First look: Few surprises in Xiaomi Note 2

The Xiaomi Note 2, which will retail from 2,799 RMB (S$575).
The Xiaomi Note 2, which will retail from 2,799 RMB (S$575).ST PHOTO: LISABEL TING

BEIJING - This year has been all about recycled phone designs and incremental improvements. Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Note 2 does not buck that trend.

This is not to say that the Note 2 is a bad phone; it isn't. It carries the top-of-the-line specs and manages to go under the low price tag of 2,799 RMB (S$575).

But it is a phone that does not stand out from the crowd, and at the launch event earlier this week, it was overshadowed by the much more headline-worthy Mi Mix.

The first thing that users will notice about the Note 2 is how much it looks like another Note -not its predecessor but Samsung's beleaguered and shortlived Galaxy Note7.

 
 

Like the Note7, the Xiaomi Note 2 has a curved screen, tapered sides and an oblong home button/fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the screen. When held, both phones feel similar too, as they both sport a glass back.

While the design of the phone may seem uninspired, the spec sheet begs to differ.

The Note 2 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, the highest-end mobile processor from Qualcomm now. The Note 2 also has up to 6GB RAM, and 128GB of internal storage.

Its rear shooter is a 22.56-megapixel camera - Xiaomi is not legally allowed to say 23-megapixel as that would be misleading - with 4K video recording and electronic image stabilisation.

A couple of test shots with the camera turn out pretty clear and it stays steady even when I jiggle the phone around.

Where the Note 2 lags behind its flagship competitors is its lack of water and dust resistance - drop it into the sink and you can wave your phone goodbye - and its screen, which is full-HD as compared to the Note7's quad-HD.

Still, for its price, the Xiaomi Note 2 is definitely the better bargain.