Xiaomi Mi 9T is the twin of the model that in some countries is called Redmi K20. If you would like to buy it you must remember that the latter one has the Pro version as well – with a better specification. We, however, will take a closer look at Mi 9T for now...
|Xiaomi Mi 9T - video review
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
- Construction, set, quality of assembly
- Display, security, sound, communication
- Interface, efficiency, battery
- Photography and video
- Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
Construction, set, quality of assembly
At the start – let us take a look into the box. Besides the phone there is a USB cable, quick 18 W charger and an etui – unfortunately, it is not transparent.
It is black, but it is much better than typical silicones – at least it will not change its colour to yellow, though it hides the beauty of the phone. And it simply cannot be described. Glacier Blue shimmers along sides and the middle part of the back wall remains darker. The bezel-less, notch-less display harmonizes nicely with the backs, and the red power button is a strong accent.
I enjoy the divided lenses of cameras a bit less – the main lens is placed separately and unnecessarily accented with a silver outline. What is more – lenses stand above the housing, but fortunately they prove to be durable – after over a month of an intensive usage they still do not have a single scratch. Just like the rest of the housing.
The body is a metal frame, covered on both sides with glass. The display – is slightly convex, the back – definitely much more. The housing is stiff and it promises to be durable. My device, after a few weeks of an intensive usage still looks like new. Unfortunately, the housing is not waterproof. Why?
The front camera is hidden in the “periscope” that slides out of the upper wall of the phone. The arm slides out rather fast and quiet, shinning effectively at the same time. The mechanism’s work is stable, we do not need to break it by force-blocking it – it will simply stop, just like it will hide in the case of a fall. It looks effectively, it works great, but unfortunately it prevents the phone from being waterproof.
There is one more peculiar thing connected with this phone: a strange placement of the notifications LED. It is at the top of the periscope with the camera and it uses the backlight of this mechanism. Unfortunately, “thanks” to this, it is placed on the upper part of the phone, which will not please everyone. As a consolation I will add that there is Always-On-Display…
At the top of the housing there is the minijack socket – and its placement might not be enjoyed by everyone as well – but I did not mind neither the placement of the LED nor the jack. Just like I will not complain about the other elements connected with ergonomics: buttons on the right are placed directly under our fingers and the speaker is placed in a classical manner – at the bottom of the housing – just like the USB-C socket.
At the bottom – a bit unusual – there is the socket for cards. Unfortunately, the tray can only store two nanoSIM cards, without the possibility to enhance the memory. Xiaomi Mi 9T - due to the profile of the back wall – lies in hands great and is well-balanced, but we must remember that it is slick. We need to hold it firmly and not place it on flat surfaces – it can slide down.
The display of Xiaomi Mi 9T is – just like the rest of the housing – a pleasure for our eyes. The display has a narrow bezel, there are no notches, and in addition it is made in the AMOLED technology. Thanks to this, we have juicy colours and a perfect, deep black. We can control the contrast, as well as the balance, there is of course the eye-protection mode, that can be turned on and off automatically.
In addition – the interface can be switched to the dark mode. Readability angles are great, just like brightness levels. The minimum, in connection with the dark interface, can be enjoyed even in a cave, while the maximum – allows us to normally use the phone in sunny days. What is interesting, in the auto mode the maximum brightness can be even higher than in the manual mode. And the auto works great…
The AMOLED display made it possible to hide the fingerprint scanner in it. The sensor is placed in the lower part of the display, in a rather comfortable place. For a display sensor, it works good and fast, though I still have a feeling that classic scanners are faster and more accurate beyond comparison.
The number of errors in Xiaomi Mi 9T might not irritate – but it would be a lie to tell you that I am fully satisfied. As a consolation I will add that we can select the animation around the scanner. Mi 9T has a facial recognition system as well. We can use it interchangeably with the scanner – or just leave it as the only security, however we must remember that it is not as reliant as the fingerprint.
Despite this I did not manage to deceive Xiaomi Mi 9T with a photo, we need to have at least one eye open as well, so scanning a sleeping person will not help. The system works surely and rather fast, provided that we must wait for the camera module to slide out. However, this sensor is not as great as the one in Mi 8 Pro.
When it comes to the communication, I cannot complain about Xiaomi Mi 9T too much. The communication interface is complete, this time Xiaomi did not forget about NFC. All connectivity modules work without any problems, the phone manages to find the network even in “troublesome” locations, and the GPS is rather fast and precise enough.
Calls are conducted through a comfortable dialler with the possibility of discretely recording calls (even an automatic one), while the text communication is left for the Google keyboard. The quality of sound during calls is good, though I prefer for the speaker’s hole to be slightly wider, and the speaker itself – to have a bigger power. Though the sound itself is good, we need to carefully “aim” the speaker to our ear in order to hear anything well. We cannot hold the phone with our arm. On the other hand, microphones work great, just like the “external” speaker. Though it is only a single one, it sounds clear and loud and it ensures comfortable calls in the loud speaking mode and decent listening to music.
I will remind you that Xiaomi Mi 9T has a minijack, and in addition we will find both the recorder and an FM radio and a preinstalled player for videos and music. The quality of sound gives no reasons to complain about, it is worth mentioning that in the software of the phone we will find an enhanced equalizer and the Hi-Fi mode, as well as predefined modes for Xiaomi earphones. I will add that there are no earphones in the set.
In Xiaomi Mi 9T we can find a familiar interface: MIUI 10.3, which work is based on Android 9.0. Basically, I have described it so many times that I will only focus on what is the most important and characteristic only for Mi 9T.
The interface can have either a flat form or a one with an apps tray and navigating through it can be mad either with classic buttons (we can change their arrangement) or intuitive, comfortable gestures. The notifications and shortcuts panel look and work classically, just like the last used apps menu and dividing the screen. We can turn on an additional panel with our favourite widgets, available after swiping the main desktop to the right, there are wide interface personalization possibilities. The unique feature of Xiaomi Mi 9T is the possibility to change the sound that accompanies the sliding out of the front camera.
There is of course the floating button (Touch Assistant), one hand usage mode or the possibility to add additional shortcuts – for example for quickly turning on the torch by double-clicking a particular button. In the menu there is the possibility to wake the screen with a double tap or by lifting the phone, and in addition – we can clone apps and create a separate zone in the phone, for example to separate private apps and files from business ones.
There is the dark interface mentioned before and Always-on-Display with wide personalization capabilities. Xiaomi does not oversteps with preinstalled apps, most of them are useful, and those that are not we can uninstall. The phone is already equipped with an app for recording the screen, scanning QR codes or business cards, an app for managing the system or sharing files, and even in… three browsers. From the beginning we can choose between Xiaomi, Chrome and Opera. Funny… If you ask about commercials – they appear, but only in the preinstalled service app, they are not too often and not to obnoxious, and please remember that we can close them down. I assess the interface – just as usual – as a positive and comfortable in usage.
It is high time to say a few words about the efficiency and the work of the phone. At the beginning we were slightly disappointed that we received a twin of Redmi K20 and not K20 Pro. In Xiaomi Mi 9T we have Snapdragon 730 supported by 6GB of RAM and Adreno 618 GPU.
So what if it is not Snapdragon 855, like in K20 Pro? Most users will not even see any difference. I will tell you honestly – above a certain price level, differences in smoothness and the speed of work are so marginal that I do not think that there is any reason to dwell about them.
Xiaomi Mi 9T is fast, it works surely and stable, it does not overheat and it can compete with much cheaper flagships. Really – for a middle-price shelf product, which it is – it works great. And benchmarks support it…
I am much less pleased with the internal memory. Maybe because I only have the version with 64GB, which in practice is slightly above 50GB. And I will not add a single gigabyte from a microSD card, because I have nowhere to put it in. This is a big disadvantage of the phone. I cannot speak for you, but I would like to trade one SIM socket for more memory. In my device, after a month, I am left with only a few GB of free space – that is why I will recommend you that when buying Xiaomi Mi 9T you should choose the 128GB version, especially that the price difference is really low.
I am pleased with the battery as well. It might have a typical 4000 mAh, still – in connection with the smoothness of work and the phones hardware – it does a great job.
With a normal usage the smartphone can easily work for two days. With a more economical one – even three. The lifespan with the display on, depending on the scenario, is around 6-7 hours. The quick charging gives no reasons to criticize either – to fully fill the battery we need half an hour, but the battery will be filled in half in less than 40 minutes. I will switch to the complaining mode and ask why there is no inductive charging...?
Photography and video
Xiaomi Mi 9T is equipped with a rich photography set, in the configuration that I enjoy a lot, due to its universality. We can find here – besides the main, 48-megapixel Sony IMX582 1/2” matrix with an f/1.75 lens – there is a wide-angle camera with 13 megapixels and an impressive 128.4 degree field of view. Their work is supported by an 8-megapixel camera with a telephoto lens and an f/2.4 aperture – the same as in the wide-angle camera. The front, extendable camera has 20 megapixels and an f/2.2 aperture. What photos and videos does it take?
