Xiaomi Mi A2

Xiaomi is a smartphone manufacturer that is growing in stature day-by-day, and that's only set to grow now that the brand has officially made its debut in the UK. The company is now the fifth-largest smartphone vendor globally, a considerable achievement seeing as how the brand started selling phones outside China just three years ago.

Impressive, certainly, and it seems Xiaomi is set to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Apple and Samsung in the higher reaches of the smartphone market. The company overtook Samsung to become the largest smartphone brand in India late last year, and its push into European markets is set to fuel growth in the coming years.

While so many may have heard the name, the phones are still relatively alien to many in the West. Xiaomi has a reputation for building devices that are an extremely good value without cutting corners. Its phones are so popular that it managed to sell over 100 million devices in just 10 monhts in 2018. If you're interested in picking up a Xiaomi phone or looking to learn more about the brand, these are the phones you need to know about.

POCO F1

POCO F1

Released August 2018: Few devices have garnered as much attention this year as the POCO F1. The Xiaomi sub-brand burst its way onto the scene back in August with the F1, and from the onset it was clear that the brand is going after the likes of Honor and OnePlus.

Right now, the POCO F1 is the most affordable device yet to feature the Snapdragon 845. The phone retails for just under $300 in India, and it is also available officially in the UK, where it costs £329 ($450). Even at that price, it is a steal for the hardware on offer.

The POCO F1 is designed around an aluminum alloy chassis with a polycarbonate back available in various finishes. POCO's reasoning for doing so is simple — most consumers use their phones with a case, so it doesn't really matter what material the back is made out of. And for those that don't like a case, the polycarbonate back is much more durable than the usual glass-backed options in the market today.

The design may not look as premium as other $400 devices, but the POCO F1 has top-notch fit and finish. What sets the phone aside is the internal hardware — the base variant comes with 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and is powered by the Snapdragon 845. There's also a 4000mAh battery under the hood, and you'll easily get two days' worth of use from a full charge.

POCO F1 review: Incredible performance at an unbeatable price

The phone comes with a 6.18-inch FHD+ 19:9 display with a layer of Gorilla Glass 3, and there's a 12MP f/1.8 camera at the back joined by a 5MP secondary module that adds depth information. You get a 20MP front camera at the front, and Xiaomi's sull slate of AI effects are available here. There's also Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, a 3.5mm jack, rear fingerprint sensor, and face unlock.

Overall, the POCO F1 is one of the best phones of 2018, and the fact that it's available in Western markets is the icing on the cake.

See at Amazon UK

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Released May 2018: The Mi 8 Explorer Edition is now available in the UK as the Mi 8 Pro. The phone is one of the most interesting to come out of Xiaomi, mainly because of the back that lets you visualize the components at the back. Xiaomi was quick to point out that it isn't the actual layout of the board, but the brand is using real transistors to create an effect that makes the phone stand out.

Another notable feature on the Mi 8 Pro is the in-display fingerprint sensor. The Mi 8 Pro is the first Xiaomi phone to offer the feature, and while the module isn't as fast as traditional fingerprint sensors, it is a cool new way to unlock your phone. The Mi 8 Pro also has a 6.21-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with DCI-P3 color gamut, and comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard. It is powered by the Snapdragon 845, and also has Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, AptX HD, 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 4+, and a dual SIM card slot.

On the camera side of things, you get two 12MP sensors at the back — a primary wide-angle lens with 4-axis OIS backed by a telephoto shooter. There's a 20MP shooter at the front, and Xiaomi is leveraging AI scene detection and scene lighting to differentiate the cameras.

Available in the UK for £499, the Mi 8 Pro has all the ingredients to be a viable alternative to the likes of Honor and OnePlus in the country.

See at Xiaomi UK

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro

Xiaomi redmi Note 6 Pro

Released October 2018: The Redmi Note 6 Pro has the potential to be one of the best budget phones as we head into 2019. It is the first from Xiaomi with four cameras in total — two at the back and two up front.

The Redmi Note 5 Pro turned out to be one of the best-selling budget phones of 2018 in markets like India, and with the Note 6 Pro, Xiaomi hasn't altered the formula drastically. The underlying hardware is largely identical, with refinements across the board.

The device is still powered by the Snapdragon 636, and comes with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You get a hybrid SIM tray with the secondary slot doubling up as a MicroSD card holder, and there's 2X2 MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and a 4000mAh battery. There is a notch at the front that facilitates a larger 6.26-inch FHD+ screen in the same dimensions as its predecessor.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro hands-on: Persistent iteration

Xiaomi has also retained a 12MP + 5MP camera arrangement at the back, but the primary sensor now has 1.4 micron pixels. The 20MP camera at the front now has a 2MP secondary sensor joining it, with Xiaomi touting portrait mode as a key differentiator. The Redmi Note 6 Pro is now on sale in India and other Asian markets for the equivalent of $190, and will likely make its way to the UK shortly.

