Xiaomi Mi 9 hands-on: the real Galaxy S10 rival?


The Xiaomi Mi 9 showed up in China before its unveiling to the European public. The Chinese manufacturer has decided to use the MWC to talk about its strategy and announce not only the Mi MIX 3 5G, but also the arrival of the glittering Mi 9. Let’s have a look at what it offers and at what price!

Sparkling case reminiscent of the Huawei P20 Pro

The war between smartphone manufacturers is being waged with photographic sensors, increasingly bezel-less displays and innovative designs. Xiaomi is on the front lines, unleashing its latest warrior – the Mi 9.

The blue colored outer shell, made using special laser engraving technology and a double layer of nanoparticles, creates pleasant reflections. The other colors, light and dark lavender, are also pleasant in the light.

The body is elegant but it attracts fingerprint smudges. / © AndroidPIT

Slightly curved on the sides, the Mi 9 is particularly handy, as well as decidedly elegant. But I have to admit – I have a weakness for curves. The back is reminiscent of the Huawei P20 Pro, especially when it comes to the camera configuration.

There is no headphone jack (after all it had already disappeared on the Mi 6), but a USB Type-C port is present. The fingerprint reader can be found under the 6.39 inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution in a 19.5:9 format. The screen is also protected by Gorilla Glass 6. Note the screen-body ratio of 90.7% and the reduction of the lower bezel compared to Mi 8. In case you had not noticed, on the Mi 9, Xiaomi has opted for a dewdrop notch.

In-display fingerprint reader

We’ve already tried the in-display fingerprint reader on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro: interesting from an aesthetic point of view, but not as fast as the more traditional one located at the bottom of the screen or on the body. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the Mi 9 one during the event but the brand promises a fluid experience and unlocking of the device in a blink of an eye.

Unlocking by means of face recognition or the fingerprint reader on the back remain my two preferred methods because they are fast and generally effective. I’m curious to see how the Mi 9 will fare.

The Mi 9 offers two speaker grids on the bottom edge but only one of them reproduces sound. Xiaomi has also integrated a physical key dedicated to Google Assistant by default, but it’s remappable to your taste (thanks!).

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi 9 camera
Triple protruding camera. / © AndroidPIT

Triple 48MP Sony Sensor Camera

On the back, there is a trio of AI-integrated cameras that protrudes from the body. The central 48 MP Sony IMX586 sensor with f/1.75 aperture is the main one. Above it is the 12 MP telephoto lens with Samsung S5K3M5 sensor with f/2.2 aperture and 2x optical zoom, while below we find the Ultra Wide Sony IMX481 16MP and f/2.2 aperture. The front 20 MP camera takes care of the selfies, but it’s the rear camera that the manufacturer has decided to focus on.

The camera of Mi 9 has already been tested by the DxOMark team, which gave it 107 points (112 for photos, 99 for videos), proclaiming it the best by the Chinese manufacturer in this field. Numbers aside, according to the DxOMark team, the main camera of the Mi 9 offers quality shots in almost all conditions with good color representation and accurate white balance. The bokeh effect and autofocus also seem to do a good job. According to DxOMark, the rendering of the dark and light zones in high contrast scenes can be improved.

In terms of video, (slow motion at 960fps available) the Mi 9 manages to surprise – the default recording in 4K produces great details even when shooting indoors. The image stabilization system is also great. In short, according to DxOMark, Xiaomi did a good job with the Mi 9’s camera and we will give you more details later in the final review of the device.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi 9 side
The Mi 9 integrates the latest Qualcomm processor and uses the Turbo Charge. / © AndroidPIT

Performance shouldn’t worry you

As Donovan Sung, director of product management, had already confirmed before the presentation of Mi 9 in China, the smartphone is equipped with the latest Snapdragon 855,

which should ensure excellent performance coupled
with the Adreno 640 GPU and LPDDR4x RAM memory (6 or 8 GB depending on the model) and UFS 2.1 storage.

The 3,300mAh battery, with Turbo Charge, which also supports wireless charging, has the task of keeping the Mi 9 alive for a full day. The Snapdragon 855 and the energy-saving Dark Mode should help in this regard. The Turbo Charge wireless charger supports charging up to 20W and offers 100% charge in 90 minutes. However, it is not part of the purchase package. Of course, you can use any Qi wireless charger but you will get a 10W charge.

Early Verdict

With the Mi 9, Xiaomi has done a great job, in my opinion. Aesthetically pleasing, it has all the credentials to stand out in the increasingly crowded smartphone market. The camera also looks good and the 3,300mAh battery should be well supported to ensure good, albeit not extraordinary performance.

The price of 449 euros (approximately $508) or 499 euros (around $565) depending on the configuration, undoubtedly allows it to be more attractive than the more expensive S10. The presence of the brand in Europe can also only give it a boost in comparison to the past. I’m curious to see how the Mi 9 will fare in a more in-depth test and I’d be keeping an eye for it if I were you!

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