Xiaomi Mi 9 test: our full review – Smartphones


Introduction
    The Xiaomi Mi 9 made a strong impression on the MWC 2019 for its excellent value for money … on paper. What is it really? Here is our complete test to find out.

Technical sheet
        Model
                                    Xiaomi Mi 9
                    
            OS version
                                            
                            Android 9.0
                Interface
                                            
                            MIUI
                Screen size
                                            
                            6.39 inches
                Definition
                                            
                            2340 x 1080 pixels
                Pixel density
                                            
                            403 dpi
                SoC
                                            
                            Snapdragon 855 at 2.84GHz
                Processor (CPU)
                                            
                            ARMv8
                Graphics Chip (GPU)
                                            
                            Adreno 640
                RAM memory
                                            
                            6 GB
                Internal memory (flash)
                                            
                            64 GB, 128 GB
                MicroSD
                                            
                            No
                Camera (backpack)
                                            
                            1:48 megapixel sensor, 2 megapixel sensor
                Camera (front)
                                            
                            20 megapixels
                Video recording
                                            
                            4K
                Wireless
                                            
                            Yes
                Bluetooth
                                            
                            5.0 + A2DP + LE
                networks
                                            
                            LTE, HSPA, GSM
                Supported bands
                                            
                            2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)
                SIM
                                            
                            2x nano SIM
                NFC
                                            
                            Yes
                Ports (Inputs / Outputs)
                                            
                            USB Type-C
                Geolocation
                                            
                            Yes
                Drums
                                            
                            3300 mAh
                Dimensions
                                            
                            157.5 x 74.7 x 7.6 mm
                Weight
                                            
                            173 grams
                Colors
                                            
                            Blue, Black, Purple
                Price
                                            
                            469 €
                
                                    
                        Product sheet
                                                    | Test
                                                
                                This test was made from a smartphone provided by the brand.
Design
The Xiaomi Mi 9 does not rely on a slider like the Mix range, but rather on perfecting the more traditional lines of today's smartphones. Thus, it takes this year the notch in the form of drop so as not to take up as much space as before. This one seems to me a little more marked than that of a OnePlus 6T, but it is not the case: the notch itself is less thick, 9mm against 13mm, and just as high, while their side edges have exactly the same thickness.
Its front remains flat, but its edges join a rounded metal frame whose angle then joins very well the curvature of its glass back. Result? Light in hand, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is also very pleasant to grip. It is a little slippery, but as much as all his brothers who made the choice of this material. It is not necessarily very original, at least seen from the front.

On the right side of the device are the volume and lock buttons, placed naturally where the thumb rests. On the top, we find the noise reduction microphone alongside the usual infrared blaster Xiaomi phones, whose usefulness is not so marked on the European market.
Small novelty on the left side: at the port Dual SIM (without support of the microSD) located at the top adds a new customizable button, which by default calls for the rescue Google Assistant. Again, it is positioned so that the middle finger come naturally find it. Finally, the bottom accommodates only a type C USB port in the middle of speaker grilles. Only the right grid has any use, however.
             
It is in the back that the personality of the Xiaomi Mi 9 is displayed a little more. We find the usual rounded lines of the brand that, in the black color of our test copy, enjoy a beautiful mirror effect. We notice especially the configuration with three photo sensors on the upper left corner of the back, housed in a growth all the same quite imposing. The latter also overlooks a LED flash that marries him, perfectly back. This excrescence makes the Xiaomi Mi 9 is particularly uncomfortable to use once laid flat on a table, since it keeps fidgeting at the slightest support, and is visually just as wobbly.

Classic, but effective. Xiaomi's finishes are not disappointing yet, but the black color is perhaps not the best way to highlight the phone: its blue / purple color with bright streaks may be more to the taste of those seeking Some freshness. The Xiaomi Mi 9 succeeds in any case to be a phone certainly large format, but is not difficult to use a hand and always pleasant.
Screen
The Xiaomi Mi 9 has a large 6.39-inch OLED panel in Full HD + definition. It supports the HDR10 and covers the DCI-P3 color space according to Xiaomi. As said before, it is slightly interspersed with a notch, drop-shaped and therefore discreet.
Visibly, this slab looks excellent. Its contrast is very good, as is its overall brightness. We feel that the colors are blue, but nothing more than the average setting found on the market. In any case, it is very promising.

