In the middle of last year many users wished for a Xiaomi Mi6 with a 5.5-inch display (Mi6 Plus), so the high-end hardware of Mi6 in a 5.5-inch smartphone. Xiaomi then recently presented Mi Note 3, whose hardware is not as high-end as Mi6’s hardware. Nevertheless, Mi Note 3’s equipment is solid: the Snapdragon 660 processor offers a nearly a high-end performance, the outstanding dual-camera of Mi6 is also used for Mi Note 3 and you can choose between 6/64 and 6/128GB of storage. Our detailed review will investigate the question whether or not Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is an alternative with a bigger screen to Mi6.
Design and build quality
Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has the same 4D glass rear as Mi6. All edges melt perfectly into the metal frame. Compared to Mi6, the frame is easier to grip, as it is not smooth, but has a matt surface. Doubtlessly, the smartphone has an excellent build quality with premium appearance. Nevertheless, Mi Note 3 is still a slippery smartphone and the double-glass rear has the well-known weakness: fingerprints are clearly visible and the probability that the glass breaks is twice as high. You have to go without audio jack. Although Xiaomi does not advertise with protection against splashing water, Mi Note 3 is likely to be protected against it. Despite the bigger dimensions of 153x74x7.6mm, Mi Note 3 is 10g lighter than the smaller Mi6. With 16g, the 5.5-inch device has the ideal weight which is not too heavy, but still gives you a premium feeling. Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is Mi6’s equal in design and build quality.
The missing audio jack as well as the perfect fingerprint scanner and the dual-camera on the rear are taken from Mi6. The fingerprint scanner is outstandingly precise and fast. Mi Note 3 has a home button and 2 illuminated sensor buttons. Power button and volume control are on the right as usual. They are firmly attached, have a nice feedback and they consist of metal. The dual-camera does not jut out of the rear and the dual-tone LED flash is well fixed in the glass rear. 2 speaker grilles and the USB Type-C port are located at the bottom. Beneath one of the grilles there is the speaker, beneath the other one you can find the microphone. Nevertheless, Mi Note 3 uses the earpiece to produce stereo sound. At the top of the phone, you find an infrared transmitter and a second, noise-cancelling microphone. You can insert 2 Nano-SIMs in the dual SIM tray, storage expansion is not possible unfortunately.
With Mi Note 2’s successor Mi Note 3, Xiaomi ends the experiments with AMOLED Curved displays. Regarding design and build quality, Mi Note 3 is basically a bigger and lighter Xiaomi Mi6.
The 5.5-inch display has a 1920x1080pixels resolution resulting in pin-sharp 401PPI. The IPS panel is rounded off at the sides and as usual, it is resistant to scratches, although Xiaomi does not mention brand names such as Gorilla Glass. Viewing angles are as stable as those of any other flagship on the market and readability outside is as excellent as with Mi6. The high brightness combined with Xiaomi’s automatic contrast deliver great results. On the other hand, you can also reduce brightness to a minimum in the dark. If you’d like to be even kinder to your eyes, you can activate the reading mode (blue light filter) and it is possible to let it end at a determined point of time. Color representation is strong and contrast (for an IPS display) is excellent as well.
The touchscreen registers 10 points of contact simultaneously, accuracy is great and every input is carried out instantly. Double-tap-to-wake is possible, although this feature is unnecessary as the fingerprint scanner is on the front. You finger glides smoothly over the display’s surface. Regarding the display, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is also on the same level as Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 or Mi6.
The most surprising fact about Mi Note 3 is the choice of the processor. Xiaomi now uses a Snapdragon 660 processor, which is clearly inferior to the Snapdragon 835, at least in the benchmarks. We also expect the Snapdragon 660 to be used in the new middle class wonder Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. However, what counts is not only pure computing power: in a direct comparison of Mi6 and Mi Note 3 both phones are comparably fast. The Snapdragon 660 processor is manufactured with the same 14-Nano millimeter process as the Snapdragon 835 and is based on 8 kyro 260 cores. The cores clock at 4×1.8 and 4×2.2GHz sufficiently high. An Adreno 512 GPU which clocks at 850GHz and enormous 6GB of RAM support the CPU.
The storage of either 64 or 128GB has a reading/writing speed of 274/233MB/s, which is not quite on flagship level. It is truly a pity that they used “just” eMMC 5.1 and not a UFS memory chip. Nevertheless, installing apps happens fast and system performance is perfect. In the Antutu benchmark, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 scored 3,115,000 points, and with that it is on the level of an old Snapdragon 820 (high-end processor of last year). However, the processor supports current standards such as Bluetooth 5.0, which are also available on Mi Note 3. Even after 1 hour of intense gaming the device doesn’t get noticeably warm; the same holds true while the phone is charging. By the way, all games from the Playstore run perfectly and smoothly without lags or FPS drops.[ch_benchmark benchmarks=”antutu, geekbench_multi, geekbench_single, 3d_mark”]
It remains Xiaomi’s secret why they did not use the Snapdragon 835 processor and the UFS memory chip. However, Mi Note 3 has a weaker performance than Mi6 and even weaker than the predecessor Mi Note 2. On the other hand, nobody will probably notice this difference in performance in daily use. Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is still a freaking fast smartphone.
