MWC 2019

Xiaomi Mi 9 Makes Up for the Lack of ToF Sensor With Rare Camera Build

Xiaomi Mi 9 has been making the rounds since its announcement on February 20, the same day Samsung Unpacked took place. We reported on it back then, but had the chance to see how the Xiaomi Mi 9 Explorer Edition feels only recently. Let me tell you – it doesn’t disappoint! Of course, it made some questionable sacrifices but made up for them in other areas.

At MWC, we had the chance to look up close at the sexiest variant of Xiaomi Mi 9, the Explorer edition (see our first impressions video, above!). This model has a “transparent” back, targeted towards Alita: Battle Angel fans. The case apparently shows off the internals of the phone, in truth just recreating them, which looks cooler than if they had really gone with a see-through back.


The “exposed hardware” gives the Mi 9 a very cyberpunk air, which fits the cyborg theme of the movie, although the technology under the hood is not nearly as advanced as a futuristic handset for robots would have.

Like the other Mi 9 editions, the Explorer one has a 6.39-inch display, a teardrop notch and the latest Snapdragon 855 chip. It also comes with a triple rear camera, the first such modeule for a Xiaomi phone. You get a 48MP main rear camera, a f2.2 12MP telephoto and 16mp ultrawide one.

Here’s where you start getting disappointed. There’s no ToF sensor to speak of, although other triple-camera phones like Samsung S10 and LG G8 ThinQ have it on board. For security and photography purposes, this is almost a must in 2019.

There is an upside to it – the Mi 9 Explorer model had a very rare camera build. The 48MP sensor has a 7P lens, meaning it is formed from 7 optical elements, more than most flagship phones boast. This allows it to capture more light than the other variants and its competitors, improving its low-light capabilities significantly.

Another drawback is the lack of a microSD slot but you can take comfort in the knowledge that this model comes with 256GB of storage and the most RAM in the Xiaomi 2019 line: 12GB!

You might also appreciate the dual nano SIM option and dedicated Google Assistant button (that you can probably remap to suit your needs.)

The future of the Mi 9 Explorer Edition was shaky at best last week, when the sale event in China was canceled unexpectedly. Right now, the company is struggling to get enough units to put it on sale by the end of the month but we’ll see how that progresses. The price should be around $595 but as it won’t launch in US, you’ll have to import it through e-commerce sites.

Are these features enough for Mi 9 to go on your top 2019 list? Let us know in the comments below!

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