Reviews

Xiaomi Mi 9 Review: Still Affordable Genuine Flagship

As promised, immediately after the Spring Festival, Xiaomi announced its next-gen annual flagship, namely the Xiaomi Mi 9. However, before its launch, we were aware of its key features because Xiaomi CEO, Lei Jun had decided to make a stir around the first flagship of the company after the Redmi brand’s independence. The Mi 9 is considered to be the Battle Angel. In other words, it’s not only a good-looking smartphone but also it’s quite powerful and is able to beat any rival.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Xiaomi Mi 9 Design

The Xiaomi Mi 9 generally continues the design style of the previous Mi line flagships. Especially the back and the dimensions have a lot of similarities with the Xiaomi Mi 8. To better understand what we mean, let’s take a look at their size and weight:

  • Xiaomi Mi 8 (154.9mm × 74.8mm × 7.6mm, 175g)
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 (157.5mm × 74.65mm × 7.61mm, 173g)

At the press conference, Lei Jun explained the principle of holographic color body and the technical process difficulty of the Xiaomi Mi 9. In fact, most users don’t pay much attention to these, and what holographic color is eclipsed on the phone case. The Xiaomi Mi 9 adopts a full-surface slim design, and the body is round and flawless. As said, it adopts holographic phantom body, nano-holographic pattern, and double-layer nano-plating. The design of the rear camera ring is called ‘Angel Eye’. The Xiaomi Mi 9 has a holographic illusion blue, a holographic illusion purple, and deep gray versions.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

We even found that the Xiaomi Mi 8 is actually ‘perfectly compatible’ with Wang Yuan’s custom protective shell of the Xiaomi Mi 9! In appearance, compared to the previous model, the Xiaomi Mi 9 mainly upgraded the forehead and the chin, the back camera and the curved body.

Also Read: Xiaomi Mi 8 Review | Deal

The ‘wide bangs’ design of the previous one was changed to the drop screen, which provides a clearer visual effect. Thanks to the shrinking of the bangs, the notification bar can display something that is almost identical to that of the non-profiled screen.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Xiaomi Mi 8 notification bar screenshot

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Xiaomi Mi 9 notification bar screenshot

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

As for the chin area, the lower border of the Xiaomi Mi 9 is only 3.6mm wide. According to Xiaomi’s official statement, this is achieved by introducing a new COF process, a narrower screen module, and further reducing the clearance area with only antenna switching technology.

The smaller forehead and the narrower chin also give the front of the Xiaomi mi 9 a larger viewing effect. The screen is upgraded from 6.21 inches to 6.39 inches, and the pixels are upgraded from 2248×1080 to 2340×1080. Obviously, the screen is longer.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

In addition to the smaller forehead and narrower chin, the Xiaomi Mi 9 comes standard with a faster screen fingerprint identification. After the actual measurement, the Xiaomi Mi 9 has a visible improvement compared with the fingerprint unlocking speed of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Screen Fingerprint version.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Also Read: Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro (aka Screen Fingerprint Version) Review | Deal

The fifth generation of screen fingerprint belongs to the lens-type optical fingerprint recognition group, which has a 25% increase in speed.

Lei Jun said that the Xiaomi Mi 9’s lens-type optical fingerprint recognition module uses a large pixel of 5 microns, which is similar to a macro camera. According to the official introduction, the unlock time reduced to 0.28 seconds, and the light, temperature and other options have been optimized.

The relationship between phones and our daily lives is getting closer and closer, and long-term use of smartphones with excessive eyesight can cause visual fatigue and even affect vision. The Xiaomi Mi 9 is equipped with the eye protection technology certified by the German Institute of Electrical Engineers VDE low blue eye protection. The color temperature eye level is increased to 256 levels, the transition effect is smoother, and you can take care of your eyes.

Next, let’s take a look at the back of Xiaomi Mi 9. The back cover of the phone adopts the full area design. In the visual effect, the mirror image is distorted, unlike the Mi 8’s flat mirror effect. Together with the ‘Nano-holographic texture process’ and ‘Optical Brightening Coating’, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is able to reflect a colored, curved spot with the viewing angle and light.

Compared with the Xiaomi Mi 8, the biggest improvement in the back is the new triple-camera module. The three vertically aligned cameras are a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 lens with ultra-high resolution, and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Smartphone cameras are used more frequently. In Xiaomi’s view, the protection of smartphone lenses is particularly important. The 243mm2 sapphire lens protection screen and the slightly convex stainless steel lens holder design that does not affect the aesthetics provide good protection for the camera lens of the Xiaomi Mi 9. And what’s more important, they don’t affect the imaging effect.

