Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro review

By admin -

OUR VERDICT

There’s very little to complain about when it comes to the Mi 9T Pro; its killer design and screen are paired with excellent across-the-board specs. The fact it clings onto the headphone jack will please many, and while there’s no wireless charging, water resistance or stereo sound, given the phone’s price, you’re still getting excellent value across-the-board.

FOR+

Premium design
Great battery life
Flagship specs

AGAINST-

No waterproofing
UI won’t be for everyone
Mono speaker

If you aren’t quite ready to get a 5G phone and want something more affordable than a Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus or Huawei P30 Pro to tide you over until 5G coverage improves, then the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro could be it.

Xiaomi's 2019 handset delivers similar specs to a top-tier phone, despite costing what you would expect to pay for a mid-ranger. There's a follow-up in the form of the Mi 10T Pro, but it's a pricier phone.

With a 6.39-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display, it’s similar in size, spec, and screen appeal to pricier phones like the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, and thanks to a Snapdragon 855 chipset under the hood, it’s also powerful.

Costing just £399 (around $480/AU$720) though, the Mi 9T Pro is nothing short of a steal when you look at its specs. But does it fare as well in the real world?

It's possible we could see the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro get a price cut for Amazon Prime Day, but it's not all that likely - Xiaomi has plenty of newer phones it's more likely to reduce instead. So if you're interested in buying the Mi 9T Pro, we'd recommend just going for it.

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro price and availability

Available now in the UK and throughout Europe
Not available in the US
128GB model costs £399

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is available in two flavors, with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and can be bought across Europe. Available for £399 (around $480/AU$720), only the 128GB version is available in the UK, and it can be had in either black or blue.

While there’s been no word on a US release, a variation of the phone, the Redmi K20 Pro, is available in other regions. Additionally, Xiaomi has launched a number of devices in Australia, so while no release has been confirmed at the time of writing, Xiaomi may well add the Mi 9T Pro to its Australian line-up.

Design and screen

Well-built and solid
6.39-inch Super AMOLED screen
Pop-up selfie camera

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is a great looking phone. From the front, it’s all screen thanks to the fact the pop-up selfie-camera is hidden from sight. Its curved body feels slick, even though it isn’t a thin phone as such at 8.8mm.

The buffed aluminum frame melds smoothly into the phone’s front and rear glass panels, and a couple of red accents pop nicely, one on the power button and the other on the rear camera surround.

The phone’s back panel also features a Kevlar-like striated pattern under the glass, which looks premium, and while it does hold onto fingerprints, it isn’t as bad as the worst offenders - Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series.

In the box, you get a case to protect the back, and the front is Gorilla Glass 5, though unlike some of the competition, the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro doesn’t include a pre-fitted screen protector.

A design highlight has got to be that headphone jack; we didn’t expect to see it on a phone with top-tier specs, and it’s a welcome break from tradition. There’s also a USB-C port and a mono speaker at the bottom of the phone, and volume and power buttons on the right side.

While there is a very slight camera bump, the Mi 9T Pro’s camera surround is much less protruding and sharp than that of the OnePlus 7 or Honor 20, for example - two direct competitors.

As for the display, it looks glorious. 6.39 inches and a 1080 x 2340 resolution combines with Super AMOLED tech and over 400 pixels-per-inch to deliver a premium experience at a very fair price.

The fact there’s no notch in sight is a boon for the Mi 9T Pro; it makes it feel like a real flagship, showing up much pricier options like the iPhone XR. Viewing angles and brightness are strong and max brightness suffices for comfortable outdoor use.

While we’re not saying the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro can stack up to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus or Galaxy Note 10 Plus from a screen quality point of view, it’s still best-in-class for the price.

Battery life

4,000mAh battery
18W charger included, 27W supported
No wireless charging

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro packs the same capacity battery as the new Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, 4,000mAh, which is a healthy bump up from the 3,300mAh cell in the original Mi 9.

The Mi 9’s battery wasn’t bad, but the Mi 9T Pro’s is bordering on great. It easily makes it through from morning to night with about 20% left in the tank, and a 90-minute Full HD video played back at full brightness only depleted it by 10%.

The Mi 9T Pro also supports fast charging, up to 27W, though ships with an 18W QuickCharge 3 charger. Don’t let your hopes for fast-fueling get dashed too quickly though; 10 minutes of charge powered it up by 15%, 30 minutes by 48% and after just over an hour, it was 100% full with the supplied charger.

That’s incredibly quick, especially compared to the iPhone XS Max’s very slow charging time of 3 hours 30 minutes with its supplied charger.

The phone also has software features to monitor battery usage so you can track down rogue apps, or taper background connectivity and activity if you need the Mi 9T Pro to last that bit longer.

Camera

Triple rear camera
20MP pop-up selfie camera
4K video at 60fps

With three cameras around the back, the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is a very familiar beast, packing a wide, ultra-wide and telephoto angle-of-view. That’s the same setup as found on the Sony Xperia 1 and LG V50 ThinQ, and has fast become the new normal for a flagship smartphone camera array.

Shooting modes are plentiful, ranging from automatic with ‘AI’ scene detection through to Pro mode, enabling full manual control over photos taken. While there aren’t any out of the ordinary modes, the handy feature Xiaomi phones include is a 48MP shortcut, for full-resolution photos that can capture incredible amounts of detail if the light is right.

