The Xiaomi Mi 8 was first announced less than a year ago, in late May 2018. In our full review, we noted that the Mi 8 had some impressive hardware, design, and specs for a phone about half the price of most flagship devices. We also mentioned its obvious design similarities to Apple’s iPhone X, which launched several months beforehand.
Less than a year later, the Xiaomi Mi 9 has arrived. Let’s look at what’s different between the two.
Don’t miss: Xiaomi Mi 9 hands-on
Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Xiaomi Mi 8: Design
As we mentioned, the Xiaomi Mi 8 looks a lot like the iPhone X, complete with a large display notch on top of the screen — though many phones now look like Apple’s flagships. You get both a glass back and front with this phone, with an aluminum body. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it still looks very nice.
In comparison, the Xiaomi Mi 9 looks a lot more innovative. It has a glass curved back covered in Gorilla Glass 5, and comes in a nice blue, black, or purple, with what Xiaomi calls a “holographic” gradient. It looks very futuristic and shiny. The Mi 9 also ditches the large notch for the front camera in favor of a much smaller dewdrop notch on top. You also get a dedicated digital assistant button, which can be used to activate Google Assistant everywhere but in China, where the local XiaoAI will be used.
Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Mi 8: Display
The Xiaomi Mi 8 had a 6.21-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,248 x 1,080 and an aspect ratio of 18.7:9, with Gorilla Glass 5 covering it. As mentioned, this phone’s display has a large notch on top. The Mi 9 has a larger screen, with a 6.39-inch AMOLED display, a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a display ratio of 18.5:9. It’s also protected with the new Gorilla Glass 6.
While the standard Mi 8 did not have an in-display fingerprint sensor, the Mi 8 Pro, or Explorer Edition, does have that feature. By contrast, the Mi 9 and its Transparent Edition both have in-display fingerprint sensors.
Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Mi 8: Hardware and software
When the Xiaomi Mi 8 was first announced with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, that chip had already been included in a number of phones. However, the fast turnaround time for the Xiaomi Mi 9 will make it one of the first phones to use the latest and fastest chip from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 855.
The standard Mi 8 had 6GB of RAM, with 64GB and 128GB onboard storage options. The standard Mi 9 uses 6GB as well for its lowest priced version in China, but bumps up the storage to 128GB, ditching the 64GB model entirely. The Mi 9 will also be sold with 8GB of RAM, and again it will have 128GB of storage. Global versions with 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage will be sold outside of China.
The Mi 8 has a 3,400mAh battery, and the Mi 9 cuts down that to 3,300mAh. However, it more than makes up for this difference with two features. First, there’s a new fast-charging technology in the Mi 9 called Charge Turbo. If you connect the phone to your power outlet with the optional Charge Turbo-supported charger, it will support up to 27W in power. The Mi 9 will charge to its full capacity in just 1 hour and 4 minutes using Charge Turbo, according to Xiaomi. However, this special charger is an extra option; the phone comes with an 18W charger in the box.
See also: The full list of Xiaomi Mi 9 specs
The other new feature is that the Mi 9 not only supports wireless charging, but it also supports a version of the Charge Turbo technology. If you get the special Charge Turbo wireless pad, you can charge up the Mi 9 to 100 percent in just 1 hour and 40 minutes, with its support for 20W. Wireless charging is convenient, but it’s also usually much lower than standard wired charging hardware. This new wireless charging tech makes that gap much slower, but again you will need to have Xiaomi’s special charging pad for those faster speeds.
Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Mi 8: Camera
The biggest difference between the Xiaomi Mi 8 and the Mi 9 is in the camera hardware. The Mi 8 had a dual camera set up, with a main 12MP sensor that had an f/1.8 aperture, along with a secondary 12MP telephoto sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. The Mi 9 makes the jump to a triple rear-camera design. The main sensor goes all the way up to 48MP, with its Sony IMX586 camera hardware. By default, this camera takes 12MP images, but you can manually switch it up to the full 48MP support. There’s also a 12MP 2x optical zoom lens with an f/2.2 aperture, and finally, there’s a 16MP ultra-wide sensor with a 117-degree field of view and an f/2.2 aperture.
