After the Mi 9, Xiaomi added the Mi 9T into the 9 series and we think it’s the smartphone that encompasses the best of both worlds – the world of Mi and Redmi. The Mi series smartphone usually caters to the higher-end while the Redmi portfolio is made to be more affordable and have features even the Mi series don’t.
From our time with the Xiaomi Mi 9T, we think the company’s latest smartphone is a very practical one because of all the design decisions put into it, both hardware and software. And to top it all off, its sweet pricing. But first, let’s get the specs of the device out of the way.
- 6.39-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080) AMOLED 19.5:9 display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 (8nm) octa-core CPU
- Adreno 618 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB storage / 128GB storage
- 48MP Sony IMX582 F1.75 + 13MP F2.4 (ultrawide) + 8MP F2.4 (telephoto), rear cameras
- 20MP F2.0 front camera (pop-up)
- 4G LTE Support
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 5.0
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS
- FM Radio
- USB 2.0 Type-C
- Fingerprint scanner (in-screen)
- MIUI 10 (Android 9.0 Pie) w/ Game Turbo 2.0
- 4,000mAh battery w/ 18W fast charging
- 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8mm
The Mi 9T features a 6.39″ AMOLED Full HD+ full screen display that outputs beautiful, crisp images. It gets fairly bright and is capable of handling blacks really well. We liked the size of the display and the fact that it doesn’t have a notch hindering the display. When playing a game or watching a video on YouTube, the video gets stretched all the way to the edges and you get a crystal clear view of the entire video.
However, the display did feel like a bit rough to swipe once the applied screen protector was peeled off. After about a week, only then the screen felt smooth to swipe on. Apart from that, there really isn’t anything you can pick on the display.
The best design of the Mi 9T is the implementation of the front camera into the pop-up mechanism. Therefore, the phone is rid of a notch and we get the full screen experience. When the front camera is being popped up, it also lights up with a sound effect, pretty convenient so you know when it’s in use.
Apart from the good build quality, we also liked the placement of the phone’s physical button and camera modules. The physical buttons are all gathered on the right side of the phone, allowing easy navigating and one-handed reachability. The camera modules are placed in the center line of the phone, this eliminates the problem of your fingers accidentally being captured in your photos.
The curved edges on the back of the phone gives it a premium feel, accentuated with the flame-like design that reflects when light hits on the red and blue models. However, it isn’t very comfortable to hold. Because of the thin 3D curvature edges and the glass back, i often found the phone slipping from my palm. But, that’s easily remedied with the transparent silicone casing that comes with the phone in the box.
Let’s start with the growth of MIUI. The last I’ve ever used a Xiaomi smartphone was the Mi 5 and i didn’t like that iteration of MIUI at all. That being said, i must say that the MIUI 10 (based on Android 9 Pie) has grown on me quite a bit. The entire layout looks more refined, transitions between elements are more fluid, and subtle phone operations feels a lot faster and smoother. This is probably due to the integration of MI Turbo that helps with defragmentation I/O and app launch speed optimization.
The Mi 9T is the world’s first smartphone to be packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor. A mid-range chip that is capable of decent performance, strong gaming frame rates with the Adreno 618 GPU, and good camera images too.
Speaking of the camera, with the front camera being utilized in a pop-up mechanism, I’m still a bit iffy with the idea. Xiaomi has assured that the mechanism is built to last, but something in me just feels reluctant to use it in fear of breaking it. So instead of using face unlock, i choose to use the in-screen fingerprint sensor instead to unlock the phone.
Having the camera hidden is also a good thing. Unlike most phones with notch displays, their selfie camera is still placed on the front of the display. Some people might worry about being spied on, so you can be sure with the camera hidden within the phone, you’re all secured.
Another thing i like about the display is the fact that it has a multi-colour always-on display, thanks to the AMOLED panel it went with on the Mi 9T. At a glance, it conveniently showcases the time, day, date, battery status and notification icons as they come in. When the phone is on idle, the always-on display dims down to save battery. Overall, it’s just really nice to look at and serves as an informative screensaver instead of just an all-black screen.
The speakers on the Mi 9T can get pretty loud, but if the volume level gets too high, it starts to have a screechy sound. There is only one speaker but it’s made to give a stereo effect. It’s a good try from Xiaomi, but it’s pretty obvious because audio only comes out from the bottom of the phone.
That being said, the Mi 9T’s speakers handle the mids and the highs very well, offering crystal clear dialogue and speech when you’re listening to vocals in a song or watching a movie. However, because it lacks bass, the speaker can sometimes sound tinny.
Another thing i noticed on the Mi 9T is the fact that it has two microphones. It’s no wonder when i made calls with it, one caller did mention how clear I sounded. I couldn’t say the same for him thought, probably cause he isn’t using a Mi 9T.
The Mi 9T features a AI triple camera setup consisting of a 48MP main sensor, a 13MP ultra-wide angle lens, and an 8MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom.
I didn’t get to spend much time with the camera, but during my use of it, the camera is capable of churning out high resolution social media worthy images right from the get-go. Images during the day are detailed with great amount of lighting, and they don’t look faded.
Colour reproduction is vibrant, however, in certain scenarios, some images can turn out a little too “cool” and have a blue-ish tint to it. That being said, it could easily be fixed with a third party app like Google’s Snapseed.
At night, the camera struggles to keep the noise in images low, but the phone’s Night Mode does help a little in that department.
Selfies are clear and has just the right amount of beautification without making your selfies look too doctored or fake. What i like about the pop-up front camera is that it can automatically retract should the phone detect that I’ve dropped it. I did a test to try it out and it actually works.
Mi 9T’s power button is contrasted with the colour red, which is a nice touch. With the built-in 4,000mAh battery, it is capable of lasting me the entire day, even with the large 6.39″ AMOLED display. Charging is done via USB Type-C and up to 18W, which is fast and good. This is great news because other manufacturers’ smartphones within the same tier are still using micro USB.
The only downside with the battery department is that there isn’t wireless charging. But we can’t ask for too much considering its already affordable retail price.
Starting at the price of $649, the Mi 9T comes in three colourways – Carbon Black, Glacier Blue, and Flame Red. Since there isn’t support for microSD expansion, you might want to think twice about which variant you’re getting – 64GB or 128GB. Also, i loved the fact that Xiaomi retained the headphone jack on the Mi 9T as compared to the Mi 9 and Mi 9 SE. No need to fuss over finding an adapter or even losing it.
Overall, the Mi 9T is a great performer and has given the consumer a set of features that were deemed to only be exclusive to $1,000 flagship smartphones. Now that Xiaomi has made these features more accessible to the mid-range market, we can expect to see the lower-end smartphones being beefed up with even better specs for better bang to buck ratio.