Xiaomi Mi 9T Review — a terrific budget alternative to the already affordable Mi 9!
The Xiaomi Mi 9 was an awesome device for its price, but Xiaomi comes up with the Mi 9T which is prettier, more affordable and in some ways even better than the Xiaomi Mi 9. It has a headphone jack. Yep, I said it.
6GB + 64GB: RM1199
6GB + 128GB: RM1399
+ Included case is awesome!
+ One of the most beautiful finishes we have seen so far
+ There's a 3.5mm jack!
+ Great performance across the board
+ Excellent battery life
+ Good primary camera
+ Amazing bang for buck!
- Fingerprint scanner is a tad too slow
- Ultra-wide offers underwhelming performance in low light
I loved the Mi 9. It offered top-notch performance, a great camera setup, and it was also quite the looker. When Xiaomi announced the Mi 9T, I was honestly expecting it to be quite a bit pricier than the RM1199 starting price. It made the Mi 9 SE look quite obsolete with better specifications at a lower price, but is there more than what meets the eye? Did Xiaomi cut corners to give us better specifications on paper, or did Xiaomi pull off yet another amazing package offering extraordinary value?
When it comes to the packaging, the Mi 9T comes in a starkly less premium packaging than the Mi 9. I really fancied the shimmery Mi 9 box. But then again, the box is the least of my concerns when picking my next smartphone.
The contents of the box is infinitely more important, and Xiaomi definitely nailed it. The case here is not like the TPU cases you get with most of Xiaomi’s lineup, but it is a hard case with a soft-touch finish, which is similar to the cases included with the Mi MIX series. Cool stuff. That does amp up the premium factor by quite a bit. Aside from that, you also get a QC 3.0 18W charger, which is what you get in the box even when you get Xiaomi’s flagships.
If you are looking for value, the included accessories that come with the Xiaomi Mi 9T is just downright awesome.
The screen on the Xiaomi Mi 9T is beautiful. It’s one of the most affordable smartphones packing an AMOLED panel, and it is definitely the most affordable one to not sport a notch on the OLED panel.
On the back we are feted to even more beauty, with a psychedelic refractive finish that only lines the sides of the phone. The center portion is kept dark and mysterious. Our Glacier Blue sample looks amazing, and we are actually quite interested to see the other color options in action.
The side of the phone features a pretty interesting twist. The power button is finished in red. It really stands out in stark contrast to the rest of the blue Xiaomi Mi 9T. But then again, this whole phone’s design is meant to stand out. Over on the other side, we don’t find an AI button, which might just be a blessing in disguise. Also here we see that the camera hump is much less substantial than the one on the Xiaomi Mi 9, so those who are particular about scratches would be much more at ease with the Xiaomi Mi 9T.
The SIM tray is over on the bottom of the phone, along with the loudspeaker and USB-C port. The loudspeaker here will be the sole source of sound on the Xiaomi Mi 9T, because Xiaomi decided that stereo configurations aren’t worth their time.
Over on the top we find the long lost 3.5mm jack and the popup camera. The popup camera module also doubles as a notification light, as the thingamajig can glow. The Xiaomi Mi 9T does lose the IR blaster though, so you can’t control the TV at the mamak.
While I would have been much happier if the glow was white, which would probably mean it could serve as a softlight for better selfies. But it can’t. It glows in blue. It works as a notification light. And it is also very cool to see that thing extend and glow blue. But that’s about it. Xiaomi, please consider making your next popup camera module feature a built-in softlight. 10/10 innovation. If you have vacancies in your R&D team, you know who to call.
|CPU/Chipset:||Snapdragon 730 (2 x Kryo 470 Gold @ 2.2 GHz + 6 x Kryo 470 Silver @ 1.8 GHz), 8nm FinFET|
|GPU:||Adreno 618 @ 610 MHz|
|Display:||6.39″ FHD+ (2340 x 1080) AMOLED display, 103.8% NTSC, HDR, Corning Gorilla Glass 5|
|Storage:||64GB UFS 2.1|
48MP f/1.75 + 8MP f/2.4 2x telephoto + 13MP f/2.4 ultra wide-angle
Night Mode, Pro mode, Portrait Mode, 4K30 video, 1080p960 slow mo, AI Beautify, face recognition, 48MP HD, super macro
AI Beautification, HDR, AI lens flare, AI make up, AI portrait mode, AI studio light, 1080p30 video
|OS:||MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie|
|Connectivity:||LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)
|Battery:||Li-Po 4000 mAh (non-removable)
18W Quick Charge 3.0 support
|Dimensions:||156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm|
This is the first time we have tested the performance of a Snapdragon 730, so we are quite excited to see how the Mi 9T fares as well.
