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Best Xiaomi Phones 2018

Best Xiaomi Phones 2018
Also known as 'China's Apple', Xiaomi is a huge brand in the Chinese smartphone market. For users in the UK, US and Europe, it offers mobile phones with specifications several notches above what you'll get for the same money over here. If you want the best-value phone, you're in the right place.
The Xiaomi line-up can be confusing for those not familiar with it, but follow these general rules of thumb and you can't go far wrong. Redmi is the company's budget line, so while prices are cheaper you shouldn't expect the same features and performance you get from the flagships. The Note range are its phablets or large-screen phones (though Mi Max is the largest), and plain old Mi is its flagship family.

The Mi6 and futuristic Mi Mix 2S (originally a concept phone in its first edition) currently sit at the top of the line-up, but you should keep your eyes out for the Mi7 which is expected to be announced on 23 May 2018. Previously you also had the Mi Note also at flagship status, but in the Mi Note 3 core hardware has been downgraded. Don't rule it out, though: with many of the same features and an identical design to the Mi6 it is appealing as a cheaper option.

Your buying guide to the best Xiaomi phones of 2018 
Though you can sometimes find Xiaomi phones on Amazon, usually you'll need to import them from a site such as GearBest since they aren't officially sold over here. That could all be about to change, though. Xiaomi has already launched in Spain, and will apparently come to the UK soon via network operator 3. Not only will you be able to easily purchase Xiaomi phones, you'll be able to get them on contract, too. 

In the meantime, if you are importing a Xiaomi phone it's always worth looking for an EU warehouse (check the codes here) to avoid import duty, and to look for an 'International' or 'Global' model even if that means paying a little more for them.

Only the Global models support 800MHz 4G LTE (Band 20), which is important to note for UK users on O2, GiffGaff or Sky Mobile. O2 relies solely on this band for 4G coverage, which means the most you'll get is 3G without reverting to Wi-Fi. For other networks that also use this band 4G coverage may be lower than you would find with a phone that does support 800MHz.

If you're buying from China you should also take into account that your consumer rights are different to when you buy within Europe, and that should something go wrong you're going to find aftersales support more difficult. Delivery times will also be longer, though there is usually a free option.

One major difference between Xiaomi phones and stock Android phones is that they run MIUI, and unless you have one of the International or Global models you'll find Google Play Services are not preinstalled. As long as it's a fairly recent device and capable of running MIUI 9, this is easy to solve.

An exception here is the Mi A1, which is identical in design and specification to the Mi 5X but runs Android One rather than MIUI. Xiaomi has recently announced the Mi 6X (which should be similarly rebranded as the Mi A2), and we'll be adding it to our chart once we have completed our testing. The Mi Mix 2S will also be added when we have completed our review.

Best Xiaomi Phone Reviews

1. Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
We remain huge fans of the Mi Mix family, but rather than the revolutionary beast it once was Xiaomi's 'bezel-less' phone has been brought kicking and screaming into line with other Android flagships.

It may have lost some of its wow factor, but in the most part we're pleased with the changes: we love the new design, both smaller and lighter and therefore more manageable than before. We also love the improved connectivity, now with complete UK 4G support.

We don't love the reduction in battery life, though, nor the loss of the headphone jack, and we're not enamoured with the new camera bump.

But the Mi Mix 2 is still a fantastic phone: significantly faster than its predecessor, and much better looking. Better still, it's as affordable as ever, making it a great alternative to other Android flagships - provided you can either live without or cope with having to set up Google services yourself.

In the Mi Mix 3 we would love to see Xiaomi's dual-camera implemented, plus a higher-resolution screen. Waterproofing and wireless charging would also be good shouts.

2. Xiaomi Mi6
This really is an amazing phone, and only the Chinese software puts us off recommending it for a UK audience. It is crazy fast, crazy beautiful and crazy priced. If you know your way around Android go and get one, and you won’t be disappointed.

3. Xiaomi Mi Note 2
The Mi Note 2 was wrongly overshadowed at its launch. This is a gorgeous big-screen Android phone with very decent performance, a great camera and plenty of storage. We'd like to see a Quad-HD screen on Xiaomi's flagship phone, but this one should prove plenty sharp and clear. Google apps are not preinstalled, but there is a workaround if you are happy to do some tweaking.

4. Xiaomi Mi Note 3
The Mi Note 3 is a downgrade on the Mi6 and, arguably, the Mi Note 2, but it appeals with a lower price and an attractive premium design. Though it doesn't feature a flagship processor, this is is a very capable smartphone with a very decent dual-camera. Provided you can live without 800MHz 4G and are happy to install Google Play Services yourself, it's difficult not to recommend the Mi Note 3.


5. Xiaomi Mi5s
We cannot recommend the Xiaomi Mi5s enough. This is the smartphone every 2016 flagship wanted to be, and it comes with a price tag half that of theirs. Fantastic build quality, fantastic performance, fantastic storage, battery and connectivity options - the Xiaomi Mi5s gets a big thumbs-up from us.

6. Xiaomi Mi A1
We're big fans of Xiaomi phones, but have been frustrated by MIUI on many an occasion. The Mi A1 and Mi 5X are to all intents and purposes the same phone, except one runs Android One and the other MIUI 8.5. That's huge news: at last we have a Xiaomi phone we can really get onboard with in the UK and Europe.

The Mi A1 itself is a well-built and decent all-round mid-range Android phone. It's not the fastest phone we've ever seen, and its low-light photography can be faulted. It lacks wireless charging, a futuristic full-screen display, a Quad-HD resolution, waterproofing, even NFC.

But at around £200 it offers amazing value, with good performance, a good camera, a nice design and decent software with timely security updates. If you're on a budget, it's difficult to think of a similarly priced phone that will do a better job.

7. Xiaomi Mi Max 2
It might not be as fast as the original Mi Max, but performance isn’t the main reason you’ll be buying the MI Max 2. Crossing the boundary between phone and tablet, the gigantic 6.44in screen will leave those of you who like your phones big all hot under the collar. With more storage, an improved camera and longer battery life, the Mi Max 2 is a no-brainer of an upgrade.

8. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A (2GB)
The 2GB RAM model we reviewed lacks features compared to the better-specced Redmi Note 5A options that cost only slightly more. There's no fingerprint scanner, a slower processor, a less impressive selfie camera and less memory and storage.

But none of this takes away from the fact this super-budget smartphone offers extraordinary value under £70. It doesn't excel at any one particular thing, but it is capable for less demanding users and nicely designed for a plastic phone.

If you do buy the Note 5A we strongly recommend choosing a Global variant for improved connectivity and the preinstallation of Google Services.


9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X
It isn’t a huge upgrade over the Redmi Note 3 or Note 4, but the Note 4X Global edition is a fine budget phone for UK users.

10. Xiaomi Redmi 4A
The Redmi 4A is ageing, and yet it remains a very good budget phone and a decent all-rounder under £100. Though it lacks more modern aspects such as a fingerprint scanner, metal build and 18:9 display, it's almost impossible to argue at this price. The 4A has since been succeeded by the 5A, but there's really no difference in core specification, making this an even better deal if you can find it at a rock-bottom price. The Global model is recommended, provided you're happy to get along with MIUI 8.5.


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