Hey guys, so if you’ve been following Shu’s Techs, you may have noticed that not a lot has happened here in a while.
Long story short, it’s been a long week.
If you didn’t notice or this is your first time here, welcome and disregard everything I just said.
On another note, 2019 Flagships have started rolling out and Xiaomi has given us the Mi 9… or 9’s.
The Mi 9 packs a punch, it is the upgrade from last year’s Mi 8 and it comes with some of the latest features you can get on a Flagship device.
From its impressive processor to its cameras and having one of the first super fast wireless charging capability, this phone is definitely something to take a look at this year.
This is Shaibu from Shu’s Techs and today, I will be reviewing the Xiaomi Mi 9.
With that out of the way, let’s get to it.
- MIUI 10 with Android 9.0 (Pie)
- 6.4 inch 1080 x 2340 Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
- Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 485) CPU
- Adreno 640 GPU
- 4GB / 6GB / 12GB RAM
- 64GB / 128GB / 256GB Internal Storage
- 20MP Front Camera
- 12MP + 16MP + 48MP Rear Camera
- 3300mAh non-removable battery
- Dual Nano SIM
Coming in 4 color models, the Mi 9 has a Lavender Violet, Ocean Blue, Black and Transparent model.
Just like the Mi 8’s Explorer Edition, this year, Xiaomi is calling the Mi 9 version the “Transparent Edition”.
Now as much as you’re not actually seeing the phone’s internal design, it does give that nice feeling of having a super cool machine in your hand.
This Transparent Edition is a bit different from the other models and we’ll get to see some of the differences along the way.
Looking at the phone, the Lavender Violet and Ocean Blue models have a really nice look, the way they display a range of colors depending on how light reflects will leave you impressed if you’re into that kind of stuff.
You won’t get any of that on the Black and Transparent models.
I guess this just shows that there’s always a choice for everyone out there.
On the back of the phone, you get a fully curved mirror-like glass build. Coming with Gorilla Glass 5, expect to have a durable phone that can withstand occasional drops, scratches and dust while still giving you a really nice and impressive look.
But as great as it looks, it is recommended to get a case for the phone because the back is curved to the aluminum frame and is easy to slip out of your hands.
That Gorilla Glass 5 can only withstand drops from certain heights.
Well, still on the back, you get a Triple Camera Setup here.
I believe this should be the first time Xiaomi has added a triple camera on a phone (you can correct me if I’m wrong… with facts).
The Telephoto camera has a ring that displays different colors depending on the lighting condition (on the Transparent Edition though, it’s just red).
There’s a Dual-LED flash right below the camera.
You’re not getting a Fingerprint scanner on the back. Just like the Mi 8, you’re getting an on-screen Fingerprint Sensor. We’ll talk more about the Fingerprint Scanner later on.
Turning over to the front, you still get an all glass build. With the latest Gorilla Glass 6, expect to get all the qualities of version 5 in a much more durable and responsive way.
There’s a Waterdrop Notch at the top which houses the Selfie Camera and you get the Earpiece for phone calls right above it.
I can’t really say much about the front here because what you’re really getting is the screen. And it is a really nice screen.
At the top of the phone, you’re getting an IR blaster. With it, you’ll be able to turn the phone into a remote control. There’s an app on the phone that handles all that.
The left side has the SIM tray and a button for starting up Google Voice Assistant.
To use it, all you have to do is press and hold the button and Google Assistant will activate.
You can customize the button to carry out other tasks like turning on your flashlight, starting up any of the cameras, Google search etc.
You can also set it to do nothing at all. All these options come from a predefined list though.
The right side of the phone has the Volume Rocker and a Power Button and finally, at the bottom, you get the speaker and a Type-C USB port.
If you haven’t noticed, I didn’t mention the phone having a Headphone Jack so, no, the Mi 9 doesn’t have a 3.5mm Headphone Jack.
To use headphones, you will have to use a 3.5mm Headphone Dongle, or better still, get a pair of Bluetooth Headphones.
Overall, build quality is great, Gorilla Glass 5 and 6 should give you some extent of protection, however, if you really want some extra protection, do get the phone a case and a Protective Glass so you can use the phone however you want… sort of.
Being a Flagship, the Mi 9 does have a really impressive screen.
What you’re getting is a Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, we know how good AMOLED’s are with stunning detailed displays and really deep blacks.
The screen has a size of 6.4 inches and the Resolution is 1080 X 2340 pixels. Content appear really detailed, contrast is great, colors are accurate and punchy as well.
Using the phone outdoors under direct sunlight isn’t a problem. The phone gets as bright as 600 nits, which is very good.
Having a Waterdrop Notch is nice because overall, these kind of Notches aren’t really intrusive, only problem is, on the Mi 9, you won’t be able to cover it with a black bar.
To put that AMOLED panel to good use, you get the “Always On Display” option.
Activating this will make the phone show only the Time, Date and any kind of Notification you may have, while the phone is locked. This doesn’t really affect the battery life.
Something else you can do is turn on the “Dark Mode“. If you love blacks, you will love this mode.
