Meet the Xiaomi Mi 9: flagship power without the premium price

Meet the Xiaomi Mi 9: flagship power without the premium price
The Xiaomi Mi 9 has been the subject of official teasers for the past few weeks but today the highly-anticipated flagship has finally been revealed in its entirety alongside a special Transparent Edition model.

Polished Rear Design, New Triple-Camera Setup

Over the years Xiaomi has received its fair share of criticism due to its copycat designs. Recently, however, the company has been differentiating its devices from the competition and the Xiaomi Mi 9 appears to be no exception.

Taking a look at the smartphone’s rear, the Xiaomi Mi 9 utilizes a new glass panel that boasts subtle curves along its sides. This is paired with an all-new laser engraving holographic technology that creates a unique reflective finish. The smartphone also features a new triple-camera layout in the top corner that is aligned vertically and protected by sapphire glass.

While on the topic of cameras, it’s worth noting that the primary camera, which sits in the middle, boasts an impressive resolution of 48-megapixels and an f/1.75 aperture. It’s paired with a laser autofocus system and a number of AI enhancements (AI portrait, AI scene detection, steady handheld night photography, and more). Overall, it should result in some pretty big photographic improvements when compared to Xiaomi’s previous flagships.

Accompanying this sensor will be an improved 12-megapixel telephoto camera which supports 2x optical zoom and a new 16-megapixel sensor which is coupled with a wide-angle lens, thus giving users the chance to capture much more in their photos.

Improved Screen and an In-Display Fingerprint Scanner

Turning the smartphone over, Xiaomi has implemented some rather drastic design improvements which see the introduction of a new 6.39-inch AMOLED display supplied by Samsung. This panel includes thin side bezels and a slimmer chin. It also boasts a drastically-reduced notch which now resembles a waterdrop and is home to a 20-megapixel front-facing camera. Altogether, the phone sports a very impressive screen-to-body ratio of 90.7%.

Unsurprisingly, while the smaller notch is more aesthetically pleasing, it does mean Xiaomi has been forced to remove the 3D facial recognition found on the Mi 8 and Mi 8 Pro due to a lack of room. Nevertheless, the company has included an improved version of its optical in-display fingerprint sensor. Nevertheless, it's still not quite as accurate as the ultrasonic alternatives that will be included in the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+.

Flagship Processor, Android Pie, Wireless Charging

If the Xiaomi Mi 9 is opened up, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 can be found inside paired with a very respectable 6GB of RAM. This is coupled with 64GB or 128GB of internal storage depending on the buyer's preference. In either case, microSD expansion is supported.

Elsewhere inside the device, support for 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and an IR Blaster can be found. Additionally, keeping the lights on is a relatively small 3,300mAh battery that supports fast charging (Xiaomi includes an 18W charger inside the box) and wireless charging of up to 20W – the fastest version of this tech we've seen thus far. Lastly, Android 9 Pie complete with the MIUI 10 overlay arrives pre-installed straight out of the box.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 Transparent Edition

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the regular Xiaomi Mi 9 is accompanied by a Transparent Edition. As was the case with the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, the model includes a transparent glass panel on the rear that provides a glimpse at some of the key internals. However, it's worth pointing out that the components on display aren't actually the real ones. In actual fact, it's simply an aluminum plate covering the real, less photogenic parts.

Aside from the external changes, Xiaomi has also made some upgrades on the inside. Namely, this model doubles the RAM to 12GB and also boosts the expandable internal storage to 256GB.

Release Date, Pricing, and International Availability

The Xiaomi Mi 9 will retail at 2,999 yuan (~$446) and 3,299 yuan (~$491) for the 6/64GB and 6/128GB models when they go on sale next month. Similarly, the Transparent Edition will cost 3,999 yuan (~$595).

Initial availability will be limited to China but the smartphones should eventually make their way to Europe. In fact, Xiaomi will be showcasing the Mi 9 series at MWC next week prior to its global debut. Unfortunately, the US market is unlikely to receive these high-end models.

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