iPhone rival? Xiaomi goes ceramic again for $500 high-end Mi Mix 2

Xiaomi takes the wraps off the Mi Mix 2, its second shot at a ceramic smartphone.

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Xiaomi's Mi Mix has all the features expected of a flagship, such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor with large memory options. (Image: Xiaomi)

Xiaomi has launched the Mi Mix 2, its premium phone crafted from ceramic and designed by French designer Philippe Starck.

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The first Mi Mix, also a ceramic design by Stark, arrived a little under a year ago to become Xiaomi's most expensive and bold phone yet with a whopping 6.4-inch edgeless display. As CNET noted in a review, the futuristic phone was good-looking and easy to grip but suffered from a few usability flaws, such as a weirdly placed selfie-camera.

Xiaomi has trimmed the Mix 2's screen down to 5.99-inches and boasts that it's cut the space below the screen by 12 percent to deliver an 18:9 aspect ratio. It's also opted for rounded edges in the Mix 2 versus the harder edge in its predecessor.

Last time, the larger memory premium model had 18-carat gold embossing. This time Xiaomi is introducing a 128GB special edition with 8GB RAM in an all-ceramic body.

The phone has all the features that could be expected of a flagship, such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor with large memory options. The phone will be available with 6GB RAM or 8GB RAM with storage of 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB.

The first Mi Mix didn't work with many US LTE networks, but the new model should. Though Xiaomi has yet to launch smartphone sales in the US, it has equipped this phone with support for 43 LTE bands.

Xiaomi is touting "global internet access" as a business feature. The phone will launch in markets outside China, where it's already established a presence, such as Singapore and India.

The Mi Mix 2 will be available from 3,299 RMB, which converts to about $500. That's slightly cheaper than the first model. The 128GB version will cost 3,599 RMB, while the 256GB model will cost 3,999 RMB. The special edition all-ceramic phone will cost 4,699 RMB. The phone will be available in black and white.

As noted by The Verge, Xiaomi has ditched the original piezoelectric ceramic actuator for a real speaker. Formerly, the phone's body vibrated to deliver sound.

Oddly, Xiaomi didn't address the positioning of the Mi Mix's selfie-camera, which once again is located on the bottom panel of the Mix 2, making for awkward selfie taking. The rear camera has a 12-megapixel sensor positioned above the fingerprint sensor.

The Mix 2 has a USB-C port but no 3.5mm headphone jack, and it will ship with Xiaomi's Android Nougat-based MIUI 9. The display has a 2,168 x 1,080-pixel resolution at 403ppi, according to Xiaomi's specs sheet. The Mix 2 also has a smaller 3,400mAh battery, down from 4,400mAh in the first model.

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