The Antutu benchmark shows that the Snapdragon 730 is a real beast. It even tops the Kirin 970 which was HUAWEI’s flagship chipset for the first half of 2018.
On the CPU front, it offers quite a bit of grunt too. The Xiaomi Mi 9T comes out ahead of the Snapdragon 845-powered POCOPHONE F1 because of its impressive single-core performance. It does have two fewer big cores, which is why we see the multi-core performance fall back in line with the other mid-range chipsets in the market.
GPU performance is what separates a flagship chipset from the mid-range nowadays, and the Xiaomi Mi 9T is exactly at the line which separates the mid-range from the flagships.
The PCMark performance tests reveal an impressive amount of grunt under the hood too, although for some reason the Mediatek P70-packing OPPO F11 Pro comes out on top.
With a 4000 mAh battery, the Xiaomi Mi 9T comes up ahead of the other devices compared here. The 8nm process apparently makes quite the difference, especially since the other smartphones here were on 10nm or older processes.
In daily use, performance was as fluid as they come. The Snapdragon 730 holds up well to casual use, but gaming on it is still somewhat limited, with PUBG Mobile capped at Smooth-Ultra which is just 40 fps. Honkai Impact runs at around 55 fps on max settings, which means that the low FPS cap in PUBG Mobile was not because of the hardware.
Battery life in practical use was also pretty good, with 5 hours 47 minutes of on-screen time and close to two days away from the plug. It was pretty quick to recharge, with 38% of juice in just 30 minutes.
The Xiaomi Mi 9T snuggles well into my palms. The thicker body helps it to feel a lot more secure in my hand than the Mi 9. I guess Meghan Trainor was on to something when she sang “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night” in All About That Bass. Thicker phones do feel better to hold. The screen here is just amazing especially at this price point, and the lack of any sort of notch or holes marring the beauty of it makes it just so much better.
Watching movies on the Xiaomi Mi 9T is great with the awesome display giving you the deep blacks you want, but you will want to make use of the 3.5mm headphone jack. The single speaker on the bottom is pretty good, with excellent loudness but definitely lacks bass.
The one grouse I have with the Xiaomi Mi 9T is that the in-display fingerprint scanner could be faster. However I do strongly believe it will be solved in future software updates, as the Xiaomi Mi 9 I use as my daily driver now unlocks as quickly as any smartphone with a fingerprint scanner. For now, it takes a second or two, and sometimes even longer if I had grubby thumbs or just didn’t place it optimally on the sensor.
MIUI 10 is one of the best Android skins out there in the market, so once again I am very happy with it. There are some curious decisions like where the options are located in the settings menu and what not, but overall it is quite well designed. Those who still prefer an app drawer would have to download a third party launcher, but otherwise it is perfect for all purposes.
Moving on, let’s take a look at the camera. The rear camera setup is pretty similar to the Mi 9 SE, and it is one that matches flagships on paper, at least. You get three cameras, a 13MP ultra-wide one, a wide-angle 48MP one and a 8MP 2x telephoto one. Sounds pretty good?
The image quality out of the Mi 9T is just as good as the Mi 9’s, especially from the main camera. The ultra-wide doesn’t have autofocus, but it works great for the main purpose of an ultra-wide lens: awesome landscapes. Xiaomi also gives you the ability to reduce the distortion of the wide-angle shots, making them look a lot more natural especially if you have human subjects in the shot. The telephoto camera is OK, and at times the colors actually look better than the Mi 9’s 12MP zoom. There is no need to talk more about the 48MP camera’s low light performance. It’s just awesome. The zoom and wide-angle, not so much. You can take a look at the high-res samples here.
For RM1199, the Xiaomi Mi 9T is a great phone for all purposes, particularly if you want a smartphone with a good camera. It is also one of the best smartphones overall in this price range, unless you want to consider the Mi MIX 2S or POCOPHONE F1, both of which offer a more impressive Snapdragon 845, but a less impressive camera setup.
Now, to answer the question we posed in the beginning. Xiaomi didn’t really cut that many corners as far as I can see. The auxiliary cameras aren’t all that great, but most of the competition at this price range only offer depth sensors to make up their “dual camera” setups. The large battery is welcome, and the headphone jack is an old friend we will always love to see. I wholeheartedly recommend the Xiaomi Mi 9T if you are in the market for a mid-range device.
Our thanks to Xiaomi Malaysia for providing us the Xiaomi Mi 9T for our review purposes. You can also check out the Xiaomi Mi 9T which is featured in Lazada Mid-Year Festival sales!