Xiaomi shook the market with the launch of its latest top of the range, the Mi 9. Xiaomi still focused on a simple but pleasant design, but added some goodies that could make the difference like a triple camera and wireless charging.
Unboxing and first impressions
Xiaomi Mi 9 arrives in a beautiful box with iridescent color and with a not bad equipment. The color of the box recalls the reflections of the ring around the camera and is a small detail that I liked, Including
- Slicone cover
- 12V / 1.5A charger
- Usb-c Adapter / Audio jack
- Usb / Usb-C cable
Xiaomi Mi 9 looks like an ingot . Very shiny and slippery but at the same time precious, the advice is to use it immediately with the supplied cover otherwise it could fall very easily. (If your hands are always sweaty)
You notice immediately the protuberant photographic module, and not just: even with the cover, the camera will protrude and will always be at risk of scratches.
In terms of design, I would not define it as beautiful because there is a lack of personality in the lines, but the very shiny and not too dark coloring makes it different from the rest.
The construction is impeccable, the materials are excellent. Xiaomi has done a great job and feels that this device is a real top of the range for the company. The glass on the back is rounded and blends well with the polished metal frame.
The display of Xiaomi Mi 9 is definitely a strength. it is a 6.39 “AMOLED with FHD + resolution (2340 × 1080) HDR10 , 60000:1 contrast and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
Although some top of the range has gone beyond this resolution (see the latest Galaxy S10), there was no occasion where I felt the need to have a few pixels more. It is simply a great display in almost every area, behind only Samsung’s latest Dynamic AMOLED which have marked a new level of excellence.
Absolute blacks, excellent contrast, vibrant colors but not fake: there is everything you need to have a great display.
In the interior, at night, the sensor simply does a little ‘as it pleases, sometimes shoots the brightness more than necessary, sometimes it keeps it too low. As far as I understand, it is too sensitive to light sources, so if we turn on the light from a chandelier in the direction of the sensor then the brightness will rise a lot, far beyond what is necessary, if turned off it will return to a minimum to make it fall more than necessary, Probably it is a bug of software that can be fixed in the future with software updates.
The lower chin has shrunk dramatically and even the notch has changed, it is now much smaller with this waterdrop design, it loses some sensors for 3D unlocking but the face unlock remains available but in 2D mode, less secure but always fast, all these changes makes the display more “immersive”.
It makes its debut with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor made at 7 nm, which proves a monster of power but amazes above all when it comes to battery consumption.
The model we used is the one in its basic configuration with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory, another variant supports up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal memory.
The Spec Sheet is then completed with GPU Adreno 640, dual-SIM capability, LTE Gigabit, Wi-Fi ac Dual Band, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, dual-band GPS, fast charging via USB-C 27W and also fast wireless charging from 20W.
There is also a tiny notification LED on the top of the display, a little to the right it works when charging and receiving notifications, but you only really notice at night, by day it is practically invisible.
Important feature is the one concerning the fingerprint sensor, from the classic physical sensor positioned on the back you switch to a sensor below the display. You lose something in terms of speed and accuracy, but you have a more modern technology and certainly more “cool”. A little more difficult to center the pressure zone, even if you just touch the display or lift the smartphone to show the fingerprint icon to click. I would say that you unlock without problems 7 times out of 10, not perfect as the “classic” sensor, but still a satisfactory solution given the new technology.
5G is… still missing. In addition, the USB-C is only 2.0, therefore slower and does not allow video output. Keeping in mind the price, Mi 9 deserves USB-C 3.0.
The audio part is disappointing: no audio jack and mono speaker with satisfactory volume but below average quality.
I admit that Xiaomi scared me with an inexplicable cut on the size of the battery, it goes from 3400mAh of the Mi 8 to 3300mAh of the Mi 9, but dramatically the autonomy has increased.
I do not know if I deserve more optimization or a Snapdragon 855 is better in consumption.
In fact, with the clear theme you get to cover the day with a 20% remaining battery, with a maximum of 5 and a half hours of screen lit before it goes out. Everything changes with the dark theme that allows me to earn about 25% of more, with 7h of screen on and ending the day with 40%.
Summing up: good but not excellent.
Quick Charger Charges in about 1 hours and 15 minutes from 0 to 100% (supports max 27W) and in about 2 hours with fastest wireless charger (supports 20W, mine is from 10W). Too bad the supplied charger is not so fast.
Xiaomi Mi 9 arrives with MIUI 10.2 with Android Pie and security patches updated in February 2019, Staying Up-to date.
However, The Software is still unstable, I noticed immediately in the stories of Instagram, which seem not to communicate well with the cameras and are snappy and full of lag.
Using it then you notice many aspects that can be improved, such as the camera, notifications that are not visible in the upper bar (perhaps understandable with the little space available for the Mi 8, unexplained with the Mi 9) or some graphic errors and not readable readings with the mode dark activated.
Speaking of dark theme, it is a welcome novelty of this Mi 9 that allows both a new graphic style and a further energy saving, taking full advantage of the characteristics of the AMOLED panel.