Xiaomi Mi 9 Camera

Let’s talk about the three lenses of Xiaomi Mi 9 and the actual shooting. Xiaomi’s main camera uses the Sony IMX586 (48MP, 1/2-inch outsole, supports four-in-one 1.6?m large pixels). It can bring super high resolution in the daytime outdoor light-filled conditions as well as in the dark conditions. There is also a 12MP long portrait lens commonly used on the Xiaomi flagship models and a new 16MP super wide-angle lens that can reach 120 degrees of FOV and supporting 4cm ultra close-range shooting.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

However, to better understand what a performance the Xiaomi Mi 9 is capable of providing in terms of camera shooting, besides the real samples, let’s take a look at the DxOMark review. According to this lab, our protagonist scores 107 points, second only to the Huawei P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro, and entered the rank of top camera phones.

Also Read: Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review | Deal

Taking photos

DxOMark said that the Xiaomi Mi 9 is the best Xiaomi phone they have tested so far. Since the phone’s camera captures high-quality images in almost all conditions, it scored an excellent 112 points on the photo.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Exposure and Contrast (94)

The Xiaomi Mi 9 can get excellent exposure. The target exposure is accurate under all lighting conditions and the results in a series of shots are very consistent and repeatable. In the target exposure analysis, the Mi 9 camera is consistent across all sources and levels until very dark illumination.

Color (86)

The overall color reproduction of the Xiaomi Mi 9 is very good and there are no practical problems. Its white balance is accurate, producing neutral and pleasing color rendering in all shooting situations, including in low light conditions. Only a few cases will see some slight color shading. But overall, color cast and other color-related issues are well controlled.

Autofocus (96)

The Xiaomi Mi 9 scores high in the autofocus category, due to fast and accurate focus in all situations. In terms of speed and sharpness, the Xiaomi Mi 9 lags behind the iPhone XS Max and Mate 20 Pro, but in real life, it is almost impossible to notice the difference.

Texture (69) and noise (73)

Xiaomi’s image processing finds a good compromise between detail retention and noise reduction, but it is not the best. Its score is close to Apple’s iPhone XS Max (Apple will capture better textures, but it also shows more noise), but it’s not as good as Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Artifact (74)

On the Xiaomi Mi 9, the most common artifacts, such as chromatic aberrations and ghosts, are well controlled.

Flash (96)

The Xiaomi Mi 9 has the best flash score for all the devices DXoMark have tested so far. Thanks to good exposure, minimal vignetting, excellent repeatability, well controlled noise levels and the ability to use only the flash, they get a fairly accurate white balance.

Zoom (67)

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is equipped with a 2x optical zoom lens and uses a multi-frame super-resolution algorithm to optimize the image quality between 1x and 2x zoom settings, which is one of the best scores for zooming in their test database.

Bokeh (65)

The three camera lenses of Xiaomi Mi 9 worked well in portrait mode, reaching the second result so far. The result is repeatable, and the simulated bokeh has a good shape and a very smooth blur transition.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review
cloudy day
Xiaomi Mi 9 review
dark corner
Xiaomi Mi 9 review
indoor low light condition
Xiaomi Mi 9 review
daytime
Xiaomi Mi 9 review
daytime wide angle
Xiaomi Mi 9 review
indoor macro

Video

According to DxOMark, the Xiaomi Mi 9 scored the highest score of the video seen so far – 99 points, making it the current preferred device for mobile videographers.

This is the first smartphone they tested to record video at 4K resolution. Its excellent video score comes from its advantages in texture and detail. In video mode, the camera captures very good textures in bright light. The level of detail decreases as the light level decreases, but the camera still captures good textures under indoor lighting, and the edge details are always good. Overall, the Mi 9 is the best video phone they have tested so far on texture details. As for the details, the Xiaomi Mi 9 supports 4K shooting at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, 1080p at 30fps, and 720p at 30fps.

Xiaomi Mi 9 Performance

Of course, one of the biggest selling points of the Xiaomi Mi 9 is the Snapdragon 855 flagship mobile platform. It is called ‘the most powerful processor on the planet’ by Lei Jun. It uses TSMC’s 7nm process technology and introduces a new Kryo 485 architecture triple cluster CPU. Our 8GB+128GB version of Xiaomi Mi 9 reached 370,000 in AnTuTu, which is 70,000 points more compared with SND845+8GB+128GB phones.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

In the game test, we will directly skip the Honor of Kings, and will test the PUBG. Currently, the Xiaomi Mi 9 supports HDR HD quality and ultra-high frame rate options. After the actual measurement, during the whole game, it was stable at 40fps.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Xiaomi Mi 9 System

The Xiaomi Mi 9 comes pre-installed with MIUI 10 system based on Android 9.0 deep customization. Xiaomi’s MIUI 10 has already made numerous optimizations for full-screen phones, such as a full-screen gesture operation that is more in line with the use of intuition.

Also, the MIUI 10 system with MI Turbo solution supports defragmentation I/O performance optimization, application startup speed optimization, and reduces aging stagnation. At the same time, the Xiaomi Mi 9 supports Game Turbo, game scene mode, enhanced touch mode, display enhancement, and Game Toolbox 2.0.

Unlike other Xiaomi phones, the Xiaomi Mi 9 sports an independent AI button. Thus, we can call out Xiao Ai with a single touch.  

