Xiaomi Mi 9 SE review

Mini Mi 9 with very few compromises

Image credit: TechRadar
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE is an excellent mid-range phone that combines a sleek design with a punchy AMOLED screen and enough performance oomph to keep most happy. The UI isn’t our favorite Android skin around and there’s no microSD card slot, but if you can get past those gripes, you’ll be hard pressed to get more for less.


  • +

    Sleek, premium design

  • +

    Snappy performance

  • +

    Great camera for the price


  • -

    No headphone jack

  • -

    Mono speaker

  • -

    MIUI isn’t great

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Xiaomi’s had a successful 2019 so far - its flagship, the Xiaomi Mi 9, impressed us in a big way, and the Black Shark 2, the company’s gaming phone, was a huge improvement over the original.

Now, it has got its sights set on the mid-range market with the Mi 9 SE, a smaller alternative to the Mi 9, with a virtually identical camera system combined with tapered specs and a lower price tag. 

It combines a Snapdragon 712 chipset with 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and while the Mi 9 SE's mid-range processor might turn some gamers off, storage and RAM configurations are looking great.

The phone’s camera system also reads like a dream; it’s a triple-lens setup with a primary 48MP sensor - the same sensor found on the much pricier OnePlus 7 Pro. Combine that with a 20MP selfie camera, and imaging enthusiasts should be sorted with a Mi 9 SE.

Perhaps the only slightly concerning spec is the battery, which at 3,070mAh is on the smaller side. That said, with its modest 5.97-inch screen size and mid-range power, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE could surprise us and go the distance.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE price and availability

  • Out now, but no US availability
  • Costs £349 / AU$499 but can sometimes be found for less

The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE can be picked up officially for £349 / AU$499 (around $440), though online prices drop below the £300 mark if you shop around in the UK. Thus far, Xiaomi hasn’t confirmed plans to release the phone in the US.

Design and display

  • Slim and light
  • A metal frame and a glass back
  • Sharp, bright and vibrant screen

You can pick up the Mi 9 SE in Blue, Gray and Violet. Across all three colors though, it delivers a premium finish, with a sleek design, and a rich in-hand feel. 

The phone is thin and light at 7.5mm, weighing just 155g - thinner and lighter than an iPhone XS despite packing a larger screen.

Its polished metal frame sports rounded sides and corners, so feels solid but soft at the same time. The Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back ensures it’s protected, and the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE also ships with a case.

All the buttons are on the right side of the phone, while a USB-C port and the single, bottom firing mono speaker are at the bottom. There’s a dual-SIM card slot to the right, and at the top there's an IR (infrared) blaster. The back of the phone is where you’ll find a camera bump, housing three cameras, and below it, a flash.

With its high-gloss finish, the Mi 9 SE attracts fingerprints readily, but that’s virtually all we have to say against its design. It’s a wonderfully hand-holdable phone, is a joy to look at, and could be perfect for any smartphone user who’s craving something a bit more manageable.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

Fortunately, fire-up the screen and things just get better. The 19.5:9, 1080 x 2340 AMOLED panel shines beautifully and brightly, with HDR support and a subtle teardrop notch at the top, inside which sits the selfie camera.

It’s sharp, bright, vibrant, deep and customizable. Jump into the settings and you can tweak the warmth, and color profile, boosting contrast and saturation or muting everything for more natural tones.

Additionally, viewing angles are strong, and even in bright sunlight, visibility holds up, so while it may not be the best display when compared to some flagships, for the price, it probably is.

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel Tech[edit].