Following a few teases on social media over the past week, Xiaomi has today announced the Mi 9, the latest generation of its mainstream tentpole device. The Mi 9 (there’s no Mi 9 “Pro” at this time) looks very similar to last year’s Mi 8, but with a smaller notch cutout and a total of three rear cameras, up from the two found in the prior phone. The Mi 9 will be available in China first, before expanding to other regions Xiaomi sells phones in (which, before you ask, don’t include the US).
Aside from the usual bump in specs and new camera features, the big visual update for the Mi 9 is the iridescent finish on the back, which changes colors depending on how you look at it. This effect is most prominent on the “lavender violet” model, though the Mi 9 is also available in a blue or black color option. There’s also a limited-edition model for the Chinese market that has a transparent back with “simulated” chips and components underneath it, much like last year’s Mi 8 Pro.
Inside, the Mi 9 has a Snapdragon 855 processor, with either 6 or 12GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. Xiaomi says it will be “one of the world’s first” companies with a Snapdragon 855 phone on the market, though that distinction isn’t likely to mean much as Samsung and others are expected to release a whole swath of new Snapdragon 855 phones in the very near future. The Mi 9 is not a 5G phone; it supports a variety of LTE networks, however.
The Mi 9 has a 6.39-inch OLED display with a 1080-pixel-wide resolution — Xiaomi representatives told me it’s the same screen as found on the Mi Mix 3, but with the notch cut out for the camera. Like the Mi 8 Pro, there’s an optical fingerprint scanner underneath the display.
The triple rear camera system is the Mi 9’s big new thing, with lenses for wide, telephoto, and super wide (117 degree field of view) available. The main camera has a 48-megapixel Sony sensor, similar to what is found in the Honor View 20, that will shoot 12-megapixel pixel-binned images by default. The 12-megapixel telephoto lens provides a 2x zoom, while the 16-megapixel super wide camera allows you to capture a much wider field of view.
Another new trick the Mi 9 has up its sleeve is the new “Charge Turbo” wireless charging mode, which allows for 20W wireless charging on either Xiaomi’s optional Charge Turbo charging pad or motorized car mount. The company says this is the fastest wireless charging in the market — most other phones charge at either 7.5W or 10W — and can juice the Mi 9’s 3,300mAh battery from empty to full in just one hour and 40 minutes. If placed on a standard Qi charger, the Mi 9 will revert back to the fastest speeds that charger will support. In addition, the Mi 9 comes with a 27W wired charging brick that can fully charge the battery in just over one hour.
Xiaomi will be releasing the Mi 9 in China first, before it expands to other markets. The company says it plans to launch in Europe very soon, in fact it has a press conference around Mobile World Congress in the coming days that should reveal more information about the Mi 9’s global launch and the company’s plans for 5G.
The Mi 9 starts at 2,999 yuan (~$450) for the 6GB /128GB model and goes all the way up to 3,999 yuan (~$600) for the 12GB /256GB transparent variant. There’s also a mid-range version called the Mi 9 SE that has a 5.97-inch screen and Snapdragon 712 processor; it starts at 1,999 yuan (~$300) for a 6GB / 64GB model.
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge