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Hands-on with the sliding Xiaomi Mi MIX 3

It's a little different to the Nokia Matrix phone, but sliders are back!

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Xiaomi launched its latest flagship smartphone Mi MIX 3 at events in Beijing and Hong Kong today. We went to the latter event to get our hands on the company's newest flagship.

How Xiaomi forged a unique path

The standout feature here is the big screen. It’s got a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with slim bezels (although it does have a chin -- a fatter lower bezel). Notably, there’s no notch, and no selfie camera on the front either. You have to slide the screen downwards to reveal dual selfie cameras, along with a front-facing flash. (Unlike Vivo or Oppo’s flagship handsets, it’s not motorized.)

We didn’t spend too much time with the phone, but we played with the sliding display enough times to notice that it’s not very comfortable to use.

I used a Phillips slider during high school, so muscle memory tells me to slide the display up. But the Mi MIX 3 wants you to slide it down to use the selfie camera. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but it also shouldn’t take too long to get use to, and it does slide easily and smoothly.

Slide the screen downward to reveal the selfie cameras.

The bezels are not noticeable when you look at the phone head-on. It’s good to see Xiaomi has finally solved the selfie camera conundrum by housing it in the sliding camera module. But the downside is that the sliding design means it doesn’t offer any water or dust protection, a fairly common feature on other flagships.

Xiaomi also hasn’t done anything new with the fingerprint sensor, which is still on the back of the phone. So there’s no in-screen fingerprint sensor, or secure facial unlock -- it has a face unlock feature, but you’ll need to use the fingerprint sensor for anything more secure.

Camera performance is where the Mi MIX 3 sees the biggest improvement. The Mi MIX 3 has a dual-camera setup on the back, where one is a wide-angle lens and the other is a telephoto lens. Only the wide-angle lens comes with the OIS to stabilize your pictures.

Shot with the Mi MIX 3 at Xiaomi's Hong Kong event.

According to Xiaomi, the Mi MIX 3 can take well-lit and detailed shots even in the most dimly lit environments. The phone offers ​multiple shooting modes that use AI algorithms to customize the background blur and portrait lighting effects. Video-wise, the phone can also shoot 960 fps slow-mo and 4K at 60 fps.

Studio light and Dynamic Bokeh are two of its multiple effects for adjusting pictures.

The Mi MIX 3 comes in 3 colors: Black, Emerald Green and Sapphire Blue. The phone is available for pre-order today in China, starting from 3,299 yuan (about US$474). That will give you the baseline model that comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

There’s also a top of the line model, the “Forbidden City” edition, gives you 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but the price goes all the way up to 4,999 yuan (about US$719). On the bright side, the Mi MIX 3 is bundled with a 10W wireless charging pad.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.