With Xiaomi we have a new price fighter in the Netherlands. The company introduces the Xiaomi Mi 9 this spring for a relatively low price, equipped with the fastest hardware of the moment and three cameras on the back.
Read our Xiaomi Mi 9 preview
In the coming weeks and months Samsung, Huawei, Sony, and other manufacturers will bring their newest top devices. These so-called flagships are equipped with very smooth hardware, but you often pay the main prize for that. The prices are now up to almost a thousand euros for a new device.
Xiaomi shows that things can be done differently. Xiaomi is already one of the largest manufacturers in China and has been trying to break through in the West for a year or two. They do so by setting up extensive smartphones with a very competitive price-quality ratio. The Mi 9, a device that was announced this week for Europe, is an excellent example with a suggested retail price of 449 euros. We tried the device on the exhibition floor of the Mobile World Congress and tell you in this Xiaomi Mi 9 preview why.
Snapdragon 855: the best hardware for less money
What makes the price in one go all very impressive: the Mi 9 is equipped with a Snapdragon 855. That is the very latest chipset from Qualcomm, which this spring is also in top phones from Sony, LG, Samsung and OnePlus. But while you always pay 800 euros or more for those smartphones, Xiaomi only asks 450 euros for the Mi 9.
The Snapdragon 855 is a very smooth chipset. Of course, smartphones from last year were already smooth, but on the Mi 9, everything seems to fly a bit more. Apps appear almost instantly, and even a somewhat more complex website has virtually no hitches while you are quickly scrolling. The entry-level model already has a large 64GB storage space and 6GB RAM, but for a few bucks more you can buy a version with 128GB and 8GB.
This is how the three Xiaomi Mi 9 cameras work
There are three cameras on the back of the Mi 9. The primary lens is one of 48 megapixels with an aperture of f / 1.8. That sounds like an exaggerated number of megapixels, but Xiaomi applies the so-called quad more bay technology. All those pixels are compressed into one 12-megapixel photo. In theory, this yields a sharper, more colorful image.
This camera is supported by a 16-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with a 2x optical zoom. Such an arrangement is now fairly standard in top appliances, but nonetheless, it is an impressive camera for this price category. We were only able to take a few test photos, but they even looked good with the sub-optimal conditions. They have a nice dynamic range with many colors.
The photos look less vivid than for example the Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera, but that device is also many hundreds of euros more expensive. In our full Mi 9 review, we come back to the performance of the camera, but the first impression is that Xiaomi has hardly made concessions to the camera to keep the price low.
We do not see those concessions in the design. The device has a curved glass back that feels very premium. It is a bit slippery and sensitive to fingerprints, but that is now the standard with these high-end smartphones. The cameras on the back protrude a little, and around the primary camera is a colored ring. It is purely decorative and discolors on the basis of the light that reflects on it.
The hefty 6.4-inch screen fills almost the entire front. Only at the top is a small notch for the 20-megapixel selfie camera. The fingerprint scanner of the Mi 9 is also included in that screen. At the bottom of the image is an optical scanner that unlocks the device when you put your finger on it. It is somewhat slower than a ‘traditional’ scanner on the back, but when you get used to it, the copy of the Mi 9 is fine. Unfortunately, a headphone connection is missing.
Battery Xiaomi Mi 3 also wirelessly full quickly
The Mi 9 continues to surprise because even the battery has some improvements that you do not expect for this price. The capacity is 3300 mAh. We have not been able to test it, but it is usually enough for a full day without use. The device also supports not only fast charging with wire (50 percent in half an hour) but also wireless. You have to buy a 20-watt wireless charger yourself, but in theory, the battery is half full within half an hour. This means the Xiaomi charges wirelessly faster than smartphones from Apple or Samsung with wire.
Xiaomi gives the device a suggested retail price of 449 euros. That is almost four hundred euros less than other new smartphones with the same hardware. It should be noted that the price in the Netherlands is still slightly higher for the time being. The Chinese manufacturer is only cautiously active in the Netherlands, and most Xiaomi smartphones are therefore imported from abroad at a small additional cost. At the time of writing, you pay 549 euros for a separate Mi 9. Slightly more expensive, but still much more affordable than the competition.
Conclusion Xiaomi Mi 9 preview
A few years ago it was still OnePlus and Huawei that offered high-end hardware for a budget price. At both manufacturers, however, the price is slowly but surely climbing up. There you get something better hardware in return, but for the bargain hunters, the offer seemed to shiver. For that group, the arrival of Xiaomi is excellent news.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is a smartphone that in terms of specifications virtually does not stand in the way of the best smartphones of the moment. The screen resolution is slightly lower than with a top device and the design of Xiaomi’s software may take some getting used to, but otherwise, this is an unprecedented complete smartphone in this price range. In our Xiaomi Mi 9 review later this spring, we pass our final judgment, but this first impression absolutely tastes like more.