Both the Mi 8 and Mi 9 have 20MP front-facing cameras with an f/2.0 aperture. The Mi 8’s camera has 1.8-micron pixels, while the Mi 9’s camera goes down to 0.9-micron pixels.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Transparent Edition vs Mi 8 Explorer/Pro Edition
The Xiaomi Mi 8 was also released in a special “Explorer Edition,” also known as the Mi 8 Pro outside of China. In addition to bumping up the memory from 6GB of RAM to 8GB, and the storage to 128GB, this version of the phone threw in an in-display fingerprint sensor (now standard on the Mi 9). It also had an interesting back that was designed to look transparent, but in fact, was mostly an optical illusion to make you think you were looking at the phone’s hardware (although the NFC chip is real). It’s still pretty effective. Finally, this version also has a 3D face unlock feature, with its infrared sensor.
The Mi 9 is also getting a Transparent Edition, but it’s bumping up the memory from 6GB and 8GB of RAM all the way up to 12GB. There’s also 256GB of storage. The “transparent” back of the phone is again mostly fake. There’s no indication of any 3D unlocking sensor. This version of the phone is only being sold in China, at least for now.
Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Mi 8: Specs
|Xiaomi Mi 9||Xiaomi Mi 8|
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
18.5:9 screen ratio
2,248 x 1,080 resolution
18.7:9 screen ratio
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
Octa-core, up to 2.84Ghz
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
Octa-core, up to 2.8Ghz
|GPU||Adreno 640||Adreno 630|
|RAM||6GB or 8GB|
12GB for Transparent Edition
8GB for Explorer Edition
256GB for Transparent Edition
256GB for Explorer Edition
Main: 48MP with 1.6-micron pixels, 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/1.75 aperture
Secondary: 12MP telephoto with 1.0-micron pixels, f/2.2 aperture
Third: 16MP ultra wide-angle lens, 17 degree field of view, 1.0-micro pixels, f/2.2 aperture
20MP with 0.9-micron pixels, f/2.0 aperture
Main: 12MP with 1.4-micron pixels, 4-axis OIS, f/1.8 aperture
Secondary: 12MP telephoto with 1.0-micron pixels, f/2.4 aperture
Video: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 240/120/30fps, 720p at 240/30fps
20MP with 1.8-micron pixels, f/2.0 aperture
No 3.5mm jack
No 3.5mm jack
TÜV Rheinland Certified Safe-Fast charge system, up to 27W
20W wireless charging
Quick Charge 4+
|Facial recognition||AI face unlock||Infrared facial recognition|
|Fingerprint sensor||In-display fingerprint sensor||Rear fingerprint sensor|
In-display fingerprint for Explorer Edition
|Network||GSM: B2/3/5/8 |
TD-LTE: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41 (120MHz)
TDD LTE: 38/39/40
CDMA: 1X/EVDO BC0
TD-LTE: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41 (120MHz)
LTE B41 4 antenna technology supporting 4x4 MIMO
|SIM||Dual nano-SIM||Dual nano-SIM|
|Software||Android 9 Pie|
|Colors||black, blue, purple, transparent (China only)||blue, gold, white, black, transparent (Explorer Edition)|
|Dimensions and weight||157.5 x 74.67 x 7.61mm|
|154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm|
Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Mi 8: Release date and pricing
The Xiaomi Mi 8 first launched in China, with a starting price of 2,699 yuan (~$421) for the 6GB RAM/64GB version. The model with 6GB/128GB model was priced at 2,999 yuan (~$468) and the 6GB/256GB model launched for 3,299 yuan (~$515). The Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition cost 3,699 yuan (~$577).
The Mi 9 will cost 2,999 yuan (~$445) for the 6GB/128GB version in China, while it will cost 3,299 yuan (~$490) to get the 8GB/128GB model in China. Prices for the global version will be revealed later, and and that version will be sold with 6GB/64GB and 6GB/128GB models. The Xiaomi Mi 9 Transparent Edition, with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, will cost 3,999 yuan (~$595) in China. Again, this model is only going to be available in that country, at least for the time being.