I will answer this right away – for the price segment of Mi 9T it is great. To be straightforward: during the day it is great, there is basically nothing to complain about. Colours and details are represented in a grea way, HDR works as it should and the autofocus is really fast. HDR can work automatically and we can leave it in this setting, because the camera does turn it on exactly when it can be useful.
The AI recognizes scenes nicely, but I leave the decision of using it up to you. Sometimes it provides a much better effect than the “pure” auto and sometimes it does not. Unless we will take a photo we will not know this.
The resolution of 48 megapixels is a more of a bells and whistles thing, because photos taken after connecting pixels in 12 Mpx – besides the dimensions and the size of the file – will not give way to those with the higher resolution. Provided that you do not zoom too much – it is not worth it.
The wide-angle camera impresses us with its field of view and it does not attack us with the eye-fish effect, it does not deform the image too much. The camera with the telephoto lens gives no reason to complain either, though it only offers a 2x zoom. In both cases we must remember about weaker (though it is natural) light of both lenses and take correction when taking photos in weaker lighting.
When it comes to the telephoto lens – we must be careful because in weaker lighting the camera will make a zoom – but with the main matrix, and not the telephoto one. In order to be sure that we are using the tele lens we just need to cover the first camera from the top – ironically, the one on the separate frame with the 48 Mpx written next to it...
Night photos come out weaker and we still can see the distance between flagships and middle-shelf guys. The night mode can be useful, but rather in an urban photography. When it is really dark - the photo will come out much worse than from the auto mode. You can forget about photos of the Moon...
But when there are some lights - the camera will nicely dim them, it will expose the background - and we will receive a nice photo. Here, just like in the case of an AI, it is best to take two photos - one in the auto mode, and the second in the dedicated mode - and after that enhance them and remove the worse of the pair. Alternatively - we can use a tripod and a night mode, which will ensure a better effect, provided that we will not overdue with sensitivity.
Additional functions - like panorama or the background blurring - work without any problems, but I will add that in the second case we can use additional effects of simulating a studio lighting or blurring in patterns, even animating it. However, we have already seen it in previous Xiaomi models.
The front camera can blur the background as well, but because it does it only digitally, it will not always cut out the portrayed face from the background. Still - we can be rather pleased with selfies, remembering about the typical tendency of front cameras to overexposing a bright background.
When it comes recording videos it is nice, but the stabilization could have worked better. Sometimes, while recording in 4K we can notice some slight distortions in the smoothness of a video. Basically it is not that bad - but the competition can record videos better. Recording in slow-motion is problematic as well. In the strongest mode - 960 frames per second - only the last part of the 10-second shot is slowed. It is difficult to hit the desired moment, and before we can take the next shot - we need to wait several seconds for the image to compile. This limitation is not present when recording in 120/140 frames per second.
|Xiaomi Mi 9T - sample video
video: GSMchoice.com, via YouTube
The camera interface is characteristic for MIUI add-ons - it is simple, clear, readable. We switch between modes with gestures, additional settings (including Google Lens) can be found under the “hamburger” button, there are colour filters, timer, square photos or Tilt-Shift.
Xiaomi Mi 9T draws our attention with its attractive price. Due to the lack of a socket for microSD cards I recommend paying more and buying the 128GB model, the price change is not drastic. I simply must recommend this smartphone. Xiaomi Mi 9T looks great, it has a great display and a powerful battery with quick charging.
What is more - it offers a decent efficiency and nice photos. We cannot forget about the nice, friendly interface, as well as about the “special feature” of the sliding out selfie camera. I enjoy the work of the fingerprint scanner much less, I cannot come to terms fully with the lack of waterproofness and the fear of damaging the mechanism of the “periscope. The receiver could have been better. The lack of an inductive charging is a triviality, I am pleased with the presence of NFC and minijack.
Advantages and disadvantages
- good efficiency
- AMOLED display without bezels
- friendly interface
- good battery
- quick charging and an appropriate charger in the set
- etui in the set
- universality of photography
- good photos quality
- decent speaker
- unique stylization
- FM radio
- lack of a microSD cards socket
- housing is not waterproof
- lack of inductive charging
- lack of optical image stabilization
- no earphones in the set
- strange placement of the notifications LED
- quality of photos in the night mode