In fact, we knew there will be a special button on the side long before this phone went official. When the special Wang Yuan protective shell photo appeared on the net, a lot of users noticed there is a special opening on the side. This button can be used to call out hundreds of commonly used shortcuts that are designed to help users quickly complete phone operations anytime, anywhere.

It is worth mentioning that the current AI button direct features are only supported by the Xiaomi Mi 9 and Xiaomi Mi MIX 3.

Also Read: Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 Review | Deal

In addition, users can also browse the ‘shortcut center’ and add favorite shortcuts to the homepage. The shortcut center will continuously publish and recommend new shortcuts. In the shortcut center, you can create a shortcut to record the instructions you want to complete, such as ‘Navigate Home’, ‘Open Weibo Hot Search’ and other customized features that are not included by default.

In addition to the full-screen gestures and Xiao Ai voice assistant, we should mention the Xiaomi flagship phone supports a NFC function. It uses the same NXP new-generation NFC chip as the iPhone XS series, and the company claims that the transaction speed is 30% faster. Xiaomi’s NFC function not only supports up to 160 urban transportation cards but also supports the UF’s near-field payment.

By the way, we are offering to take a look at the default wallpaper of the Mi 9. As many users say, Xiaomi is copying the macOS Mojave wallpaper.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

Xiaomi Mi 9 Battery

Under the hood, the Xiaomi Mi 9 carries a 3300mAh battery, which supports a 27W wired fast charge and a 20W wireless fast charge. Wired and wireless dual fast charging is another selling point of the Xiaomi Mi 9.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

In our actual measurement, the Xiaomi Mi 9 can be charged from 0 to 70% in half an hour, and it takes only one hour to completely fill the battery.

Previously, from the Xiaomi Mi 5 to the Xiaomi Mi 8, all were equipped with an 18W charger. This is the third time that Xiaomi updated the smartphone standard charger. This time, the 27W cable is fast enough to increase the power by 50%, which is also a qualitative improvement.

It is worth mentioning that the charger body also supports the QC3.0. Also, it supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge Fast Charge Protocol. Thus, it comes with a Qualcomm-authorized charger. The original charger of this handset can be backward compatible with the fast-filling models, such as the Xiaomi Mi 8, Xiaomi Mi 6, Xiaomi Mi 5 and so on.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

In terms of endurance, we’d like to give reference to the GSMArena review. According to their tests, the phone can last up to 91 hours. This score exceeds the ones of the Xiaomi Mi 8, Huawei P20 Pro, and the Huawei Mate 20.

Conclusion and Availability

From the hyperboloid Xiaomi Mi 5 to the quad-curved Xiaomi Mi 6, and then to the Xiaomi Mi 8 and Xiaomi Mi 9, the colorful curved glass body seems to have become a feature of the Xiaomi digital series smartphones. The new technologies and the holographic phantom body is the first selling point of this handset.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the first smartphone carrying the Snapdragon 855, and within a couple of months, before other models appear on the market, Xiaomi will get the ‘empty window’ (or monopoly, call it as you wish) in this aspect. So those who have been waiting for the SND855, this is the right model to get your hands on it. We have talked about the goodies of this flagship mobile chip. So it will be waste of time if doing the same again. Just write down – the SND855 is the second selling point of the Xiaomi Mi 9.

This is the next smartphone with a triple-camera. But what’s more interesting, it comes with the Sony’s 48MP CMOS. Actually, the latter is going to become a mainstream for the flagship phones in 2019. So Xiaomi just has to come in with it. Also, due to the smart shooting algorithm and many improvements, the Xiaomi Mi 9 entered the top of camera phones. Also, it’s the best phone to record 4K videos. As you guess, this is the third selling point.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 uses a drop screen design. But this is not attractive anymore, as there are models with it as well. It’s more important, our protagonist has a narrower chin. It has a thickness of only 3.6 mm, which is 40 percent less than the Mi 8. Previously, it was reported only big companies like Apple could bring smartphones with a narrower chin. Now, we see Xiaomi doesn’t lay behind.

Next, the Mi 9 supports 27W wired fast charge and a 20W wireless fast charge. Senseless to talk about its advantages. Plus, it provides a long battery life.

All these features and those that we didn’t focus on specifically make the Xiaomi Mi 9 one of the best flagships on the market. But it costs more in comparison to the previous generation models. The 6GB RAM + 128GB ROM variant costs 2999 yuan/$446, while the 8GB RAM + 128GB ROM version comes at 3299 yuan/$490. Moreover, Lei Jun has said this is the last Mi flagship priced below 3000 yuan.  As you guess, the first batch was sold out swiftly.

Argam Artashyan

Back in 2010, he was dismissed from his position as a lecturer at the university. This made him get another job at his friend’s digital marketing company as a blog writer. After a few years, when he was thinking the article writing is his mission, Google pushed the Panda update and affected the company and websites he was working at. (Un)fortunately and surprisingly, he got an offer to head a large knitting factory. In 2016, he got his Ph.D. and resumed teaching at the University … and writing tech-related articles following his passion.

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