Xiaomi just unveiled a 5G-enabled phone you can’t buy yet

Xiaomi launched the Mi Mix 3 at the Forbidden City in Beijing today. The 5G version won’t be available till next year.

Donovan Sung/Xiaomi

If you’ve been keeping up with all things 5G, you might have heard that Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi is working on one of the first 5G-enabled phones you can buy. But you’ll have to wait until next year for it.

Announced in Beijing Thursday at the Forbidden City (China’s former palace), the Mi Mix 3 is the latest addition to Xiaomi’s line of all-screen flagship phones. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, it has a 6.39-inch display like the Mi Mix with a 2,340×1,080-pixel resolution, bringing its screen to body ratio to 93.4 percent. (The Mi Mix 2 is just 5.99 inches, by comparison.) It has four cameras — two each on the front and rear — as well as a whopping 10GB RAM variant. Battery capacity hasn’t been revealed though the phone supports wireless charging.

The Mi Mix 3 also comes in a 5G version touted by Xiaomi as the world’s first such commercially available phone, though it’s not expected to launch till the first quarter of next year. This might disappoint fans who were excited by a leak showing 5G support on the phone last month, but the delay won’t matter too much because even if 5G capabilities are available on it now, buyers won’t be able to use it until network buildouts are completed. This is true even in Xiaomi’s home country, even though China is at the forefront of 5G development.

In terms of design, the Mi Mix 3 takes a step closer to losing its signature chin. Mi Mix phones used to have a bottom bezel — now reduced to 4.46 mm — that housed the selfie camera. But the cameras have now been moved to a magnetic slider on the phone. You can slide the entire screen downwards to answer calls or customize it to launch different functions. The feature is similar to ones seen in the recent Oppo Find X and Huawei’s Honor Magic 2, which will be launched on 31 Oct. 

You’ll be able to customise the sound the phone makes when you slide the display, but I suspect it will still become annoying eventually. You can see what I mean here:

The Mi Mix 3 will feature powerful cameras on its front and back. On the back are 12-megapixel dual rear cameras — wide-angle and telephoto — with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures respectively that can support slow-motion videos at 960 fps. For selfie lovers, Mi Mix 3 sports a 24MP primary camera backed up by a secondary 2MP camera. These can be found on the retractable module along with a soft light. 

The Mi Mix 3 will come in three versions. You can get 6GB RAM and 128GB onboard storage, 8GB RAM and 128GB onboard storage or the top-end model with 8GB RAM and 256GB onboard storage. It will be available in three colours: Onyx black, jade green and sapphire blue. 

The 10GB RAM variant (with 256GB onboard storage) is unveiled as a Forbidden City special edition available in a different hue of blue, featuring a Chinese mythical beast in gold called Xie Zhi.

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix phones are traditionally its most expensive and configurations with more storage typically cost more. The Mi Mix 3 is priced like the Mi Mix 2S was when it launched. The base model will start at 3,299 Chinese yuan (about $475, £370 or AU$675) and the top-end model will be 3,999 yuan (about $575, £445 or AU$815). Global availability of the phone has not been disclosed but it will go on sale first in China on 1 Nov.

The Forbidden City special edition comes with a heftier price tag and will retail at 4,999 yuan (about $720, £555 or AU$1,020) when it goes on sale at the end of next month. 

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Quick specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 6.39-inch AMOLED screen, full-HD+ display (2,340×1,080 pixels)
  • 6GB RAM with 128GB onboard storage; 8GB RAM with 128GB storage; 8GB RAM with 256GB storage; 10GB with 256GB onboard storage
  • 12MP dual rear cameras
  • 24MP and 2MP dual front cameras
  • Rear fingerprint sensor

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