Getting started with the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3: big potential, big frustration

We took charge of the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3, an attractive folding smartphone which notably features four photo sensors on the back. The opportunity to realize all its potential and to be even more frustrated not to see it arrive in France.

The Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 has attracted many attentions. This folding smartphone has no shortage of advantages to highlight and therefore inevitably comes to trouble the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 which prides itself on being the benchmark in the segment.

We had the opportunity to take this Mix Fold 3 in hand in order to share our impressions of its design and to get an overview of its photo performance. Particularly in terms of its periscopic telephoto lens offering a x5 zoom factor. On this point, Xiaomi has achieved a great technical feat since it is far from obvious to integrate such an element into a folding smartphone where, more than ever, the slightest millimeter of bulk represents a major issue.

Can the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 claim the title of technological jewel?

An attractive design despite some concessions

The Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 opts for a… Fold format. That is to say that we are dealing with a smartphone capable of opening like a book to transform into a tablet. Here, the device can rely on several qualities to catch the eye of everyone. First of all, its front screen is wide enough to pass for a panel of a classic phone.

We can therefore take full advantage of this 6.56 Amoled screen in Full HD+ and 120 Hz. An element that the Mix Fold 3 can assert against a Galaxy Z Fold 5 which I criticize for an external panel that is still too narrow to be completely comfortable . The Xiaomi smartphone, when it is folded, also offers a grip quite similar to that of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Imposing dimensions therefore, but not abnormal in the high-end market these days.

Note that some members of the editorial staff of CssTricks told me that they preferred the handling of the folded Galaxy Z Fold 5, because they preferred its tube appearance, more compact and pleasant in the hand. As it turns out, this kind of assessment really depends on each person’s preferences. Let us point out, however, that a majority of people among my dear colleagues have nevertheless indicated their inclination towards feeling of Mix Fold 3.

Who says larger external screen means, in general, internal screen also quite imposing. 8.025 inches of diagonal therefore await us on the large unfoldable panel with a 120 Hz Oled display on 2160 x 1916 pixels. It’s beautiful, it’s big, it’s good. In tablet format, we can also admire the thinness of the device: 5.26 mm. It has a little effect casually.

Also note that the fold in the middle of the screen, although it is still visible depending on the viewing angle and reflections, is greatly reduced under the finger. Those who attach importance to this detail have something to please themselves.

The Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 therefore advances pretty pawns on the chessboard to seduce our eyes. There are, however, a few small drawbacks to note. As soon as you unfold it, the smartphone displays concessions. The edges around the big screen are plastic, which affects the refined DNA it wants to soak up. The sensation under the fingers suffers from the comparison with the Fold 5 on which this small detail is more careful.

Let us also allow ourselves a word on the hinge. This promises to be able to be requested up to 500,000 times without breaking. It is enormous. And yet, during this week of use, I was less reassured than by the Samsung hinge. There is, in fact, quite a marked resistance at the start of the unfolding movement which then fades a little too much during the rest of the stroke. The movement therefore lacks a little homogeneity.

In comparison, on the Galaxy Z Fold 5, opening the smartphone is done with the same resistance from start to finish. This gives off a better impression of robustness, I am more serene than on the Mix Fold 3. The relevance of my feelings is obviously to be tempered. Ideally I should be able to use the smartphone for months for a more precise opinion. However, I have to return the device to the brand a few days after the publication of this article.

Finally, there are still two notable differences with the Samsung champion: no cameras slipped below the internal screen for the Mix Fold 3 and no IPX8 protection index which ensures a certain waterproofness.

The quality of the x5 optical zoom

Aaaaaah! We have now arrived at the photo part and it is worth the detour. A block of four cameras awaits us at the back:

  • 50 Mpx main sensor, 23 mm equivalent (f/1.77);
  • 12 MP ultra wide-angle, 15 mm equivalent (f/2.2);
  • 10MP x3.2 telephoto lens, 75mm equivalent (f/2.0);
  • 10 Mpx x5 telephoto lens, 115 mm equivalent (f/2.92).

