At an event in Beijing earlier this week, Chinese manufacturer LeEco finally pulled the covers off its latest flagship smartphone, dubbed the Le Max 2 (first impressions). The device was launched alongside the Le 2 and Le 2 Pro (first impressions) smartphones and is the successor to the Le Max which was launched in India in January this year. Apart from packing in some powerful hardware, the Le Max 2 also offers tons of features to the end user. Interestingly, it will be competing against the likes of Xiaomi’s Mi 5 (review) which has already made its way to India just one month after the company’s maiden appearance at MWC. But which of these two devices is worthy of your hard-earned money? Let’s find out.
Design and Display
The stark contrast in the build, design and material of the two smartphones is perhaps the first thing you will notice about them. LeEco has refined the metallic design of the Le Max to offer a better screen-to-body ratio on the metal-clad Le Max 2. On the other hand, Xiaomi has built upon the design language of its Mi Note series, as can be seen by the fact that the Mi 5 sports a glass/ceramic body with curved edges at the back. This makes the phone sit comfortably in the hand, something the Le Max 2 misses out on, owing to its large size. Overall both devices offer beautiful designs and you can’t go wrong with either of them.
While the Le Max 2 is a large device aimed at phablet lovers, Xiaomi’s Mi 5 opts for a more compact design to cater to the needs of its users. The Le Max 2 sports a 5.7-inch QHD display, as compared to the 5.15-inch 1080p panel found on the Mi 5. This should mean that media consumption on the Le Max 2 might prove to be more immersive than on the Mi 5. That said, the display on the Mi 5 is by no means average. Its Sunlight Display technology and high levels of brightness ensure that outdoor legibility is a notch above the competition.
Both smartphones are powered by the Snapdragon 820 processor, which is the latest flagship offering from Qualcomm. The Mi 5 gets 3/4GB RAM variants, while the Le Max 2 offers 4/6GB RAM options. Yes, you read that right. The Le Max 2 is one of the first phones to feature a mammoth 6GB of RAM for enhanced multitasking. Unfortunately, only the base variant of the Mi 5 with an under-clocked Snapdragon 820 SoC and 3GB of RAM has been made available in India as of now.
There are quite a few distinguishing features between the two phones, but none as important as the lack of the 3.5mm headphone jack in the Le Max 2. LeEco introduced a new CDLA (Continual Digital Lossless Audio) standard which aims to bring high-quality digital sound to the users through the USB Type-C port on the smartphone. And while this is a step forward, we would have liked to see a headphone jack as well to function as an alternative audio port. Thankfully, the Mi 5 sports a headphone jack, but it misses out on the CDLA standard.
Another notable difference between the two smartphones comes in the form of the placement of the fingerprint sensors. The fingerprint sensor on the Mi 5 is in the front of the phone, while the one on the Le Max 2 finds a place at the back of the device. The Le Max 2 touts a more accurate ultrasonic sensor, which should work even with wet or oily fingers.
The Le Max 2 flaunts a 21MP primary camera with phase detection autofocus and a LED flash. It utilises a Sony IMX230 sensor to capture pictures and videos. On the other hand, the Mi 5 boasts a 16MP rear shooter with phase detection autofocus and 4-axis OIS.
The front cameras of the two smartphones are quite different as well. LeEco has opted to go for more pixels, with the 8MP front camera of the Le Max 2. However, Xiaomi has given preference to pixel size, as it uses a 4MP front camera in the Mi 5 with 2µm pixels.
Samples show that the Xiaomi Mi5 is pretty good for casual photography, while the Le Max 2 should also offer a decent camera performance.
Software and Connectivity
Out of the box, the new devices run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the companies’ own custom ROMs on top. The Mi 5 runs Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 while the Le Max 2 runs eUI 5.8. Both UIs miss app drawers but more than make up for the loss with an array of interesting features and options.
Both smartphones come with dual-SIM functionalities. Other connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, VoLTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC.
Battery Life and Storage
Unfortunately, both devices pack in non-removable batteries. The Le Max 2 gets its power from a 3100mAh battery as compared to a 3000mAh battery on the Mi 5. Though the Mi 5 has a slightly lower battery capacity, the smaller display with a lower resolution should mean the battery life of both smartphones should be quite comparable. Going with the advancements, both smartphones use USB-Type C ports for charging and data transfer and support fast charging.
On the storage front, the Mi 5 comes in 32/64/128GB variants, while the Le Max 2 would come featuring 32/64GB of internal storage. Sadly, only the 32GB variant of the Mi 5 is currently available in India. The folks at LeEco and Xiaomi have ditched the eMMC memory standard in their latest flagships in favour of the faster UFS 2.0 standard. As expected, both smartphones do not support expandable memory using a microSD card.
Pricing and Availability
The 3GB RAM/32GB storage variant of the Mi has been priced at Rs 24,999 and is available to buy via flash sales on the company’s website. There is no information on the pricing and availability of the other variants of the Mi 5 as of now. Unfortunately, LeEco has also not disclosed the Indian pricing and availability details of the Le Max 2, though its starting price in China is around Rs 21,500. The Le Max 2 should make its way to India in the coming weeks, and it will be interesting to see if all variants are launched in the country.
Xiaomi has found a real competitor in the form of the Le Max 2. While the Mi 5 is for those looking for a compact yet powerful device, the Le Max 2 takes the phablet experience to an all new level. The higher clocked processor and almost double amount of RAM in the Le Max 2 tends to give it an edge over the Mi 5. That said, all this depends on how the company prices the smartphone in the Indian market.