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Xiaomi Mi A2

Xiaomi Mi A2

Released July 2018: The Mi A2 is a follow-up to last year's Mi A1, which was the first Xiaomi phone to offer Android One. Xiaomi's 2018 Android One device comes with a slew of improvements on the hardware front, including a beefier Snapdragon 660 chipset and 6GB of RAM along with 128GB of internal storage.

But the main draw here is the camera — featuring a 12MP + 20MP camera setup at the back, the Mi A2 sports one of the best cameras in the $300 category. The camera takes fantastic photos in both daylight and low-light scenarios, and there's also a 20MP front camera with AI-assisted portrait mode that works particularly well for selfies.

Xiaomi Mi A2 review: A great sequel with a fantastic camera

As for battery life, the 3000mAh battery delivers a day's worth of usage without any issues, and you get Quick Charge 3.0 as standard — and Quick Charge 4.0 if you're picking up the device in India. The Mi A2 is slated to pick up the Android 9.0 Pie update sometime before the end of the year.

The Mi A2 is available in a host of European markets as well as India, and the phone will be available in most global markets where Xiaomi currently sells phones.

See at Xiaomi Spain

Xiaomi Redmi 6 series

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro

Released June 2018: If there's one series that defined Xiaomi's growth in the last three years, it is the Redmi lineup. The Redmi 5A was the best-selling Android phone globally, and the Redmi 6A aims to continue that momentum.

The key highlight with the Redmi 6 series is the switch to 18:9 displays — 19:9 in the case of the Redmi 6 Pro — and new cameras. Xiaomi also switched to the Helio A22 chipset in the Redmi 6A and the Helio P22 in the Redmi 6, with the Redmi 6 Pro using the ageing Snapdragon 625.

The Redmi 6 is particularly noteworthy because it is on sale in the UK for just £119 ($150). That's for the variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and dual rear cameras. You really can't ask for more from a sub-$200 phone.

See at Xiaomi UK

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

Released March 2018: The Mi Mix 2S is Xiaomi's first flagship of 2018. The phone shares the same design aesthetic as last year's Mi Mix 2, but has key upgrades both on the hardware and software fronts. The Mi Mix 2S is powered by Qualcomm's latest 10nm Snapdragon 845 chipset, and comes with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, and global LTE bands.

There's also a variant with 6GB of RAM and storage options of 64GB and 128GB, but these models don't offer global LTE connectivity. The highlight of the Mi Mix 2S is the dual camera arrangement at the back, with the phone featuring two 12MP imaging sensors. The primary 12MP camera is a Sony IMX 363 sensor and offers 1.4-micron pixels, whereas the secondary sensor is made by Samsung and is used as a telephoto lens.

The primary camera may just be the best Xiaomi has offered in a phone to date, and DxOMark give it a score of 97, just a few points shy of the Pixel 2 XL. The phone holds its own in daylight conditions, but it's in low-light shooting modes where the camera truly shines. A lot of that has to do with the new AI-assisted features baked into the camera, giving it the ability to pick out the best shooting mode based on the lighting conditions.

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

The AI features also extend to portrait mode, giving you the ability to set the intensity of the background blur and even animate the background bokeh. On the software side of things, the Mi Mix 2S is the first Xiaomi phone to come with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. It offers the latest iteration of MIUI — MIUI 9.5 — and the interface as a whole feels much more polished.

With MIUI 9.5, you can also finally restore settings and apps from a previous Android phone or using your Google account. Previously, you were limited to choosing restore options from Xiaomi's own Mi Cloud account — and the latest move makes MIUI a more enticing option to customers in Western markets.

The phone is on sale in China for the equivalent of $540. The variant with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs $640, and best of all, it is available officially in the UK.

See at Xiaomi UK

Xiaomi Mi Max 2

Xiaomi Mi Max 2

Released May 2017: The Mi Max turned out to be a surprise hit for Xiaomi last year, so the company rolled out an updated variant with a better design and upgraded internals. The large 6.44-inch screen combined with a massive battery makes the Mi Max 2 a multimedia powerhouse.

With the latest iteration, Xiaomi switched to a unibody design with antenna lines at the back, and made the edges rounded to make it easier to hold the device. The phone isn't made for one-handed usage, but it is a far sight better to look at and use when seen next to the Mi Max.

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 review: Bigger is better

The Mi Max 2 features a 6.44-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 625, 4GB of RAM, 64GB/128GB of internal storage, microSD card slot, 12MP camera, 5MP front camera, and a huge 5300mAh battery that is designed to provide at least two days' worth of usage from a full charge.

The sheer size of the Mi Max 2 makes it a niche device, but if you're in the market for a phone with a large screen and class-leading battery life, there isn't a better device available today.

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Updated November 2018: This article was updated with the POCO F1, Redmi Note 6 Pro, Mi 8 Pro, and the Redmi 6 series.

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