The entire Mix Fold 3 photo experience benefits from the expertise of the specialist in the field, Leica. I’m not going to dwell on the intrinsic photo quality of the smartphone. Below you will find some photos taken with it to give you an idea. It is technically quite clean and precise despite some colorimetric treatments which will not always be unanimously accepted.

In portrait photos for example, while there is not much to complain about in terms of bokeh and sharpness, skin tones can be a tad too pale depending on the shooting conditions.

Comparison of x5 zooms (Mix Fold 3 vs Galaxy Z Fold 5)

However, what really interested me was the quality of the x5 optical zoom. This is THE great strength in photography of this smartphone which can thus boast of having great versatility in this exercise for a folding smartphone. So I wanted to compare the x5 optical zoom of the Mix Fold 3 to the x5 digital zoom of the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

Attention : this comparison obviously needs to be qualified since even if we use a magnification factor x5 on both sides, the reference focal length is not the same between the Mix Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Fold 5. The exercise does not is no less interesting, because it allows us to draw some conclusions that we will analyze through three scenes that caught my attention.

Example 1: I took a photo of a small Realme car hanging out in the open space. Here, the observation is quite obvious: the x5 optical magnification of the Mix Fold 3 better retains the details of the miniaturized vehicle. Digital zoom is beaten.

Xiaomi MixFold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Example 2: what I believe to be chimneys captured my attention. Notice how the Galaxy Z Fold 5 photo benefits from a more homogeneous and bright treatment. The Mix Fold 3 makes less effort to provide a coherent atmosphere. On the other hand, it is more precise and the small details of its shot blur less than on the Samsung side.

Xiaomi MixFold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Example 3: hop, we take a photo of a microphone placed on the table of our Twitch studio. The conditions are difficult between the dark background and the light of the spotlights. It doesn’t take much for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to do better in this particular exercise. The central subject of the photo is better highlighted and the background better managed while the Mix Fold 3 clearly struggles with this scene.

Xiaomi MixFold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

This mini test is without any pretension, but it tends to confirm a postulate: the algorithmic processing of photos taken on smartphones will always have a primordial role given the very restrictive templates of the products. The x5 telephoto lens of the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 undeniably unlocks new capabilities, but the software processing behind it can still be refined here and there.

A high-end smartphone

Moreover, the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 is solid on its achievements. Its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 gives it top performance. It thus obtains a score of 1,548,122 on AnTuTu 10, even doing a little better than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (1,502,474) equipped with the same chip. The SoC here is accompanied by at least 12 GB of RAM and storage of at least 256 GB in UFS 4.0.

The 4800 mAh battery has the good taste of being compatible with 67 W fast charging. On the interface side, our model runs MIUI 14 based on Android 13 with Chinese firmware. So I didn’t find the experience we’re used to in Europe, since there weren’t Google services, for example. I can, however, attest to the fact that there is a sort of Flex Mode that allows you to use the phone while seated.

At least two apps benefit from this: the camera and Bilibili, a Chinese video platform similar to YouTube.

A major flaw: unavailability in France

Overall, the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 therefore leaves a good first impression and shows that it could annoy Samsung in the field of folding smartphones. Unfortunately, this phone will not be released in Europe… and this is undoubtedly its biggest flaw.

A player such as Xiaomi, solid number 3 in France, could however claim to shake things up and force Samsung to leave its comfort zone. The latest Galaxy Z Folds often come under criticism for their lack of innovation. However, faced with fiercer competitors, we could see these reference models pushing themselves a little harder to continue to amaze the public.

Let’s also remember that the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 sees its price in China start at 8,999 yuan, or around 1,140 euros excluding tax. Even adding the taxes for an introduction in Europe, we can imagine that the smartphone would succeed in offering a less expensive price than that of the Z Fold 5 (1899 euros).

Dear Xiaomi, your product has potential. Don’t hesitate to take it out to our place. THANKS. Yours sincerely, best regards.

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