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Xiaomi Mi 9T Review

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There has been a huge shakeup in Xiaomi’s portfolio of smartphones. This is the reason why we now have the brand new Xiaomi Mi 9T.

As you probably know by now, the Mi 9T is just the global version of the popular Redmi K20. And just like its brothers, this device is poised to be the best smartphone that you can get for its price.

It packs a modern design that are similar in most advanced smartphones today. The interesting part is, it also has appealing hardware features that justify its looks.

With that, here in our Xiaomi Mi 9T review, we shall see how all of its features perform in day to day tasks. And ultimately, we’ll help you decide if this is actually the one for you.

Xiaomi Mi 9T Specs

  • Android 9 Pie, MIUI 10
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • 6.39-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display, 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~403ppi
  • NTSC 103.8 %, HDR support, Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 octa-core processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • Adreno 618 GPU, Game Turbo 2.0
  • 64GB/128GB internal storage
  • 20-megapixel pop-up selfie camera, f/2.2
  • 48-megapixel (Sony IMX 582, f/1.75) + 8-megapixel (2x zoom) + 13-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.4) rear cameras, PDAF, Laser focus, LED flash
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • 4G LTE, VoLTE
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0, Headphone jack
  • Dual-band GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BDS, A-GPS
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 191g
  • Colors: Carbon Black, Flame Red, Glacier Blue
  • 4,000mAh non-removable battery, 18W charger

Design and Build Quality

Spoiler alert: there is a lot of interesting hardware that’s inside the Xiaomi Mi 9T. The best part is, Xiaomi was able to cram its already impressive features in a very sleek and stylish design.

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This device is made with glass in the front and back, with an aluminum frame that holds everything together. For a handset that’s 8.8mm thick and weighs 191g, it still feels ergonomic and nice in the hands thanks to its curved edges.

The Mi 9T is available in Carbon Black — with a carbon fiber-like design on the back — and in Red Flame and Glacier Blue, which is the one we’re taking a look here.

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Each side on the back has this unique reflective design that really looks like a blazing flame when it reacts to light. This design accent really gives it a unique and distinctive look.

Another highlight of the Xiaomi Mi 9T’s design is its pop-up camera. And to stand out from the competition, Xiaomi even included LED lights on the levitating mechanism. It gives an extra flair and also a simple way of letting you know where to look at when you take a selfie.

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It also doubles as a notification light. When it blinks, there’s an upcoming notification. When it’s steady, the device is charging.

The Xiaomi Mi 9T also has a fall detection feature that will immediately withdraw the pop-up camera when you accidentally drop the handset. It also has downward pressure detection, which is pretty self-explanatory.

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Sitting on the opposite side of the pop-up camera is the noise-canceling microphone, 3.5mm headphone jack, and an antenna band.

Thanks to its pop-up camera and AMOLED panel, the Xiaomi Mi 9T has an all-screen, almost bezel-less 6.39-inch display. There’s also ultra-thin bezels on all sides and a tiny strip on top for the earpiece. The screen also has an in-display fingerprint scanner baked underneath.

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At the bottom, we have the other two antenna bands, USB Type-C port, loudspeakers, the primary microphone, and a dual nano-SIM card slot. Disappointingly, it lacks microSD card support.

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On the left side, there’s the lock/power switch painted in red and the volume controls on top of it. All physical buttons feel really tactile and well-made.

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Finally, we have the 48-megapixel primary camera on the back, sitting outside the island that houses the 8-megapixel telephoto camera and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide shooter. A dual-tone flash is located right below them.

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Clearly, the Xiaomi Mi 9T instantly gives a good impression the moment you hold it. And you’d like it more as we dig in further.

See also: OPPO F11 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 9T: Specs Comparison

Display Quality

The Xiaomi Mi 9T has a 6.39-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display with 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~403ppi, 103.8% NTSC coverage, HDR support, and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

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As expected, the display project images with vibrant colors and really deep contrast. In addition, the HDR support works with Netflix, so you can see more details in darker areas of the frame in compatible movies/shows.

The 6.39-inch size is spacious enough to make mobile gaming and its on-screen controls comfortable to use. Its high-resolution screen also makes small texts in web articles easy in the eyes. The panel provides enough brightness to make it usable outdoors, although the glass is a bit too reflective.

