Notebookcheck

Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition Smartphone Review

Marcus Herbrich, Tanja Hinum-Balaz (translated by Alex Alderson), 09/29/2018

After 6 comes 8. The latest attack on the smartphone elite by Xiaomi is called the Mi 8 Explorer Edition. On paper, the affordable flagship is the total package at a reasonable price. In this review, we will assess the Mi 8 Explorer Edition’s numerous strengths and also the weaknesses that reflect its low price.

Working For Notebookcheck

Are you a techie who knows how to write? Then join our Team!

Currently wanted: 
News Editor - Details here

From left to right: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition & the Xiaomi Mi 8
From left to right: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition & the Xiaomi Mi 8

Xiaomi has jumped to naming its devices number eight this year, both because of the company’s eight-year anniversary and potentially because the number seven is considered unlucky in some parts of China. Moreover, representatives for Xiaomi have spoken of their expectations for the Mi 8, and so “7” has been skipped.

Xiaomi continues to price its flagship models aggressively against its American and South Korean competitors, equipping all Mi 8 devices with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC that clocks up to 2.8 GHz. The Mi 8 has a 6.21-inch AMOLED display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. The display also has a notch that houses face detection sensors and a 20 MP front-facing camera; notches have practically become obligatory for 2018 flagship smartphones. The Mi 8 is equipped with dual 12 MP rear-facing cameras too.

The Mi 8 is available with 6 GB RAM and either 64 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB of UFS storage. By contrast, Xiaomi only equips the Explorer Edition with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage. We will be highlighting the differences between the Mi 8 and the Mi 8 Explorer Edition throughout this review.

In previous years it has only been possible to import Xiaomi devices from third-party Chinese suppliers. However, the entry level Mi 8 is available from German suppliers for around 430 Euros (~$497) at the time of writing. Importing the device saves around 60-70 Euros (~$69-$80), but there are some things that you must consider before doing so. Please read our article about importing smartphones here for further information.

The Mi 8 Explorer Edition is currently considerably more expensive and only available from Chinese suppliers. The Mi 8 Explorer Edition costs around 580 Euros (~$670) at the time of writing.

We have chosen to compare the Mi 8 Explorer Edition against the HTC U12 Plus, the Huawei P20, the OnePlus 6, the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and the Xiaomi Black Shark. The OnePlus 6 and the two Xiaomi devices are similarly priced to the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, for reference.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition (Mi Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
6144 MB 
Display
6.2 inch 18.7:9, 2248 x 1080 pixel 402 PPI, Capacitive touch screen, Super AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, glossy: yes
Storage
128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash, 128 GB 
, 109 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: USB Type-C, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Infrared, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Barometer, Compass, USB Type-C, USB On-The-Go (OTG), Miracast, Status LED, Face Unlock, VoLTE
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, GSM: B2, B3, B5, B8. CDMA: 1x EVDO BC0. WCDMA: B1, B2, B4, B5, B8. TD-SCDMA: B34, B39. TD-LTE: B34, B38, B39, B40, B41; 120 MHz. FDD-LTE: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B12, B17, B20. LTE: B41., Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.6 x 154.9 x 74.8 ( = 0.3 x 6.1 x 2.94 in)
Battery
3000 mAh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Android 8.1 Oreo
Camera
Primary Camera: 12 MPix Dual camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 1/2.55”, 1.4 μm, 4-axis, dual-pixel. 12 MP f/2.4, 1/3.4”, 1.0 μm, 2x optical zoom
Secondary Camera: 20 MPix f/2.0, 0.9 μm
Additional features
Speakers: Mono speaker, Keyboard: Virtual keyboard, 1 x OVP, 1 x USB Type-A to Type-C cable, 1x Chinese charger and EU adapter, 1 x USB Type-C to 3.5 mm adapter, 1 x Silicon case, MIUI 10, 12 Months Warranty, SAR value: Head - 0.7 W/kg, Body – 1.66 W/kg, fanless
Weight
175 g ( = 6.17 oz / 0.39 pounds), Power Supply: 58 g ( = 2.05 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
380 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

Xiaomi Mi 8
Xiaomi Mi 8
Color options for
Color options for
the Xiaomi Mi 8
the Xiaomi Mi 8

The Mi 8 and the Explorer Edition are made of aluminum and glass. Our test device is well-built and feels good in the hand thanks to both its slightly curved rear edges and its 7.5 mm thick case. The Mi 8 is available in black, blue, gold or white while the Explorer Edition is only available in black with a transparent back.

The Explorer Edition’s transparent back appears to show the device’s internal components. Not is all as it seems though. The visible motherboard and processor are just dummies, with the working components hidden beneath. This may be for visual reasons as the real hardware will look less visually attractive than the perfectly arranged and labeled plastic version. Regardless of Xiaomi’s tricks, the Explorer Edition looks great and is a real eye-catcher.

The front of the Mi 8 is made of scratch-resistant 2.5 D Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which blends subtly into the frame. The AMOLED display has around 3-millimeter thick side bezels while the top bezel is reduced because of the notched display. The Mi 8 has an 84% screen-to-body ratio overall.

The dual rear-facing camera housing protrudes from the case, which makes our test device shake slightly when we are using it with the device lying flat on a table. One major difference between the Mi 8 and Explorer Edition is the fingerprint sensor. The Mi 8 has a standard rear-mounted sensor, while the Explorer Edition is equipped with an in-screen sensor as we have seen with the Vivo NEX Ultimate.

Both devices have two hardware buttons: a power button and a volume rocker. The buttons have well-defined pressure points and are beautifully crafted. The buttons are placed next to each other, but they are easy to tell apart when using the device in one hand.

Moreover, our test device is sturdy and would not creak or twist irrespective of the degree of force that we applied.

Our only gripe with the case is the SIM-card slot, which does not fit flush with the case on our test devices.

Size Comparison

Connectivity

The Mi 8 has a USB 2.0 Type-C port that supports QC 4+, a compass, VoLTE support and a notification LED. The device also supports Miracast for wirelessly casting your display to an external monitor; this worked well in testing with our Sony Android TV. Our test device has a mono speaker, which is a downgrade from the stereo speakers on the Xiaomi Mi 6. Incidentally, the Explorer Edition also lacks an infrared sensor too.

Our test devices have 64 GB and 128 GB of UFS 2.1 storage, of which 50 GB and 109 GB is available respectively, with the remainder reserved for the OS. Neither test device supports microSD card expansion, but you could connect a USB stick or other peripherals with the appropriate adapter thanks to USB OTG support.

Right-hand side: power button, volume rocker
Right-hand side: power button, volume rocker
Left-hand side: SIM-card slot
Left-hand side: SIM-card slot
Underside: speaker, USB 2.0 Type-C port, speaker
Underside: speaker, USB 2.0 Type-C port, speaker
Top side: microphone
Top side: microphone

Independent journalism is made possible by advertising. We show the least amount of ads whenever possible but we intentionally show more ads when an adblocker is used. Please, switch off ad blockers and support us!

