The series of smartphones My Xiaomi badge is usually relatively unremarkable. Unlike the Mi Mix line, Mi phones do not tend to have particularly interesting designs, and Xiaomi does not push prices as low as possible with the Redmi range. Mi phones are always very good, very affordable.
The Mi 9 is a little different. It does not depart from the My Basic formula of offering high-end specifications in a conventional design at a reasonable price. But more than any other phone in the Mi series in the past, the ~ $ 500 Mi 9 narrows the gap with its high-end competitors even more. If you live in a country where Mi 9 is available, there are very few reasons not to consider it seriously.
The Mi series has established its own design language at this point, and this continues with the Mi 9. There is the same stainless steel frame that is thinner on the sides than the top and bottom edges, leaving a curved glass panel to fill the space. The left side of the phone has a dedicated Google Assistant button, which I can take or leave. (I'd prefer to have it more than a Bixby button).
In general, it is an elegant and attractive device, although my "piano black" review unit is more like "mirror metal", and it is one of the most sliding, most fingerprints. Prone phones that I've seen in a long time. I would probably like iridescent options in purple and blue, not to mention the transparent model.
The screen is a 6.4-inch and 1080p OLED panel with a slight chin on the bottom and a minimalist notch style drop of water on top. It looks great and also houses an optical fingerprint scanner on the screen, which works well enough, if not as fast as Vivo's latest implementations. Xiaomi is not doing anything avant-garde with her screen, but if you like the little notch, there's little reason to complain.
The camera can also be classified safely as solid. This is the first Xiaomi phone to use a triple-lens configuration, with a 16-megapixel camera and a 12-megapixel 2x telephoto camera that flanks the standard 48-megapixel sensor. The additional resolution is used for the combination of pixels and a greater sensitivity to light at 12 megapixels, but unlike the Honor 20 view, there is no "ultra clarity" mode to highlight additional details in the 48-megapixel files . You can shoot at full resolution, but it will not do much more than give you unnecessarily large files.
Again, Xiaomi is not competing with high-level competitors with advanced intelligence. Enhanced HDR implementations. You will not get anything like the amazing performance of the Huawei P30 in low light, but its results are widely satisfactory. The colors are well balanced in daylight, and the night mode is pretty good for what it is. The ultramarine and telephoto cameras are not optically stabilized, so they are not as suitable for use in low light, but they are a welcome addition.
The Mi 9 is one of the first phones available with Qualcomm. the latest high-end Snapdragon 855 processor, and I have no complaints about its performance. MIUI, the Android version of Xiaomi, is extremely smooth on this phone, with the kind of quick animations and scrolling of butter that I would normally only expect from OnePlus in this space. Whether I can thank the software or hardware or, most likely, both, the Mi 9 has been fast and reliable with everything I've released.
MIUI is certainly a radical feature of Android, and it's likely to win & # 39; Appeal to the purists of Pixel or OnePlus. But it is a mature operating system in its own right, and in general it seems to me that it is carefully designed and pleasant to use. The implementation of Mi 9 of a navigation system based on full-screen gestures, for example, is the best I've seen on Android, although moving to the iPhone style from the left side of the screen to go back requires some practice. invoke when using applications with similar gestures.
Xiaomi has also included a couple of features that tend to be the first in the sector of the cutting room of Chinese phone manufacturers. The Mi 9 now has the fastest wireless load in the world, for example, even though companies like Huawei and Vivo ignore the function. Xiaomi sells a 20W wireless charger that is a pretty good product in its own right; It has an austere white design and a rubber finish that guarantees that even the Mi 9 does not slip. For about $ 15, including a power adapter with 27W USB-C cable, it's a bargain.
The Mi 9 also has the best tactile response of any Chinese phone you have used. It does not coincide with Apple or LG, and is not widely used in MIUI, but it is a step above what companies like Oppo and OnePlus are doing. While it is likely that this is not the most important feature of the world for most people, it contributes in some way to improving the feeling that you are getting much more than what you are paying with the Mi 9.
Do you lose if you go by the Mi 9 for a more expensive flagship? Not much. There is no IP rating for resistance to water or dust. There's only a single mono speaker on the bottom edge of the phone, and it's pretty bad. There is no headphone jack, although that is not associated with high-end phones unless you are buying from Samsung or LG. The camera is not entirely global, but it is a configuration of three perfectly usable lenses.
At € 449 (just over $ 500) for a model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Mi 9 is a ridiculous bargain While you live somewhere it sells. (At the moment, that basically means China or Europe, there is no Indian release on the horizon, and it does not have broad compatibility with the US LTE bands.) Xiaomi has been talking about her ambitions to launch phones in the US. UU For several years. but still has almost nothing to show.
I would say that this is the best value in a flagship smartphone in the world, but it is increasingly difficult to say things like that as the global technology market continues to fragment. Instead, all I can say is that Xiaomi has delivered an incredibly solid product at an extremely reasonable price, and now that the company has at least some presence in the west, OnePlus and Honor should be informed.
Photograph by Sam Byford / The Verge
Vox Media has affiliate associations. These do not influence the editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy .