At this time when Xiaomi introduced a lot of models, thanks to Gearbest.com store, here at Techfunology we were able to test and review the top range Xiaomi Mi Note 3, presented on September 11th together with the expected Mi Mix 2. I could compare this smartphone to a lightning strike not only for the general speed with which it performs every operation, but also because, like a lightning strike, drags on his power with a thunder that roars and intimidates anyone, and it is the case to say that Xiaomi’s rivals really have to fear.
Elegant packaging thanks to the use of a black colored carton with very clear Note 3 on the front, while all the main features are on the back. Inside, we will find in addition to the smartphone, the Chinese charger (we should have a European socket adapter) and output 5V = 3A / 9V = 2A / 12V = 1.5A, Type-C USB charging and data cable, Type-C adapter for 3.5mm jack headsets, Chinese speaking instruction manual, and pin needle for removing the SIM slot, as well as a pleasing gift, a soft silicone protective cover in smoky color that does not ruin the design of the Xiaomi Mi Note 3.
Hardware and performance
For this review of the Xiaomi Mi Note 3, we will go straight to the hardware as the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is one of the first smartphones to be equipped with the Snapdragon 660 chipset, an octacore with a maximum clock rate of 2.20 GHz, which turns out to be performing and low power . Surely it’s less than the Snapdragon 835 seen on the Mi 6 but I personally think it is much more optimized as it makes the Mi Note 3 a lightning-fast, always ready-to-react smartphone capable of recording higher daily performance even than Mi 6.
Note that Real Racing starts in just 10 seconds, delivering a truly unique gameplay, with maximum graphic details, framing constantly and above all without ever heating. Of course the merit is also the Adreno 512 GPU and the 6 GB of LPDDR4X RAM memory, which are able to launch heavy applications, even the heaviest ones, and then be resumed without any reloading. The phone during my use has never given any signs of uncertainty or any kind of problem.
But a good technical papershhet would be almost worthless if there was not also an excellent design that almost resembles the Mi 6, with the exception of measurements that are equal to 152.6 x 74 x 7.6 mm (greater than Mi 6 ) with a weight of 163 grams (less than Mi 6).
As the Mi 6 it uses curved lines on the 4 corners both in the front and the rear, but also a slight curvature along the metal profiles where we can find the on / off button and volume balance on the right while the SIM slot is on the left, which houses two SIMs in Dual Sim Dual Standby nano format, but without the ability to expand 64 GB eMMC 5.1 internal memory (also available with 128 GB) via micro SD cards. Overall, ergonomics are good but the slickness of the smartphone has to be reported in some situations, though it can be solved using the protective cover provided.
Aesthetically, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has an extremely elegant look, especially in black color. The back shell is covered with a nice glassy touch layer and surprisingly not very slippery, and sees the dual camera with dual dual tone dual flash at the top.
On the upper side there is the second microphone for environmental noise reduction and the IR transmitter. In the lower part there are two small inserts for the antennas, the USB Type-C input with OTG support and two small grids that house the main microphone and the system speaker. Also for Mi Note 3, the company decided not to plug in the 3.5mm jack, a questionable choice even if an adapter is available in the box to use the classic earphones with our device.
The speaker, while listening and / or enjoying of multimedia content, usually relies on the headset to offer a stereo sound effect. Volume is definitely average and we can appreciate all the sound frequencies while in handsfree mode the sound is output only from the speaker and with much more than satisfying volume.
Fingerprint sensor and facial recognition
From the Xiaomi Mi 6, the Mi Note 3 also inherits the fingerprint sensor located on the front of the device just below the display where the 2 soft touch backlit keys can also be found, which can be reversed via software. The fingerprint sensor is actually located under the Home button and covered by the same glass that covers the display. Unlocking the device is immediate, lightning fast, in short whatever synonym you find for fast and reliable you can safely use it to describe this performance. Of course, the sensor can also associate the block for application access and privacy protection.
Unlocking the smartphone can also be accomplished by face recognition, that will use the front camera, perhaps less secure than the fingerprint, but honestly I must say that it has always worked perfectly even in conditions where the brightness was not just perfect.
Always on the front of the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 we find the top sensors, the front camera, headset and white color LED, but above all the 5.5-inch display with Full HD resolution and 10-point touch support. Xiaomi did not want to compromise, perhaps fearful of the issues with the previous Mi Note 2, but in any case the screen of this Mi Note 3 is really great.
There is a reading mode that can also be programmed with custom timetables, featuring automatic contrast that adjusts to ambient light with visibility under the direct sunshine of the sun, but above all the color rendering is crazy good. Even blacks are very deep in spite of the IPS technology, not to mention excellent viewing angles even in extreme angles. If we add the stereo effect provided by the speaker and headset then watching videos on this Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is really rewarding thanks to full support for 4K, UHD and MKV formats.
No QHD, therefore, by Xiaomi, who did not want to dare too much, going to mount a good panel of brilliant colors and good brightness. The blacks are deep enough, though not at the AMOLED level, while the viewing angles are discrete but lose a bit in extreme inclination.