Software

Our test devices both shipped with Android Oreo 8.1 and Android security patch level August 2018, albeit with different versions of MIUI. Our test Mi 8 has the Global version of MIUI 9.6 installed, while our test Explorer Edition has the Chinese version of MIUI 10 installed.

Xiaomi’s Chinese ROMs have the company's alternatives to Google Services preinstalled. Additionally, Chinese ROMs only support Chinese and English. Please see our how-to, which is in German, on how to install Google Services and the Google Play Store onto a device running a Chinese ROM. The Global version of MIUI has both Google Services and a wider choice of languages installed.

Frustratingly, the software on our test Mi 8 functions like a BETA version, even though it is on the Stable branch. The software has numerous UI issues like missing notifications in the status bar. Furthermore, some features like Face Unlock are region locked, while the Always-On-Display (AOD) cannot be personalized and is not supported by third-party apps. MIUI 10 runs smoother than MIUI 9.6, but we still had AOD issues, and we could not zoom in on 16:9 videos.

MIUI is a heavily customized version of Android that has many visual and functional changes over stock Oreo 8.1. MIUI has plenty of Xiaomi preinstalled apps and brings a quick access function, gesture control and a feature called Second Space to Android. The latter of these allows you to hide apps, data and photos, which can only be viewed having opened Second Space.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - default home screen
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - default home screen
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - card-based UI
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - card-based UI
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - quick settings
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - quick settings
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - default apps
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - default apps
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - settings
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - settings

Communication & GPS

The Mi 8 supports Bluetooth 5.0 for connecting Bluetooth headphones and smartwatches among other peripherals. There is also an NFC chip on board for NFC services like Google Pay, should you have Google Services installed.

The Mi 8 supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and can connect to either 2.4 or 5 GHz networks. The Explorer Edition also has a 2x2 MIMO antenna that allows for faster Wi-Fi transfer speeds than the Mi 8. Our test Explorer Edition averaged over 600 Mb/s in both iperf3 Client Wi-Fi tests when tested with our Linksys EA 8500 reference router.

The Explorer Edition has solid Wi-Fi performance in daily use too. Our test device constantly maintained Wi-Fi reception throughout testing and achieved a relatively low -37 dBm signal attenuation when tested next to a Telekom Speedport W921V router.

The Explorer Edition is a dual-SIM device with LTE Cat. 16 support for up to 1 Gb/s download speeds over LTE. Both nano-SIM slots support Gigabit LTE. Moreover, the LTE modem has a 4x4 MIMO antenna that is almost twice the speed of 2x2 MIMO antennas.

There is also plenty of European LTE coverage too, despite being a smartphone designed for the Chinese market. Our test Explorer Edition supports LTE Band 20, the first Xiaomi Mi device to do so, which is often needed for LTE coverage in rural Germany. LTE Band 20 operates at 800 MHz. The Explorer Edition supports just 14 LTE bands though, which is considerably less than more expensive flagship devices like the iPhone XS. There is room for improvement in this regard then.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
654 MBit/s ∼100% +6%
Samsung Galaxy S9
Mali-G72 MP18, 9810, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
652 MBit/s ∼100% +6%
Huawei P20
Mali-G72 MP12, Kirin 970, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
637 MBit/s ∼97% +4%
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
615 MBit/s ∼94%
OnePlus 6
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
609 MBit/s ∼93% -1%
HTC U12 Plus
Adreno 630, 845, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
579 MBit/s ∼89% -6%
Xiaomi Mi 6
Adreno 540, 835, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
574 MBit/s ∼88% -7%
Average of class Smartphone
  (5.9 - 939, n=307)
211 MBit/s ∼32% -66%
Xiaomi Black Shark
Adreno 630, 845, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
116 MBit/s ∼18% -81%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
668 MBit/s ∼100% +9%
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
615 MBit/s ∼92%
OnePlus 6
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
612 MBit/s ∼92% 0%
HTC U12 Plus
Adreno 630, 845, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
573 MBit/s ∼86% -7%
Samsung Galaxy S9
Mali-G72 MP18, 9810, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
519 MBit/s ∼78% -16%
Xiaomi Mi 6
Adreno 540, 835, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
500 MBit/s ∼75% -19%
Huawei P20
Mali-G72 MP12, Kirin 970, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
397 MBit/s ∼59% -35%
Average of class Smartphone
  (9.4 - 703, n=307)
207 MBit/s ∼31% -66%
Xiaomi Black Shark
Adreno 630, 845, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
117 MBit/s ∼18% -81%
GPS test: Outdoors
GPS test: Outdoors
GPS test: Indoors
GPS test: Indoors

The Mi 8 Explorer Edition uses BeiDou, GALILEO, GLONASS, GPS, and QZSS for location services. The Explorer Edition supports dual GPS too. Dual GPS uses two frequency bands, the regular L1 band and the professional L5 band in the Explorer Edition’s case, for faster and more accurate location than single GPS devices.

Our test device achieves a satellite fix with up to six meters accuracy both indoors and outdoors. Our test device has a stronger signal in the latter scenario rather than the former though.

We took the Explorer Edition on a bike ride to test its location accuracy against a professional navigation device, the Garmin Edge 520. Our test device recorded the course well but deviated by 280 meters over a 5.45 km ride. The Explorer Edition struggles to accurately track our route, as the included pictures below demonstrate. This degree of deviation from our professional navigation system is acceptable for a device at this price, but we expected more from a dual-GPS device. Maybe future updates will bring greater GPS accuracy.

GPS test: Garmin Edge 520 – Loop
GPS test: Garmin Edge 520 – Loop
GPS test: Garmin Edge 520 – Overview
GPS test: Garmin Edge 520 – Overview
GPS test: Garmin Edge 520 – Wooded area
GPS test: Garmin Edge 520 – Wooded area
GPS test: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - Loop
GPS test: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - Loop
GPS test: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – Overview
GPS test: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – Overview
GPS test: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – Wooded area
GPS test: Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – Wooded area

Telephone Function & Call Quality

Dialler
Dialler

Our test Explorer Edition maintained good call quality on Vodafone’s D1 network in Germany. Voices sounded clear when making calls with either the earpiece or over speakerphone. Likewise, the Explorer Edition gets loud enough to make calls in most environments too.

Cameras

A photo taken with the front-facing camera
A photo taken with the front-facing camera
A bokeh effect photo taken with the front-facing camera
A bokeh effect photo taken with the front-facing camera

The Explorer Edition has dual 12 MP rear-facing cameras. The main camera is a Sony IMX363 sensor that has an f/1.8 aperture, 1.4 μm pixel and OIS support. The secondary camera, a telephoto Samsung S5K3M3 sensor, has a narrower f/2.4 aperture and smaller 1 μm pixels.

The rear-facing cameras take excellent photos, particularly in bright ambient lighting. Photos taken in such conditions are rich in detail and are impressively sharp. The main camera has good dynamic range and accurate color reproduction too. However, the cameras are not on the same level as those in the Galaxy S9, the iPhone XS or the P20 Pro. The Explorer Edition especially struggled when taking a quick snapshot as the dual-pixel autofocus often lacked the accuracy we have come to expect from other flagships. Likewise, the exposure levels and white balance are sometimes somewhat inaccurate too.

