Xiaomi Mi8 Review! – Best Budget Smartphone I Ever Bought, WOW!

Here’s my full review of the Xiaomi Mi8. In my opinion, this is the best budget smartphone I have ever bought and perhaps the best smartphone under $450. It’s got the latest Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM(or 8GB if you go for the 128GB model), 6.21-inch Super AMOLED screen(that’s bright as any Samsung/LG), fast performance, dual-SIM, and have killer camera(keeps up to Pixel 2 in both daylight/low-light).  If you want to save a few bucks this year on a smartphone that pretty much does everything a flagship does, this is it!  Of course, Pocophone could be even better, I should have full unboxing/review of that also.

Design

Design of Xiaomi Mi8 isn’t too unique given that a lot of people like to say it is an iPhone clone.   And that’s probably not too far from the truth.   I wish Xiaomi would create their own phone designs instead of blatantly copying.   But if you can overlook that fact, you may be able to appreciate all the good things about the Mi8 like I did.   And no, design isn’t always the most important aspect of a phone unless you look at the back of your phone all day long.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi8 comes with a whopping 6.21-inch Super AMOLED screen at 18:9 aspect ratio and 1080P resolution.   I was rather surprised to find a very, bright screen, definitely as bright as the LG G7 and even Samsung Galaxy smartphones, I found no problems using outdoors in bright California sun.  As far as display quality, it is not bad either, I suspect these are made by Samsung.  Of course, if you consume a lot of higher 1440P content such as YouTube videos or want to replay 4K videos at the highest resolution, you may want to get another phone.  But 1080P should be sufficient if you don’t need the higher resolution.

Performance

While my past experiences using MIUI wasn’t out of this world, my recent purchase of the Mi8 definitely has changed my mind.  Coupled with Snapdragon 845, Xiaomi Mi8 definitely has one the fastest experience on a 2018 Android smartphone.  In fact, I do feel that it is even faster than most Samsung and LG phones including both Galaxy S9 and LG G7.

This is probably my first Xiaomi phone in about 3 years but man, it has really changed how I view Xiaomi and budget Android smartphones in general.   If you have not used Xiaomi smartphones yet, you may be surprised at it’s impressive fast speeds.

The only hiccup I found was that once in awhile, the keyboard would sometimes freeze when using Chrome browser app.  I believe this may be some kind of software bug and I think could be fixed with an update.  But it only happens to me maybe once a week so I am not too concerned about it.

Camera

Without a doubt, camera is probably the most impressive feature of the Xiaomi Mi8. During my initial camera tests, I found that Mi8 camera was fairly solid but not anywhere near flagships.  But after a software upgrade and comparing with my Pixel 2 in daylight and low-light, I was amazed that the photos are nearly on par with it.   In fact, some of the daylight photos have better HDR processing, although slightly too saturated for my taste.  Even the fact that it keeps up with Pixel 2, king of smartphone photography in my opinion, speaks volumes.

What was most amazing was its low-light performance, keeping up to the Pixel 2 in most instances, which I consider the king of smartphone photography.  And yes, it also keeps up with all the latest Samsung Galaxy S9/Note 9 easily.  It did also beat out my LG G7, which was amazing.  While flagship companies like Samsung and LG have been steadily improving camera performance, Xiaomi proves that it can be done at much lower costs and this will ultimately have both Samsung/LG working harder on making better cameras.

At $420, Mi8 has a top-notch camera that will blow your mind.

What’s missing in the camera department?

4K video recording has no stabilization if any sort.  Actual 4K footage is very good, it’s just every video recorded video comes out very jittery and shaky.   But with the money you save, you can buy a $140 DJI Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal, which should give you perfect 4K videos with stabilization.  Personally, it didn’t bother me much as I usually another phone or camera with me.  Plus I ended up using portrait mode more along with 240fps slow motion, which doesn’t require stabilization since footage is so slow.  What I loved about the OnePlus 6 is its 1080P 240fps slow motion because it is realistically more usable than Super Slow Motion found in Samsung/Sony phones.  Well, side by side comparison of Xiaomi Mi8 and the OnePlus 6 shows not too far difference between the two, nearly identical results.

Calls, 4G DATA, Connectivity

Calls and 4G LTE worked flawlessly for me on both my AT&T and T-Mobile.  Now, all unlocked phones like Mi8 are GSM-based meaning they will not work with CDMA carriers like Verizon or Sprint.  If you have Verizon or Sprint, you will always be limited to those phones only.  You may want to consider going with a GSM carrier if you want to enjoy unlocked phones as the Mi8.

Overall

Xiaomi Mi8 is not perfect by any means nor its design unique to make you want it over other smartphones.  But if price is your concern and you want the most bang for your buck, Mi8 might just do the trick.  Personally, I had no problems using the Mi8 for full 2 weeks although I have always used top-of-the-line Samsung/LG phones in the last few years.  And for those of you who have been following me, you know how much I hate using budget Android smartphones, because they are usually slow, laggy, with crappy displays and watered down features.  Xiaomi Mi8 has definitely changed my mind about the possibility that a budget Android smartphone can keep up with the latest flagships.  I do also have Xiaomi’s latest super budget smartphone, “Picophone”.  Picophone may possibly be even better deal(since it shares many of the features of Mi8) but I should have a full comparison and review of that also soon.

I bought my Xiaomi Mi8 for $460 on eBay, here’s the product & seller link I used.

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of HighOnAndroid.com. Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.