On the crest of trends: impressions of Xiaomi Mi 9

The first attempt of the company in multi-chamber and a combination of the main smartphone trends of the year at a low price.

The fact that Xiaomi announced the new flagship Mi 9, we have already written – it was shown in China on February 19th. On February 24, the company brought a smartphone to Barcelona and distributed the test to journalists a day before the European presentation.

The embargo on the reviews fell asleep already at noon on February 24, but one evening was not enough for the test (although some colleagues had had time to prepare the unpacking and other review materials by that time). I will not go back to the numbers and characteristics – I will tell you about the main features and personal impressions.

Mi 9 – the embodiment of all the trends in 2019. At the very beginning of the year

Judging by what I saw at MWC, Xiaomi managed not only to copy the best of the existing, but also to implement in Mi 9 everything that will appear in all smartphones during 2019. And the Mi 9 will be on sale before many other new products – it is known that it will arrive in Russia tentatively in April, but it is unclear at what price.

In Europe, it will be sold for 449 euros, and since prices in Russia are tied to European ones, it can be assumed that the price tag will be at the level of 33.5 thousand rubles. This is almost 10 thousand cheaper than the Mi MIX 3 slider , but Mi 9 is definitely also the flagship.

There are three trends here – a cutout for the front-end, a fingerprint sensor in the screen and a triple camera. We cannot say that all of them are especially new: the cutouts for the camera appeared through the iPhone X in 2017, the triple camera was implemented in May 2018 in the Huawei P20 Pro , and the sensor in the screen in the same year in Vivo Nex . All of them were already sold in Russia, but there are two points.

The first is that in Mi 9 all three trends were realized simultaneously. In the case of the front-cut, many companies are still experimenting (for example, Huawei Nova 4 with a hole and Samsung Galaxy S10 with eyes ), like Xiaomi with its Mi MIX 3 slider. A triple camera is rather a rarity, and manufacturers use such a system in different ways. And intra-screen sensors just began to introduce.

The second point – Xiaomi smartphones are extremely cheap. Even the guys from The Verge, following the MWC exhibition, discussed something like the following in the Vergecast podcast: it’s a pity that the United States as a government so much Huawei, because the company makes cheap and at the same time high-quality products, and that it’s spying on users ’ by the Americans. In the case of Xiaomi (at least for now), there is no bad reputation trail due to the Chinese origin of the company, and they dump even more strongly – however, they do not protrude into the US market, but they are actively coming to Europe (they are already working in the French market). Italy and Spain).

Face unlocking is cooler than the on-screen sensor

The built-in fingerprint sensor works in the same way as the Vivo Nex, and, well, it is suggested to be enabled during initial setup. True, it has to be adjusted much longer than the usual fingerprint sensor, which is placed on the back cover. I applied my finger with different sides for 5 minutes: it took quite a large area to register the print.

The in-screen sensor works without any problems, though not as fast as a normal sensor – this is their main disadvantage so far, as well as difficulties when working in bright light. And the hand is constantly reaching for the back of the case – at first you forget that the sensor is in the screen.

The most important thing is that Mi 9 has an unlock for face recognition, but for some reason no emphasis is placed on this. To enable it, you need to go into the phone settings yourself – at the initial configuration stage, you are not offered to add this unlock method. Face unlocking is configured instantly and works instantly – much faster than the fingerprint scanner.

I do not know why it was hidden so deeply – it is more efficient and more convenient. Xiaomi warns that this method is less safer than a fingerprint or a digital password – but at least I didn’t work with unlocking the screen with my own photo. It seems that all this proves once again: the future is in face recognition, and hiding the fingerprint scanner on the screen is marketing.

Three cameras – each for their own purposes. And 48 pretty useless megapixels

For iPhones, two cameras have different viewing angles and focal length: one telephoto (for long distance), the second wide-angle (for near), and switching between them works like an optical zoom. Mi 9 cameras have three – and each for their own purposes.