Full-screen gestures to take advantage of the entire display surface are often comfortable, while other times they clash a bit with the sliding keyboard or with the side menus.
There is also a new button on the left side of the device, called AI button in the settings, usable with a single click to call Google Assistant (whose immediate recall was lost with full screen gestures), and which is customizable to pleasure for double click and long press. with a double click on the power button you can access the camera, I assigned to the AI button the torch functions and opening the last app, so as to have these functions immediately within reach.
Last note: I do not like the fact that in some functions of MIUI and some pre-installed apps (there is a lot of bloatware, like Opera and Joom browser) there is advertising, and above all it is not removable. In some apps type in “Download” you can disable the advertisement by pressing on the 3 dots on the top left and deselecting the tick of the suggestions, but remains in other contexts as in the tool “Empty memory” after cleaning. It is true that Xiaomi products are cheap compared to their quality, but I would like a Kindle-like mode in which I can choose both before and after the purchase whether to pay less to have a product with advertising or add a small expense to have a product ad-free.
Xiaomi Mi 9 is equipped with a rich photographic sector and promises well on screen. In fact, we find 4 sensors on the back and one on the front:
- 48-megapixel main sensor, f / 1.75, 1/2 “;
- Sensor with 2x 12-megapixel tele lens, f / 2.2;
- Ultra-wide-angle 16-megapixel sensor, f / 2.2, with a field of view of 117 °;
- 20 megapixel f / 2.0 sensor on the front inside the drip notch for selfies.
The wide range of choices allows you to always have the right frame in every situation, but not all sensors are fully exploited.
Compared to the Mi 8 there have been steps forward, such as the third camera, but also an important step back, eliminating the optical stabilization and relying entirely on the electronic one. This is seen above all in video with little light where there is a bit of jittering due to software stabilization.
The 48 megapixels of the sensor are true, but they are not exploited in the traditional way, practically the Mi 9 blends 4 pixels in one to obtain more defined and brighter photos (at least on screen). There is a mode to take advantage of all 48 megapixels, with which you get very heavy photos (20MB) with a resolution of 8000 × 6000, but the result is not astounding and you lose those smart features that can improve software by shooting as HDR and AI.
Our advice is to use the camera in standard mode, which produces 12-megapixel photos, with a resolution of 4000 × 3000, and take advantage of all the advanced shooting possibilities.
But let’s talk about the results. Day shots are always excellent, up to expectations, with all the rear sensors. Very wide dynamic range, clear details and more than satisfactory color rendering.
The situation is different when the light goes down, where the two secondary sensors (ultra-wide and zomm) are more sinful due to the smaller opening. The main sensor manages to be a bit ‘more versatile but not too much, because there is always little detail in the night shots due to the absence of optical stabilization and the presence instead of a noise reduction a bit’ too aggressive: I have the feeling that the software still can not extract the best from this sensor. There is a night mode (available only in normal mode and 2x, not in ultra-wide-angle mode) that drastically improves the situation for sharing on social networks, but does not do the miracles of the Google Camera.
By the way, I anticipate that I have recently installed an initial version of Google Camera and the results often improve. At the moment not all sensors are used, so it makes little sense to talk about it today, but as soon as the development will allow us to choose between the 3 sensors we will talk about it again.
Where the software proves that it needs further optimization is with portraits and selfie: skin tone and outline are often inaccurate and already with the first version of the Google Camera there is a clear step forward.
Video: the Mi 9 supports video recording up to 4K at 60fps, with slow motion in 1080p at 240fps or in 720p at 960fps. Digital stabilization only works on 30fps frames (which we recommend, since in this mode the videos are even more detailed), while it will be deactivated in the higher fps modes.
Moreover, in video the zoom is always digital, so you will not use the sensor with a 2x telephoto lens, while with the ultra-wide-angle camera you can not record at 60fps.
During the day the videos are really excellent, with the digital stabilization are definitely enjoyable, while at 60fps they are a bit ‘too rough and they cause seasickness. At night the absence of optical stabilization is noticed a little ‘more with video more dancers even with digital stabilization and obvious jittering in different situations.
The slow motion mode with higher quality is the 1080p at 120fps, while the 960fps mode presents notable artifacts: more a treat to have fun with friends than a real slow motion.
Xiaomi Mi 9 has made it a top of the range for everyone, with a powerful, cared and precious smartphone at a price that is at least half (if not a third) of the current flagships. Maybe it will not be beautiful and “unique” like the Mi Mix 3 or curated in the software like a OnePlus 6T, but it is the one with the less obvious compromises.
Quality photos and video, top screen, amazing battery and a lot of power are the reasons to choose it, notch smaller, wide angle and wireless charging are the features that distinguish it from the Mi 8 (which still remains a great smartphone).
The reasons for not choosing it are few: mono audio upgradable, no certified WaterProof, no 5G, and some bugs in software (solvable via software update). There are also reasons that weigh significantly less than the quality of the Mi 9, but above all compared to the price: starts from 449 euros for the 6-64 model going up to 529 euros for the model with 128 GB of storage.