Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review: Gunning for the Galaxy Z Fold 4

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review: Gunning for the Galaxy Z Fold 4

Xiaomi usually does a good job bringing its phones to global markets, but that hasn’t been the case with recent flagships. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is a fantastic device and the 1-inch camera module takes outstanding photos, but you can’t buy it outside China. In the same vein, the first-gen MIX Fold was limited to Xiaomi’s home market. Xiaomi is following the same strategy with the second-gen MIX Fold 2, and that’s a letdown considering the advances the brand made in key areas.

For one thing, the MIX Fold 2 is the thinnest foldable around, and that is no small feat considering it has a foldout screen just like the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The design has been overhauled as well, with the MIX Fold 2 featuring a metal chassis with a similar aesthetic as the Xiaomi 12 Pro. But the highlight is the foldout screen; at 8.02 inches, it is the largest you’ll find on a foldable phone today, and Xiaomi is offering 120Hz refresh and Dolby Vision this time around. Like the 12S Ultra, the MIX Fold 2 has Leica-tuned cameras that take stunning photos on par with the best Android phones. 

Xiaomi has undercut Samsung for nearly a decade now, and that’s true for the MIX Fold 2 as well. The foldable starts off at the equivalent of $1,245 in China, and that’s considerably less than what Samsung charges for the Z Fold 4. I used the MIX Fold 2 alongside the Z Fold 4, and here’s why I think Xiaomi is finally ready to take on Samsung in this category.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Price and availability

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Xiaomi unveiled the MIX Fold 2 at a launch event in Beijing, China on August 11. The phone is limited to China and will not be releasing outside the country; as such, you won’t find Google Mobile Services or the Play Store installed out of the box. 

In China, the MIX Fold 2 is sold in three variants: a model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for RMB 8,999 ($1,245), a version with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for RMB 9,999 ($1,385), and a high-end model with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage for RMB 11,999 ($1,660).

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Design

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Xiaomi overhauled the design with the MIX Fold 2, bringing the device in line with its Xiaomi 12 portfolio. The result is that the foldable phone looks gorgeous, and it feels premium in-hand. One of the key differentiators for the MIX Fold 2 is the svelte profile; with a thickness of just 5.4mm when unfolded and 11.2mm with the inner screen folded, the device is significantly thinner than the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Thanks to a sleek design and large cover screen, the MIX Fold 2 is the best-looking foldable today.

That fact is evident when using both foldables next to one another; the MIX Fold 2 just feels better to hold and use, and what I particularly like is that the hinge closes fully flat. This is down to a hinge that has a smaller bending radius and thinner screen modules, allowing Xiaomi to decrease the size and weight, leading to a thinner overall device. The hinge also has a smoother articulation than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and after using the MIX Fold 2 for over a month, I haven’t run into any issues with reliability.

The one issue with the thinner hinge is that it doesn’t allow the screen to stay half-folded, unlike the Z Fold 4. With Samsung’s foldable, you can fold the screen at any angle and it will stay in that position, but the MIX Fold 2 only works with a few angles; stretch it beyond 90 degrees and the hinge fully closes to unfurl the foldout screen.

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Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

That said, the thinner design makes the MIX Fold 2 significantly easier to hold and use, and although it comes in at just 1g lighter than the Z Fold 4, it doesn’t feel as bulky. A big part of the usability is down to the large cover screen; at 6.56 inches, it is on par with standard phones and doesn’t feel narrow at all — unlike Samsung’s foldable.

The rest of the design is suitably premium; the MIX Fold 2 features an aluminum mid-frame with a glass back, and the matte finish at the back prevents smudges. Like the Xiaomi 12 series, you’ll find a large camera housing at the back, with the island protruding out of the chassis. But because of the rectangular design, it doesn’t create any wobble when using the phone on a flat surface. The camera island sees a large ring around the 50MP main camera, and two smaller cutouts for the auxiliary modules.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The power and volume buttons are located on the right, and because of the foldout design, Xiaomi went with a fingerprint sensor that’s baked into the power button. I didn’t have any issues with authentication, and the sensor worked reliably. As for the rest of the hardware, you’ll find stereo sound with identical channels at the top and bottom, a SIM card tray with two slots, and an IR blaster.

One area where the MIX Fold 2 is on the backfoot is water resistance — it doesn’t have any. Xiaomi still doesn’t offer ingress protection as standard on its flagships, and the MIX Fold 2 is no different. It’s clear that Xiaomi doesn’t think much of ingress protection, and fingers crossed that changes for 2023.

Overall though, the MIX Fold 2 feels like a refined foldable, and Xiaomi nailed key design elements. The sleek design along with the smooth articulation of the hinge and the large cover screen make the phone stand out against the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and that’s no small feat.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Screen

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

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You’ll find two screens on the MIX Fold 2: an outer 6.56-inch (2520 x 1080) AMOLED panel and a foldout OLED panel that unfurls to 8.02 inches (2160 x 1914). Both screens have 120Hz refresh and go up to a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits in auto mode and 1,300 nits for HDR content. On that note, both panels feature HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. However, given that the phone isn’t sold officially outside China, you miss out on HDR content in the likes of Netflix.

