Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review: Filling in

Filling in

GSMArena team, 9 December 2016.

5.7-inch FullHD OLED isn't ideal

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is equipped with a dual-curved 5.7-inch OLED display of FullHD resolution. That should amount to a 386ppi pixel density, but with the Pentile arrangement (or rather Diamond Pixel) that number isn't quite indicative of the screen sharpness.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review

The Mi Note 2 uses an OLED panel made by LG. It's slightly different than Samsung AMOLED panels which have twice as many green pixels as there are blue and red ones. Here, there are twice as many blue subpixels than there are green and red ones.

The subpixel arrangement is in fact the same type - Diamond Pentile - in both cases. Again, in both cases the concept of a single pixel consisting of RGB subpixels is replaced with subpixel rendering, where neighboring colored dots could be used depending on the content that needs to be output.

While the issue of sharpness is typically negated by throwing more pixels at it (read, QHD resolution) Xiaomi went with FullHD. We had to dig out a Galaxy Note 3 (itself 5.7" FullHD) for comparison and predictably the two displays have the same level of sharpness when rendering tiny texts for example, i.e. not the best. The thing is, the Galaxy Note 3 is a three-plus-year-old model, and the Mi Note 2 just came out.

We gathered around the Mi Note 2 to share thoughts on the display and the general consensus was that you could see the fine weave of the diamond subpixel arrangement. When shot on camera the display exhibits some odd patterns too, but our resident DSLR with the right lens has way more resolving power than your human eye, so don't worry about seeing those in actual use.

Mi Note 2 display from up close - Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review Mi Note 2 display from up close - Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review
Mi Note 2 display from up close

In terms of brightness, the Mi Note 2 isn't great either. With a maximum value of 341nits the Mi Note 2 is some 100nits behind the OnePlus 3T, which is recently reviewed. The Galaxy S7 edge screen is brighter than the Mi Note 2 in manual mode already, but can also boost brightness much further in Auto - a feature the Xiaomi phablet lacks.

As for contrast, the Mi Note 2's display is OLED - the contrast ratio is for purposes practical that means infinite contrast. Now, our testing equipment detected minor illumination of the blacks, but that's mostly irrelevant.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 0.005 341 68200
Xiaomi Mi Mix 0.45 589 1309
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 0.41 573 1398
OnePlus 3T 0 447
Huawei Mate 9 0.41 665 1622
LG V20 0.43 475 1097
LG V20 Max auto 0.59 628 1064
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 0.00 392
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge max auto 0.00 610
Sony Xperia XZ 0.37 502 1349
Sony Xperia XZ (max auto) 0.46 608 1336

Color reproduction is very accurate in Standard mode with an average DeltaE of 2.7, only this mode isn't the default one out of the box. The other two modes are less accurate but offer more punch - so pick the one you prefer.

The other major issue with the display is that at any angle other than head-on, it has a strong bluish tint, which the testing rig can't catch because it examines it head-on.

Sunlight contrast ratio is actually pretty low for an OLED panel, too. In a time when good LCDs approach a value of 4 in our test, and the best OLEDs are in the ballpark of 4.5, the Mi Note 2's 3.228 is nothing special.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    2.145
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Connectivity

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 supports no less than 22 LTE bands, quad-band GSM and penta-band 3G connectivity. Adding the CDMA bands, the number of supported bands hits 37 across all technologies and frequencies. That's for the global version though, the Chinese-only version supports just 19 bands total.

It's a dual SIM device too and one card gets to connect to a 4G network while the other is limited to 3G or 2G. Alternatively, you can have both cards registered on 3G networks.

The rest of the connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac support and Wi-Fi Direct. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS with GLONASS and Beidou.

In typical flagship fashion there is no FM radio support. On the other hand, there is an IR blaster - a notable omission on the Mi Mix.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with a USB Type-C port. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory over a USB connection. The port also supports USB On-the-go for connecting USB peripherals such as pen drives, keyboards or USB hard drives, but you'll need to buy a proper adapter for that, or make the switch to USB-C accessories.

Wireless screen mirroring is available via the Miracast protocol.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 battery life

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is powered by a 4,070mAh battery - we'd say that's pretty generous. The Galaxy S7 edge's battery has about 10% smaller capacity, while Xiaomi's Mi Mix packs some more juice - 4,400mAh.

The test results came out very good, with web browsing casting the only shadow. It's not bad, strictly speaking, but with that beefy battery we expected more than those 9:21 hours. As usual with OLEDs, the video playback longevity is much better - it took 15 and a half hours before it called it quits. On a 3G voice call the Mi Note 2 lasted us close to 28 hours, which is pretty great as well.

Combining these three numbers and the standby battery draw (which we measure but don't feature in the scorecard) leads to a 92h endurance rating. That's 5 hours less than the Mi Mix, and 6 less than the Galaxy S7 edge, but as always actual battery life will inevitably vary with usage patterns.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Reader comments

Note 2. The redmi note 7 has a weaker chipset.

  • sam

what should i prefer Redmi Note 5 or note 2

  • AnonD-737611

Everything in the review may as well be true, but until this phone costs 250 EUR for 4/64 GB Global version and 265 EUR for 6/128 GB Chinese (easily modded to Global) this is one of the best value high performance phones out there.