The Mi 6 was a worthy import when it was the new kid on the block. It offered high-end hardware at a mid-range price thanks to its affordable cost. However, flagship devices like the Galaxy S8 have now become cheaper. Eric and Camila have each used the devices, compare their experiences and discuss why the S8 is worth the extra $50.
Price and availability
Although the Xiaomi Mi 6 is more affordable than the Galaxy S8, it needs to be imported from China. The 64 GB version occasionally costs less than $425. However, if you add customs duties or a somewhat high shipping price, it brings it to roughly $525, making it $50 less expensive than the Galaxy S8 on sale on Amazon.com. The price of the S8 in the US has dropped almost $150, from $720 to $575, since launch. In light of such different circumstances, it’s worthwhile to compare the Xiaomi Mi 6 and the Galaxy S8.
Design and build quality
Eric: The Xiaomi Mi 6 is one of the most slippery smartphones that I have ever tested. Luckily, the package included a rubber case, which ensured that the Mi 6 would not slip on every surface, which would be a shame, since neither the front nor the back side are equipped with Gorilla Glass 5, but rather a cheaper alternative, therefore making them nominally less robust than the Galaxy S8’s glass. In any case, the Mi 6 is protected from water penetration.
Camila: I am also sold on the Xiaomi Mi 6’s design. However, the almost obsolete-looking Mi 6’s cannot hold a candle to the Galaxy S8’s excellent screen utilization. Having roughly the same device body dimensions, Samsung has a display diagonal of 5.8 inches, while the Mi 6 is just about 5.15 inches.
I always look on top to unlock my S8. Apart from the Bixby button and the misplaced fingerprint sensor, I find the Galaxy S8’s design to be more harmonious than that of the Mi 6. And since I still prefer the iris scanner for unlocking, the unfortunate placement of the fingerprint sensor is now a moot point.
The Gorilla Glass 5 was able to protect my Galaxy S8 during its first drop, but even the currently best material for touchscreen devices caved the second time around. I urge every one of you to take out insurance against such damage. Without it, I would suddenly be about $400 poorer.
Eric: The Xiaomi Mi 6 is lightning-fast. Whereas no compromises were made with regard to the hardware equipment, the fact that it is inevitably an import device presents drawbacks. Among other things, you can tell by the limited LTE support, which is noticeable in rural areas where no band other than Band 20 (800 MHz) is used.
Its second-biggest stumbling block is the software. Before replacing it with a community version, it offers on the one hand limited language support and, on the other hand, no Google services. For a small fee, some retailers offer to switch the software to an international version anyway.
You can also change the software manually, although it involves unlocking the bootloader. This results in difficulties with applications that are SafetyNet sensitive, such as Netflix, which partially lose functionality or no longer appear in the Play Store.
In addition, the software as a whole gives the impression of being unfinished. There are missing menu items and settings and some important apps, like Sparkasse, crash when starting, which is a shame because the Xiaomi Mi 6 has immense potential.
Camila: The Galaxy S8 is also equipped with the best components, albeit with a bit less RAM. But one variant with 6 GB RAM was already announced, for select markets at least, ensuring that this flagship model can catch up to the Mi 6 in this respect as well. Notwithstanding the above, the Galaxy S8 in the US performs without the drawbacks of the Mi 6 that Eric has already touched upon.
Xiaomi Mi 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S8 technical specifications
|Xiaomi Mi 6||Samsung Galaxy S8|
Eric: The Xiaomi Mi 6’s camera delivers low-detail images in poor lighting and washed-out shots during the day. Although its exposure of just f/1.8 seems marginally smaller than that of the Samsung Galaxy S8 with its f/1.7, you can clearly see the difference; furthermore, both smartphones have an optical image stabilizer.
It’s also awkward that the Xiaomi does not know how to use the dual camera to compensate for its small aperture. Unlike Huawei, which has already shown how to optimize a dual-camera system for low-light photography since the P9, Xiaomi and Qualcomm do not achieve a comparable result. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S8 achieves better results with a single lens.
Camila: The camera in the Galaxy S8 is one of the best smartphone cameras ever. Our readers even observed this in the blind test, with only the Google Pixel being somewhat better. Compared to the Mi 6, you immediately notice plenty of advantages. This is due, among other things, to the larger aperture and the optical image stabilization, which provide truly better photos on the Samsung smartphone only.
These include lightning-fast auto focus, precise detail reproduction, lively colors and accurate white balance. You can quickly pull off most snapshots in automatic mode or with automatic HDR alone. With HDR, you can detect more detail, even in dark image areas, than in photos that you take with nearly every other smartphone. If that’s not enough for you, it also saves the images in RAW format.
The devil is in the details
Eric: Xiaomi has removed the headphone port and replaced it with a fragile adapter; a decision made by Apple for the iPhone 7 that received little understanding.
What makes the Xiaomi Mi 6 so interesting in the first place? It was the fact that there was no comparably equipped smartphone for this price back in May. Furthermore, it was one step ahead of other flagship smartphones feature-wise with its Dual-SIM capability. But now that the normal S8 only costs $575, and the OnePlus 5 exists, things are looking bad for the Xiaomi Mi 6. Who would accept so many drawbacks for such little savings?
Camila: What should I add to that? The Galaxy S8 is roughly $50 more expensive, and not only does it provide an analog headphone port but also Bluetooth 5.0, an included AKG headset, a WQHD+ display, a game launcher for the gamers among you, and you can download Netflix on it from the Play Store and surf on all US LTE networks at maximum speeds. The S8, in spite of significant price reductions, still isn't a bargain phone - but it's clearly the better choice in this case.