB Type-C port. Like Xiaomi’s other high-end phones the Mi 8 Pro doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack, so you’ll have to settle with Bluetooth cans or use a 3.5mm to USB Type-C dongle.

Overall the phone feels solid and premium and looks quite different from all the other devices that are available in the marketplace today.

No fingerprint scanner on the rear means in-display fingerprint reader?

Yup, the Mi 8 Pro joins countless other flagships this year in integrating the fingerprint scanner on the display. We’ve found the fingerprint reader to work well, though it’s not as fast as a dedicated reader that’s separate from the display.

Speaking of the display, it’s a 6.21-inch AMOLED full HD+ panel with a notch on top peppered with sensors. Like we said earlier, the Mi 8 Pro doesn’t have 3D face sensing as the Explorer Edition does, though you do get face unlock with the device.

As far as the actual display goes, it’s pretty good. AMOLED panels have excellent contrast ratios, so you get really deep blacks. Colors look vibrant and pop – if you’re the type that enjoys watching movies and playing mobile games with your phone, you’re going to like what the Mi 8 Pro brings to the table.

Probably the only thing we don’t like about it is the notch since it’s bigger than usual. Annoyingly enough you don’t get Face Unlock by default since you have to switch your region to either India or HK to have the feature. It’s a known issue for Xiaomi phones that have face unlock tech, something that should have been rectified by now.

How fast is it?

Pretty fast. Like many of Xiaomi’s phones this year, the Mi 8 Pro has a Snapdragon 845 processor under the hood. That’s paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

What else can we say about the phone at this point except tell you that it’s fast, like hella fast. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is so ridiculously common nowadays that you pretty much have an idea what to expect, performance-wise.

How’s the rest of the phone?

As with most Xiaomi flagships, the rest of the phone feels great. We had absolutely zero signal issues. Calls made to and from the phone was clear and crisp, and the speakers on the bottom sounded good, though they sort of distort at higher volumes.

The phone runs Android 8.1 with MIUI 9.6 running on top.

What’s the camera performance like?

Pretty good for what it is. The Xiaomi Mi 8 is armed with dual 12-megapixel rear cameras, one for regular snaps and the other for far-away objects. To be more specific, the main camera is armed with a f/1.8 aperture lens and has 1.4µm pixel size so it can take in more light, useful when shooting in dim environs, while the second camera has a f/2.4 aperture camera with a 1.0µm sensor size and 2x optical zoom.

Taking a look at the photos, it’s clear that the camera has similar performance to the regular Mi 8. Photos came out really good, and even very low-light images like the one we took in UP.

Overall we can’t really find faults in the Mi 8 Pro’s cameras, as it managed to tackle everything we threw at it admirably, resolving good detail even in scenes that had challenging HDR.

Like most smartphones nowadays the Mi 8 Pro also has AI scene detection that changes the camera’s settings depending on what you’re shooting at. From our experience, the AI on Xiaomi’s cameras isn’t as aggressive as say, Huawei’s, which can be either good or bad depending on which side of the fence you lean on.

Can it last the entire day?

It sure can. The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro clocks at around 9 hours and 50 seconds on a single charge of its 3000mAh battery. That’s not quite as long as the other flagships we tested recently, but it’s enough to get you through the day without having to scrounge for a charger. The phone also has fast charging through Qualcomm’s QuickCharge technology.

Should you buy it?

If Xiaomi offered the Mi 8 Pro a few months ago and asked us if you should buy it, we would immediately say yes without hesitation. But it’s quite a different situation now, thanks to the local availability of its closest rival, the OnePlus 6T. It’s one of those rare situations where Xiaomi doesn’t have a huge pricing edge over its competitor, as the OnePlus 6T has roughly the same specs and comes with a sticker price of Php 33,990 for the 8GB/128GB variant, which is only Php 1,000 more than the Mi 8 Pro’s Php 32,990 price tag.

There’s a lot to like about the OnePlus 6T, enough that you’ll probably want to read our review of the device when it goes live and touch one for yourself to really see which of the two flagships you prefer.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro specs

  • Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 630 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 6.21-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display, 19:9 aspect ratio, support for DCI-P3,
  • 60000:1 Contrast Ratio
  • 128GB of non-expandable storage
  • Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras (main camera with f/1.8 aperture, telephoto camera with f/2.4 aperture) with 1.4um pixels, 4-axis OIS, 2X optical zoom, Dual Pixel
  • Autofocus, dual-tone flash, AI scene detection and AI portrait
  • 20-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with 1.8um pixels, AI Portrait, AI Beauty
  • Dual SIM, with 4G LTE, LTE-A
  • Dual Frequency GPS, GLONASS
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
  • Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C port, Infrared Face Unlock
  • 3000mAh battery with QuickCharge 4.0
  • Android Oreo 8.1 with MIUI

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