Review Xiaomi Mi 9T – The Redmi K20 for Europe for $394.05
After the recent introduction of the Redmi K20 for China, the Xiaomi Mi 9T for Europe has already been announced. It’s supposed to be the Redmi K20, only running under the Xiaomi brand, which is already better known in Europe. After the success of the Mi 9 and the Mi 9 SE it is certainly not wrong to build on the well-known name.
- Xiaomi Mi 9T
Technical data of the Xiaomi Mi 9T
|Xiaomi Mi 9T||Xiaomi K20 Pro|
|Display||6,39″ AMOLED Display (2340 x 1080p, 19.5:9 aspect ratio)||6,39″ AMOLED Display (2340 x 1080p, 19.5:9 aspect ratio)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 @ 2.2 GHz & 1.8 GHz||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 @ 2.84 GHz & 2.42 GHz & 1.8 GHz|
|Graphic chip||Adreno 618||Adreno 640|
|Main memory||6 GB LPDDR4X RAM||6/8 GB LPDDR4X RAM|
|Internal memory||64 / 128 GB UFS 2.1||64/128/256 GB UFS 2.1|
|Main camera||48 MP Sony IMX582 with ƒ/1.75 + 8 MP Tele camera with ƒ/2.2 + 13 MP Ultra wide angle (125° shooting angle)||48 MP Sony IMX586 with ƒ/1.75 + 8 MP Tele camera with ƒ/2.2 + 13 MP Ultra wide angle (125° shooting angle)|
|Front Camera||20 MP f/2.2 pop-up camera with panorama mode||20 MP f/2.2 pop-up camera with panorama mode|
|Battery||4,000 mAh with 18W QuickCharge 3.0||4,000 mAh with 18W Quick Charge 3.0 (supports 27W Quick Charge 4+)|
|Connectivity||LTE, WLAN AC, GPS/Galileo/BDS/GLONASS, Bluetooth 5, Dual SIM, NFC||no LTE, WLAN AC, Dual GPS/Galileo/BDS/GLONASS, Bluetooth 5, Dual GPS, NFC|
|Features||Fingerprint sensor in display | USB Type-C | Headphone jack | Pop-up camera||Fingerprint sensor in display | USB Type-C | Headphone jack | Pop-up camera|
|Operating system||MIUI 10.3, Android 9 with multilingual Play Store||MIUI 10.3, Android 9 with Play Store in English|
|Dimensions / Weight||156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm / 191 g||156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm / 191 g|
Xiaomi Mi 9T in Europe | Redmi K20 in China
Brief history: Redmi, who are more or less independent of Xiaomi, introduced the Redmi K20 & K20 Pro on May 28 in China and for China. For China, as they neither support the LTE bands important in the West, nor are the Western languages selectable on mobile phones. The Play Store is also only available through a small detour. Shortly afterwards Xiaomi began to announce a new member of the Mi 9 family and officially introduced it on June 12 as Xiaomi Mi 9T for Europe. This smartphone is nothing more than a Redmi K20, which now supports all LTE bands important for Europe, has the Google Play Store already officially pre-installed and e.g. German as language.
So far there is no trace of a Mi 9T Pro, the Redmi K20 Pro for Europe. When and if there will be a 9T Pro at all is still completely unclear. Perhaps, so my guess, one does not want to make the own Mi 9 too much competition and brings the mobile phone therefore not officially to Europe.
New design in the Mi 9 family
Looking at the Mi 9 and Mi 9 SE, it quickly becomes clear that these two smartphones belong to a “family”. With the same camera arrangement on the back, the same teardrop notch and the same three designs/color variants, you can easily confuse the two. The Mi 9T breaks completely with this design language, which is probably largely due to the fact that it is not originally a smartphone from the Mi 9 series.
So what’s different? Instead of a triple camera, which sits in a housing and sits vertically in the upper left corner, the 9T has a triple camera in the middle of the back, which sits in two separate housings. But the upper single camera still gets the ring around the lens that is known from the other Mi 9 models and two new lettering with “48MP” and “AI TRIPLE CAMERA”.
The colour design of the back also looks different. The popular Twilight effect gives way to a large black vertical stripe in the middle, which then merges into either “Carbon Black”, “Glacier Blue” or “Flame Red” – a design you already know from Oppo Find X. While the carbon black is quite simple, the blue and red versions are of course a bit more eye-catching and also have a slight Twilight effect, so that depending on the incidence of light some green shines through in the blue. Depending on the chosen colour variant, the metal frame and the volume rocker on the right side are either black, blue or red. However, the power button underneath is always in a striking metallic red.