The Explorer Edition also struggles in low light when compared to other flagships. Photos look relatively good, and objects are sharp enough, but our test device falls short of other more expensive flagships.

The Explorer Edition has a 20 MP front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture. Photos look good in enough light, but image noise and blurriness increases dramatically in low-light conditions.

The front-facing sensor can record videos in up to 1080p at 30 FPS. By contrast, the rear-facing cameras record up to 4K at 30 FPS and can record in up to 120 FPS at 1080p. In short, our test Explorer Edition takes good videos with clean audio recordings.

Normal mode
Normal mode
HDR Mode
HDR Mode
HDR mode with AI
HDR mode with AI
2x optical zoom
2x optical zoom
Bokeh effect
Bokeh effect

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
ColorChecker: The lower half of each patch displays the reference color
ColorChecker: The lower half of each patch displays the reference color

We also subjected the dual rear-facing cameras to further tests under controlled lighting conditions and analyzed color accuracy using ColorChecker Passport.

Our test Explorer Edition generally accurately reproduces colors, albeit rather darkly compared to reference colors. However, black and white tones miss the mark.

The Explorer Edition captures our test chart sharply and with good color accuracy. There is hardly any noise to text on dark backgrounds too.

Photo of our test chart
Photo of our test chart
Test chart in detail

Accessories & Warranty

The Explorer Edition comes with a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, a silicone case, a USB Type-C to 3.5 mm adapter and a modular Chinese charger that is rated at 1.5 A and 12 V. The charger supports QC 3.0, although the Explorer Edition supports QC 4+.

Our test device also came with a Chinese to EU adapter, courtesy of Trading Shenzhen who supplied our test device. The EU adapter is therefore not an accessory that is included with all Explorer Editions.

All Mi 8 devices come with 12 months manufacturer’s warranty. Please see our article here for information about the factors that you should consider when importing a smartphone. Please note, this article is in German.

Trading Shenzhen provides an additional warranty that allows buyers to send their devices to a German shipping address when making a warranty claim instead of sending the device back to China. This should significantly shorten the processing time for making a warranty claim.

Input Devices & Operation

You can use the standard Android three-button array within the navigation bar or “Full-Screen Gestures” to operate the Mi 8, the latter of which we first saw on the Mi 6X and the Mi Pad 4. Our test device responds quickly and precisely to inputs even at the corners of the display.

The Mi 8’s rear-mounted fingerprint sensor works reliably and unlocks the device promptly; it is one of the best sensors on any current smartphone.

By contrast, the Explorer Edition has a pressure sensitive in-screen fingerprint sensor. Disappointingly, the “classic” rear-mounted sensor is considerably faster and more accurate than its in-screen counterpart.

Both the Mi 8 and the Explorer Edition support the usual pattern, password and PIN security methods. However, the devices use different technologies for facial recognition. The regular Mi 8 uses infrared to recognize faces, while the Explorer Edition uses infrared and a separate sensor that stores up to 33,000 pieces of data to create a depth profile of your face. This is then combined with the infrared photo to generate a mathematical profile that must correspond with the stored facial data for the Explorer Edition to unlock. Both systems work well even in absolute darkness, but we found the Mi 8 to be generally more reliable at recognizing a face than the Explorer Edition.

The Explorer Edition comes with an MIUI Baidu keyboard preinstalled. You could download another keyboard from the Google Play Store if you do not like the Chinese characters. By contrast, the Mi 8 with its Global MIUI ROM has Gboard installed.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – MIUI number pad keyboard in portrait mode
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – MIUI number pad keyboard in portrait mode
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – MIUI keyboard in portrait mode
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – MIUI keyboard in portrait mode
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – MIUI keyboard in landscape mode
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition – MIUI keyboard in landscape mode

Display

Sub-pixel array
Sub-pixel array

The Mi 8 and Explorer Edition have 6.21-inch AMOLED displays that run at a native 2248x1080 resolution in an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. These values result in a pixel density of around 400 PPI, which should be sharp enough for daily use. QHD displays will look considerably sharper though when viewed next to the Mi 8 and the Explorer Edition.

According to X-Rite i1Pro 2, our test Explorer Edition achieves a maximum brightness of 460 cd/m² at the centre of the display. We achieved this value with the ambient light sensor activated and the display set to automatic mode. The more realistic APL50 test, which measures brightness by evenly distributing light and dark areas across the display, states that our test device achieves a maximum luminosity of 456 cd/m² at the centre of the display.

By contrast, our Explorer Edition test device achieved an average maximum brightness of 431.7 cd/m² in X-Rite i1Pro 2, which corresponds to an 88% brightness uniformity. Overall, the Explorer Edition has a darker display than all but the HTC U12 Plus out of our comparison devices.

Organic LEDs never radiate at their theoretical brightness, thereby reducing the peak luminosity of the display. Manufacturers tend to use pulse-width modulation (PWM) to regulate brightness with OLED displays, which Xiaomi has done with all Mi 8 models. We measured PWM on our Explorer Edition at 100 Hz, which could cause problems like dizziness and headaches for those who are PWM sensitive. We did not notice any display flickering during testing but this is merely subjective.

425
cd/m²
434
cd/m²
460
cd/m²
419
cd/m²
429
cd/m²
443
cd/m²
405
cd/m²
425
cd/m²
445
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 460 cd/m² Average: 431.7 cd/m² Minimum: 2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 429 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.39 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 3.3 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
99% sRGB (Calman 2D)
Gamma: 2.238
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
Super AMOLED, 2248x1080, 6.2
Xiaomi Mi 6
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.15
Xiaomi Black Shark
IPS, 2160x1080, 5.99
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
IPS, 2160x1080, 5.99
Huawei P20
LTPS, 2240x1080, 5.8
OnePlus 6
Optic AMOLED, 2280x1080, 6.28
HTC U12 Plus
Super LCD 6, 2880x1440, 6
Samsung Galaxy S9
Super AMOLED, 2960x1440, 5.8
Screen
-15%
-37%
-0%
54%
12%
24%
32%
Brightness middle
429
620
45%
549
28%
492
15%
753
76%
430
0%
395
-8%
529
23%
Brightness
432
586
36%
541
25%
463
7%
748
73%
437
1%
402
-7%
527
22%
Brightness Distribution
88
89
1%
95
8%
90
2%
96
9%
87
-1%
90
2%
96
9%
Black Level *
0.28
0.42
0.59
0.37
0.37
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.39
4.8
-42%
6.08
-79%
2.4
29%
1.3
62%
2.3
32%
1.6
53%
1.4
59%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
5.25
8.8
-68%
10.69
-104%
6.2
-18%
2.3
56%
4.6
12%
3.4
35%
4
24%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.3
5.3
-61%
6.6
-100%
4.5
-36%
1.7
48%
2.4
27%
1.1
67%
1.6
52%
Gamma
2.238 98%
2.25 98%
2.305 95%
2.25 98%
2.18 101%
2.28 96%
2.14 103%
2.16 102%
CCT
7135 91%
7473 87%
8399 77%
6395 102%
66.76 9736%
6160 106%
6536 99%
6358 102%
Contrast
2214
1307
834
2035
1068

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 100 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 100 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 100 Hz is very low, so the flickering may cause eyestrain and headaches after extended use.

