Hands-On, Smartphone

Xiaomi Mi 9T with All-Screen Design Now in Malaysia; Early Birds Can Get It for RM1,099

The Xiaomi Mi 9T is finally in Malaysia. Basically the global version of the Redmi K20, the Mi 9T is a pretty interesting mid-ranger for one reason: it’s one of the most affordable all-screen smartphones you can buy in Malaysia right now.

Beyond that, other aspects of the Mi 9T are very good too, including its sheer value for money. I took Xiaomi’s latest smartphone for a quick hands-on, and if you’re looking for a relatively affordable phone that looks and feels premium, the Mi 9T should be in your list.

Especially if you can get it for only RM1,099.

First up, let’s talk about the Mi 9T’s highlight feature: the all-screen design. Visually, the front of the phone is absolutely stunning to look at, thanks to the absence of any hole-punch cutout or notch in the display. What you get is an almost all-screen smartphone with a little bit of chin at the bottom of the display.

In order to accomplish this notch-free design, Xiaomi is using a motorised pop-up selfie camera with the Mi 9T. In fact, this is Xiaomi’s first-ever smartphone that utilises this camera module. Unlike the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3‘s slider mechanism – which is not as practical – I reckon most folks will prefer the Mi 9T’s pop-up camera.

That being said, do note that the pop-up camera does take some time to activate. It’s not horribly slow or anything, but it’s definitely not as quick as, say, the Oppo Reno‘s motorised camera module.

On the back, you will either love or hate the Mi 9T’s “dynamic holographic design.” It tries to mimic the appearance of flames, and personally, I do quite like this design on the Glacier Blue model. Other colours of the Mi 9T include Flame Red and Carbon Black, so if you want something that looks more…subdued, opt for the latter – it has a carbon fibre-like finish on the back.

In terms of build quality, the Mi 9T definitely feels like a phone a segment above. Not only does the metal frame feel good to the touch, it also gives the phone reassuring build quality. I also love the coloured power button and the extra thickness of the frame; it makes it really easy to get a good, secure grip on the phone.

Oh, there’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone.

As for the display, the Mi 9T is rocking a 6.39-inch 2340 x 1080 AMOLED screen, and it’s quite the looker with deep blacks and vibrant colours. You don’t often see AMOLED screens in this price range – with notable exceptions like the Samsung Galaxy A30 and A50 – so that really goes to show just how much value for money the Mi 9T offers. Did I mention this phone has an in-screen fingerprint sensor too?

Speaking of value for money, under the hood of the Mi 9T is an adequately powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chipset paired with 6GB of RAM. It may not sound particularly impressive, but the 730 is a capable chip in its own right. After all, it’s the most powerful chipset outside of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 series of flagship-class SoCs, and it’s said to be 35% faster than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 710.

Plus, the Snapdragon 730 is also built on an 8nm process, so it will be more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 710 – the latter is a 10nm chipset.

With improved power efficiency from the new SoC, you can expect the Mi 9T to return above average battery life too. Sporting a generous 4,000mAh battery, Xiaomi claims that this phone can last for at least a full day on a single charge. Once I have the device in for review, I’ll definitely put this to the test.

And then we have the triple camera system of the Mi 9T. Like most smartphones in the market now, it has a 48MP f/1.75 primary shooter that uses pixel binning to improve low light camera performance. As a result, this phone will output 12MP images.

Complementing the primary sensor are a 13MP f/2.4 wide angle shooter and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens. With three different focal lengths on offer here, the triple camera system of the Mi 9T is a versatile setup.

So can the Mi 9T take good-looking shots? Well, it’s still too early to tell, as I only spent a brief time photographing with the phone. But as far as first impressions go, the camera performance does seem quite promising. I love the responsiveness of the camera interface, and the wide angle sensor doesn’t seem to suffer from any noticeable distortion.

However, I only took daylight shots with the Mi 9T, and most phones worth their salt today will perform well in this kind of shooting condition. It’ll be interesting to see if the camera performance would drastically change in more challenging lighting conditions.

Value for money has always been Xiaomi’s strength all these years, so it’s no surprise that the Mi 9T will offer a lot of bang for your buck. For the Malaysian market, the 64GB variant will retail at RM1,199, while the 128GB model goes for RM1,399; the former is now available for “pre-booking” on Lazada.

The first sale of the Mi 9T will happen on 25 June at 10AM on Lazada, where you can get the 64GB variant for only RM1,099. At this price point, the Mi 9T is a very good buy. So much so, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure how the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE would fit in between this phone and the flagship Mi 9.

See, even though the Mi 9T is a sleeker, more powerful, and better-equipped smartphone, it undercuts the Mi 9 SE’s RM1,299 price tag – why would anyone get the Mi 9 SE over the Mi 9T?

Xiaomi told us that the Mi 9T doesn’t replace the Mi 9 SE, but it still puts the latter in a pretty bad spot. Granted, the Mi 9 SE’s more compact form factor may appeal to certain folks, but for those that want the most value for their money, they will make a beeline for the Mi 9T instead.

At the end of the day, having these smartphones in the same price range may not be an entirely bad thing. The availability of more options is always a good thing, and consumers will ultimately benefit the most from this.

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