The 6.4-inch Xiaomi Mi Max makes my hands look way too small

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With Apple proving that there’s still demand for smaller 4-inch phones with its iPhone SE, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is thinking otherwise. The company announced on Tuesday a 6.4-inch big-screen phone, and as silly as such a large device sounds, the company seems to think there’s demand for its Mi Max.

No doubt this is due to its low price, with the base model starting at 1,499 yuan ($230, £160 or AU$315 converted) and the highest-end phone, with 4GB RAM and 128GB of storage, going for a song at just 1,999 yuan ($350, £210 or AU$420).

Now, Xiaomi’s not the first Chinese company to go big: Huawei did it with the 6.8-inch P8 Max. This phone feels way too large for me, but I may change my mind over the next few days once I spend more time with it. My early impression, however, is that it’s troublesome to use. This isn’t a phone you can wield one-handed, like the bastard swords of yore, this is a strictly two-handed affair. My thumb got quite a good stretch trying to reach to the other edge of the screen but still failed to reach.

Thankfully the phone has a feature called palm rejection. This means that if your palm accidentally grazes the display while you’re holding the phone, the phone will ignore that as an input. This means you won’t accidentally scroll down the Web page you’re looking at, or turn on your caps lock when you’re typing. In my experience, this is really important in larger phones.

Specs and key features

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 hexa-core processor
  • 4GB RAM and 128GB of onboard storage
  • Xiaomi’s new MIUI 8 Android skin
  • Fingerprint scanner on the back
  • 16-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front
  • 4,850mAh battery
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The Mi Max has quite a few things going for it. It’s big and beautiful, and Xiaomi has wrapped it in classy metal. It feels hefty due to its size, but it’s only 11 grams (0.4 ounces) heavier than the iPhone 6S Plus, and while I do like it, those with smaller hands may find it a tad cumbersome. The 6.4-inch display sports a full-HD resolution and colors are bright and vibrant. It could just be the perfect phone for watching videos, and is more likely to fit in your pants pocket than, say, a slightly larger 7-inch tablet.

The Mi Max is one of the first phones to sport Xiaomi’s MIUI 8 software, which sports a new design based on colors and geometric shapes that change according to the context. Different months in the Calendar app will have a different color, for example, while if you’re using the audio recording app, the color changes based on the input volume. Animations have also been tweaked to feel more fluid and natural, while a new font called “Mi Lan” has been added. While the font’s more for Mandarin characters, there’s also one for the English alphabet.

It’s not hard to dismiss the Mi Max due to its ridiculous size — only the Huawei P8 Max is bigger — but perhaps Xiaomi is to be commended for giving big-phone lovers what they want. The phone is currently available only in China, but expect this to launch in India next and other markets in Southeast Asia where Xiaomi has a presence. It’ll likely only be available online in the US, UK and Australia.

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