Everything turns black here, but texts and all other things you need to see will have their colors. Mostly white though.
Viewing at extreme angles will sometimes give you odd colors. But I don’t really think you’ll be viewing the screen from the sides else you’ll both look “odd”.
The 85% screen to body ratio is quite good. Bezels are slim and overall, display is awesome.
You really won’t be having major issues with this screen besides that part of not being able to cover the Notch.
For a Flagship, you’re getting a really nice display.
Being Xiaomi’s first Triple Rear Camera setup, of course they’ll want to give a good first impression. In my opinion, they nailed it.
At the back of the phone, the vertically placed camera protrudes a little bit, but it doesn’t really distort the balance of the phone when placed on a flat surface.
To avoid scratches, the cameras are covered with Sapphire glass.
The first camera with the ring around it is the 12 Megapixel Telephoto camera, next is the 48 Megapixel Main camera and lastly, the 16 Megapixel Ultra camera at the bottom.
You will be using the Main camera most of the time and as expected, it works great.
With the 48 Megapixel camera, by default, you are taking 12 Megapixel shots.
In good light, images come out almost flawless. There’s great detail, accurate colors, good dynamic range and little to no noise.
You can shoot full 48 Megapixel photos, but they come out soft and noisy.
There’s currently not a lot of support for 48 Megapixel photos on Social Media platforms so it’s best to shoot 12 Megapixel photos.
In low light, the camera works okay, you do get average to good color accuracy but shadows just appear black.
Turning on Nightmode really does improve the overall quality of pictures taken in low light. Images come out a little more detailed, shadows don’t appear all black.
You do get a bit of noise but it isn’t all bad.
The good part about using the Nightmode is that it takes pictures a little faster than most Flagship devices.
The Telephoto camera is also really good. It offers really punchy colors, great dynamic range with plenty of detail.
It is also the camera that is used while taking Portrait shots. With Portrait shots, you get the option to adjust the blur intensity.
Edge detection is great. The way the subject is separated from the background is very impressive.
The Ultrawide camera does a pretty good job too. You may not be getting plenty of detail, but you won’t get a lot of noise.
Dynamic range is great and Distortion Correction works as expected.
Turning off Distortion Correction may improve the detail on every shot, but things are definitely going to bend a little in some shots. Mostly on edges.
Night shots aren’t that impressive with the Ultrawide camera. You won’t get a lot of detail and shadows aren’t good to look at most of the time.
Not really saying photos are bad with the Ultrawide camera, but if you like taking photos with a lot of detail, night shots aren’t good with this camera.
It’s best to take low light shots with the Main camera using the Nightmode to get the best result.
You can record up to 4K videos at 60 frames with the Main camera. The Ultrawide camera takes it down to 30 frames max.
There’s also the option to capture slow motion videos in 1080p at 120, 240 or 960 frames a second.
You do get Electronic Image Stabilization but only when recording videos of up to 30 frames in 4K. EIS will ensure your videos do not come out shaky.
The selfie camera is quite impressive. Coming at 20 Megapixels, you get really detailed photos taken.
In good light, expect the best quality and in low light, it is also good but you won’t get a lot of detail.
Videos here can be recording in up to 1080p at 30 frames.
Besides taking pictures and shooting videos, you can use the selfie camera for Face Recognition. Now of course it isn’t as secure as a 3D scanner and there’s no IR light that enables you to use it in the dark.
With enough light, it is quite fast and reliable.
Overall, you will get a great experience with the cameras on the Mi 9. For a Flagship, it is worth the money.
Features and Performance
I was not really sure if this phone was built for power and speed at first.
If it only had the “Transparent Edition”, sure, I’d consider the fact that power and speed was the main focus.
Looking at the other color models, you might just think the phone was built to look good, but that’s not the case.
This phone is currently one of the most powerful phones in the world.
The Mi 9 comes with the latest Snapdragon Chipset which is the Snapdragon 855.
You get an Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 485) CPU and for handling graphics, the phone comes with the latest GPU which is Adreno 640.
What is great about this chipset is, being the latest Snapdragon chipset, you will be getting a huge amount of difference in terms of speed compared to some 2018 Flagships.
It is also very power efficient. Honestly, this phone has the power of some computers.
You get a really responsive phone, gaming is buttery smooth.
You can play really heavy and demanding games like PUBG and Asphalt 9 that really push phones, at the highest settings possible and the Mi 9 will handle it like you’re playing a really basic low-end game.
Gameplay is really fluid, there isn’t any lags and framerates are very stable.
The power of this phone is something that you’ve just got to experience because as exciting as it sounds, it is nothing compared to actually experiencing it.
Although the Mi 9 doesn’t support 5G, the Snapdragon 855 is built to support it, it’s safe to say we should be expecting 5G phones anytime soon.
With Xiaomi’s MIUI 10 on top Android 9.0 (Pie), you will be getting the latest features both platforms offer.
Android 9.0 (Pie) will give you the latest security patches from Google, support for a lot of apps, stability and a lot more.