Xiaomi really outdid itself here; the MIX Fold 2 has gorgeous AMOLED screens with high refresh and excellent color vibrancy.

The outer screen has a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus, while the inner panel comes with a Schott UTG glass protective layer. As is the case with all foldables, there’s a factory-installed screen protector over both panels, and it’s recommended to leave these as is. Thankfully, the layer is ultra-thin and doesn’t affect usability in any way. Xiaomi went with a color filter in lieu of a traditional polarizer, and there’s an anti-reflective coating that works well outdoors.

Both screens benefit from Xiaomi’s usual array of features, including adjusting the color balance and saturation levels, always-on mode, tweaking the refresh, and a suite of AI-backed features for locally-stored videos and photos. There isn’t much missing here, and both panels are vibrant and have outstanding contrast levels.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

I didn’t see any issues with brightness either, and the inner screen in particular is a delight to use. While it has a crease in the middle, it isn’t quite as noticeable as the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The larger screen is ideal for reading content and e-books, and the weight is balanced very well with the screen unfolded. Also, the stereo sound makes playing games and streaming videos that much more fun, with Xiaomi offering identical left-right channels.

While the larger inner screen is a great addition, what I like more is the outer 6.56-inch panel. My biggest issue with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is that the outer screen feels too narrow and limiting, and that isn’t a problem on the MIX Fold 2. Thanks to the larger size, it feels just like using a regular phone. What’s interesting is that the inner screen gets LTPO 2.0 tech, allowing it to scale the refresh down to 1Hz according to the content on the screen.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Performance

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

On the hardware side of things, the MIX Fold 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest 4nm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. The switch to TSMC for the manufacture of the chipset comes with huge gains on the efficiency side of things, and like the other phones I’ve used with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 — Galaxy Z Fold 4, Xiaomi 12S Ultra, Zenfone 9 — the MIX Fold 2 is a powerhouse.

The MIX Fold 2 is just as fast and fluid as the best Android phones.

I’m not going to focus on the hardware too much as I talked about the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 extensively by this point, and in daily use, the MIX Fold 2 is on par with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra and Z Fold 4. I didn’t see any slowdowns or lag whatsoever, and the foldable didn’t overheat during gaming. Suffice to say that the MIX Fold 2 has more than enough power on offer for the most demanding of games and multitasking, and you won’t see any issues on the hardware side of things.

Switching over to connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and global Sub-6 5G connectivity. Although the MIX Fold 2 isn’t launching outside China, Xiaomi has added a decent number of 5G bands here, and that makes it a potential candidate for use in other regions — just know that you’ll have to go the reseller route to pick up the foldable.

With 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for the base variant, the MIX Fold 2 has more than adequate memory and storage for most users, and there’s the option to go up to 1TB. I’m using the 512GB model, and after a month of use, I filled up just 54GB on the device.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Battery life

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

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The MIX Fold 2 has a larger 4500mAh battery, and while there’s no wireless charging here, you get 67W wired charging. Xiaomi thankfully continues to bundle a charger in the box with its devices, and it takes just 30 minutes to get to 75% and an additional 18 minutes for a full charge.

I didn’t see any battery anxiety whatsoever, with the MIX Fold 2 managing to last all day without any issues whatsoever. The efficiency of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 combined with the large battery pay dividends here, and the foldable has Xiaomi’s usual set of battery-saving features that are baked into MIUI 13.

I would have liked to see wireless charging here, but that would have made the device bulkier, and it’s clear that a sleek profile was a key priority for Xiaomi with the MIX Fold 2.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Cameras

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Xiaomi kicked off its Leica partnership with the 12S Ultra, and the MIX Fold 2 also gets the same benefits. The foldable doesn’t have the same 1-inch camera module, with Xiaomi instead going with the stalwart 50MP Sony IMX766 for the main lens, a 13MP wide-angle lens, and 8MP telephoto with 2x optical zoom. At the front, you’ll find a 20MP module with autofocus.

Other than the red accents in the UI, the camera interface is unchanged to other Xiaomi devices. You get the usual shooting modes and effects, and there are two Leica styles on offer — Leica Vibrant and Leica Authentic. The interface has the usual toggles for flash, HDR, AI-assisted scene recognition, and switching between the main, wide-angle, and 2x lenses.

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Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 camera shots(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 camera shots(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 camera shots(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 camera shots(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 camera shots(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 camera shots(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

You will need to pick between the Leica Vibrant and Authentic modes, and I went with the Vibrant option as that produced shots with a bit more character. The IMX766 is a known quantity, and it does a great job in daylight situations, delivering photos with accurate colors and plenty of detail. There’s good dynamic range, foliage is rendered correctly, and no noise whatsoever.