Passing under our probe, we can establish that the maximum brightness is recorded at 448 cd / m², which is rather good without being huge. Above all, the RGB color space is largely covered. The average color temperature is raised to 7800K by default, which is actually within the average of the industry's default settings.
By default, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is set to "Auto Contrast", a mode that uses the ambient light sensor to maximize display. However, you can use a contrasts setting, or a default setting. What's more, you can manually touch the color temperature to get a closer look to the natural.

Software
The Xiaomi Mi 9 takes advantage of MIUI 10.2 interface input running Android 9.0 Pie. It also has the security patch of February 2019.
As always, it must be remembered that the interface of the Chinese manufacturer moves far away from what offers basic Android. Here, inspiration is more to see on the side of iOS, but with a particular focus on the user interface and its graphics. The system customization is very advanced, with many options related to the general behavior of the phone, but no application drawer is available.

It offers everything you expect from an interface in 2019. For example, you can customize the order of your navigation buttons or enable navigation very good gesture. Unlocking by facial recognition is also available. By cons, recall that the technology is simply based on the sensor before: it is not very secure.
Note that unlike the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, the Xiaomi Mi 9 has Widevine L1 certification. As a result, the smartphone will be able to enjoy the contents of Netflix, Canal + and other VOD services in high definition.
Fingerprint reader under the screen
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is equipped with an under-screen fingerprint reader. This one is optical technology, and is sixth generation. Also, it's twice as fast as the one found on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro or the OnePlus 6T, for comparison. It is placed low enough on the front body of the device, but remains in a position that is natural to reach with his thumb once the smartphone in hand.

It is really convenient to use, and is never really frustrating to use. We do not regret that it is not placed at the back, or that a 3D facial recognition solution replaces it. If you let your thumb rest on the unlocking area, MIUI also lets you slide left to reach a QR Code scanner, right to add an event to your calendar or top to do a quick search. The idea is not bad, but we would have liked to customize these three shortcuts.
IA button
As said in the design part, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is also equipped with an additional button to call the artificial intelligence of Google: Assistant. The button works on the same principle as that seen on the Mi Mix 3: while remaining pressed on it, you can make your request to the voice assistant as using a walkie-talkie. Releasing the button will launch the final search.
                  
In use, it works very well and makes using Google Assistant easier. If the wizard does not please you, you are however free to reconfigure the key as you wish according to two uses: support and maintain, and double support. You can also choose to disable it completely. We know a Korean manufacturer that could be inspired.
performances
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the first representative of the new SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 to which we are entitled in France. The new chip does not disappoint of course absolutely not in regular use, providing an exemplary fluidity for use on simple tasks.
Xiaomi Mi 9Samsung Galaxy S10 (FHD +) Mate 20 Pro (perf) Sony Xperia XZ3
SoCS855Exynos 9820Kirin 980S845
AnTuTu 7.x370 355316 966300 614289 348
PCMark 2.08 8387 7819 3378 471
3DMark Slingshot Extreme5 4994 3574 2204 183
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Graphics6 3555 2604 2525 096
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Physics3 7372 7214 1132 598
GFXBench Aztec Vulkan High23 / 16 FPS20 / 16 FPS14 / 11 FPS
GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen) 36/42 FPS37 / 39 FPS27 / 32 FPS19 / 35 FPS
GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 (onscreen / offscreen) 60/101 FPS58 / 86 FPS59 / 78 FPS48 / 82 FPS
Sequential read / write796 / 189 MB / s815 / 194 MB / s866 / 195 MB / s694 / 193 MB / s
Random read / write 37,1k / 37,1k IOPS35,5k / 6,3k IOPS39,6k / 40k IOPS36,3k / 5,8k IOPS
In game, it's once again a great surprise. The Snapdragon 855 marks a generation difference, and it feels. On Fortnite, you can take advantage of the High 60 FPS or the 30 FPS Epic mode. The 60 FPS mode is an absolute treat of fluidity for a game of this quest on smartphone, and is perfectly stable even in complicated conditions.
Same observation on PUBG Mobile, which launches into its maximum configuration currently available without the slightest problem. HDR graphics, ultra frame rate, anti-aliasing enabled and without any auto graphics adjustment, the title runs beautifully. If the 60 FPS are not necessarily constantly achieved, PUBG Mobile has a perfectly playable frequency.
Throughout our tests, the Xiaomi Mi 9 did not overheat. What's more, this heater is quickly dissipated and is not annoying to use. It's all good.
Camera
Triple rear photo sensor
Here it is: the first triple Xiaomi photo sensor. The main sensor is a 48 megapixel objective lens opening in f / 1.75. The second is a 12-megapixel telephoto lens opening in f / 2.2. And finally, the third 16-megapixel is an ultra-wide-angle lens opener opening in f / 2.2.
The will here is the same as that of the Huawei smartphones that have popularized this configuration: offer a wider range of tools to users. You can enjoy a more powerful macro mode, a very convenient ultra-wide angle sensor or a lossless x2 zoom.
             
In daylight, the main sensor does wonders. The restitution of natural colors is very good, as the sharpness of the image thanks to the many details preserved. Its weakness lies in the dynamic range, which although quite well restored is not complete: the HDR deserves a small improvement.
                  
The ultra-wide angle sensor is very effective here, and manages to transcribe the scene without too much trouble. The colors tend to be a little warmer than the main sensor, but the distortion caused by such a lens is not too marked. The result is really convincing.
                  
The same can not be said of the telephoto lens. In real difficulty on the broad dynamic beaches, he tends to overexpose clichés. The level of detail is also unsatisfactory, but that's not necessarily dramatic for a feature that, let's face it, is not that popular.
             
Indoors, a slight noise appears under certain shooting conditions, which is fortunately not disturbing. Without this, we feel that the Xiaomi Mi 9 operates a slight smoothing of some flat color, allowing him to keep a good general pick at the expense of often the liveliness of colors. The choices made are still relevant and very satisfactory.
                  
Who says ultra-wide angle sensor also says super macro. The result is again rather good.

At night, the sensor loses its superb. For the attention he pays to the colors, which are at least satisfactory, the level of detail disappears completely. The images are very noisy, and dynamic ranges barely transcribed. The result is not catastrophic so far, but we can not really make beautiful pictures.
                  
Note that the Xiaomi Mi 9 has a night mode, which invites you to stay still a fraction of a second capture to improve the details. This is actually what the phone does: push the details to the maximum and better analyze the brightness of each element to draw a usable image, certainly, but inconsistent.
Front photo sensor
At the front, we have the right to a single 20 megapixel lens sensor opening in f / 2.0.

The main problem of the front photo sensor is seen especially during the day: its management of HDR is bad. Thus, the broad dynamic ranges are found burned, harming the final image. Better to avoid the bright backgrounds. Indoors, the result is very good with good preservation of details. Note, however, the noise appearing in the background. Finally, at night, the details are the trunk because of an omnipresent noise, but the final shot remains usable thanks to a transcript of colors quite correct.
Portrait mode
                  
Portrait mode is available both front and back. You can adjust the level of blur before and after capture in real time to achieve the desired effect.
As always, the Xiaomi algorithm is still very effective on this issue, especially in the back where it is supported by telephoto. The default blur rendering is very elegant, and the clipping of topics very effective. In the front, he is also doing very well despite the absence of a second sensor, offering an excellent picture.
Video
The rear sensor of the Xiaomi Mi 9 allows you to shoot in 4K at 60 or 30 FPS and in 1080p at 60 or 30 FPS. The image is very good in recording, just like autofocus, but this is not necessarily the case of stabilization. Even if the parameters indicate that it is activated, it is really only usable in 1080p at 30 FPS. Better still film in this definition: even the natural tremors of the hand are retranscribed trying to push it further.

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Note that you can also use the Xiaomi Mi 9's wide-angle sensor to shoot. In which case, you will have the choice between 4K or 1080p at 30 FPS. The same concern for stabilization arises, but the possibility is good to take.

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At the front, you can shoot in 1080p or 720p at 30 FPS. The microphone is pretty good for lovers of cheap vlogging, but it has the same flaw as in photo: the HDR is really missing the call to make this practice viable.

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Also note that an idle at 960 FPS is available, which ends up giving a file in 720p at 30 FPS. The idle is very nice, but as for all other smartphones, this feature will end up being very rarely used.

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His
First notable point: the Xiaomi Mi 9 does not have a jack. A jack to USB type C is however provided with the phone, as a bonus of basic headphones that are unfortunately not available on our press release and we can not estimate the quality.
However, it has the advantage of being compatible with Bluetooth 5. Thus, you can connect two audio devices in Bluetooth enjoying the same sound source, such as two speakers for example, which will be synchronized. Also, with the devices themselves Bluetooth 5, the range is greatly improved.
The speaker of the Xiaomi Mi 9 is its main weak point on the audio. Giving a mono sound, and only downward, it is pale against other smartphones in its class that usually take advantage of the speakerphone to provide stereo sound and a user orientation. Nevertheless, it is not catastrophic either: it saturates little and offers a satisfactory volume, even if the sound in itself lacks definition.
Network and Communications
The Xiaomi Mi 9 benefits from a modem compatible with all European network bands, namely 700 MHz (B28), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2100 MHz (B1) and 2600 MHz (B7). . No problem of incompatibility so! Calls go very well with good quality, both for the caller and the called party.
For its positioning, it also benefits from a Dual Band GPS (L1 + L5) equivalent to that integrated with premium smartphones, like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro just to name it. The GPS fix is ​​just as good as its premium friends, offering us as much accuracy and speed that can be expected from such a solution.
Autonomy
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is equipped with a battery of 3300 mAh, which on paper still seems a little light for a device of its kind.
At use yet, the smartphone knows how to get away with the honors. It holds a full day without too much of a breath with a classic use (Twitter, music, YouTube, photos), and knows how to hold a few games of gourmet 3D games without too much language. Nevertheless, he is not a marathoner either: to reach a second day of use without sacrificing oneself is improbable.
At least it is compatible with quick charging Quick Charge 4+. However, the supplied charger is a Quick Charge 3 model at 18W. The latter can recharge the phone from 15% to 70% in 30 minutes, for a full recharge in one hour and about ten minutes. It's still excellent.
It is also compatible with a proprietary wireless charging technology of up to 20W, the fastest available today. However, the necessary owner charger is not provided and we could not test it. Fortunately, the phone can enjoy the Qi wireless charging up to 10W without the slightest problem.
Photo gallery

Price and release date
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is already available in France at 499.90 euros for the 6 GB version of RAM and 64 GB of storage, and 529.90 euros for the 128 GB version of storage.
Where to buy the Xiaomi Mi 9 at the best price?
    
    
    
        
            
                        Test Xiaomi Mi 9 The verdict
                    
                                                    
                                
                                His rounded glass back is successful, as is his small notch. Light but still solid, its finishes are excellent. It will reproach him especially the protrusion of its rear photo sensors and its always mono speaker.
                            
                                                    
                                
                                An AMOLED panel of good quality offering a satisfactory brightness and all the settings that one is entitled to expect to have a complete experience.
                            
                                                    
                                
                                The latest version of Android with the latest patch, and a MIUI offering a lot of customizations and deep settings of the experience. This remains MIUI, a more closed system and closer to iOS than usual, but it's a matter of taste.
                            
                                                    
                                
                                Our first snapshot in France of the Snapdragon 855 is far from disappointing us. Ultra-powerful, it does not heat up excessively and unblocks the best options at stake.
                            
                                                    
                                
                                The Xiaomi Mi 9 offers many options, and that's all we love. Its sensors are not at the premium level, but they are doing really well for its price. Too bad the front sensor is so perfectible in HDR, otherwise the balance would have been perfect.
                            
                                                    
                                
                                With its 3,300 mAh battery, the Xiaomi Mi 9 does not work miracles, but quietly keeps a day of use. Its fast charging is excellent, as is its compatibility with wireless charging.
                            
                                            
                            
                    
                    
                            
                            
                
                    Let's establish it from the outset: the Xiaomi Mi 9 is not perfect. However, the sacrifices he chooses to make to keep an affordable price are all relevant, making his only real weak point is the HDR of its front photo sensor.For the rest, you have the right to a triple rear photo sensor Versatile and fun, a sober but successful design, the best performance on the market, comfortable autonomy and all the latest popular technologies (under-screen fingerprint reader, wireless charging) without the need to spend a SMIC for that.Le Xiaomi Mi 9 is becoming the best value for money currently available, and begins to take up for him the banner brandished previously by OnePlus. MIUI may not be to everyone's taste, but this smartphone is without a doubt.
            
                            
                        Good points
                        Light and strong phone
                                                            Fast and efficient fingerprint reader
                                                            Triple multi-purpose photo sensor
                                                            Excellent value
                                                    
                    
                        Negative points
                        Bad HDR on the front photo sensor
                                                            Bancal laid flat
                                                            (no jack)
                                                    
                
                    
            
    
        
    
                
    

        
                
    
    

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