The Mi Mix 2S is the first Xiaomi phone to come with Oreo out of the box, and it has a slew of new features that make it stand out from previous Xiaomi flagships. I talked about the hardware changes in my preview of the device, but there's plenty to talk about on the software front as well. MIUI 9.5 now offers the option to restore from a previous Android device at initial setup, allowing you to restore apps and data from another phone linked to your Google account.
The restore feature was present since the Android 5.0 Lollipop era, but it wasn't available on MIUI — with Xiaomi instead offering its own Mi Cloud restore option. Mi Cloud offers similar functionality, but is limited to Xiaomi phones. So if you're making the switch from one Xiaomi phone to another, you could restore apps and settings to the new device, but if you were moving from another brand, you had to start from scratch.
There's an easy explanation as to why the feature wasn't included in the first place. For years, the global MIUI build had the same feature-set as its Chinese counterpart, but with English as the default option and Play services bundled. And with Google having no presence in China, Xiaomi introduced its own solution in the form of Mi Cloud.
That changed with MIUI 9 — the Chinese ROM came with a virtual assistant and an intelligent image search feature that was limited to China, and the global ROM picked up a retooled notification pane with actionable notifications. With Xiaomi gaining ground in India, Indonesia, and other Asian countries, the global MIUI ROM is receiving features that don't necessarily have a lot of use in the manufacturer's home market.
MIUI 9.5 further reinforces the notion that the global MIUI ROM is bifurcating from the Chinese build. Xiaomi is slated to make its debut in the U.S. sometime later this year or early next year, and the recent additions to MIUI show that Xiaomi is focused on making its custom ROM more palatable to a global audience.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.