The wide-angle lens does a good job as well, delivering photos of the same caliber as the 50MP module. The MIX Fold 2 holds its own for low-light shots as well, producing clean photos with minimal noise. Highlights are balanced well, color accuracy is maintained in scenarios with little to no lighting, and the Night mode does a brilliant job eking out further detail. The Night mode kicks on by default if the ambient lighting falls under a threshold, and the wide-angle lens does a decent enough job in this area as well.

Overall, the resultant photos aren’t quite as good as what you get with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, but the MIX Fold 2 is on par with the Xiaomi 12 Pro and the Galaxy S22+.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Software

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

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A key area where this year’s foldables have differed over their predecessors is the software. Devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 came with Android 12L out of the box, integrating all the features Google introduced with its tablet-focused release. That includes a taskbar at the bottom of the screen, split notification pane with the notifications on one side and toggles on the other, and better scaling when using the foldout screen.

The MIX Fold 2 misses out on Android 12L and the Play Store, but Xiaomi has a set of custom features on offer with MIUI Fold 13.

The MIX Fold 2 misses out on most of these changes as it runs the standard Android 12 instead of the 12L build. However, Xiaomi added a few custom features of its own — as it has done several times in the past — calling the release MIUI Fold 13. 

Another drawback is that because the foldable is limited to China, you don’t get Google Mobile Services out of the box, so there’s no Play Store, Chrome, Gmail, Gboard, or YouTube. You will need to install these packages via Xiaomi’s own app store after initial configuration, and setting up the device is markedly different to what you’re used to given the lack of Google services.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

That said, it is easy enough to install the Play Store, and once you’ve done that, you can install all the services you use. There are a few software differences between the China-focused MIUI builds and the global version; there’s much more bloatware installed out of the box, the notification shade defaults to the Control Center and doesn’t have an integrated pane with the toggles and notifications in the same section, and there are subtle changes in the design of the interface.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Other than that, the MIX Fold 2 offers the standard set of features that are baked into MIUI 13, and there is a lot to like here. The MIUI Fold 13 interface includes tweaks to account for the screen size, with most of the stock apps switching to a two-pane layout to take full advantage of the foldout screen. Widgets also scale dynamically, and there are useful additions like floating windows that let you multitask with ease.

While it doesn’t have Android 12L, Xiaomi did a decent job integrating some of the features into MIUI Fold 13, and the interface scales well across the 8.02-inch inner screen.

The big unknown here is software updates; Xiaomi still hasn’t rolled out the stable Android 13 build to the Xiaomi 12 series, and it’s unlikely that the MIX Fold 2 will make the switch to the latest version of Android before the end of the year.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: The competition

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Galaxy Z Fold 4 is my favorite foldable. The hardware itself hasn’t changed too much over the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but Samsung made a lot of small tweaks that make all the difference in daily use. The phone now lays flat on a surface when it’s folded out, the plastic screen protector is significantly thinner — making the cover and inner screens that much more enjoyable to use — and the design has been refined. 

The Z Fold 4 also has stellar cameras, battery that lasts a day without any issues, and IP68 dust and water resistance. If you need a phone with a foldout screen, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the obvious choice right now.

If you’re not sold on a foldable just yet, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ideal choice if you want a phone that doesn’t miss out on any features. It has a gorgeous design, the best screen of any phone today, and the cameras take great photos in challenging situations.

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2: Should you buy it?

Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 review

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You should buy this if:

You want a foldable with a thin profileYou need vibrant AMOLED panels with 120Hz refreshYou want the latest internal hardwareYou need a foldable that takes good photos

You shouldn’t buy this if:

You need a phone with manufacturer warrantyYou want all the foldable-focused additions Google introduced in Android 12LYou want a foldable with dust and water resistance

Having used the last two generations of Samsung foldables, it is interesting to take a look at the MIX Fold 2. Xiaomi got a lot of things right with the device, the sleek design combined with the thin profile make it great to hold and use. The hinge has a smoother articulation than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and it feels just as durable. The protective layer over the cover and inner screens isn’t intrusive in the least, and thanks to 120Hz refresh on both screens, they’re highly enjoyable to use.

The foldable is just as fast and fluid in daily use as the best Android phones, and it takes great photos. The camera hardware may not be as exotic as the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, but you get standout photos in just about any situation. The battery is also more than adequate, and while there isn’t wireless charging, the fast 67W wired charging more than makes up for that omission.

The biggest downside with the MIX Fold 2 is availability, or lack thereof. Xiaomi isn’t willing to launch its foldable phones outside China at the moment, so you will need to go to a reseller to get your hands on the MIX Fold 2. Considering the potential for hardware issues and screen breakages, I wouldn’t recommend going this route as you miss out on official warranty. The lack of IP68 water resistance is a letdown as well,

For now, Samsung continues to be the go-to choice if you want a phone with a foldout screen, but I’m crossing my fingers that Xiaomi changes tack next year and brings its foldable to global markets.

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