Xiaomi Mi 9 official

After just eight months from the launch of the Mi 8, Xiaomi is rolling out a new version with upgraded hardware and a new design aesthetic. The Mi 9 is Xiaomi's first flagship of 2019, and it's easy to see that the manufacturer has redoubled its efforts to stay competitive in the affordable flagship space. What hasn't changed, however, is Xiaomi's aggressive pricing, with the Mi 9 starting off at just $445.

That's incredible when you consider that the Mi 9 is one of the first devices to be powered by Qualcomm's latest chipset, the Snapdragon 855. The Snapdragon 855 offers significant performance improvements over the outgoing Snapdragon 845 — which was no slouch to begin with — and the node shift to 7nm makes the platform much more energy-efficient.

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Doing the heavy lifting are two Kryo 485 cores clocked at 2.84GHz, with an additional two Kryo 485 cores at 2.42GHz. Then there are four Kryo 485 cores clocked at 1.8GHz that kick in during energy-efficient tasks. The Adreno 640 GPU offers a noticeable uptick in performance as well, and generally the Mi 9 is one of the fastest phones in the market today.

For $445, you're not going to find a phone that comes close to the Mi 9.

Xiaomi has switched to a gradient pattern at the back, with the Mi 9 shifting between several hues of blue based on light reflecting off its surface. The effect is not dissimilar to what we've seen from the likes of Honor and Huawei in the past, but it does serve to make the Mi 9 stand out from its predecessors.

The Mi 9 will also feature a Game Turbo feature that will kick in automatically when launching a game. As we've seen from the likes of Huawei, Game Turbo allows the device to sustain peak performance for longer amounts of time, resulting in higher framerates.

Xiaomi Mi 9

The Mi 9 features a 6.39-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel sourced from Samsung with a waterdrop cutout for the front camera, and Xiaomi is touting Reading Mode 2.0 and Sunlight Mode 2.0 as differentiators on the display side of things. The panel has a layer of Gorilla Glass 6 over it, and Xiaomi is offering an in-display fingerprint sensor.

A 48MP rear camera that beats out the Pixel 3 and Galaxy Note 9.

Also new is a triple camera setup at the back, with a main 48MP f/1.75 camera joined by a 16MP wide-angle lens and a 12MP telephoto shooter. Up front there's a 20MP camera with HDR.

If the set of photos teased by Xiaomi over the last few weeks are any indication, the Mi 9 will be able to hold its own in this category. The folks at DxOMark got an early look at the device, and the overall score of 107 means the Mi 9 beat out the likes of the Pixel 3 and the Galaxy Note 9.

Xiaomi introduced wireless charging in its devices last year, and the Mi 9 comes with a fast wireless charging option that goes up to 20W. The 3300mAh battery should easily last all day, and when you do need to plug it in, the bundled wall unit charges at 27W. With the Mi 9 coming to the UK and other Western markets, Xiaomi is offering a dedicated button on the side to invoke Google Assistant.

The Mi 9 will be available in violet, blue, and black color options, and Xiaomi is also going to sell a version with a transparent cover at the back, like it did with the Mi 8. That particular option will come with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and will retail for the equivalent of $600 in China. The base variant of the Mi 9 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will cost just $445, making it an absolute steal. The version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will be sold in the country for $490.

Xiaomi will be showcasing the Mi 9 next week at Mobile World Congress, so stay tuned for our hands-on coverage from the event.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the Mi 9?