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8933 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

OLED displays tend to display richer black tones than their IPS counterparts for two reasons. Firstly, black areas on IPS displays radiate at half-a-thousandth less luminosity of the LED backlight. By contrast, OLED displays can individually turn off pixels to create absolute black tones and in theory, an infinitely high contrast ratio.

We also used a photo spectrometer and CalMAN analysis software on our Explorer Edition test device to determine its display’s color accuracy. Our test device achieved relatively low Delta E divergences from sRGB at 5.3 for colors and 3.3 for gray tones. Many of our more expensive comparison devices achieve values much closer to zero, but reportedly the human eye cannot see the difference in values below three. Hence, the Explorer Edition has impressive color accuracy in this regard.

We measure the color temperature of our test device’s display at 7,000 K, which is somewhat higher than the ideal value of 6,500 K. However, our test device is almost 100% sRGB accurate, and the display has no noticeable color cast to it.

In short, the Explorer Edition has an impressive display for the price.

CalMAN: Color Accuracy – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Accuracy – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Space – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Space – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Grayscale – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Grayscale – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Saturation – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Saturation – sRGB target color space

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
8 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 5 ms rise
↘ 3 ms fall
The screen shows fast response rates in our tests and should be suited for gaming.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 5 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
10 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 5 ms rise
↘ 5 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 5 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (41 ms).

Our Explorer Edition test device is readable outdoors. However, we wish that the display got slightly brighter for using the device outside on sunny days. The degree of usability outdoors is acceptable for the regular Mi 8’s pricing, but not at the Explorer Edition’s price point.

Using the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition in the sun
Using the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition in the sun
Using the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition in the shade
Using the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition in the shade
Reflections on the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition’s display
Reflections on the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition’s display

The Explorer Edition has strong viewing angles, albeit with a visible reduction in luminosity at acute viewing angles. However, colors remain vivid regardless of the angle from which we look at the display.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

All Mi 8 models are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, a chip that powers many 2018 Android flagship devices. The Snapdragon 845 integrates four ARM Cortex A75 performance cores that clock up to 2.8 GHz and four ARM Cortex A55 power-saving cores that clock up to 1.8 GHz. The CPU is also supported by a powerful Adreno 630 GPU.

Subjectively, system performance feels snappy with a Snapdragon 845 and either 6 GB or 8 GB of LPDD4 RAM. Application loading times are short, but we did notice some micro stuttering on our Explorer Edition test device, which particularly affected animations.

Our Explorer Edition test device performs exceptionally well in CPU benchmarks, especially in AnTuTu v6 and v7. The Explorer Edition beats all our comparison devices in the former and is 1% behind the Xiaomi Black Shark in the latter.

Moreover, the Explorer Edition scores highly in PCMark for Android benchmarks too, but our test device finishes in the middle of our comparison table in this regard.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
232931 Points ∼100%
Xiaomi Mi 6
181909 Points ∼78% -22%
Xiaomi Black Shark
230642 Points ∼99% -1%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
162183 Points ∼70% -30%
Huawei P20
179393 Points ∼77% -23%
OnePlus 6
230421 Points ∼99% -1%
HTC U12 Plus
221971 Points ∼95% -5%
Samsung Galaxy S9
217950 Points ∼94% -6%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (162183 - 242953, n=18)
223967 Points ∼96% -4%
Average of class Smartphone (23275 - 254229, n=390)
76481 Points ∼33% -67%
AnTuTu v7 - Total Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
288062 Points ∼99%
Xiaomi Black Shark
290397 Points ∼100% +1%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
266601 Points ∼92% -7%
Huawei P20
200756 Points ∼69% -30%
OnePlus 6
266686 Points ∼92% -7%
HTC U12 Plus
255739 Points ∼88% -11%
Samsung Galaxy S9
243861 Points ∼84% -15%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (246366 - 299878, n=22)
275958 Points ∼95% -4%
Average of class Smartphone (17073 - 348178, n=170)
118332 Points ∼41% -59%
PCMark for Android
Work 2.0 performance score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
7360 Points ∼86%
Xiaomi Mi 6
6686 Points ∼78% -9%
Xiaomi Black Shark
8309 Points ∼97% +13%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
8078 Points ∼94% +10%
Huawei P20
7002 Points ∼81% -5%
OnePlus 6
8282 Points ∼96% +13%
HTC U12 Plus
8601 Points ∼100% +17%
Samsung Galaxy S9
5291 Points ∼62% -28%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (8326 - 9868, n=22)
8018 Points ∼93% +9%
Average of class Smartphone (3146 - 9868, n=256)
4551 Points ∼53% -38%
Work performance score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
8967 Points ∼87%
Xiaomi Mi 6
7548 Points ∼74% -16%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
9179 Points ∼89% +2%
Huawei P20
8700 Points ∼85% -3%
OnePlus 6
9630 Points ∼94% +7%
HTC U12 Plus
10264 Points ∼100% +14%
Samsung Galaxy S9
5736 Points ∼56% -36%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (7998 - 13211, n=20)
10123 Points ∼99% +13%
Average of class Smartphone (6412 - 13531, n=423)
4958 Points ∼48% -45%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
1288 Points ∼90%
Xiaomi Mi 6
1263 Points ∼88% -2%
Xiaomi Black Shark
1243 Points ∼86% -3%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
1234 Points ∼86% -4%
Huawei P20
1313 Points ∼91% +2%
OnePlus 6
1386 Points ∼96% +8%
HTC U12 Plus
1437 Points ∼100% +12%
Samsung Galaxy S9
1099 Points ∼76% -15%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (1009 - 1613, n=20)
1348 Points ∼94% +5%
Average of class Smartphone (7 - 1731, n=499)
698 Points ∼49% -46%
Graphics (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
7965 Points ∼100%
Xiaomi Mi 6
6206 Points ∼78% -22%
Xiaomi Black Shark
5846 Points ∼73% -27%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
7918 Points ∼99% -1%
Huawei P20
3697 Points ∼46% -54%
OnePlus 6
7949 Points ∼100% 0%
HTC U12 Plus
7945 Points ∼100% 0%
Samsung Galaxy S9
6373 Points ∼80% -20%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (5846 - 8001, n=20)
7816 Points ∼98% -2%
Average of class Smartphone (18 - 15969, n=499)
1737 Points ∼22% -78%
Memory (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
3521 Points ∼85%
Xiaomi Mi 6
4054 Points ∼98% +15%
Xiaomi Black Shark
2871 Points ∼69% -18%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
3012 Points ∼73% -14%
Huawei P20
4154 Points ∼100% +18%
OnePlus 6
3799 Points ∼91% +8%
HTC U12 Plus
3641 Points ∼88% +3%
Samsung Galaxy S9
2669 Points ∼64% -24%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2193 - 5296, n=20)
3594 Points ∼87% +2%
Average of class Smartphone (21 - 6283, n=499)
1244 Points ∼30% -65%
System (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
6556 Points ∼80%
Xiaomi Mi 6
5857 Points ∼71% -11%
Xiaomi Black Shark
7105 Points ∼86% +8%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
5792 Points ∼70% -12%
Huawei P20
5797 Points ∼70% -12%
OnePlus 6
8228 Points ∼100% +26%
HTC U12 Plus
7862 Points ∼96% +20%
Samsung Galaxy S9
6234 Points ∼76% -5%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (4417 - 8613, n=20)
7657 Points ∼93% +17%
Average of class Smartphone (369 - 12202, n=499)
2512 Points ∼31% -62%
Overall (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
3923 Points ∼91%
Xiaomi Mi 6
3694 Points ∼86% -6%
Xiaomi Black Shark
3489 Points ∼81% -11%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
3614 Points ∼84% -8%
Huawei P20
3288 Points ∼76% -16%
OnePlus 6
4308 Points ∼100% +10%
HTC U12 Plus
4252 Points ∼99% +8%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3285 Points ∼76% -16%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (3291 - 4693, n=20)
4099 Points ∼95% +4%
Average of class Smartphone (150 - 6097, n=503)
1255 Points ∼29% -68%
Geekbench 4.1/4.2
Compute RenderScript Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
14299 Points ∼100%
Xiaomi Black Shark
13620 Points ∼95% -5%
HTC U12 Plus
12493 Points ∼87% -13%
Samsung Galaxy S9
6219 Points ∼43% -57%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (10876 - 14489, n=19)
13635 Points ∼95% -5%
Average of class Smartphone (836 - 21070, n=197)
4524 Points ∼32% -68%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
8548 Points ∼96%
Xiaomi Mi 6
6714 Points ∼75% -21%
Xiaomi Black Shark
8453 Points ∼95% -1%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
8937 Points ∼100% +5%
Huawei P20
6557 Points ∼73% -23%
HTC U12 Plus
8812 Points ∼99% +3%
Samsung Galaxy S9
8786 Points ∼98% +3%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (7754 - 9231, n=21)
8655 Points ∼97% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (883 - 11598, n=247)
4308 Points ∼48% -50%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
2441 Points ∼66%
Xiaomi Mi 6
1938 Points ∼53% -21%
Xiaomi Black Shark
2437 Points ∼66% 0%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
2456 Points ∼67% +1%
Huawei P20
1886 Points ∼51% -23%
HTC U12 Plus
2429 Points ∼66% 0%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3688 Points ∼100% +51%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2272 - 2500, n=21)
2417 Points ∼66% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (394 - 4824, n=248)
1270 Points ∼34% -48%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
2118 Points ∼62%
Xiaomi Mi 6
3007 Points ∼88% +42%
Xiaomi Black Shark
3408 Points ∼99% +61%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
2606 Points ∼76% +23%
Huawei P20
2795 Points ∼81% +32%
OnePlus 6
3432 Points ∼100% +62%
HTC U12 Plus
3197 Points ∼93% +51%
Samsung Galaxy S9
2486 Points ∼72% +17%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2118 - 3703, n=21)
3268 Points ∼95% +54%
Average of class Smartphone (2281 - 4216, n=352)
1642 Points ∼48% -22%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
3742 Points ∼72%
Xiaomi Mi 6
4072 Points ∼78% +9%
Xiaomi Black Shark
5220 Points ∼100% +39%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
5181 Points ∼99% +38%
Huawei P20
3040 Points ∼58% -19%
OnePlus 6
5212 Points ∼100% +39%
HTC U12 Plus
3488 Points ∼67% -7%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3553 Points ∼68% -5%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (3488 - 5241, n=21)
4944 Points ∼95% +32%
Average of class Smartphone (815 - 5241, n=352)
1186 Points ∼23% -68%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
3197 Points ∼68%
