The Mi Max is a truly gigantic phone that is heaven-sent for media junkies, but a slippery fish for anyone with average-sized hands.
The phone has a gargantuan 6.44-inch screen. To put that in perspective, it is almost a full inch larger than the iPhone 7 Plus' 5.5-inch display.
This, in addition to the phone's smooth brushed aluminium back, means that it is decidedly not a device for one-handed use.
Anyone who is used to a smaller phone will take a while to get used to handling it. In fact, several times, I found myself nearly dropping the Mi Max while trying to manoeuvre it around with only one hand or to change my grip.
Even reaching the fingerprint sensor, which is slightly more than an inch from the top, can be a challenge for people like myself who are used to holding a phone at its base instead of in the middle.
Despite the large screen size though, the Mi Max is surprisingly thin, at just at 7.5mm thick, and is also reasonably light at 203g.
The huge screen definitely has its perks. The display is a full high-definition (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) affair, with 342 pixels per inch. While that is not fantastic density, it is still difficult to pick out individual pixels.
The size alone makes it fantastic for watching videos, reading and browsing, but it is certainly helped by the screen's colour profile, which is nicely balanced and not too warm or cool.
Viewing angles are not the best though, and the screen can be hard to see under bright sunlight.
Heavy media consumption is supported by the phone's whopping 4,850mAh battery, which trumps the batteries in most flagship devices by over 30 per cent.
I left the phone on standby for about two days and when I checked again, the battery level had dropped by only a few per cent.
The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, the same as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and the Sony Xperia X. As the chipset was announced early last year, it is not the newest, but it is still a competent budget processor.
The 16-megapixel rear camera is a pleasant surprise. It throws up pictures which are well-balanced and clear, and it is one of the best cameras on a phone that costs less than $400.
The camera also has fantastic manual control options. Users can not only adjust the shutter time and ISO, but also manually set the focus with the help of a focus-peaking feature.
However, I did encounter a few instances when the camera was not able to focus in auto mode, even though there was sufficient light and distance. It would only work after I closed and opened the camera app again.
As with all Xiaomi phones, the best part is the price. At just $349, the Mi Max is priced comparably with low-end tablets, while being a fully functioning phone as well.
Verdict: The Mi Max is a great phone for media consumption, and also has decent specs and a good camera to boot.
Price: Qualcomm Snapdragon 650
Display: Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (~342 ppi)
Camera: (Rear) 16-megapixel, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash; (front) 5-megapixel
Value for money: 5/5
Battery life: 5/5
Operating system: MIUI 7.0, based on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
Memory: 3GB and 32GB of storage (expandable up to 128GB)
Batery: 4,850mAh non-removable
This article was first published on September 21, 2016.
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