As far as image quality goes, the Mi 9T Pro shoots 12MP images by default. In great lighting, there’s very little to complain about, beyond the Xiaomi watermark that appears in the bottom right of every photo you take until you switch it off in the settings - this really should be off by default from a user experience point of view.

When lighting gets tougher in the form of either backlit or front-lit scenes, the phone has an HDR feature that’s switched off by default. We would recommend firing up auto-HDR as nine out of ten shots we captured looked better with HDR on.

Images shot on the Mi 9T Pro manage to capture plenty of detail with colors that pop nicely, especially when you fire up the smart scene detection. Greens can be a little overzealous though, and blacks pick up a bit more noise than higher-end flagships like the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10 - particularly noticeable when shooting dark, textured objects, like black cats.

Despite this, it copes well with low light scenes, with a dedicated night mode loaded up to help things along. None of the cameras feature optical image stabilization, but Xiaomi employs similar computational photography smarts to those used by Huawei and Google to grab a long-exposure shot and pull out more detail even when the lights go down.

Again, the results won’t compete with the best out there, but still best almost all the sub-£400/$500 competition, and even outshine the much pricier iPhone XS.

Video is captured at up to 60fps in 4K resolution, and when it comes to smartphones today, it doesn’t get better than that. The picture is epic in ideal lighting when recording on a tripod at max quality.

If you don’t have a tripod or steady surface though, the hand-shake it picks up is also epic - and not in a good way. Luckily, drop the 4K frame rate down to 30fps and things smooth out, with the electronic image stabilization being very effective.

Meanwhile, when the lights drop, you will want to reduce the resolution to Full HD to get the best from it, and in very dark scenes, the Mi 9T Pro calls it a day, along with most of the smartphone population.

Finally, the pop-up selfie camera is a lot of fun. You can capture vanilla selfies if you like, but the portrait mode also comes loaded up with a host of effects, overlaying rainbows over your scene, a streak of light, or changing your backdrop entirely.

Selfie quality is respectable, and while it isn’t a low-light whizz like its rear-camera counterpart, the selfie snapper uses the screen as a flash to great effect.

Interface and reliability

Runs Android 9 with MIUI 10
No apps drawer
Dark mode issues

Running Android 9, the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is in a great position from a future-proofing point of view. The phone has access to plenty of apps available in the Google Play Store, and while there’s a fair bit of bloatware on board, it features less than on past iterations of Xiaomi’s UI.

Xiaomi’s skin, MIUI 10, is a mixed bag. Like iPhones and Huawei devices, Xiaomi doesn’t load up an apps tray on the Mi 9T Pro by default, so forces users to organize apps into folders or install a custom launcher.

The nuts and bolts of the interface consists of a variable number of home screens, a Xiaomi 'Guide' screen to the left, with shortcuts to apps and a few tools, and a notifications bar that can be pulled down from the top. It’s all very smooth and stable, with no judders or slowdowns in sight, and the phone’s default wallpapers and icons look good.

There are also plenty of handy customizations in the settings, from gesture inputs through to a dark theme to truly take advantage of that AMOLED display. That said, the dark theme brings with it a few inconsistencies. Lock screen notifications, for example, display text that is the same color as the backdrop, rendering them unreadable.

The UI also doesn’t display notification icons in the bar at the top of the display; while this looks cleaner, it can leave you unaware of unread emails and messages.

While we don’t love what Xiaomi is doing with Android and the UI isn’t as refined as it could be, it is still perfectly usable, and almost everything we didn’t like can be corrected by installing a custom launcher and tweaking MIUI defaults.

Multimedia and specs

Snapdragon 855 and 6GB of RAM
128GB of storage, no microSD card slot
Dual SIM slot

With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and 6GB of RAM, the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is as powerful as we’d expect a flagship today to be. Benchmarks across AnTuTu and Geekbench beat out the pricier Galaxy S10 5G (Exynos 9820), and the phone handles demanding games like a champ.

The immersive all-screen display looks great when you’re gaming on it, and while the phone only packs a mono speaker, it’s loud and isn’t easy to cover up when holding it in landscape orientation.

Loaded up with HDR support, videos played back look sharp, bright and vibrant, and it’s a real boon that you can plug in a pair of headphones to round off that multimedia experience.

While the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro isn’t expandable, the 128GB of storage should be ample for most. Additional connections include a dual-SIM slot, NFC and Bluetooth 5.0 with support for aptX HD audio.

As for the under-display fingerprint scanner, it works nine times out of ten and isn’t as fast as the ones in the likes of the OnePlus 7 or Huawei P30 Pro. That said, in tandem with face unlock, you won’t be waiting to get into your Mi 9T Pro.

Verdict

If you want an excellent phone that combines flagship specs with a mid-range price, it really is a toss-up between the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro or the Honor 20.

While Honor’s phone might have a better camera night mode and a more polished UI, the Mi 9T Pro wins when it comes to design, screen, power, and, of course - it has a headphone jack.

Xiaomi has also crammed in an in-screen fingerprint scanner as well as a 4,000mAh battery, making this the best value smartphone around at under £400.

Who’s this for?

Anyone who wants flagship power for under £400 will be well served with the Mi 9T Pro. Its camera is very good, it punches above its weight when it comes to its chipset, featuring the same Snapdragon 855 as found in the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, and it packs a big battery as well as a headphone jack.


Should you buy it?

If you don’t need waterproofing, wireless charging or stereo sound, then you can confidently buy the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. It isn’t just a great phone for the price, it’s a great phone in general, competing head-on with many flagships almost double its price.