The other change compared to the Mi 9 (SE) which is visible at first sight is the omission of the teardrop notch for the front camera. This has been replaced by a motorized pop-up camera on the top, so that you have a display completely without interruptions and according to Xiaomi a screen-to-body ratio of 91.9%. In addition to the pop-up camera, you’ll also find a classic 3.5 mm headphone jack on the top, while the USB C input, dual SIM slot (no memory expansion) and mono speaker are located on the bottom.
The processing is Xiaomi-typically very good. The corners are pleasantly rounded and the transition between frame and front or back does not show any sharp edges. The pop-up camera is also flush with the frame. However, the Mi 9T with its dimensions of 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm and a weight of 191 g is of course not a small or handy smartphone, but thanks to the rounded left and right back, it lies comfortably in the hand and also offers a practical one-hand mode for all those with normally large hands. The handling of the Mi 9T is most comparable to that of the Mi 9, even though the 9T weighs a few grams more due to the larger battery.
6,39″ AMOLED display on Mi 9 level
The display is not only on the level of the Mi 9, I suppose very strongly it is the display of the Mi 9 what we see here in the Mi 9T. Because it’s all the same: 6.39 inches diagonally, a FullHD+ resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 pixels, a maximum brightness of 600 nit and the AMOLED technology match 1:1 with the Mi 9. The only difference was the version of the protective Gorilla Glass, which is “only” installed in version 5 here, but already in version 6 in the Mi 9.
Not only on paper, but also in practice, the display behaves almost identically. The colours are OLED-typically beautiful and strong and can be adapted to your personal taste thanks to MIUI. Furthermore, there is also an eye-protecting read/night mode, an energy-saving dark mode and an always-on display. The brightness is very good with an average of 430 nit and a maximum of 600 nit, so you don’t have any problems reading the display in the sun.
In contrast to the Redmi K20 intended for China, the European Mi 9T also allows you to enjoy Netflix and Co. in HD, as Widevine L1 is supported. In addition, the display can also play HDR content. A perfect display for commuters like me who like to watch Netflix and Prime Video on the train.
Fingerprint sensor in display
According to Xiaomi, the fingerprint sensor in the display is already the seventh generation of this technology. It remains to be seen whether this is true, but I can confirm that the sensor works even faster and more reliably than the Mi 9. In practice, this means that you can’t put on your finger perfectly and the phone is still unlocked. I would estimate the reliability with approx. 95%, only the much more expensive OnePlus 7 Pro works better here.
Performance between Mi 9 and Mi 9SE
The Xiaomi Mi 9T is currently the only smartphone with the new Snapdragon 730 processor, alongside the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy A80. The currently strongest processor in the upper midrange is even stronger than the Snapdragon 712, which works in the Mi 9 SE. The Kryo 470 cores with a clock frequency of up to 2.2 GHz have been specially designed for AI tasks and are even more energy-efficient thanks to the 8 nanometer manufacturing process. In addition there is 6 GB RAM and optionally 64 GB or 128 GB mass memory, which unfortunately is not expandable.
In practice you notice that the Mi 9T is a bit faster than the Mi 9 SE and in a direct comparison slower than the Mi 9. However, this difference in performance is only really noticeable in a direct comparison and I had no cases of lagging, hanging or other bad performance in the test. Apps open and load fast, inputs are converted immediately and multitasking is no problem even with more than 6 apps. Even gaming is really fun on the large display and games run smoothly with up to 60 fps even at the highest graphic settings thanks to the Adreno 618 GPU.
MIUI 10.3 with many possibilities and current Android
As on every Xiaomi smartphone, the Mi 9T also uses the current version of the in-house MIUI interface, which is available here in version 10.3. This is based on the current Android 9 Pie with the security patch from May 2019. So, as so often with Xiaomi, you are up to date, because the Chinese release updates for their own devices comparatively quickly and long after release.
Since it is MIUI in the Global version, the mobile phone is completely usable in several languages and all Google services including Play Store are pre-installed and certified. MIUI-typically one has a lot of customization possibilities and features. You can define useful shortcuts, there is a practical one-hand mode and you can choose between key and gesture navigation, to name just a few of the many settings.
