Folding phone fans have more options than ever right now, from Google’s Pixel Fold and Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold5 to the Motorola Razr+ and Galaxy Z Flip5, but it’s worth looking at smartphones like Xiaomi’s new Mix Fold 3. It’s only available in China, and even if you do import it, you’ll need to jump through hoops to get Google apps working. But it offers a peek at what might come to our shores in the not-too-distant future.
Xiaomi’s hardware is significantly slimmer than the competition, with a slick hinge mechanism. Fold in an excellent quad-lens camera, fast wireless and wired charging, top-notch displays, and long battery life, and it’s an excellent showcase for how quickly folding phones are improving.
Svelte and Classy
The reassuringly silent folding operation on the Mix Fold 3 is satisfying. Xiaomi’s hinge feels durable and will happily sit at varying degrees if you want to prop it up. This is as close as any folding phone has come to banishing the feeling that I’m holding two phones sandwiched together.
The AMOLED outer display covers almost the entire front and is sharp and bright. Open the Mix Fold 3 and the 8-inch OLED unfurls into a small tablet. It doesn’t quite match the exterior screen on pixel density, but it’s crisp and smooth, with a 120-Hz screen refresh rate. There’s also support for Dolby Vision, and the peak brightness goes high enough for HDR highlights. Like the front screen, it gets bright enough to remain legible outdoors, even in sunshine. The crease is still visible in the middle but seems to melt away as soon as you load an app.
The Mix Fold 3 is super thin, at 5.3 mm when open. When it’s closed, it measures just 10.9 mm. To put that into perspective, the Pixel Fold is 5.8 mm open and 12.1 mm closed, while the Galaxy Z Fold5 is 6.1 mm and 13.4 mm, respectively. The Mix Fold 3 may sound small, but this thinness makes a tangible difference and helps it feel more like a regular phone when closed, though it’s noticeably taller than its rivals.
Xiaomi says the hinge is certified for 500,000 folds, but the lack of an IP rating is a concern. You’ll want to keep the Mix Fold 3 away from liquids. Some dust and lint have started to gather around the internal screen frame of my review unit, but a quick wipe mostly restores its classy looks. Dust entering the hinge mechanism seems to be the most common way to damage folding devices (outside of an accidental drop), so you have to be careful and keep it clean.