MIUI 10 gives you a really cool User Interface (which is basically everything you see on the phone).
You also get Gesture Navigation.
After activating Gesture Navigation, all three buttons at the bottom of the screen are removed.
To navigate the phone, swipe inwards from either the left or right side of the screen to go “Back“, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to go “Home” and swipe up and hold to see your “Recent Apps“.
It’s pretty easy after getting used to it.
Although MIUI is pretty good in terms of responsiveness, animations and overall usability, it does have some features that are somewhat annoying.
First thing is Bloatware. You do get some apps that may not be very useful. I’m not sure if all of them can be uninstalled or not, but you will spend some time uninstalling if you can.
The next thing is Ads. Yeah, Ads are almost everywhere these days. I have them on this website as well. They help keep the lights on.
On the phone, you get Ads on apps like the Music App, Video Player app etc. The Ads aren’t really intrusive, they appear when you launch any of the apps and don’t pop up until you restart the app.
Well, those are some of the major things you may find annoying with the phone. To fix the Ads problem, just install a better Music Player app.
I would recommend Musicolet, it is free and doesn’t have any Ads. I use it most of the time.
Talking more about Gestures, the Fingerprint Scanner is also multi-functional. Being very fast, accurate and reliable aren’t the only good things you should know about it.
After scanning your finger, keep the finger in place for a second or two and the phone will bring up three options.
You get the option to Scan a QR code, Search and you get an option to Add an Event. Without letting go of the screen, slide your finger across to choose an option.
Changing the options isn’t something you can do for now, but it is a pretty good way to put that Fingerprint scanner to good use.
Hopefully, with future updates, you will be able to add your favorite apps there.
Basic things like Call Clarity is good. The speaker at the bottom is also quite good with loud and accurate audio quality.
Using a pair of headphones (with the dongle) will do a lot of good as audio comes out loud and accurate with good dynamic range.
Overall, you will experience the latest technology with this device and hopefully, with future updates, it will just keep getting better.
RAM and Internal Storage
Not a lot to say here besides the fact that you get three options. A 6GB of RAM option, an 8GB of RAM option and a 12GB of RAM option.
The 12GB of RAM variant is only available on the Transparent Edition. The others have 6GB and 8GB depending on Internal Storage.
Now, 12GB may currently be a little too much on a phone, what am I saying? It is way too much. But anyways, 6GB and 8GB will do just fine.
Multitasking on the Mi 9 is smooth and Apps stay running in the background.
Any phone with at least 4GB of RAM will do okay for now, but with time, that will definitely change.
When it comes to Internal Storage options, the Transparent Edition comes with 256GB while the others have either 64GB (for 6GB of RAM) or 128GB (for 8GB of RAM).
You will not be able to expand storage with a MicroSD or a NanoSD (since we’re starting to acknowledge NanoSD cards now) card, so choose wisely.
To sum it up, knowing that RAM really impacts the performance on a phone, with the Mi 9, you’re in good hands.
Storage really depends on you as a user, if you don’t need a lot of space, go little. If you do need a lot, then go big.
Battery life is quite great on this phone. It might sound a little surprising because the phone comes with a 3,300mAh Li-Po battery.
Yes, it sounds like something you’d get on a mid-ranger or a battery you’d probably be constantly charging because of all that processing power.
Well, that’s not the case, with a power-efficient Chipset, a lot can be done on this phone without using a lot of battery juice.
You can go a whole day on heavy use and end up with around 20% at night. ON HEAVY USE.
Light users will be able to use the phone for 2 to 3 days before even thinking about charging.
Talking about charging, there is a 27W brick called the Charger Turbo, with it you can charge the phone form 0% to 100% in about an hour and five minutes.
You do have to buy the charger separately though, that’s cause what you’re getting out of the box is an 18W charger, it works fine too but obviously not as fast.
You also get a Wireless Charging Pad that can also take the phone to fully charged in about an hour and forty minutes.
Wireless chargers aren’t that fast, even on most Flagships. The Mi 9’s Wireless Charging Pad is even better than some bricks as well.
Overall, battery life is great and charging is super fast. Xiaomi has really pulled it off.
For internet, you get WiFi, 4G LTE, 3G and 2G with amazing speeds.
You also get an Infrared Port that turns the phone to a remote, NFC, GPS, a USB 2.0 Type-C connector and Bluetooth 5.0.
There is no FM Radio.
Not really sure but you can get the phone around $450 to $500 (for the 6GB of RAM).
Please note that prices vary from time to time.
My favorite device has been the Mate 20 X but the Mi 9 has dominated it.
A great Chipset, great cameras, sleek design and really good battery performance.
The lack of a Headphone Jack is something I can tolerate when I think about all the other features the phone offers.
To sum it up, it is a great phone, and if you can afford any of the models, you should get one if you’re considering.
Well, that has been my review of the Xiaomi Mi 9. I’m a little late, but better late than never.
Do like, share and comment any questions or suggestions you may have.
I’ll be talking to you soon.