Xiaomi Mi Max 3 ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, but it is hidden under MIUI 9.5, latest version of Xiaomi's Android skin. MIUI isn't a terrible re-skin of Android, but it's certainly different, so it's fair to expect some different-looking menus and settings on Xiaomi Mi Max 3. However, Xiaomi's update game is good, and you can probably expect this phone to receive MIUI updates for Android P and Android Q.
Going through user interface, it is definitely speedy enough for smooth surfing through different menus and home screens. With pretty much same software from Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s's MIUI 8, Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is in great shape to offer smooth user experience. Xiaomi designers took great hints from Apple iPhone X's gesture-based user interface to develop a user interface which is easy and fruitful enough for anyone to use it as their daily driver for navigation. Swiping up from bottom goes to home screen while swiping up and holding it there opens recent apps. Swiping and holding to left side from right corner of display reveals an arrow pointing towards left and it also works as a straight shortcut to home screen. I personally like animations while swiping left or right as it shows a page bent animation on screen, something very pleasing to eyes. However, if you are still not sold on the whole gesture idea, you can still use standard Android navigation keys by turning them on in settings.
There are some really exciting features in MIUI 9.5, including Customizable App Lock. While MIUI interface has always let users lock installed apps for privacy, this feature has been enhanced in latest build. It lets users choose from three app lock styles, pattern, alphanumeric password and numeric pin. In order to access setting, users need to open security app, go to app lock and tap on settings. Inside settings option, one will be able to change the password and select desired protection type. There's also an improved web browser now as Xiaomi has made some structural changes to Mi Browser. Improved browser now comes with an overhauled start page and several performance enhancements. According to changelog, this browser gets quick search options, adjusted search bar position, optimized browser kernel, preset keywords for websites and a redesigned menu tab. Notably, you can also set keywords to search websites quickly. Anyone who has had a smartphone will know the pain of looking for a particular picture in gallery. Considering that our image gallery is usually flooded with a ton of pictures and videos, Xiaomi has come up with an interesting solution to tackle this problem. It has introduced a Favorites tab in gallery on MIUI 9.5. All you have to do is to long press on an image and mark it as a favorite. Once done, these pictures will reflect in dedicated tab, making it easier to find them.
Probably the most noticeable change in MIUI 9.5 is redesigned notification shade. According to Xiaomi, new notification panel in MIUI 9.5 has been designed to present information in a more concise and comprehensive way. Intended to declutter notification shade, latest MIUI iteration now groups all notifications from a single app in one place. Further, this update finally brings quick replies option, which lets users reply directly from notification itself without having to open corresponding app. Additionally, Xiaomi has also changed the way notifications look in landscape mode.
There's a theme store where you can download and change theme of your device, including icon shapes and colors. For security, together with a fast fingerprint scanner you also get facial unlock. It is software based and not as secured as on Apple iPhone X or Oppo Find X, but something is better than nothing. All you need to do is to record your face and then tap phone's display to wake up screen and it nearly instantly unlocks phone. Together with that, you get a voice assistant which is basically Google Assistant.
It will be interesting to see how Xiaomi will play its part in providing updates to this phone and improve software experience. It is already a decent software experience and with a sleek UI and navigation gestures, MIUI is my favorite custom OS on Android at the moment.