Xiaomi Mi 6
3775 Points ∼81% +18%
Xiaomi Black Shark
4668 Points ∼100% +46%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
4248 Points ∼91% +33%
Huawei P20
2982 Points ∼64% -7%
OnePlus 6
4673 Points ∼100% +46%
HTC U12 Plus
3419 Points ∼73% +7%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3244 Points ∼69% +1%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (3197 - 4734, n=21)
4424 Points ∼95% +38%
Average of class Smartphone (951 - 4734, n=360)
1134 Points ∼24% -65%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
2176 Points ∼63%
Xiaomi Mi 6
2921 Points ∼85% +34%
Xiaomi Black Shark
3443 Points ∼100% +58%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
2159 Points ∼63% -1%
Huawei P20
2811 Points ∼81% +29%
OnePlus 6
3452 Points ∼100% +59%
HTC U12 Plus
2774 Points ∼80% +27%
Samsung Galaxy S9
2600 Points ∼75% +19%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2159 - 3668, n=21)
3129 Points ∼91% +44%
Average of class Smartphone (532 - 4215, n=384)
1540 Points ∼45% -29%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
6554 Points ∼79%
Xiaomi Mi 6
6231 Points ∼75% -5%
Xiaomi Black Shark
8312 Points ∼100% +27%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
6630 Points ∼80% +1%
Huawei P20
3550 Points ∼43% -46%
OnePlus 6
8252 Points ∼99% +26%
HTC U12 Plus
5637 Points ∼68% -14%
Samsung Galaxy S9
4569 Points ∼55% -30%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (5637 - 8312, n=21)
7818 Points ∼94% +19%
Average of class Smartphone (46 - 8312, n=384)
1632 Points ∼20% -75%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
4529 Points ∼72%
Xiaomi Mi 6
4978 Points ∼79% +10%
Xiaomi Black Shark
6324 Points ∼100% +40%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
4540 Points ∼72% 0%
Huawei P20
3354 Points ∼53% -26%
OnePlus 6
6304 Points ∼100% +39%
HTC U12 Plus
4585 Points ∼73% +1%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3911 Points ∼62% -14%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (4529 - 6454, n=21)
5843 Points ∼92% +29%
Average of class Smartphone (58 - 6454, n=392)
1387 Points ∼22% -69%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
30765 Points ∼90%
Xiaomi Mi 6
20330 Points ∼59% -34%
Xiaomi Black Shark
31384 Points ∼92% +2%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
30245 Points ∼88% -2%
Huawei P20
23046 Points ∼67% -25%
OnePlus 6
34191 Points ∼100% +11%
HTC U12 Plus
33810 Points ∼99% +10%
Samsung Galaxy S9
26851 Points ∼79% -13%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (15614 - 37475, n=21)
33400 Points ∼98% +9%
Average of class Smartphone (3958 - 37475, n=539)
12880 Points ∼38% -58%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
77003 Points ∼93%
Xiaomi Mi 6
58228 Points ∼71% -24%
Xiaomi Black Shark
82423 Points ∼100% +7%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
76078 Points ∼92% -1%
Huawei P20
34146 Points ∼41% -56%
OnePlus 6
81269 Points ∼99% +6%
HTC U12 Plus
81726 Points ∼99% +6%
Samsung Galaxy S9
48433 Points ∼59% -37%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (53794 - 84998, n=21)
80111 Points ∼97% +4%
Average of class Smartphone (2465 - 162695, n=539)
17994 Points ∼22% -77%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
57711 Points ∼93%
Xiaomi Mi 6
41172 Points ∼66% -29%
Xiaomi Black Shark
60543 Points ∼97% +5%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
56913 Points ∼91% -1%
Huawei P20
30845 Points ∼50% -47%
OnePlus 6
62241 Points ∼100% +8%
HTC U12 Plus
62152 Points ∼100% +8%
Samsung Galaxy S9
41093 Points ∼66% -29%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (34855 - 65330, n=21)
60990 Points ∼98% +6%
Average of class Smartphone (2915 - 77599, n=540)
15114 Points ∼24% -74%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
102 fps ∼68%
Xiaomi Mi 6
119 fps ∼79% +17%
Xiaomi Black Shark
151 fps ∼100% +48%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
150 fps ∼99% +47%
Huawei P20
125 fps ∼83% +23%
OnePlus 6
150 fps ∼99% +47%
HTC U12 Plus
98 fps ∼65% -4%
Samsung Galaxy S9
144 fps ∼95% +41%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (98 - 152, n=22)
144 fps ∼95% +41%
Average of class Smartphone (4.1 - 251, n=564)
31.4 fps ∼21% -69%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
58 fps ∼93%
Xiaomi Mi 6
60 fps ∼96% +3%
Xiaomi Black Shark
60 fps ∼96% +3%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
60 fps ∼96% +3%
Huawei P20
59 fps ∼94% +2%
OnePlus 6
60 fps ∼96% +3%
HTC U12 Plus
59 fps ∼94% +2%
Samsung Galaxy S9
60 fps ∼96% +3%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (58 - 89, n=21)
62.7 fps ∼100% +8%
Average of class Smartphone (6.9 - 120, n=567)
25 fps ∼40% -57%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
54 fps ∼66%
Xiaomi Mi 6
63 fps ∼77% +17%
Xiaomi Black Shark
82 fps ∼100% +52%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
74 fps ∼90% +37%
Huawei P20
59 fps ∼72% +9%
OnePlus 6
66 fps ∼80% +22%
HTC U12 Plus
72 fps ∼88% +33%
Samsung Galaxy S9
73 fps ∼89% +35%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (54 - 83, n=21)
73 fps ∼89% +35%
Average of class Smartphone (2.2 - 132, n=486)
16.8 fps ∼20% -69%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
51 fps ∼86%
Xiaomi Mi 6
56 fps ∼95% +10%
Xiaomi Black Shark
59 fps ∼100% +16%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
59 fps ∼100% +16%
Huawei P20
56 fps ∼95% +10%
OnePlus 6
58 fps ∼98% +14%
HTC U12 Plus
35 fps ∼59% -31%
Samsung Galaxy S9
45 fps ∼76% -12%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (35 - 75, n=21)
55 fps ∼93% +8%
Average of class Smartphone (4.1 - 115, n=489)
16 fps ∼27% -69%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
32 fps ∼53%
Xiaomi Mi 6
43 fps ∼72% +34%
Xiaomi Black Shark
60 fps ∼100% +88%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
60 fps ∼100% +88%
Huawei P20
39 fps ∼65% +22%
OnePlus 6
56 fps ∼93% +75%
HTC U12 Plus
39 fps ∼65% +22%
Samsung Galaxy S9
46 fps ∼77% +44%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (32 - 61, n=22)
54.4 fps ∼91% +70%
Average of class Smartphone (10 - 88, n=349)
14.3 fps ∼24% -55%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
29 fps ∼53%
Xiaomi Mi 6
42 fps ∼76% +45%
Xiaomi Black Shark
53 fps ∼96% +83%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
55 fps ∼100% +90%
Huawei P20
39 fps ∼71% +34%
OnePlus 6
54 fps ∼98% +86%
HTC U12 Plus
31 fps ∼56% +7%
Samsung Galaxy S9
24 fps ∼44% -17%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (25 - 59, n=21)
46.5 fps ∼85% +60%
Average of class Smartphone (9.8 - 110, n=352)
13.9 fps ∼25% -52%
GFXBench
off screen Car Chase Offscreen (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
25 fps ∼71%
Xiaomi Mi 6
26 fps ∼74% +4%
Xiaomi Black Shark
35 fps ∼100% +40%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
35 fps ∼100% +40%
Huawei P20
23 fps ∼66% -8%
OnePlus 6
35 fps ∼100% +40%
HTC U12 Plus
35 fps ∼100% +40%
Samsung Galaxy S9
28 fps ∼80% +12%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (25 - 35, n=21)
34 fps ∼97% +36%
Average of class Smartphone (6.3 - 54, n=280)
9.86 fps ∼28% -61%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen (sort by value)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
24 fps ∼71%
Xiaomi Mi 6
26 fps ∼76% +8%
Xiaomi Black Shark
31 fps ∼91% +29%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
34 fps ∼100% +42%
Huawei P20
23 fps ∼68% -4%
OnePlus 6
32 fps ∼94% +33%
HTC U12 Plus
20 fps ∼59% -17%
Samsung Galaxy S9
14 fps ∼41% -42%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (17 - 37, n=21)
28.3 fps ∼83% +18%
Average of class Smartphone (6 - 58, n=283)
8.89 fps ∼26% -63%

Legend

 
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm Adreno 630, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Xiaomi Mi 6 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (8998), Qualcomm Adreno 540, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Xiaomi Black Shark Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm Adreno 630, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm Adreno 630, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Huawei P20 HiSilicon Kirin 970, ARM Mali-G72 MP12, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
OnePlus 6 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm Adreno 630, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
HTC U12 Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm Adreno 630, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Exynos 9810, ARM Mali-G72 MP18, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash

Browser performance is good too, as tested with Chrome 69. Websites load quickly, without errors and scrolling remained smooth throughout testing. The Explorer Edition also holds its own in browser benchmarks.

JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
87.695 Points ∼100% +8%
HTC U12 Plus (Chrome 66)
87.036 Points ∼99% +8%
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition (Chrome 69)
80.876 Points ∼92%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (22.5 - 90.9, n=22)
76.9 Points ∼88% -5%
Xiaomi Mi 6 (Chrome Version 58)
70.453 Points ∼80% -13%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Chrome 66.0.3359.158)
69.765 Points ∼80% -14%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
67.721 Points ∼77% -16%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
56.188 Points ∼64% -31%
Average of class Smartphone (10.8 - 273, n=422)
36.7 Points ∼42% -55%
Xiaomi Black Shark
Points ∼0% -100%
Octane V2 - Total Score
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
17026 Points ∼100% +16%
HTC U12 Plus (Chrome 66)
16285 Points ∼96% +11%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (3991 - 18275, n=22)
15431 Points ∼91% +6%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
15233 Points ∼89% +4%
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition (Chrome 69)
14617 Points ∼86%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Chrome 66.0.3359.158)
14491 Points ∼85% -1%
Xiaomi Black Shark (Firefox 61)
13663 Points ∼80% -7%
Xiaomi Mi 6 (Chrome Version 58)
11909 Points ∼70% -19%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
11468 Points ∼67% -22%
Average of class Smartphone (1506 - 43280, n=558)
5562 Points ∼33% -62%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Average of class Smartphone (603 - 59466, n=578)
11474 ms * ∼100% -395%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
3978.9 ms * ∼35% -72%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2154 - 11204, n=22)
2874 ms * ∼25% -24%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Chrome 66.0.3359.158)
2868 ms * ∼25% -24%
Xiaomi Mi 6 (Chrome Version 58)
2667.5 ms * ∼23% -15%
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
2445 ms * ∼21% -6%
HTC U12 Plus (Chrome 66)
2409.6 ms * ∼21% -4%
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition (Chrome 69)
2316.8 ms * ∼20%
Xiaomi Black Shark (Firefox 61)
2287 ms * ∼20% +1%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
2077.8 ms * ∼18% +10%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score
HTC U12 Plus (Chrome 66)
257 Points ∼100% +2%
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
252 Points ∼98% 0%
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition (Chrome 69)
251 Points ∼98%
Xiaomi Black Shark (Firefox 61)
246 Points ∼96% -2%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (260 - 291, n=21)
233 Points ∼91% -7%
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Chrome 66.0.3359.158)
228 Points ∼89% -9%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
182 Points ∼71% -27%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
163 Points ∼63% -35%
Average of class Smartphone (91 - 362, n=284)
111 Points ∼43% -56%

* ... smaller is better

Our Mi 8 test devices score well in AndroBench 3-5, particularly in 256 KB sequential read and 4 KB random read tests. The regular Mi 8 scores around 4% higher than the Explorer Edition in these tests. Moreover, the Explorer Edition finishes joint bottom of our comparison table overall.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer EditionXiaomi Mi 6Xiaomi Black SharkXiaomi Mi Mix 2SHuawei P20OnePlus 6HTC U12 PlusSamsung Galaxy S9Average 128 GB UFS 2.1 FlashAverage of class Smartphone
AndroBench 3-5
5%
101%
119%
159%
0%
86%
5%
80%
-57%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
63.64 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
67.18 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
65.5 (51.3 - 72.4, n=5)
45.6 (3.4 - 87.1, n=319)
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
84.32 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
79.22 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
80 (75.4 - 83.2, n=5)
63.8 (8.2 - 96.5, n=319)
Random Write 4KB
22.65
25.19
11%
114.1
404%
128.36
467%
161.49
613%
21.8
-4%
104.24
360%
23.07
2%
92.1 (19.5 - 164, n=17)
307%
16.1 (0.14 - 164, n=607)
-29%
Random Read 4KB
135.21
143.49
6%
127.2
-6%
135.14
0%
147.04
9%
137
1%
118.14
-13%
131
-3%
141 (132 - 158, n=17)
4%
38.3 (1.59 - 173, n=607)
-72%
Sequential Write 256KB
205.23
196.7
-4%
199.6
-3%
208.1
1%
193.56
-6%
201.4
-2%
195.82
-5%
206.94
1%
202 (192 - 212, n=17)
-2%
79.9 (2.99 - 246, n=607)
-61%
Sequential Read 256KB
691.65
728.2
5%
741.5
7%
756.07
9%
826.76
20%
725.6
5%
709.11
3%
815.43
18%
767 (675 - 853, n=17)
11%
230 (12.1 - 895, n=607)
-67%

Games

All Mi 8 devices are powered by a Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU, which supports all modern APIs like OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 and DirectX 12. The GPU is powerful enough to play even the most complex 3D games smoothly.

Our Explorer Edition can play current games like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile at a relatively constant 30 FPS at high graphics. It is worth noting that while Asphalt 9 did not drop below 26 FPS during testing, PUBG dropped to 19 FPS when played in HD. We determined frame rates with GameBench.

The touchscreen and positional sensors responded quickly and accurately throughout testing.

PUBG Mobile
PUBG Mobile
Asphalt 9: Legends
Asphalt 9: Legends
Asphalt 9: Legends
 SettingsValue
 High Quality30 fps
  Your browser does not support the canvas element!
PUBG Mobile
 SettingsValue
 HD30 fps
  Your browser does not support the canvas element!

Emissions

Temperature

The Explorer Edition has relatively low surface temperatures at idle, but these increase significantly under sustained load. Our test device averages 30.85 °C and reaches a maximum of 31.25 °C at idle, neither of which are particularly hot.

However, surface temperatures rise significantly under load to a maximum of 44.1 °C around the notch and 42.8 °C on the back of the device. The device averages 40.15 °C under sustained load, which is comparatively hot.

We also subjected our Explorer Edition test device to GFXBench battery benchmarks to see whether its SoC throttles under load. We ran the complex Manhattan benchmark, which is rendered with OpenGL ES 3.1, for 30 times on a loop.

The results demonstrate a fluctuating frame rate, but these are within 20%. Hence, the Explorer Edition will experience slight thermal throttling under sustained load.

Software Xiaomi Mi 8
Software Xiaomi Mi 8
Software Xiaomi Mi 8
Max. Load
 43.7 °C
111 F
40.3 °C
105 F
38.8 °C
102 F
 
 44.1 °C
111 F
40.3 °C
105 F
39.5 °C
103 F
 
 43.3 °C
110 F
40.3 °C
105 F
39 °C
102 F
 
Maximum: 44.1 °C = 111 F
Average: 41 °C = 106 F
37.8 °C
100 F
39.5 °C
103 F
40.7 °C
105 F
36.6 °C
98 F
38.6 °C
101 F
42.8 °C
109 F
36.9 °C
98 F
38.9 °C
102 F
41.8 °C
107 F
Maximum: 42.8 °C = 109 F
Average: 39.3 °C = 103 F
Power Supply (max.)  42.2 °C = 108 F | Room Temperature 21.7 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 41 °C / 106 F, compared to the average of 33.2 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 44.1 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 35.7 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 42.8 °C / 109 F, compared to the average of 34.2 °C / 94 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 31.3 °C / 88 F, compared to the device average of 33.2 °C / 92 F.
Heat-map of the front of the device under load
Heat-map of the front of the device under load
Heat-map of the rear of the device under load
Heat-map of the rear of the device under load

Speakers

Pink Noise Curve
Pink Noise Curve

The Explorer Edition has a mono speaker that is located on the underside of the device. The speaker has comparatively linear mid tones but an absence of bass and high tones. The speaker on our test device reaches 78.7 dB(A), which is louder than the competition. Overall, the sound quality is good enough for occasionally watching short videos.