This Xiaomi Mi Note 3 does not seem to be missing anything because we also find the NFC sensor which unfortunately does not support wireless charging, but we find the Bluetooth 5.0 module (version 5.0 doubles the speed, quadruples the signal coverage and increases the transmission of messages and data of 800%, all without any increase in consumption) to connect multiple peripherals at the same time, Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, WiFi Hotspot, excellent GPS fast and without fix uncertainties in navigation and …. no I have to admit Mi Note 3 does not support the notorious band 20 to 800 MHz and so with some operators in Italy you may encounter little difficulty in rural areas but I personally enjoyed a great internet surfing even where with other phones I was able to connect in 3G mode. That said, there is support for 4G LTE networks with excellent reception of the phone signal, without any uncertainty and especially with excellent audio output in headphone capsule.
Other than that, however, receiving data is free of any uncertainties or disconnections. Discreet phone part, with audio capsule with good volume, but a handsfree bit low.
As for geolocation, there are A-GPS, Glonass and BDS technologies, with a fast fix position and no other uncertainties to point out.
Have we already said that the Mi Note 3 inherits the design of the Mi 6 top range? Well, the latter also inherits the double photoprofessional photo frame on the back made of glossy glass. It features a 12mm megapixel 27mm widescreen Sony IMX386 with a f / 1.8 aperture, a 4-axis stabilizer, and a 12-megapixel 52mm telephoto lenses S5K3M3 with aperture f / 2.6, accompanied by a dual dual tone LED flash. Together, the two sensors can offer a bokeh effect in portrait mode as well as more expensive and significantly more expensive phones. There is also a 2X optical zoom (using the lens lenses in good brightness, otherwise the camera will be used with a digital zoom) to take detailed photos without getting close to the subject.
It is possible to record video with resolution up to 4K at 30fps but also record time-lapse and good slow motion, as well as the presence of the optical stabilizer is a welcome presence that is appreciated in the final output of the videos. The camera’s system interface has been slightly revised and the final shots in good brightness are excellent but unfortunately with the decrease in ambient brightness the background noise tends to come out. Featuring HDR features and manual mode through which to set which camera to shoot. The front camera with a 16-megapixel Samsung S5K3P8SP sensor with f / 2.0 aperture is also very good, giving it a shot above the average and it can record good HD video. Xiaomi also inserts the AI Beautify function: a beauty filter that promises to reduce the blemishes of the shot and to adapt the face beauty to the subject taken up.
This wonderful Mi Note 3 is powered by a 3500mAh battery that gives you a great deal of autonomy, with a classic average user experience of well over 1 day of performance. Values that can be even increased considering that in a stress day they managed to arrive in the evening with still 35% of residual charge. This can happen thanks to the Snapdragon 660 CPU or for the very best battery optimization? I did not understand it, but the fact is that the Mi Note 3 is a device that will not let you without power almost anyway and you’ll be also able to take advantage of Quick Charge 3.0 support. The supplied power supply will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes to bring the smartphone back to 0 to 100.
Finally, I should talk to you about the operating system, which on this Mi Note 3 is Android 7.1.1 with MIUI 9 interface. It arrives with MIUI 8.5 Stable ROM without Google Apps, but you can easily update to MIUI 9 from the setting menu. You can also switch to Xiaomi.EU in version 7.9.21 which in these hours received an update, which corrects some bugs like crash fix of Cleaner application and more. A ROM that brings the MIUI 9 novelties to Mi Note 3.
Updating from MIUI 8.5 to 9.1.2
After the upgrade to MIUI 9.1
If you want Google Apps, you will need to unlock the bootloader, install a modified recovery, and then flash the Xiaomi.EU ROM on the terminal. I do not want to frighten you anything easier, provided you know a little bit of “snapping” while still supporting the various communities or directly many guides on Facebook groups where you will find many answers to the various questions. Basic MIUI 9 functions remain the same, with the possibility of a secondary space, or to clone applications to have two instances of the same account on a single smartphone. There are plenty of customizations at the graphic level with various themes, as well as many privacy-related features, but I certainly noticed a further sprint in terms of general fluency and application launch. Guest pleasing is the split screen feature that will allow you to view two applications at the same time in order to increase the productivity of the same.
MIUI 9.1 stable
In conclusion, the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 surprised me in every aspect both hardware and software. Excellent materials, sleek design, reliability at all times, low power and high performance chipset in the gaming phases with a RAM management I’ve never seen so far. Perhaps it’s design does not differ much from the previous top flagship Mi 6, considering also the fact that the price difference is not so pronounced between the two. That is why someone might opt to purchase Mi 6, perhaps aiming for more power but by comparing the Mi Note 3, it wins for autonomy, ergonomics and, in a sense, also for building strength, giving it the most robust sense of the Mi 6. Whether you choose Mi 6 or this fantastic Xiaomi Mi Note 3, your purchase will be rewarded by an enjoyment of use as well as a reliability that I rarely found in other brands.