The photo from the presentation explains in more detail what for what

In Mi 9, the optical zoom is integrated into one camera — the top one: it is a telephoto. The zoom switches between normal and double zoom, and there is nothing remarkable in the standard camera anymore.

The wide-angle camera (“fisheye”) is lower: it has a super wide viewing angle, so that it contains much more objects when shooting close to it. It is convenient when you need to remove a monument or a group of friends, but it is impossible to move further. And with its help you can do macroshooting.

The average camera has a powerful Sony sensor: it shoots at a resolution of 6000 × 8000 pixels. But the benefits of it are few: it feels like, on a 1080 by 2340 pixel screen, even the usual 12-megapixel image (3000 by 4000 pixels) looks normal even with a two-fold increase.

By default, Mi 9 and 48-megapixel images are scaled, that is, not in the original resolution, otherwise the pixel “ladder” would be visible, and when scaling, anti-aliasing works and details are killed. To see the details, you need to enlarge the picture (from 1/3 scale to 1/1) – pixels are drawn on the fly. But if you send the original photo via Telegram or, for example, post on Twitter, the recipient will see the picture of disgusting quality – with the same pixel “ladder”.

My verdict on the cameras is as follows. “Fisheye” is something that was very lacking: there are many objects in the frame, you can take a picture close, not backing away like a patient, and this camera fights distortions very well (although the proportions different from other cameras can be seen with the naked eye). It is easy to switch to it – the button in the lower left corner attracts attention.

The 48 megapixel camera is a useless marketing ploy. But the main disappointment is the speed and quality of shooting on the main camera, praised by DxoMark (107 points – 2 more than iPhone XS Max and 2 less than leaders Huawei Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro). More than once I had a situation that I did not have time to take several important frames in a row, because the lens was “recharging” for too long. And it seems that HDR works very poorly on an ordinary telephoto camera. As a result, in difficult situations (for example, in the presentation hall, where there was utter darkness and only the stage was lit), it was easier for me to get an iPhone and take a photo on it than to suffer from exposing to Mi 9.

There were also successful examples when the Mi 9 camera gave a much better result in details than the iPhone XS Max. Here, for example, the mirrored roof lines of the Enkants flea market with Mi 9 were able to be considered better.

But in other situations, examples were reversed. The sign of the round-the-clock supermarket, the iPhone turned blue from the sides, but on the whole it turned out to be more accurate than the Mi 9.

Some more real examples of images on Mi 9.

Balanced, but not without its usual minuses.

The Mi 9 is doing well: the 3300 mAh battery is consumed relatively sparingly (especially at rest), and if you switch to hardcore consumption, you can take a powerful 27 W adapter (the bundle is slightly weaker) with Quickcharge support – The phone charges up to the stop somewhere in an hour. Although wireless charging is still rather weak, the Mi 9 supports power up to 20 W according to the Qi standard – this is not bad.

Included – normal charging, more powerful sold separately

It has a sleek body without any frills, and the back cover is rounded to the edges so that it feels even thinner than it actually is. 6 GB of RAM is nowhere near the record, but with an 8-core Snapdragon 855, everything flies without any problems. And the chic Super AMOLED screen, on which the cut is not visible because of the deep black, is also successfully masked with the default wallpaper.

Yes, it does not have audiojack (adapter included), the case quickly maratsya and fights, like all glass (silicone case included), it has only one speaker, which is easy to close by hand, and the sound when talking on the top speaker is quiet, it is “Yandex” on the main screen and in the built-in browser (with terrible recommendations of materials) without a suggestion to choose an alternative (as opposed to the search line Android and Chrome, where FAS obliged the alternative), and the history on Instagram is on it, like on most other Android -smartphones, still not in human are scalable. But these are rather trifles with which you can live, and I already find fault more quickly.

For the money that Xiaomi will ask for Mi 9, this is just an incredibly powerful, impressive and balanced smartphone for everyone.

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