Bloatware is available in the form of Facebook and the AliExpress app which can both be uninstalled. The Xiaomi apps (notes, weather, Mi-video etc.) are permanently available. If you don’t like the MIUI interface at all, you can of course install another launcher. By the way: Notification icons are displayed without problems in the notification bar – Xiaomi has had problems with this in the past. Simply activate the item “Show notification icons” in the settings under “Notifications”.
Triple camera for a lot of flexibility
The main camera on the back is a 48 megapixel sensor (f/1.75) from Sony (IMX 582), which is a slightly attenuated version of the Sony IMX 586, which you already know from many flagships like the Mi 9 and OnePlus 7 Pro. The biggest difference we can notice is that you can only record videos at a 4K resolution with 30 frames per second instead of 60. An 8 MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture (OV8856) provides the double zoom and a 13 MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 (Samsung S5K3L6) provides the ultra wide angle shots with 125°. These are the two exactly the same sensors as in the Mi 9 SE.
48 Megapixel Sony IMX Main Camera
Accordingly, the photos of the Mi 9T are also very comparable with those of the Mi 9 SE, but this is absolutely nothing bad. The main camera takes photos that can keep up with the Mi 9. Sharpness, details, high dynamics and good contrast characterize the photos. The autofocus works fast and precise and the shutter release time is also fast.
We could only find one real mistake: If the camera doesn’t have a real reference point for “white,” the white balance can’t work properly and colors seem very washed-out. As soon as there is something for a white balance again, the colors are right again. I hope that Xiaomi will improve it with a software update, especially since the Redmi K20 Pro does not seem to have this problem.
125° ultra wide angle & 2x zoom + macro shooting
The 13 MP ultra wide angle camera takes some better pictures than the Mi 9 SE in a direct comparison. The software was probably worked on here, so that white balance and colors match more with the main camera. However, people and objects at the edge of the ultra wide angle photos still appear somewhat distorted and blurred, despite the activated distortion correction.
The zoom camera also does a good job with the double optical magnification. However, one notices here on the PC that the pictures were only taken with 8 megapixels, therefore one should not zoom in any further.
If you want to get closer to an object, you can digitally zoom in up to ten times. Of course, the quality suffers, but you can still see what exactly you have photographed. Personally, however, I would stop at the optical double zoom. This is especially practical if you can’t physically get closer to the object, as in the tower in the second picture below.
The zoom camera can also be used again for macro photos. So you can get even closer to small objects than with the main camera. In practice it’s more of a gimmick, but again and again I like such macro shots very much, even if they’re not quite as close as the OP 7 Pro or the P30 Pro yet.
Good portraits – bad night mode
Portrait shots with a beautiful bokeh effect have become one of the strengths of Xiaomi smartphones. The software for border detection and correct separation of foreground and background is very mature and hardly makes any mistakes. You can also adjust the blur of the background, after and before creating the photo! I left it at the default setting for the test, as this is also used by most users in practice.
Unfortunately, the night mode has not yet matured at all. Google, Huawei/Honor and OnePlus are miles ahead when it comes to image noise reduction and detail when shooting in night mode. The Xiaomi scene is brightened by longer exposure times, but the white balance is no longer correct and the image remains very blurred. The good news: Xiaomi can still catch up by software updates and updates they can – so let’s keep our fingers crossed. Until then, I’d rather use the normal photo mode for low-light shots.
Videos with maximum 4K/30FPS
The Mi 9T can record videos with all three cameras on the back with a maximum 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. The recording time at 4K is limited to 8 minutes and you cannot switch between the cameras during recording. You can notice a small improvement in the sound compared to the Mi 9, but wind is still a problem.
Google Cam Mod / GCam for the Xiaomi Mi 9T
As so often it is possible to install and use a modified version of the Google Camera on the Mi 9T. Currently only the main camera is supported, zoom. and ultra wide angle shots are not yet possible with the GCam. In addition, the Selfie camera is limited to 5 megapixels. But the main camera and the night mode already work very well and without having to change any settings.
Especially the night mode of the Google Camera shows the strengths of Google’s software. With the GCam you can easily take better pictures in exactly the same light conditions. The difference in normal lighting conditions is also visible, but not as serious as in night mode.
For these test photos we used the version of Urnyx05 which is based on the mod of Arnova8G2 and is actually intended for OnePlus model. The exact APK is the following: GCam-6.2.030_Arnova8G2_Urnyx05-v1.4.apk. The newer versions of the mod can be found here. Have fun trying it out!