Sound Quality

The Xiaomi Mi 9T has a really good-sounding loudspeaker. Xiaomi uses a linear speaker, which provides really loud sound. The interesting part is, it delivers well-balanced audio, too. Along with good clarity, clean highs, and audible bass.

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It would have been nice to have a stereo speaker setup on this one. But I guess that’s too much to ask at this price point.

Moreover, Mi 9T has HiFi sound support when you plug in a pair of headphones. But based on my testing, it only provided mediocre sound quality thru a pair of audiophile-grade earphones.

Hardware and Performance

Spec heads out there would really appreciate the Xiaomi Mi 9T. This handset comes with a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 octa-core processor, Adreno 618 GPU, 6GB of RAM, and an option between 64GB and 128GB storage models. For your reference, the one that we’re reviewing here is the 128GB variant.

Xiaomi Mi 9T benchmarks

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Xiaomi Mi 9T provides reliable performance in basic and heavy tasks. Apps load fast and run seamlessly. Multitasking is also snappy thanks to its generous memory capacity.

Thanks to its powerful processor and Dual Turbo software acceleration (Mi Turbo, Game Turbo 2.0), it delivers flagship-like gaming performance. PUBG Mobile, one of the most demanding games in the Google Play store, was playable at smooth frame rates under the highest graphics settings.

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This is why it’s not surprising that other titles like NBA 2k19, Mobile Legends, and Asphalt 9 ran really well. However, the device does get warm a bit after a few minutes of playing

Overall, the Xiaomi Mi 9T is definitely one of the most powerful smartphones in its price category.

Software and User Interface

The Xiaomi Mi 9T runs on the latest Android 9 Pie with the company’s MIUI 10 interface. There are two themes available to choose from: there’s the Classic, and the one that we used, the Default.

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Much like its predecessors, MIUI 10 is really clean and straightforward. It’s made to look very familiar and close to the stock Android, much like what Samsung did with the One UI.

The lock screen is clean. The home screen is also relatively neat, despite the lack of an option to use an app drawer. Fortunately, you can swipe from down-up to access Google search so you can easily find the app that you’re looking for. It can also do a web search, of course.

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You can also swipe down, even from the middle of the screen, to access the notifications tab and control center. I like that you don’t have to go all the way up to access it, making it easier. In addition, the most-used toggles on the control center are in a single row, which you can expand to access three more rows of it.

The recent apps tab gives you a full screen view of all your apps instead of previews. Meanwhile, swiping to the far left reveals a page with tabs for most used and recommended apps, calendar events, stocks, and more.

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Xiaomi Mi 9T utilizes on-screen controls, with an option to use gesture navigations. It then uses the comfortable and easy to use Google keyboard. I also like how feature-packed yet intuitive to use the camera app is.

Overall, the MIUI 10 on the Mi 9T is one of the cleanest and user-friendly interfaces in the market.

Related: Samsung Galaxy A70 vs Xiaomi Mi 9T: Specs Comparison

Security

One of the cool features of the Xiaomi Mi 9T is its in-display fingerprint scanner. A feature that’s starting to become a norm in smartphones today, even in midrange ones.

The scanner worked really fast and reliable. It’s like using the traditional, physical one. Other than unlocking the device, you can also use it to secure particular apps, authorize mobile payments, and more.

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Xiaomi Mi 9T’s face unlock also worked well, even in low-light scenarios. However, the levitating movement of the camera takes extra time. This makes using the fingerprint scanner a faster option to unlock the device. Also, Xiaomi themselves notifies you that it can be easily tricked, so you should be cautious when using it.

Camera

Besides having good performance and design, one of the main considerations people have when buying a smartphone is camera quality. If you’re one of them, you’d be pleased with the Xiaomi Mi 9T.

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This phone comes with three cameras on the back. And unlike most smartphones that only have depth sensors and monochrome cameras, the extra cameras on the Mi 9T are actually useful.

The Mi 9T has a 48-megapixel primary camera. That’s a Sony IMX 582 sensor with a wide aperture of f/1.8 and phase-detection autofocus. Partnered with its AI scene detection, it takes really vibrant and colorful images with great contrast, well-managed dynamic range, and really sharp details.