Currently, Xiaomi Mi Note 3 still runs with MIUI 8 based on Android 7.1.1. Since for now there is no official Global ROM (with Playstore and OTA updates) available, we recommend using the Xiaomi.EU ROM. To do that, you first have to do an UNLOCK and then you follow this instruction. The Xiaomi.EU ROM is based on the latest DEV ROM, which is why it already runs with MIUI 9. By now it also gets OTA updates. Xiaomi Mi Note 3 runs very stable with the Xiaomi.EU ROM without any bugs. Those searching for a fast, nice and customizable system with a few additional features will be happy with MIUI.
Mi Note 3 uses the same dual-camera setup as Mi6. This is what we said about Xiaomi Mi6’s camera:
“Xiaomi Mi6 houses a Sony IMX 386 Sensor with optical image stabilization as well as a Samsung S5k3m3 Sensor with permanent double zoom. The double optical zoom is not available in video mode. Instead the Sony-sensor’s 4-axis image stabilizer is priority, which of course makes sense. Anyways it would be great if it were possible to choose the Samsung Sensor, too. Maybe this will come with an update. You will easily feel comfortable with the Xiaomi camera app. The two additional dual-camera functions can be selected directly on the app’s home screen with a “head” and “1X” and can be used easily by beginners.
The double-zoom images of the Samsung Sensor as well as the bokeh shots turn out pretty well with the Mi6. The blurred background is mostly perfectly isolated from the sharp objects. Xiaomi Mi6 does a great job here and is totally equal to iPhone 7 Plus. Also the double-zoom shots give you sharp and accurate images.
In normal light the main camera’s pictures are sharp, nice in terms of colour and full of detail. The image quality is on a great level. As soon as there is less light, the Mi6 starts to increase the ISO value which results in image noise. The video quality suffers here, too. Anyways Mi6 still does a fine job here. Both rear cameras take shots with 12 megapixels, the front camera produces great selfies with 8mp. Even videos seem good. 4K and 1080P shots are possible with 30FPS each. Even the front camera can record videos in full-HD. Optical image stabilization guarantees a vibration reduction, however it is not supported by an electronic image stabilizer which results in a slight jerking at rough moves.
Even if the camera can’t get away without any points of criticism, especially concerning video takes, Xiaomi managed to present the best camera setup, yet! The dual-camera functions can be used in a reasonable way and they are fun to use. The image quality is great in good light conditions and can keep up with every flagship on the market – even the more expensive ones.”
Concerning the front camera, Xiaomi goes even further (at least on paper) with Mi Note 3 and uses a 16MP Samsung S5k3p8 sensor, which leaves quite an impression because of the high number of megapixels. Unfortunately, a direct comparison of Mi6 and Mi Note 3 shows once again that it is not just the megapixels that are decisive for good quality. Xiaomi Mi6 takes selfies with more details and nicer colors. The selfies taken by Mi Note 3 are also good, but they are not on a top level.
Connectivity and communication
Xiaomi Mi Note 3 supports the following frequencies:
GSM 850 MHz, GSM 900 MHz, GSM 1800 MHz, GSM 1900 MHz, UMTS 850 MHz, UMTS 900 MHz, UMTS 1900 MHz, UMTS 2100 MHz, LTE 850 MHz, LTE 900 MHz, LTE 1800 MHz, LTE 2100 MHz, LTE 2600 MHz, LTE-TDD 1900 MHz (B39), LTE-TDD 2300 MHz (B40), LTE-TDD 2500 MHz (B41), LTE-TDD 2600 MHz (B38)
Mi Note 3’s speaker is surprising, as it has more spatial qualities than Mi6. Volume is not the highest, but sound quality is excellent and even beats the other flagships! The sound you get with headphones connected via the provided 3.5mm jack plug is great as well: the sound is loud and clear.
GPS reception does a fine job, too. Xiaomi.EU ROM especially increases the number of satellites and the signal is up to 2-3m precise. The compass works well with pedestrian navigation and when using car navigation, there were never deviations from the course. Dual-Band Wi-Fi with ac-standard in 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks is available as well as the latest Bluetooth 5.0 version, which works just perfectly. Mi Note 3 does not have FM-radio, but NFC and OTG are supported.
Besides the 3 standard sensors (acceleration, proximity, brightness sensor), Xiaomi Mi Note 3 provides a compass, a gyroscope, a barometer, an infrared transmitter and an echo sensor (for smart covers).
Having a 5.5-inch display, Mi Note 3 is not only bigger than Mi6, it should also consume more energy. Therefore, it was even more surprising to see that Xiaomi increased battery capacity by only 100mAh (3500mAh) compared to the smaller Mi6 (3350mAh). Using quick-charge, Mi Note 3 is charged from 20 to 90% in just 50 minutes, which is awesome. The smartphone is completely charged in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Those who need some power during the day will not have any problems with charging time.
Battery life in daily use is simply great. I don’t care if this is because of the processor with the low clock rate or because of the system optimization, as Mi Note 3 always lasted for 2 days with a DOT (display-on time) of 7-8 hours.[ch_benchmark benchmarks=”akkulaufzeit”]
In the PC Mark battery test Mi Note made it through excellent 11.5hours and easily beats all other top smartphones with this result. Those looking for a big smartphone with great battery life can do nothing wrong with Mi Note 3.
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