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Xiaomi's Mi 9T Pro is one of the best bargains this year

With the barely credible Mi Mix Alpha and the enveloping display that dominated attention last week, you could have been forgiven for not having noticed the other phone that Xiaomi announced at its event, the Mi 9 Pro 5G. Xiaomi has released many phones that look and feel the same this year, and to be honest it is hard to keep up.

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Another Xiaomi phone that I have used in recent weeks, the Mi 9T Pro, is very much in that category. Nothing about the specification sheet stands out, not even in the Xiaomi range, let alone the Chinese smartphone landscape in general. The fact that I am only going to write about it this week is due to the peculiarities of Xiaomi's complicated naming scheme and # 39; s global release scheme. But I still think it's one of the most striking phones of the year.


To put the Mi 9T Pro in context, let me briefly explain the Mi 9 line. Firstly, the flagship Mi 9 and mid-range Mi 9 SE were announced in February. As is typical for Xiaomi, the Mi 9 combines high-quality specifications (Snapdragon 855, etc.) with an affordable price (£ 499 / € 449). I reviewed the Mi 9 when it came to Europe in April; it was good. Then a cheaper variant of € 329, the Mi 9T, was released on the European mainland in June.

The Mi 9T, however, was a completely different phone. It had a slower Snapdragon 730 processor, a notchless display, a pop-up selfie camera and a whole new design. Completely new, that is, if you had not watched the launch of Indian telephones in the previous month, when the Redmi K20 and K20 Pro were announced. The Mi 9T is just a new Redmi K20.

Now we are in the fall with the £ 399 Mi 9T Pro, a new Redmi K20 Pro. Why Xiaomi did not release this phone earlier in the year is not clear to me, but Europeans should not sleep on it. It is even more flagship than the Mi 9, for an even lower price.

The specification sheet of the Mi 9T Pro looks pretty standard if you're used to following Chinese phones, but drop this thing in an AT&T store and it would be just as high-end as anything else. You have a Snapdragon 855 processor, a notchless 6.4-inch OLED screen, in-display fingerprint sensor, pop-up selfie camera, 4,000 mAh battery and three rear cameras including a 48-megapixel primary unit in addition to telephoto – and ultra-wide lenses. It is actually a OnePlus 7 Pro without the high-refresh rate screen, except that it starts at £ 399 instead of £ 699. (Conversions are what they are, US residents should consider this as a $ 399 phone.)


What makes the Mi 9T Pro different from Xiaomi's other high-spec-low-cost efforts – take the $ 300 Pocophone F1 last year, which stuffed the fastest available parts into the cheapest bodywork – is that it makes no concessions to the design. There are many beautiful flourishes here, from the small circle in the pop-up camera module that lights up when the phone is being charged to the way the holographic back panel shimmers in response to its surroundings.

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Now the Mi 9 remains a slimmer device in a few ways. It has a few flagship-like accents, such as wireless charging and a better haptic engine. It is also noticeably thinner, although it has a smaller battery and omits the headphone jack. The design is certainly more modest, if that's your thing. In general, however, the 9T Pro feels like a more balanced, capable phone for most people – not to mention a cheaper one.

However, the price of the phone led to some controversy in India when it was released as the K20 Pro. Many Indian tech followers, both of whom are well-informed about phone specifications and who want to get the best value possible, were disappointed in the price level of the 27,999 rupee ($ 395) from the K20 Pro after expecting something more in line with the Pocophone F1. (The $ 7,000 gold version didn't help.)

Xiaomi had to justify the price in an open letter to Indian fans, pointing out that the functions are not cheap. But given the Pocophone precedent, those who prioritize price performance above everything else will not be satisfied.

In Europe, however, this is undoubtedly the best phone with the best flagship there is – and I call this a phone with the flagship class. It would probably also be a major problem in the less competitive US market if Xiaomi had ever figured out how to sell phones there. If you want to buy a phone at this price, I can't think of a better option.

Xiaomi releases phones at such an intense pace and at such a seemingly random location that it is easy to ignore individual models and simply consider the line-up as a collective beehive that is designed to be pretty good. for whatever the price is. However, sometimes the company transcends the sweet spot and delivers something of incredible value. The Mi 9T Pro or K20 Pro is one of those moments.