The release of Xiaomi Mi 9T may be getting more attention as of late, but we got to test out its formidable bigger brother, the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s packed with the latest hardware the industry has to offer and here is why we think you need to give the company’s latest flagship a well-deserved chance.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 has an excellent price tag considering it is one of the first sporting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and is on trend with the AI triple lens camera setup, in-screen fingerprint sensor and a faster 20W wireless charging. It is now available globally for $505 for the 6GB RAM / 64GB variant; $560 for the 6GB RAM / 128GB variant.
Design and Display
The Xiaomi Mi 9 measures as a medium-sized device, fits well in the hand and feels practically weightless at 173g. The back features an attractive holographic design complementing the slightly curved glass back which gives it a sleek and premium feel all the way to the corners. It is available in 3 colours, Piano Black, Ocean Blue and Lavender Violet.
Mi 9 boasts a 6.39-inch AMOLED display, with 2340 x 10.80 Full HD+ resolution, attributed by its close to non-existent bezels. Watching movies and editing pictures had been blissful with the wide, crisp, beautiful display.
That being said, there are a few downsides to the design which I’ve gathered from my time spent with the device. The exterior can be a tad slippery to hold, hence a casing (provided with the phone) would help provide some grip. Moreover, the back camera protrudes out and is quite daunting when placing it down on scratchy surfaces. The Google Assistant button housed on one side of the phone can also be a little annoying as it is easily activated when picking up the phone on its side.
Subjectively, the unavailability of a headphone jack can be a let down for those who use wired earphones on a daily basis. However, to remedy the issue, Xiaomi did provide a headphone jack to USB Type-C adapter. On the same note, the fingerprint scanner isn’t as reactive as I would have preferred. I faced occasional difficulty unlocking my phone, especially after washing my hands, resulting in me falling back to using the facial unlock method instead.
For a phone that sits on the high-end throne, it boasts an impressive combination of Sony’s 48MP IMX586 f/1.75 primary lens, 12MP f/2.2 telephoto lens, and 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens. The camera renders pictures beautifully with the least effort. The camera is easily accessible on the lock screen. With a swipe to the left, I’m off snapping away with little to no lag in between shots. Changing between modes was a breeze with all modes simply displayed on the facade of the screen. The lag aforementioned is when using the 48 MP mode which takes a little longer to render, however it doesn’t take away from the pleasant photography experience.
The intriguing feature is the AI Image Recognition feature which is able to detect any situation or landscape and adjust the settings to bring out the best of any picture. I find myself not switching between modes often as the AI assists in adding enough depth and details to photos. In some cases, the function would over enhance the saturation of the photo, which can easily be fixed by tapping off the AI function.
Speaking of colours, the photos are brilliant outdoors, especially in daylight, but can be quite washed out indoors. Lowlight performance is fair, notably I find the night-mode to be expendable, as the normal photo setting aperture is effective enough for an easy night shot. Have a look at what the Mi 9 can do.
The Mi 9 camera records well at 4K recording, capable of shooting 60fps. I could easily adjust the lighting and focus point with a single tap especially when working against backlit situations. Impressively, for a phone at this range, it is able to capture slow-motion videos at 960fps with 1080p resolution.
The Mi 9’s main speaker is a single output at the bottom right. The sound is clear and well-rounded for the regular person. It is surprisingly loud coming from a device not heavily marketed for its audio performance. It is easy to accidentally muffle the sound with your hands. Hence, I would appreciate it if the speakers are on both sides of the phone for a better stereo cinematic experience.
Unfortunately, I did not enjoy toggling the volume keys on the daily. Xiaomi’s MIUI software doesn’t include audio controls that help distinguish and control the volume used on specific apps. Hence I find myself picking up calls blaring into my ear almost every day.
Performance and Battery Life
The fast charge is superb at 27W for wired charging, charging to full in less than 2 hours. As for the performance throughout the day, there is little to no lag in between apps even with visually demanding apps kept running in the background. The battery size of 3300mAh offered in the Mi 9 is more than enough on a regular day, which leaves me about 30% to spare at the end of the day. Heavy users may expect to bring extra power around but with the convenience of fast charging, there isn’t much to complain about the battery.
If there is one word to describe the experience, I would say it is pleasant.
Everything is kept neat in this 7.61mm-thin device. Nice to hold, easy to whip out on-the-go, a vivid AMOLED Full Screen Display that supports HDR for your cinematic needs, an in-screen fingerprint scanner that is on-trend towards bezel-less facades, and most of all the camera quality that competes with other devices beyond its price range.
There was no fuss through my experience with the Mi 9. The few matters brought to attention are more to unrefined issues that Xiaomi could improve on. Nothing mentioned was a deal-breaker, as it offers more than it should at its price point.