Xiaomi’s assault on the smartphone market continues. On Thursday, it announced the UK launch of its compact Mi 9 SE flagship, which will retail starting at £349 (roughly Ksh44,000) for the entry-level model.
This device bears many similarities with the previously released Mi 9 handset, albeit with a drastically modified form factor. It sits in the space previously occupied by devices like the iPhone SE, which has largely been ignored as manufacturers embrace bigger phablet-style form factors.
Another key difference: It comes with recently-released Qualcomm Snapgragon 712 platform, rather than the more powerful Snapdragon 855 CPU which ships with the bog-standard Mi 9. Here’s the phone’s specs in full:
- Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 712
- Qualcomm Adreno 616 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 64/128GB ROM
- 5.97-Inch AMOLED display (19.5:9 ratio)
- Three rear-facing cameras (as described below)
- 13MP f/2.4 ultra wide-angle lens
- 48MP f/1.75 wide-angle primary lens
- 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens
- One 20MP front-facing camera
- 3,070 mAh battery
- Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC
- In-screen fingerprint sensor
- MIUI 10 (based on Android 9.0 pie)
On paper, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE is a solid mid-range handset. The constellation of cameras on the back is identical to those shipping with the more expensive Xiaomi Mi 9, so photo quality shouldn’t be too dissimilar.
And, for what it’s worth, the Mi 9’s camera is excellent. It boasts a DxOMark rating of 107, which is slightly better than that of the venerable iPhone XS Max. In particular, it received praise for its faithful color reproduction, as well as the phone’s flash, which DxOMark says is the best of all devices they’ve tested so far.
The downgrade in CPU is a bit of a bummer, but it’s not a deal breaker, especially given the price of the device. The Snapdragon 712 is based on ARM’s Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 microarchitectures and uses a 10nm manufacturing process. This will give you a decent quality of performance and battery life. It’s also got some pleasant AI optimizations, which lend themselves well to photographers.
But the main reason why anyone should consider this phone is the form factor. The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE is designed to be usable with just one hand, which is a rarity these days. Despite that, it comes with a decent enough amount of screen real estate, allowing you to read documents and web pages without too much annoyance.
Xiaomi made the Mi 9 SE the size of a 5.1-inch “classic” phone, while managing to include a 5.99-inch display. It managed to do that by trimming the bezels to almost naught, while also using a narrow 19.5:9 apsect ratio.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE went on sale in UK today. We will have a hands-on review and we give you our report card!
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