I’ve been called a flagship snob quite a number of times due to me being quite judgy when it comes to budget and mid-range smartphones. Granted, I’ve been quite spoilt when it comes to smartphones and when you’ve tried the best of the best, it's hard to lower your expectations.
However, the Xiaomi Mi 9T completely changed my expectations when it comes to mid-range devices. Priced at RM1199, this device is powered by the Snapdragon 730 chipset yet performs tasks that any casual smartphone user would do everyday beautifully. With its full screen display and awesome rear design, this makes for an overall great phone. Read below to find out more!
Design - The design is FIRE
The Mi 9T comes with a full view display. It is achieved thanks to the 20MP pop up selfie camera placed on the top right of the device. In terms of bezels, it comes with some not-so thin bezels with a slight chin at the bottom but I didn’t mind that too much since it feels like there’s so much room for activities!
The back is where the party starts. Out of the many innovative rear designs for a smartphone that has come out this year, the Mi 9T definitely brings home best rear design of 2019 (so far). The back is a black to blue gradient but what makes it interesting is the fact that when the light moves on the back, it looks like it is being engulfed in flames.
It has a very shiny back, encased in Gorilla Glass 6
In case you didn't believe me when I said the back is literally fire
How the phone looks with the pop up front camera out
You can find the volume rocker and red power button on the left side of the device
Speaker grills, SIM tray and USB-C port at the bottom
Can't forget the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top. Really wish it was placed at the bottom of the device, though
The dual SIM tray, sorry no microSD slot
Another super cool thing that this smartphone has is the 3.5mm headphone jack. While many brands have decided to throw the jack away in favour of other features, the Mi 9T retains it. However, I do wish that it is placed at the bottom of the device instead of the top but this is just my own personal preference. Besides that, the device feels very nice to hold due to the curved back and non-curved sides which is a nice change compared to other phones out there on the market.
Tech specs and features - A slightly downgraded Xiaomi Mi 9
Device tech specs
The Xiaomi Mi 9T is basically the same phone as its slightly older and more impressive brother, the Xiaomi Mi 9 but with some downgrades. Despite using a Snapdragon 730 chipset bundled with 6GB RAM + 64GB internal storage, the smartphone still works almost as impressively as the Mi 9. And for a device priced at RM1199, the phone was still able to perform very well (which we will talk about later at the performance section).
The Mi 9T does come with some impressive features. Firstly, the in-display fingerprint reader really lives up to expectations of being one of the fastest. A simple press on the screen without having to wake the device immediately unlocks the device. You also don't have to be too specific about where and how you should place your finger, compared with other smartphones, so that's nice.
The pop up mechanism lights up when the camera raises
The smartphone does feature a face unlock but it works oddly for my taste. The most convenient way to use the feature is to have raise-to-wake enabled but even then, you still need to swipe up in order to activate the pop-up camera to recognize your face. It still unlocks extremely fast in terms of registering your face and unlocking your device as well, but this is taking an extra step so the in-display fingerprint reader is definitely the way to go, in my opinion.
Interface-wise, the device feels very nice to use with MIUI thanks to the gestures. Not only is the interface extremely fast and smooth, it also utilizes and wastes none of the vast space you have on your display with having any buttons on the bottom of the screen.
The camera interface as well including the AI beauty modes
The 960 fps slow-mo video recorded on the Mi 9T is pretty lit
Next, the device’s 20MP pop up selfie camera allows a fullview display with uninterrupted gaming sessions and video binge sessions. What’s even cooler is that raising the pop up camera shines a blue or red light on the sides of the pop up mechanism. However, I am a little disappointed that the flash does not happen on the pop up mechanism. Instead, the device still uses the screen as the flash which makes photos a little too yellow for my liking.
In terms of audio, listening to music is an extremely pleasant experience due to the perfect balance of vocals, bass, highs and lows. However, gaming and videos can be a little garish due to some sounds coming off too sharp so putting the volumes on max is not a good idea. On the bright side, the speakers are loud, despite it only having one speaker grill.
Performance - Decent specs that perform almost like a flagship
The device's AnTuTu scoring compared to other devices. Top 30, not bad!
Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t need a high spec device for everyday use. For my normal day-to-day use of simply texting, watching videos, making calls, listening to music, playing MLBB and the sort, the Snapdragon 730 and 6GB RAM of the Mi 9T is more than good enough (which is basically what most people do with their devices anyway).
Speaking of gaming, PUBG Mobile runs on HD with high frame rates easily without breaking a sweat. Picking HDR mode shows a message saying that it will be out on the device soon, implying that the game is currently being optimized for the Mi 9T. Meanwhile, UHD is not available for the device, presumably due to the SD730 chipset limitations. The best part about the Mi 9T is the fact that the phone doesn’t get hot when gaming on it.
Graphics that the Mi 9T can support on PUBG Mobile
The Mi 9T gets a decent score on 3DMark
You can expect long gaming sessions on the device as it does come with a 4000mAh battery capacity. The smartphone does well for your usual day long usage - I find that when I leave the house in the morning with 100% battery and arriving home around 8PM at night, I’ll still have about 35% battery left and the only thing I use my phone for the whole day is calling, texting, browsing the internet, taking photos and listening to music. Heavy gaming on the smartphone does drain the battery a little faster but it’s not much of an issue thanks to the 18W fast charger.
Moving onto the cameras, the device does come with a triple rear camera setup with 48MP + 8MP (telephoto) + 13MP (ultrawide lens) sensors and a 20MP selfie camera. As a mid-range device at an extremely affordable price-tag, the quality of photos that the device took really caught me by surprise.
Night-mode is where the device truly shines, keeping a good control of noise, quality, detail, shadow, and lighting. Photos taken maintained their colours well and were detailed, even in low-light without a lot of noise and overexposed shots. Unfortunately, photos look extremely washed out in low-light selfies. You can have a look at the photos for yourself here!
(Left) A 48MP shot. (Right) A bokeh shot
Wide angle shots look scenic without any distortion
Your average selfie
Bokeh selfies on this device look great!
Low-light shots taken with the 48MP camera look amazing but as you can see on the left, the low light selfie shot didn't do so well and looks a bit washed out
Low light macro shots are on-point though!
The panorama range is so huge!
Panorama selfies are perfect for group shots but its range is not as wide as the rear camera, though
Video test footage in 4K 30fps
Selfie video test footage in 1080p 60fps
Conclusion - A phone that not only looks great, but performs great too!
Check out my Xiaomi Mi 9T fan girl moment
When you’re on the hunt for an under RM1200 smartphones nowadays, it’s hard to find one that can truly do everything without having some sort of trade-off. I often find that these phones come with either poor camera quality, slow performance, and a subpar battery which can understandably make some people turn their noses away from smartphones in that price range. But the Xiaomi Mi 9T takes the cake here, it comes with a gorgeous rear design, fast performance and takes some impressive low-light shots! It definitely doesn’t really feel like it's equipped with a mid-tier Snapdragon 730 chipset at all (unless you’re looking to game on the highest settings).
With such a competitive price of RM1199, it has already beaten many competitors in this price range. Perhaps a good challenger would be the Vivo S1 at RM1099 and the recently announced RM999 Realme 3 Pro but we haven't really explored much about those devices yet. However, given with Xiaomi's reputation for redefining smartphones in that price category, I definitely recommend this phone for those of you who are only looking to use their smartphones for normal daily use without the extra frills.
The Xiaomi Mi 9T is definitely one of my favourite phones this year, it makes me question why so many people insist on getting the highest spec of any device with extra AI features which never end up being used. I mean, think of the extra money you would have saved to buy a Nintendo Switch now that you passed up on that RM3000+ smartphone! For more smartphone reviews, make sure to check out TechNave.com!