ByGB Blog Official 2017-01-23 39608
|1. What exactly is microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic?|
|2. Why did Xiaomi decide to adopt this kind of ceramic on its smartphone?|
|3. What are the key advantages and disadvantages compared with the standard three materials?|
|4. Should you buy the ceramic Mi Mix or not?|
The Xiaomi Mi Mix is a massive phone – figuratively in terms of its impact on the smartphone industry and literally in size. However, the feedback similarly speaks volumes.
At the recent CES 2017 Exhibition, thousands of visitors viewed and experienced the Xiaomi Mi Mix for the very first time. While they were impressed by the stunning vision of the concept smartphone, and attracted by its stylishly creative design, some expressed doubts, saying they wouldn't buy it because of its full ceramic body. Yes, it's time to state a simple fact: the Xiaomi Mi Mix is the world's first and only full ceramic body smartphone – including its back, frame, and even its buttons.
Generally, virtually every single smartphone on today's market is created from metal, plastic, or glass, simply due to ease of access and availability – coupled with mature and cost-efficient manufacturing processes. However Xiaomi's smartphone ceramic differs from that used in a typical bowl or vase. It's a brand new type of ceramic called microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic – a material that demands advanced technology, with a similarly difficult manufacturing process. Xiaomi has stated, "the ceramic product yield and production efficiency is very low", meaning the materials producer will assume a major risk after investing significant financial resources. But this new material has a deadly weakness: it's fragile. So although many leading smartphone manufacturers already have the ability to utilize this material on their own products, few will choose it.
So here come the $64000 questions, folks: What exactly is microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic? Why did Xiaomi decide to adopt this kind of ceramic on its smartphone? What are the key advantages and disadvantages compared with the standard three materials? Should you buy the ceramic Mi Mix or not?
1. What exactly is microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic?
Its main constituent is ZrO2 (zirconium dioxide), with a form of stabilizer agent added when used on smartphones.
To produce microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic requires a total of 16 processes from start to finish: tape casting, punch forming, dumping and sintering, vacuum black, setting, CNC machining, front polish, edge polish, laser drilling, CNC finish machining, cleaning, checking, laser etching, plating fingerprint-proof membrane, second checking, and packing and shipment.
The manufacturing technology is extremely advanced, with high front loaded costs, resulting in correspondingly very low product yields and production efficiency. Compared with glass, the cost of the ceramic on Xiaomi's smartphone is 75% more expensive, with much stronger hardness and anti-scratch ability.
• Rated 8 – 8.5 on Mohs Hardness Scale, second only to diamond and sapphire, but much harder than normal glass.
• Anti-scratch ability is so high that only diamonds and sapphire can scratch it!
• Superior signal penetrability and anti-scratch ability compared to glass and metal.
• More advantages will be mentioned in the content below.
• The underlying nature of all ceramic means it is brittle and low impact resistance.
The structure is similar to sapphire
In previous years, due to its high production demands, microcrystal zirconium was only applied in military, aerospace, and other specialist areas. Only in the 21 century has the technology been adopted in the civilian market.
2. Why did Xiaomi decide to adopt this kind of ceramic on its smartphone?
Fact: Xiaomi Mi Mix is not the first smartphone that Xiaomi has tried to apply this ceramic to – that would be the Xiaomi Mi5.
The body of an advanced version of the Xiaomi Mi5 is comprised of microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic. At the time, people recognized that the ceramic had the potential to transform a smartphone's aesthetic, but regarded it as decorative in nature.
However since the Xiaomi Mi Mix's release, with its full ceramic body, this extreme implementation of ceramic did surprise the tech world. This curiosity naturally encouraged people to learn more about this novel material.
To date, Xiaomi hasn't made any official announcement as to why it is using microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic. As with its first utilization of ceramic on the Xiaomi Mi5, we can speculate that one major reason would be to mimic and capitalize on the major aesthetic impact the material has. Its predecessor, the Xiaomi Mi5, was noted for being creative and beautiful and, even now, is highly regarded in terms of premium design and material quality.
But for the Mi Mix, the ceramic application is an essential addition. Due to Xiaomi Mi Mix's singularly bold and imaginative design – essentially a huge screen without a phone receiver – it needs something to replace the missing receiver. In response, Xiaomi has adopted magnetic resonance technology, with ceramic being one of the best mediums for voice transmission. With either metal or glass as the body material, the transmission effect would have been markedly reduced. Hence, Xiaomi's decision to embrace the premium microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic material for their Mi Mix flagship.
So to recap: appearance and technical requirements are the two main reasons why Xiaomi chose ceramic for their flagship device? Actually, NO! At most, they constitute just 30% of the reasoning, the other 70% are due to the ceramic's advantages.
3. What are the key advantages and disadvantages compared with the standard three materials?
Let's compare them in terms of hardness, corrosion resistance, heat conductivity, insulation, handling and appearance, cleanliness, and weight.
Specifically, hardness corresponds to scratch resistance which is the most important feature we look for when we buy a smartphone.
For microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic, its hardness is extremely high; rated at between 8 and 8.5 on the internationally recognized Mohs scale of mineral hardness, this is just lower than diamond (10) and sapphire (9). It means its scratch resistance is at the extreme end of the scale. Except for diamond and sapphire, no mineral can scratch the phone’s ceramic body and leave any mark on it; it will always look brand new in original condition.
Microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic, sapphire, and diamond
Metal is clearly hard as well, however the surface is not scratch-resistant. One of the greatest disappointments is being able to scratch an expensive Jet Black iPhone 7 with a knife. Look at the picture below - it truly is worth a thousand words. The hardness of plastic and glass is much lower than metal, so they cannot survive scratches very well.
|Relative Material Properties|
|Material||Mohs Hardness||Bend (Flexural) Strength|
|Microcrystal Zirconium Oxide Ceramic||8||1000 - 1500|
|Stainless Steel||5.5||200 - 300|
On hardness, microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic comprehensively beats all the standard materials. The extraordinary hardness is the biggest factor and highlights this ceramic's advantage.
If the metal is placed in a wet environment and exposed to the air, it will rust (oxidize) easily. And while plastic will not rust in any situation, it will rot and degrade over time or when splashed with corrosive liquid. Both metal and plastic offer poor corrosion resistance, compared to glass and ceramic which will never corrode. Here, glass and ceramic win!
The heat conductivity of glass, metal, and plastic are impressive – we know this from daily life. However, it is even more difficult to feel it on a microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic material smartphone. When the phone's internals heat up, the ceramic properties absorb the heat and dissipate it softly. So you won't feel the heat when you hold it. Additionally, it can also prevent the phone being damaged in high-temperature environments. In other words, microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic offers good thermal resistance. In this aspect, microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic loses, but actually it wins.
It's a common sense that metal is bad at electric insulation, instead, it's the best conductor. No doubts, plastic, glass, and ceramic win in this round!
The conductor, such as metal, will influence your phone signal but ceramic won't. It means compared with metal body smartphone, you can enjoy higher quality voice call and internet experience on an electric insulation material component phone.
Ceramic feels as mild as jade and, more importantly, is more touch-friendly and feels more premium compared with the three standard materials – this provides greater comfort and is key to the overall user experience.
Metal, plastic and glass are wildly used as phone body materials that are so common and normal. In comparison, ceramic feels stunningly fresh, unique, and innovative, especially the microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic, which feels original and expensive. Ceramic wins again!
Fact: Glazed materials do not stain. While all four materials are easy to clean with a simple wipe using a damp cloth, don't discount the longer term effects: after being wiped many times, the lacquer of a metal body smartphone gradually fades, and the color of the plastic body phone will change. Only the ceramic or glass body phone will retain its appearance and color, however glass has low scratch resistance, while ceramic will adhere to its original state, shining as bright as the day it was made. Ceramic wins again！
Starting with the lightest, the weight of the materials range from plastic, metal, glass, and ceramic. But even with a glass body, you can obviously feel the weight of the iPhone 4s. A metal body is usually thin, so the weigh is distributed well and it feels good in the hand. In comparison, ceramic – due to its material and molecular structure – is the heaviest among all four substances. But for people who prefer holding a substantive product with presence, it's a perfect choice. Plastic wins!
The typical features of plastic are: it's lightweight, cheap, easy to mass produce, won't effect the phone signal, so it's widely used in earlier smartphone models. However plastic is weak in terms of heat dissipation and damages easily.
A glass body will certainly make any phone significantly more appealing in terms of aesthetics, however it is brittle and a fingerprint magnet –it's also not scratch proof.
Metal generally feels good to handle, looking suitably high end, however, it lacks scratch resistance and, over time, the lacquer will fade with a risk of oxidization. The material can also impact phone signal quality.
Compared with the above three materials, microcrystal zirconium oxide ceramic enjoys almost every advantages they have to offer. It's extremely hard, scratch resistance, corrosion-resistant, low heat conductivity, easy to clean, with no signal degradation. In short, it will always look as good as its original condition. But, it's still ceramic with only one but deadly weakness: it's fragile. So when it drops from a high place or is hit by a hard object, it's easy to crack.
Nothing's perfect, but if you want to buy a ceramic smartphone, especially the full ceramic body Xiaomi Mi MixWhat are the key advantages , stop asking yourself whether it will be okay – instead, start asking "Can I try?". It requires courage and attention to detail.
| So here come the $64000 questions, folks:
4. Should you buy the ceramic Mi Mix or not?
For us at Gearbest, the answer is YES!
Personally I am so attracted by Xiaomi Mi Mix that I would even trade in my iPhone 7 for one! But I won't actually do that because I don't have extra money, otherwise it's an easy decision!
Cutting edge manufacturing technologies and industry-leading features are the key points when I buy a smartphone, and I have to say the ceramic body looks like nothing else and feels sensational. If you're so worried about breaking it, use a protective case! It shouldn't ever be a reason to stop you owning this groundbreaking device!
|You may also want to read:|
|Xiaomi Mi Mix torture test! Let’s kill this ceramic phone!|
|Xiaomi Mi Mix – Bezel-Less Perfection!|
|Xiaomi concept phone: Mi MIX - Edgeless Design and Full Ceramic Body Finishing|
|9 best bezel-less smartphones with huge screens|
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