“Our first impressions of Xiaomi’s latest flagship, the Mi 9”

Hours before Samsung unveiled its highly-anticipated Galaxy S10 range, Xiaomi took to the stage and announced its latest affordable flagship in the form of the Mi 9. As is the case with most of the company’s flagships, the Mi 9 is loaded to the brim with high-end specs and is priced quite competitively as well. I managed to get my hands on a unit at MWC Barcelona and after spending some time with it, here’s what I make of it.

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No surprises here – the Xiaomi Mi 9 too has been constructed using a blend of glass and metal, topped off by a shimmery, gradient finish which the company calls the ‘holographic spectrum’. Although using glass to construct a smartphone has become the norm of the day, I must admit the Mi 9 pulls it off better than most. As for colours, the handset comes in attractive hues of Sapphire Blue, Piano Black, and Lavender Purple, but Xiaomi also unveiled a transparent version of the device and I can already see it flying off the shelves – it looks that good.

Xiaomi Mi 9 first impressions11The handset sports gorgeous curves towards the back which blend seamlessly into its frame, and lend the device a fantastic grip. What’s more, the smartphone features chamfered edges, is quite sleek at 7.61mm and at 173g, isn’t too heavy too. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about the device creating an awkward bulge or bite your thighs when it’s in your pockets. I was quite psyched about the presence of the halo ring on the telephoto lens, which adds a bit of character to the smartphone’s design. As far as looks are concerned, Xiaomi has a showstopper in its hands.

For ports and buttons, the Mi 9 ships with a power button and a volume rocker on its right-hand spine. As for the fingerprint sensor, Xiaomi has furnished the Mi 9 with an in-display fingerprint sensor. I couldn’t test the accuracy of the sensor on the show floor, but Xiaomi claims that it’s faster than the previous generation in-display sensors as it uses a wider surface area to read the prints.  

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Coming to the display, the Mi 9 sports a 6.39-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel with a waterdrop notch. While Xiaomi has managed to bring up the screen-to-body ratio from last year’s Mi 8, those looking for a truly bezel-less experience should head over to my first impressions of the Mi Mix 3. That said, the panel on the Mi 9 is quite good, and it exhibits vibrant hues, deep contrast levels and a maximum brightness level of 600nits. I still feel that it’s not in the same league as what you’d get with a Galaxy S10, but it’ll still make for an excellent window to consume media on.

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As for specs, the smartphone is backed by the fastest chip in the industry, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor which, depending upon the model you opt for, can be paired with up to 512GB of storage and a whopping 12GB of RAM. Suffice it to say, Xiaomi is pulling all stops in the performance department, and it shows. The Mi 9 felt blazingly fast during my short stint with the handset, with lightning fast app opening times and excellent multitasking to boot. Suffice it to say, hardcore smartphone users will find little to complain about the Mi 9 in terms of performance.

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Xiaomi’s latest offering marks another first for the company as it’s the first device from the brand to sport a triple camera setup at the back. The array comprises a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor, a 12MP telephoto lens and a 16MP wide angle lens with a 117-degree FOV. For selfies, the smartphone comes equipped with a 20MP shooter on the front. The device checks off all the right boxes as far as smartphone optics are concerned, and it even has DxOMark rating of 107 to back it up. I’ll talk more about the handset’s camera prowess once I get to spend some more time with the device so stay tuned for the same.

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The Xiaomi Mi 9 runs MIUI v10 on top of Android Pie and is fuelled by a 3,300mAh battery. While the battery on the smartphone isn’t as capacious as some other flagships, Xiaomi more than makes up for it by giving users the option to fast-charge wirelessly. The handset starts at 449 for the base variant and goes on sale starting February 28th. For more updates surrounding the device, stay tuned to our blog.