Not a standout, but Xiaomi's Mi Note 2 is still noteworthy

Lei Jun, founder and CEO of China's mobile company Xiaomi gestures during a launch of the company's new products in Beijing, China, September 27, 2016. Picture taken September 27, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

This year has so far been one of recycled phone designs and incremental improvements. Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 does not buck that trend.

This is not to say that the Mi Note 2 is a bad phone - it isn't. It carries top-of-the-line specs, and manages to cram it all under the low price tag of 2,799 yuan (S$575).

But it is a phone that does not stand out from the crowd and, at the launch event last week, it was overshadowed by the much more headline-worthy Mi Mix.

The first thing that users will notice about the Mi Note 2 is how much it looks like another Note - not its predecessor, but Samsung's beleaguered Galaxy Note7.

Xiaomi's new store in Singapore

  • After much teasing on social media, Xiaomi officially unveiled their new flagship store in Singapore.
  • Located in Suntec City, this marks the first time that Xiaomi has opened a full fledged retail store outside of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
  • The Singapore store is not 100 per cent run by Xiaomi though, and is a product of a collaborative effort with Singapore's current go-to tech e-commerce site Lazada, which will manage the sales.
  • In it, you can find the the full range of smartphones that you can also find from Mi Singapore's online store. There's also the familiar and hugely popular powerbanks too.
  • Products such as the Mi Drones, Notebook Air, 4K Mi TVs, even Mi rice cookers were on display for users to get a feel of, but comes a pasted tag which reads in bold "NOT FOR SALE".
  • A pity, and a missed opportunity.

Like the Note7, the Mi Note 2 has a curved screen, tapered sides and an oblong home button/fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the screen. In the hand, both phones feel similar too, as they both sport a glass back.

While the design of the phone may seem uninspired, the spec sheet begs to differ.

Both the Note 2 and the Mix are using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, the highest-end mobile processor on the market now. The Note 2 also has up to 6GB RAM, and 128GB of internal storage.

Its rear shooter is a 22.56-megapixel camera with 4K video recording and electronic image stabilisation. A couple of test shots with the camera turned out pretty clear, even those taken when I jiggled the phone around.

Where the Note 2 lags behind its flagship competitors is in its lack of water and dust resistance - drop it into the sink and you can wave your phone goodbye - and in its screen, which is full HD as compared with Note7's quad HD. Still, for the price, the Xiaomi Note 2 is definitely the better bargain.

While the phone will not be officially sold in Singapore, it may be available here via third-party retailers, as previous Xiaomi phones have been.

This article was first published on November 02, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.