Xiaomi Mi 9T Review: Great Tech, Great Price

Pros

  • Snapdragon 730 is actually very capable along with great MIUI optimization
  • Immersive AMOLED Panel
  • One of the best cameras for under RM 1400
  • In-display fingerprint is impressive

Price

64GB/6GB : RM 1,199

128GB/6GB : RM 1,399

Cons

  • No MicroSD slot
  • No Wireless Charging
  • External Speaker gain is low
  • Slippery for some

Colors

Carbon Black

Red Flame

Glacier Blue

Box Contents

  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
  • USB to USB-C cable
  • 18W 2-pin fast charger

 

  • SIM ejector tool
  • Quick start guide
  • Black matte casing

Mid-range devices had always fascinated me. They’re always cheaper and promise a close-to-flagship experience if not one-to-one. The Mi 9 did a great job earning its stripes in the camera and real-time performance side of things but fell a bit short on design and innovation, and it looks like the Mi 9T exists to close that ugly gap, but can it do so? 

Design Highlights

  • Gorgeous Metallic glass design
  • 3.5mm audio jack on top, SIM slot at the bottom
  • Display fingerprint scanner

 

  • Pop-up selfie camera
  • Below 200G weight
  • Slippery back

What makes the Mi 9T standout is the design. It comes in 3 colors, Red Flame (Which I have), Glacier Blue and Carbon black. The red and blue colors follow the same design language, having a smooth glass back with ringed-accents from end to end that moves when you tilt the device. It’s a very nice touch and it really discourages you from using the provided case, which is a kind-of-hard-but-not-really matte case that completely covers up that gorgeous design. However, the phone is rather slippery, and it’s fingerprints galore so yeah, I have to be good with the case (I have already ordered a transparent glass case so I have that going for me). Another reason is that it also slipped on soft surfaces so I keep the case on when I am out and about. The black color comes in a carbon-fiber finish which is similar to the Pocophone F1’s armor edition but just a little slicker.

Apart from the conventional  security methods like patterns, pins and face, there’s a very accurate and responsive in-display fingerprint scanner, adding more persuasion to the device’s value proposition.

_DSC3817
_DSC3819

What sold me this phone was the pop-up selfie camera located on the top-left, as it seriously helped create a bezeless experience for the display. A tasteful addition to the pop-up selfie camera are the tiny LEDs fitted around the camera module. They light up when you open Camera to selfie mode, with  LEDs shining while an accompanying sound follows while the camera module is being pushed out. I had a similar experience with the Mi Mix 3 and that was what I loved about the phone too. And yes, you can also customize the pop-up animation sounds in the settings, but only limited to pre-made sound files. When the module is still inside the phone and you’re charging it, the LEDs light up, indicating charging. That’s a neat feature, and it lights up when there are notifications, everythings just red but it’s fine really. 

The 3.5mm audio jack is at the opposite end of the front-camera module which is pretty neat considering most want to get rid of it these days. The Mi 9T is also high-res certified but it was only able to produce just passable results in terms of audio-playback. Paired with my AirPods 2 and my wired Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro HD, it was too easy to make this my daily driver, my most value for money daily driver in fact.  

Heading to the bottom side of things, the bottom left rests a dual 4G standby sim-tray, followed by the USB type-C port dead center with the microphone and a tinny speaker grill towards the right. The speakers are at most mediocre, with it being very soft and I actually missed some phone calls because of that. Hopefully something can be done about the external audio gain one day. Phone calls were fine though, being able to call and pick up VoLTE HD calls on both my SIMS.  

Overall in design the Mi 9T is downright gorgeous, fitting for any individual looking for both function and tasteful design. 

Display

  • Full HD+ (2340 x 1080) AMOLED Panel
  • 403ppi
  • Gorilla Glass 5

The Mi 9T has a large 6.39-inch display. The display’s bright, producing 400 nits of brightness that’s above average for both indoor and outdoor usage. There’s Gorilla Glass 5 to keep things protected but an extra layer of tempered glass won’t hurt anyone. The AMOLED panel is immersive and packs plenty of pixels to give a close fight to the Galaxy S10e (438ppi). 

Performance

  • Snapdragon 730 (2 x 2.2GHz Kyro 470 Gold + 6  1.8GHz Kyro 470 Silver)
  • Adreno 618 GPU
  • 64/128GB + 6GB RAM

On paper, obviously the Mi 9T can’t possibly outshine its older brother the Mi 9. However, the Snapdragon 730 SoC is still a capable chipset. The only time you’d actually notice the difference between the 730 and the 855 is during gaming. In daily use it is nearly indistinguishable. As for gaming , the Mi 9T is a solid performer, capable of running the simplest games like Cookie Run Ovenbreak to complex, network and graphic intensive games like Omnyoji Arena and PUBG Mobile without any slow down whatsoever. Thermal performance was great too, I never felt the Mi 9T be anything above very toasty. 

Battery

Xiaomi made a pretty good move of deciding the Mi 9T to pack a 4000mAh battery, which is a cool 700mAh more than the Mi 9. It definitely delivered more than a full day’s use with about 40 percent remaining from 9am to 9pm. It’s not suprising actually, as its a combination of the 730’s energy optimization and plentiful of mAhs to play around. On top of that there’s an aggressive MIUI 10 that puts unused apps to sleep. As for charging the Mi 9T comes with an 18-watt fast charger that you connect to the device via USB-C. Charging was blazing, being able to go past the 80% mark over 30 minutes, with transfer rates dropping down at the last 10% and that’s normal as normal can be. One feature that’s really missing in this otherwise perfect mid-ranger would be the wireless charging support that the Mi 9 sports. I guess saving cost and product distinguishment is more important in this case.

Camera and Video

Rear Camera

  • 48MP f/1.75 Sony IMX582 Main sensor
  • 8MP f/2.4 telephoto
  • 13MP f/2.4 wide-angle

Front Camera

  • Pop-up 20MP f/2.2 selfie camera

The Mi 9T follows mainstream devices in terms of camera setup, carrying both wide-angle and telephoto on top of a main shooter. In general, picture quality is above average, delivering great images with very accurate colors and excellent dynamic range. HDR mode made quick work of overcast weather conditions, overall delivering great day shots. As for low-light, the Mi 9T struggled but not greatly, as there were certain situations where I was able to capture some shots without too much noise but I had to be incredibly still.

48 MP mode
48 MP mode
Portrait Day
Portrait Day
Portrait Night
Portrait Night
Towards direct sunlight
Towards direct sunlight
Daylight
Daylight
Night Mode
Night Mode
Low-light
Low-light

Although a a few leagues lower in terms of video quality compared to the Mi 9, the Mi 9T was still able to capture decent if not above average video quality. With a maximum of 4K 30fps capabilities, the Mi 9T is able to hold its ground if you wanted to view use it for recording videos. For staple 1080p recording it was smooth and stable thanks to electronic stabilization, but it will only carry you so far as blurs started kicking in during fast panning. 

Verdict

The Mi 9T is a jaw-dropping combination of a good operating system, performing mid-range specs and inviting price tag. This phone is simply able to do everything for you in ways even a Galaxy A50 can’t, which is the experience. It simply has a lot to offer despite the low-cost of adoption. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good all-rounder on a budget. I left my P30 Pro for this, and I strangely don’t miss it. 

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