Be reminded that pictures in standard mode are actually only at 12-megapixel, due to pixel binning. With pixel binning, a 48-megapixel sensor is divided into four, creating brighter and better 12-megapixel pictures.

To take full 48-megapixel pictures, you can slide on the “48MP” mode on the camera app. It captures images at a large resolution of 8,000 x 6,000 pixel (vs the 4,000 x 3,000 pixel on the standard mode). Unless you’d be printing the picture for a poster, you might just stick to the 12-megapixel mode as 48-megapixel images take up to 15MB of storage.

Secondly, we have the 8-megapixel camera with a telephoto lens that provides 2x of optical zoom. Unlike the OPPO Reno 10X Zoom or the Huawei P30 Pro, who have 5x optical zoom capability, the 2x zoom on the Mi 9T is only great if you want to punch in on a close subject to remove any distraction on the foreground. No crazy telescope-like superpowers.

This is also the same camera used in the depth sensor, so you have to step back a bit if you want to take a bokeh image. In return, you’re getting a clean and believable DSLR-like effect.

We also have the 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera. Unlike other wide-angle shooters, this one creates sharper and more colorful images. This lets you take clean architectural images, group photos, and more.

Lastly, we have a 20-megapixel selfie camera. We already know that it pops-up, and it looks cool and all. But, you’d be glad to know that it also performs really well.

The pixel-packed sensor of the Xiaomi Mi 9T can capture really sharp selfies, with decent colors that are great for skin tones. It also performs well in low-light scenarios, although grains and noises are now more visible.

Just like all smartphones around, the Xiaomi Mi 9T also has vast options for face beautification. It works fine and the final product looks clean as the software has a lot of detail to work with thanks to its sharp sensor.

Connectivity

The Xiaomi Mi 9T has 4G LTE connectivity, which provides reliable and stable connection via the mobile network. Call quality is also fine on this device, thanks to its dual microphone setup.

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There’s also the WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with dual-band support and Bluetooth 5.0. Both of which performed well in our testing. Xiaomi also pioneered the dual-band GPS feature, which we’re also seeing in this device.

For charging and data transfer, you can use its modern USB Type-C port. Setting an example to other brands who are still using microUSB ports on their midrange devices.

Battery

Smartphones with 4,000mAh battery have become a norm in smartphones these days. The Xiaomi Mi 9T has that same capacity, with support for 18W fast charging.

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We ran PCMark’s battery test, with the WiFi turned off and the screen brightness and volume set to 50%. The Mi 9T scored 11 hours and 52 minutes of screen-on time. It’s definitely not the best score that we got, but also not the worst.

In real-world usage, you can get an entire day of light to moderate usage with this device. But if you’re a heavy gamer, then you might have to reach for the charger before the day ends.

Verdict

As what you just saw, the Xiaomi Mi 9T packs a lot of great features that are not only good on paper. For one, you’d instantly fall in love with its sleek and unique design. There’s also the great set of cameras for great flexibility when shooting.

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The powerful Snapdragon 730 octa-core processor makes us wonder if spending twice (or thrice) more money on a flagship device is actually still worth it. To match that, the Xiaomi Mi 9 also has a reliable battery capacity. It also has some surprises like the great loudspeaker performance and ultra-fast face unlock feature.

However, the Xiaomi Mi 9T is not without its flaws. Although the unit that we have here do come with a generous 128GB of storage, people might still miss the benefits of having an option for storage expansion.

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Xiaomi also admitted that its face unlock feature is not very secure, which makes us question its existence. And, if we’re really nitpicking, I wish the screen is not as reflective as it is.

Still, the Xiaomi Mi 9T is one of the best smartphones to get for the price — going head-to-head with Xiaomi’s own Mi 9 SE.

Xiaomi Mi 9T pricing and availability in the Philippines

The Xiaomi Mi 9T is now available for a starting price of Php15,990 for the 6GB/64GB model, while the 6GB/128GB variant is at Php17,990.

You can get it in Mi Authorized stores nationwide, and through Xiaomi’s official store in Lazada.

Pros

  • Sleek, unique design
  • Great cameras
  • Flagship-like performance
  • Reliable battery
  • Thumping loudspeakers
  • Fast fingerprint scanner

 

Cons

  • No microSD card support
  • Unsecure face unlock
  • Reflective display

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