Hands-On, Smartphone

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro Hands-On: Spiritual Successor to the Pocophone F1

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro has been anticipated for quite some time now, and it is set to be available in Malaysia this Friday on 30 August. Featuring a fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and a competitive price tag, this is the ideal device for those who want a flagship smartphone that won’t break the bank.

Sounds familiar? It should be: it’s the very same strategy that made the Pocophone F1 such a successful product. In fact, I would even consider the Mi 9T Pro to be the spiritual successor to the F1.

To be clear, the Mi 9T Pro was never said to be a followup to the Pocophone F1, but in my opinion, it’s the closest thing to a successor for the latter. Sure, both devices don’t exactly have the same branding or design language, but they do share one important element; one that made the F1 such a compelling product.

That’s right, it is sheer value for money. The Mi 9T Pro is easily one of the most – if not the most – affordable smartphones with Qualcomm’s flagship-tier chipset (Snapdragon 855) with 6GB of RAM under the hood right now. If you recall, that was the case with the F1 when it was introduced with the Snapdragon 845 last year.

In retrospect, the two devices are actually priced pretty close to each other at launch. The Pocophone F1 retailed at RM1,299 and RM1,599 for the 64GB and 128GB models respectively, while the Mi 9T Pro is going for RM1,599 (64GB) and RM1,799 (128GB). Looking at these prices, the 64GB variant of the Pro actually sits at the exact same price point as the 128GB Pocophone F1.

Granted, you’re getting half the storage with the Mi 9T Pro, and it doesn’t support expandable storage like the Pocophone F1. On the flip side, you do get a sleeker, far more premium product with the Pro.

Okay, that’s enough comparison with the Pocophone F1; let’s focus on the Mi 9T Pro itself. As mentioned, it is a sleek, premium device in terms of look and feel. I love the aesthetic of the Flame Red colourway, the glass and metal construction feel great, and it has a nice heft to it, tipping the scales at 191g.

On the front of the Mi 9T Pro, you’ve got a 6.39-inch 2340 x 1080 AMOLED display with no notch or hole-punch cutout to distract you. There’s no need to make room for the selfie camera as the phone uses a 20MP f/2.2 motorised module that pops up when activated.

But with all moving parts, there is a chance the camera mechanism would break over time, though Xiaomi did assure consumers that the module can be activated over 300,000 times without issue.

As for the Mi 9T Pro’s screen quality itself, it’s a great-looking display. It’s an AMOLED, HDR-capable panel, so it has deep blacks, vibrant colours, and good level of brightness. Basically, you won’t be disappointed with this display, especially at this price point.

If you’re concerned with the display’s 1080p resolution, don’t be: everything looks sharp enough on the 6.39-inch screen. Plus, the lower power consumption of the 1080p display – compared to a sharper 1440p panel – paired with the phone’s generous 4,000mAh cell, should return above average battery life too.

And then we have the Mi 9T Pro’s gaming performance, which is excellent. I managed to play a full match of PUBG Mobile with this phone, and never did the game feel sluggish throughout the whole match. Even the thermals are quite good; while the phone did get quite warm, it didn’t get to the point where it’s uncomfortable to the touch.

Evidently, the graphite cooling system is working well.

When it comes to camera performance, the Mi 9T Pro is reasonably capable. The Pro’s triple camera system (48MP f/1.75 primary + 8MP f/2.4 telephoto + 13MP f/2.4 wide angle) can output good-looking images, especially the 48MP primary sensor. However, the 8MP telephoto lens isn’t quite as good: the detail preservation isn’t great, and this is amplified in low light conditions.

As for the 13MP wide angle sensor, there is noticeable edge distortion, though this effect may not be evident in wider landscape shots. Nonetheless, I definitely need to spend more time photographing with the phone to get a feel for the camera performance.

Also, it’s worth noting that even though the regular Mi 9T has a similar camera configuration, the Pro model features a Sony IMX 586 sensor, which allows it to do 4K video recording at 60fps. The regular Mi 9T, on the other hand, can only do 4K recording at 30fps with its IMX 582 sensor.

As far as first impressions go, I’m impressed with the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. It is fast, it looks and feels premium, and most of all, it is priced very competitively. Not many phones can rival the Mi 9T Pro when it comes to sheer value for money, except maybe for the Xiaomi Mi 9. Then again, the Mi 9 doesn’t look quite as sleek as the Pro with its notched display, and it still costs slightly more.

Those who are looking to get an affordable flagship smartphone – or have been holding out for a successor to the Pocophone F1 – should definitely take a look at the Mi 9T Pro. With a starting price of RM1,599, you’d be hard-pressed to find another phone that can offer similar value for your money.