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Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is a powerful device with some great features – and at such a relatively low price, it’s unexpectedly fantastic. 

With a chipset and camera setup to rival high-end flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S10, yet a price tag roughly half as large, it’s definitely a device worth considering if you want a strong handset from a lesser-known brand.

That’s not to say it's a perfect phone, and the corners Xiaomi has cut to keep the Mi 9’s price low become more evident the more you use it. Gaming and photography can cause the device to warm up a little too much – never to a level that’ll slow the phone, but more than most other handsets would under similar circumstances. 

The battery capacity is a little disappointing too – a device that’s so good for battery-intensive activities should really be able to last longer when used for those activities. 

We also weren’t too fond of the Xiaomi Mi 9’s UI – of course that’s subjective, and it won’t be a deal-breaker for many, but we did miss Android 9’s standard aesthetic when using it.

Who's it for?

All in all, though, the Mi 9 is a fantastic mid-range all-rounder with enough strengths to make it a viable alternative to high-range flagships, and anyone who needs a lot of processing power, whether that’s for gaming, photography, or other functions, is sure to get their money’s worth. 

Should I buy it?

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is one of the most powerful handsets you can get at its price tag. Despite the value for money on offer here though, not everyone needs a phone that scores five figures in a benchmark test, and if you’re in the market for a cheap handset and don’t plan to use it for intensive tasks, there are alternatives that might suit you better. 

Competition

OnePlus 6T

 Image credit: TechRadar 

 Image credit: TechRadar 

Like the Xiaomi Mi 9, the OnePlus 6T has a mid-range price but high-end specs. It has a noticeably bigger battery, and OnePlus’ signature alert slider that lets you easily change whether your phone is on ring, vibrate or silent, but it also has fewer cameras and a weaker chipset.

Read our full OnePlus 6T review

Huawei P20 Pro

 Image credit: TechRadar 

 Image credit: TechRadar 

Along with OnePlus, Huawei is another Chinese manufacturer that has taken the Western phone market by storm, and which Xiaomi is hoping to emulate. The P20 Pro is, like the OnePlus 6 and Xiaomi Mi 9, a mid-range phone, but has some features that put its rivals to shame. Its battery is significantly bigger than the Mi 9’s, and it has a three-camera rear setup that rivals the Mi 9’s in terms of features and resolution. 

Read our full Huawei P20 Pro review

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Taking a step up in terms of price, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is the affordable handset in Samsung’s Galaxy S10 range. It has many of the features of its pricier siblings, like an impressive camera array, Bixby support and a top-tier processor, but it’s a little closer to the Chinese phones in terms of price. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10e review