All Mi 8 devices support audio output video USB Type-C and Bluetooth. Audio output over USB Type-C is at Xiaomi’s typically high standards. The device has an equalizer and offers MI sound enhancements should you wish to customize the audio experience.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2031.727.92533.935.63147.6504031.234.6503837.56327.128.38027.129.410024.627.312520.634.316018.840.920018.546.425017.749.73151752.240016.55950016.961.163014.463.78001468.3100013.567.5125013.765.9160013.967.3200012.767.8250012.770.1315012.769.4400012.566.6500011.963630011.461.6800011.564.41000011.664.11250011.552.81600011.442.5SPL70.167.725.778.7N25.721.20.743median 13.7median 63Delta2.58.622.924.324.224.125.12522.230.227.739.917.420.717.517.214.918.61419.514.732.112.243.413.649.513.153.910.857.29.754.29.357.19.6628.2668.168.1869.97.771.37.875.17.874.47.869.47.864.47.857.48.159.78.157.98.147.98.129.257.920.681.69.90.343.5median 8.1median 57.42.211hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseXiaomi Mi 8 Explorer EditionOnePlus 6
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (78.7 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 21.2% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (9.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 3.6% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 3% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (18.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 6% of all tested devices in this class were better, 4% similar, 90% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 32% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 62% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

OnePlus 6 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (81.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 21.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (12.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 6.7% higher than median
(+) | mids are linear (6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 8.1% higher than median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (7.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (24.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 45% of all tested devices in this class were better, 11% similar, 44% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 68% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 25% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Battery Life

Power Consumption

The Explorer Edition is a comparatively power-inefficient device. Xiaomi has failed to optimize the device’s software properly, particularly at idle. The Explorer Edition finishes bottom of our power consumption comparison table and is 29% less efficient than the average of Snapdragon 845-powered devices that we have currently tested.

Xiaomi has equipped the Explorer Edition with a 3,000 mAh battery and the cheaper regular Mi 8 with a 3,400 mAh battery.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.6 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.8 / 2.9 / 3.5 Watt
Load midlight 4.8 / 11.2 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
3000 mAh
Xiaomi Mi 6
3350 mAh
Xiaomi Black Shark
4000 mAh
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
3400 mAh
Huawei P20
3400 mAh
OnePlus 6
3300 mAh
HTC U12 Plus
3500 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S9
3000 mAh
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
 
Average of class Smartphone
 
Power Consumption
42%
30%
25%
26%
44%
20%
53%
31%
40%
Idle Minimum *
1.8
0.45
75%
0.8
56%
0.75
58%
0.67
63%
0.6
67%
0.77
57%
0.65
64%
0.802 (0.42 - 1.8, n=19)
55%
0.88 (0.2 - 3.4, n=637)
51%
Idle Average *
2.9
1.67
42%
1.5
48%
2.25
22%
2.05
29%
1
66%
2.18
25%
0.81
72%
1.722 (0.67 - 2.9, n=19)
41%
1.719 (0.6 - 6.2, n=636)
41%
Idle Maximum *
3.5
1.69
52%
2.3
34%
2.26
35%
2.11
40%
1.6
54%
2.21
37%
0.92
74%
2.1 (0.87 - 3.5, n=19)
40%
1.997 (0.74 - 6.6, n=637)
43%
Load Average *
4.8
4.07
15%
4.8
-0%
4.89
-2%
6.15
-28%
4.3
10%
6.25
-30%
4.76
1%
4.79 (3.64 - 7.2, n=19)
-0%
4.04 (0.8 - 10.8, n=631)
16%
Load Maximum *
11.2
8.54
24%
10.1
10%
9.6
14%
8.09
28%
8.6
23%
10.16
9%
5.16
54%
9.2 (6.2 - 12.3, n=19)
18%
5.75 (1.2 - 14.2, n=631)
49%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

The Explorer Edition’s battery life reflects its relatively inefficient power consumption. Our test device lasts for 3 h 11 m under sustained load, which is considerably lower than all our comparison devices except for the Galaxy S9.

Our test device fared better in our Wi-Fi battery life test, which we run on all devices with their displays set to 150 cd/m². The Explorer Edition lasted 11 h 34 m in this test, which is rather good given the device’s 3,000 mAh battery. By contrast, most of our comparison devices last between 2-18% longer, but they all have larger batteries. The regular Mi 8 also lasts longer too thanks to its 400-mAh larger battery.

The included 18 W charger recharges our test device fully in 90 minutes.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
23h 21min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
11h 34min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
15h 21min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 11min
Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition
3000 mAh
Xiaomi Mi 6
3350 mAh
Xiaomi Black Shark
4000 mAh
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
3400 mAh
Huawei P20
3400 mAh
OnePlus 6
3300 mAh
HTC U12 Plus
3500 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S9
3000 mAh
Battery Runtime
6%
10%
7%
24%
14%
-13%
-24%
Reader / Idle
1401
1753
25%
1678
20%
1888
35%
1806
29%
1452
4%
1182
-16%
H.264
921
747
-19%
718
-22%
810
-12%
791
-14%
464
-50%
609
-34%
WiFi v1.3
694
739
6%
711
2%
716
3%
818
18%
762
10%
507
-27%
474
-32%
Load
191
253
32%
239
25%
295
54%
246
29%
230
20%
164
-14%

Pros

+ plenty of memory – 128 GB ROM, 8 GB RAM
+ premium craftsmanship and feel
+ striking design (Explorer Edition)
+ OLED panel
+ LTE Band 20
+ good performance
+ quick biometric unlocking options (Mi 8)

Cons

- MIUI and GPS need software optimization
- speaker
- high surface temperatures
- Explorer Edition has below average battery life under sustained load
- USB 2.0

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition review. Test device courtesy of TradingShenzhen.com
The Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition review. Test device courtesy of TradingShenzhen.com

Xiaomi has created one of this year’s best value for money smartphones, something that we had not expected given previous Mi devices. We would even recommend upgrading from the Mi 6, so great are the Mi 8’s improvements and refinements.

If you are faced with the question about which version of the Mi 8 you should choose, then our answer is clear: Choose the regular Mi 8, particularly when it is currently 200 Euros (~$231) cheaper. Ignoring the difference in price, the regular Mi 8 is the better smartphone with its superior battery life and its more reliable fingerprint sensor. The Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition will turn heads with its striking back, its additional 2 GB of RAM and innovative biometric technologies. The latter is no faster than the more conventional ones that the regular Mi 8 uses though.

You will not go wrong with the Xiaomi Mi 8, but it is not the best smartphone of the year.

Irrespective of the Explorer Edition, the Mi 8 is an impressive, premium smartphone. However, the device is missing a great deal from being a top smartphone in 2018. The cameras, the speaker, the software, the GPS and the lack of both IP certification and wireless charging distinguish the Mi 8 Explorer Edition from more expensive flagships. This is acceptable given the Explorer Edition’s price, particularly considering that Xiaomi has got plenty of things right with the device.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition - 09/24/2018 v6
Marcus Herbrich

Chassis
87%
Keyboard
66 / 75 → 88%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
49 / 60 → 81%
Weight
90%
Battery
94%
Display
86%
Games Performance
64 / 63 → 100%
Application Performance
73 / 70 → 100%
Temperature
86%
Noise
100%
Audio
67 / 91 → 74%
Camera
80%
Average
80%
88%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

Read all 2 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition Smartphone Review
Marcus Herbrich, 2018-09-29 (Update: 2018-10- 2)