Pop-Up-Selfie-Cam with light effects
The pop-up front camera shines with a resolution of 20 megapixels (f/2.2) and offers an interesting new feature. Instead of an ultra wide angle camera, there is a panorama mode for the front camera, which allows you to take better group photos. This also works surprisingly well and could be adopted by more manufacturers.
But also the normal Selfies and Portrait-Selfies know how to convince. Sharp, detailed and also the skin tones are well hit. Only when the backlight is too strong does the camera have to fight and then tends to overexpose. All in all, the quality is very good, especially in the price segment.
If desired, the camera can be moved out of the housing each time with one of six sound effects and one LED light. These LEDs also replace the notification LED with a translucent ring at the top. However, the ring is very dark and evenly placed on the top, so the notification light on the desk is of little use.
The video and sound quality when shooting with the front camera is quite respectable and the electronic image stabilization does a good job.
Face Unlock present, but slow
Like the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Mi 9T doesn’t do without Face Unlock despite the pop-up camera. Unfortunately the small motor of the camera doesn’t work as fast as the one of the OP 7 Pro. Therefore the camera needs longer to be fully extended out of the housing and therefore also longer to unlock the mobile phone with the face. In addition, you always have to wipe up on the lock screen to activate Face Unlock, so the camera doesn’t extend automatically. Taken together, the whole Face Unlock process takes too long to be really practical. I hardly used the function after the second day of testing – I’m probably a bit spoiled by the many smartphone tests.
Top battery life thanks to 4,000 mAh
As usual for the Redmi smartphones, which the Mi 9T is originally, the manufacturer uses a large battery. The K20/Mi 9T therefore works with a 4,000 mAh battery. So Redmi remains true to its line, so far almost all Redmi devices since Redmi’s “independence” with a 4,000 mAh battery have come onto the market. Accordingly, the Mi 9T also delivers and achieves 11 hours and 15 minutes in the benchmark with half the brightness. In practice, you get more than 1.5-2 days, depending on how much you use the battery.
The battery of the Mi 9T can unfortunately only be charged with 18 W (QC 3.0), although the processor theoretically already supports Quick Charge 4+ – a pity. With the included 18 W charger, a full charge to 100% takes almost exactly 1.5 hours. But after only 30 minutes you are already at 46%, which should get you through the day again. Unfortunately, the “luxury feature” of wireless charging is not used, the 20W Qi charging is reserved for the Xiaomi Mi 9.
NFC, headphone jack & VoLTE
Since Xiaomi and Redmi are a bit sparse with NFC and usually only use it in their top smartphones, it is all the more pleasing that the Mi 9T is also equipped with NFC. So mobile, contactless payment is possible. But that would have been surprising as well, since the Mi 9T is also a top smartphone and comes with a corresponding USB type C on the market. But don’t forget the traditionalists, because there is still a good old 3.5 mm jack connector on the top side.
There are of course a few wireless connectivity standards such as Dual Band WiFi ac, Bluetooth 5 incl. aptX HD, various LTE bands and of course GPS. The GPS fix was also very fast in the test in the office and came to an accuracy of 3 to 4 meters. Also the telephoning worked very well and the other person could clearly understand me. With a little trick even VoLTE works. Just enter *#*#86583#*#* in the phone app and the VoLTE logo appeared in the notification bar.
The mono loudspeaker on the bottom produces a good volume and reasonably clear sound – enough for calls through the loudspeaker etc.. In addition to the charger, the USB-C cable and the SIM tool, the scope of delivery also includes a matt black hard plastic case that fits perfectly with the slightly protruding camera.
Xiaomi Mi 9T: A smartphone for (almost) everyone
The general haptics and even more the display resemble the Xiaomi Mi 9 in many parts, but the new design is conspicuous and a real eye-catcher. Like the Pocophone F1 last year, the Mi 9T leaves little room for criticism. A processor for which “middle class” is almost an insult, super AMOLED display without notch, good triple camera for a lot of flexibility, large battery, USB type C, jack and NFC as well as a fingerprint sensor in the display.
Only the Pop-Up camera is a bit different – the photos are top, but Face Unlock isn’t really practical. And of course there’s no memory expansion, no wireless charging and no IP rating.
If you can make friends with it, the price-performance ratio here is almost unbeatable again, after all the Xiaomi Mi 9T starts at ~$390. In the beginning you are still on a par with the Mi 9, but the price can and probably (think of the Mi 9) will fall.
What do you think of the Xiaomi Mi 9T? Could this be your next smartphone?To the gadget