At Xiaomi’s launch event at the end of May 2018 three new Mi 8 smartphones were announced, of which the phone we review here is the standard model. There’s also an SE version, lower-specced and cheaper with the Snapdragon 710 headlining, plus the Explorer Edition, which has an cool transparent rear cover and an in-display fingerprint sensor.
The latter is something of a sore point: in common with many Chinese phones the standard Mi 8 has an amazing specification at a crazy-low price, but it lacks some of the features we were so looking forward to in the lead up to its announcement. Thus the standard model gets no in-display fingerprint scanner, which would have given it a lead over better known rivals such as Samsung, Apple and LG (we’re expecting to see such a feature in the Galaxy S10 in February), there’s no waterproofing and, despite its inclusion in the Mi Mix 2S, there’s no support for wireless charging – in any of the three editions.
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Something that has potential to divide fans is a completely new feature to Xiaomi’s phone line: the dreaded screen notch. As seen in the likes of the iPhone X and LG G7, it allows the screen to cover more area on the front of the device, while retaining an area in which to keep the selfie camera, sensors and earpiece speaker. Thus the Mi 8 has a screen-to-body ratio bordering on 87%, and now a larger display than ever at 6.21in.
No complaints there, but the notch is not universally admired for its aesthetic appeal. In our minds it’s certainly better than the alternative solution provided by the Mix, placing the selfie camera below the screen and requiring the user to turn upside down the phone to make proper use of it. And it gives the Mi flagship line a whole new look that is befitting of such premium devices.