Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

At a media event in Shanghai, China, Xiaomi unveiled its first flagship of 2018. The Mi Mix 2S follows the same design language as its predecessor — last year's Mi Mix 2 — but offers significant hardware upgrades for 2018. The phone is powered by Qualcomm's latest 10nm Snapdragon 845, offers a dual camera setup at the back, and features wireless charging based on the Qi standard.

Early renders hinted at a cutout for the front camera à la Essential Phone, but Xiaomi has retained the same design aesthetic as the Mi Mix 2. There's a 5.99-inch display at the front with ultra-thin bezels on three sides and a bottom bar that houses the sensors and the front camera module.

Xiaomi went into a lot of detail about how the Mi Mix 2 is a permanent fixture at major international museums for its design prowess, with the phone winning several design awards last year. The thin bezels combined with the ceramic back is definitely eye-catching, and although the design hasn't changed from the first-gen Mi Mix, the Mi Mix 2S is one of the best-looking phones in the $500 category.

Round the back, the main change is the dual camera setup at the back, with the phone offering gold accents around the sensor. The phone will be available in two color options — black and white — and both models are made out of ceramic with an aluminum mid-frame.

On the hardware front, the phone is powered by the Snapdragon 845, with eight Kryo 385 cores clocked up to 2.80GHz. The standard version comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, and there's a high-end model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. There are two 12MP cameras at the back, with the primary camera featuring Sony's latest IMX 363 imaging sensor. The secondary 12MP camera is a telephoto lens that offers 2x lossless zoom.

Xiaomi is touting significant improvements to the camera, and is introducing an AI-assisted feature that automatically selects the ideal shooting modes based on the lighting conditions. I've been using the Mi Mix 2S for just over two days, and this is the best camera on a Xiaomi phone by some margin.

With the Mi Mix 2S, Xiaomi is also overhauling the software side of things. The phone comes with MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, and the user interface feels much more refined over Nougat-based builds. Xiaomi is touting a new voice assistant for its local market, but it's unlikely the feature will make its way outside of China.

The Mi Mix 2S will go on sale in China starting this week for ¥3,299 ($530) for the model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will be available for ¥3,599 ($575). Then there's the variant with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which will retail for ¥3,999 ($640). The 8GB version is the only model with global LTE bands, and the phone also comes bundled with the wireless charging mat.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S preview: Great hardware and vastly improved software