Xiaomi Mi 9
Credit: Xiaomi

Previous year’s Mi 8 smartphones were both cost-effective and impressive, truly putting Xiaomi as a key competitor to OnePlus, and Mi 9 is poised to continue those achievements. Armed with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 855 processor, which guarantees to provide significant performance improvements over last year’s Snapdragon 845, Mi 9 also includes a rather large 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Unveiled in February 2019 (MWC) we were told Mi 9 would launch in Europe by the end of the month. Somehow, the UK release schedule has gotten a little later. Likewise, non-Euro price tags are unsettled. For the 64GB memory model of the device you’ll be investing €449, but if you prefer the larger 128GB memory device you’ll have to spend a little extra at  €499.

1. Design and Display

Credit: Xiaomi

It’s slightly curvier but not very different in shape to Mi 8, except for relocating the fingerprint scanner off the rear of the phone and under the display. That was the similar decision made by Mi 8 Pro, with its geeky transparent rear, implying a sleeker appearance to the back, ideal for those fantastic colors Xiaomi offers.

Xiaomi has cut down the top notch from a wide-spanning, iPhone-copying, eyesore to a small teardrop that hosts the 20-megapixel selfie camera. Screen size is slightly bigger at 6.39 inch compared to 6.23 inch, but once again it’s a Super AMOLED panel with an FHD+ resolution. As previously, the fingerprint sensor is buried in the phone’s display, and it’s amazingly fast.

Considering that this is a Super AMOLED panel, the screen also provides irresistible contrast levels of infinity:1, while the phone is capable of hitting a max brightness of 426cd/m2. In summary, this smartphone’s screen is great and producing rich, vibrant-looking colors that appear to snap right off the screen.

In case you’re often tinkering with your Instagram shots on the go, or you’re looking for the most effective device to get your Netflix binges on the morning routine, there’s basically nothing better. The screen is also covered in Gorilla Glass 5, and the back of the device is covered with Gorilla Glass 6, which is nice.

On the edges, the new Mi 9 seems significantly shinier, with a highly sleek metal frame that is narrower at the edges with glass that curves in each side of the device. The IR blaster has been brought back together with the phone’s top edge, and on the left is a new button for summoning Google Assistant.

2. Camera

Credit: Xiaomi

Xiaomi Mi 9 comes with three rear cameras – a 48MP (f/1.75) primary sensor, a 16MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide lens, and a 12MP (f/2.2) telephoto snapper. In combo, they take quite remarkable pictures.

That 48-megapixel camera will offer you numerous detail, generating a larger file than it does in 12-megapixel mode, meaning it has better scope for cropping and zooming. The 48MP mode will do that for you if you want larger images for display or want to crop and zoom afterward. For most people, however, dismissing the 48-megapixel mode will most likely get you optimal results, as you then get the full benefits of AI and HDR.

There’s a serious amount more detail in the images captured on Xiaomi Mi 9. Color tones look neutral and nice, and the definition is outstanding. The absence of an HDR mode in the 48-megapixel shooting mode didn’t seem to be too much of an issue.

For video recording, Mi 9 offers crisp 4K recording at the highest frame rate of 60fps. All of this stuff is perfectly stabilized, and you can even encode the video to H. 265 format, reducing file sizes without any vital impact on image quality. Some other recording features include FHD slow-motion capture at 960fps, a night mode for reducing visual noise and illuminates low-light shots, and a portrait mode for Bokeh-like blurred background photos.

There is no OIS, but EIS feature is really good. In fact, DxOMark has rated Xiaomi Mi 9 as a smartphone with the best video stabilization feature, together with low noise and impressive low light efficiency. The video recording on the selfie camera is superb, it offers an amazing video quality for any vloggers.

3. Battery

Credit: Xiaomi

Mi 9 comes with non-removable Li-Po 3,300 may battery. In addition, it also comes with wireless charging feature and Xiaomi has designed its own wireless charging with 20W fast charger. The fast-charging device is extra and will make you invest an additional $25 for it. According to Xiaomi,  the wireless fast charging system is able to charge Mi 9 in about an hour and 40 minutes (100 minutes).

4. Hardware and Software

Credit: Xiaomi

Mi 9 is armed with Qualcomm’s new flagship mobile processor – Snapdragon 855 chipset. This is a new 7nm architecture chip with eight cores, which is tweaked somewhat differently to its predecessor. Rather than two quad-core CPUs – one for high power process and one ‘efficiency-based CPU’ for a fewer power-intensive process, the 855 has an appealing triple arrangement.

The way this operates is that a single ‘prime core’ goes for a clock speed of 2.84 GHz, while the ‘performance CPU’ runs at 2.42 GHz and the ‘efficiency CPU’ is clocked at 1.8 GHz. According to Qualcomm, this allows Snapdragon 855 to provide greater levels of sustained performance than any Qualcomm-branded chip before it, including outshining both Apple’s A12 Bionic and Huawei’s Kirin 980 in high-performance tasks.

Xiaomi’s worst issue – and the major flopping of Mi 9 – is software. The company’s first offering was back in 2010 and it refused to stick to its Android skin, giving Android a huge makeover. That discovers huge amounts of bloatware, lots of apps you can uninstall, and a change to almost every feature of Android.

When using Xiaomi Mi 9 for regular tasks, the OS seemed a little sluggish. There was constantly a minor delay when flicking between screens and launching apps – nothing awful, but it made working with the device a frustrating process, which again could be down to the pre-production software.

The issue of it is that Xiaomi suffered from MIUI a long time ago. It’s still rooting, instead of backing up towards something like Android One, and we can’t help feeling that all the changes and additions actually don’t do substantial amounts for the user experience.

Despite the sluggish MIUI, there’s pretty much nothing on the market that can compete with this proposition currently. Typically, the very expensive devices advance before anything else with features like the latest processor, but for this case, you’re having the very latest tech at a very acceptable price. Certainly that competition will arrive in time, yet for now, Xiaomi Mi 9 remains in a league of its own.

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