Xiaomi’s Mi Max might be the biggest phone you’ve ever dropped

Powerful 6.44in phablet leans more towards the tablet end of things

Lots of people seem to want tablets with LTE and the ability to make calls, but don’t want to walk around holding an iPad to their faces. That seems to be the reasoning behind Xiaomi’s latest ‘big’ launch. And guess what, MIUI 8 is on its way soon, too.

Okay, for a while, we were thinking big phones were on their way out, pushed towards extinction by users sick of being unable to fit them into pockets. But no, Xiaomi seems to be thumbing a big ‘heck no’ to those of us who thought so.

Smartbrick

And the message comes wrapped around a metal-and-glass brick, the Mi Max (which, jokes apart, is pretty much as large as a brick). But despite its size, Xiaomi’s new ‘baby’ weighs in at just 203g, which is pretty much the same as the Redmi Note 3.

It’s got a Full HD 6.44in display wrapped in Gorilla Glass 3, Snapdragon 650 or 652 processors, a humongous 4,850mAh battery (Xiaomi says the Mi Max should be good for 14 straight hours of streaming 1080p video on YouTube over Wi-Fi), VoLTE, fingerprint scanner, a 16MP, f/2.0 rear camera with PDAF and a 5MP, f/2.0 front camera.

The Mi Max comes in two variants – one with a Snapdragon 650, with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. And a mad-as-a-monster truck (fitting, when you think about it) version with the Snapdragon 652, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. The ‘smaller’ Mi Max version retails at ₹14,999 (available here with an open sale on other retailers starting July 13), while its bigger brother will list at ₹19,999 (coming soon).

MIUI on the way

What's more, Xiaomi’s own version of Android, MIUI, is getting another update. MIUI 8 should hopefully take care of some design decisions that seem to be a hangover from the days of Android KitKat.

But MIUI’s never been about sticking closely to Google’s design and prefers to tread its own path. Even though it’s moving to a flatter, more subtle design that has its own character (it doesn’t look like that much of an iOS rip-off now), it retains its individuality and is a world away from Material Design.

MIUI 8 should also add quite a few nifty features to improve the user experience: you’ll be able to run dual instances of apps (yes, even WhatsApp), there’s a Second Space feature which gives you a second instance of your phone (pretty handy for anyone wanting to keep work and personal usage separate), and there’s an in-built smart SMS service that recognises service messages from several banks and retailers.

You also get a new gallery app that shows off screenshot and panorama thumbnails in their proper aspect ratios as well as the ability to take ‘rolling’ screenshots... Of course, since this is MIUI we’re talking about, users also get ‘vital’ updates like new colours, themes and ringtones.

Beta releases of MIUI 8 should be available from early July, while a final, ‘Stable’ version is expect mid-August.