Xiaomi Mi 9 review

GSMArena team, 20 February 2019.

Meet the Snapdragon 855

Xiaomi is the first global smartphone packing the latest Snapdragon 855 by Qualcomm and it's also the first one we get to put through our usual benchmark tests.

Xiaomi Mi 9 review

The Snapdragon 855 is built on a high-end 7nm manufacturing process and it's promising plenty of power and efficiency gains over its predecessor.

The new chipset uses an 8-core CPU design with 1x ultra-high-performance Kryo 485 Gold core (Cortex-A76 derivative) running at 2.84GHz, 3x high-performance Kryo 485 Gold at 2.42GHz, and 4x power-efficient Kryo 485 Silver cores (Cortex-A55 derivative) that go up to 1.8GHz.

There is a new Adreno 640 GPU, of course, which supports Vulkan 1.1, HDR Gaming, and Physically Based Rendering. And it should offer some nice performance bump over the 630 in the Snapdragon 845.

There is a new dedicated vision processor that can now process depth mapping at 60 frames per second, which should greatly improve augmented reality applications. The new image processor also allows for 4K HDR capture at 60 fps, all while using 25% less power than its predecessor.

As for 5G, well, Qualcomm isn't putting an X50 modem into every new Snapdragon 855 chip it's making. Instead, some including the one in the Mi 9 will come with the new X24 LTE modem, capable of theoretical download speeds up of to 2Gbps. So Xiaomi Mi 9 doesn't support 5G, while the upcoming Mi Mix 3 5G model will be the company's first to cater to the next gen networks.

The regular Mi 9 comes with 6 GB of RAM and you can choose between 64 and 128 gigs of storage. There will be more premium transparent and Explorer (Pro editions), which feature up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.

Finally, the Mi 9 has a Full HD+ screen, which means it has an edge over the 1440p+ phones when it comes to graphics.

And now, let's run some benchmarks.

We start off with some GeekBench torture on the CPU. The new Kryo (Cortex-A76) clocked at 2.84GHz outperforms the A76 cores @2.6GHz within the Kirin 980 (Huawei Mate 20 bunch) - as expected, while comes close to Samsung's custom Mongoose M3 but still can't beat it. Apple is still the leader as far as single-core performance is concerned even if the usual disclaimer for cross-platform comparisons not being perfectly fair is needed here.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4777
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    3642
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    3503
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    3404
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    3401
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    3390
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    2431
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    2429
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    1890
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    1835

When all those new Kryo cores work together, the Mi 9 with its Snapdragon 855 managed to outperform the whole Android bunch and matched the Apple's A12 CPU score. More importantly, the Snapdragon 855 CPU turned out 50% faster than the Snapdragon 845's.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    11432
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    11181
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    10138
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    10118
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    10110
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    9065
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    9026
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    8494
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    5944
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    5908

Moving on to some GPU tests, then. The raw performance of the Adreno 640 comes on top of every other GPU we've seen so far in Android smartphone. It demonstrates between 10% and 20% performance bump over the Adreno 630 in the previous Snapdragon (Mi 8 and Mi Mix 3).

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    99
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    70
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    60
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    55
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    55
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    54
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    53
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    45
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    23
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    23

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    42
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    33
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    33
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    33
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    28
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    13
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    13

And thanks to its 1080p screen resolution the Mi 9 gains even more lead in the onscreen benchmarks.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    56
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    52
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    51
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    50
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    49
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    25
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    22
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    19

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    47
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    33
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    31
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    30
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    29
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    15
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    12
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    11

The 3D Mark SlingShot Extreme Unlimited is quite like AnTuTu - it gives one ultimate score for easy GPU prowess comparison. And the Mi 9 has beaten all other phones we've tested confortably. It scored about 20% more than the Mi Mix 3 and its Adreno 630 GPU.

3DMark SSE 3.1 Unlimited

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    5816
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    4945
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    4368
  • Honor Magic 2 (perf. mode)
    4302
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    3501
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    1976

And now, it's time for the world's most popular compound benchmark for mobiles - AnTuTu. Here, the Mi 9 has channeled all of its power to reach a new record in our database and beat every smartphone, including Apple's, we've tested to this very day.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    372006
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    353210
  • Huawei Mate 20 (perf.)
    308307
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro (perf.)
    308050
  • Huawei Mate 20 X (perf. mode)
    304403
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    292353
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    248823
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    217298
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    170218
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    154861

The Xiaomi Mi 9 and its cutting-edge Snapdragon 855 chip are worthy of a flagship status as far as performance is concerned. The chip offers one of the fastest processors on the Android market, as usual, while its GPU punch delivered by the new Adreno 640 is class-leading and the best money can buy right now.

The Snapdragon 855 is manufactured on the cutting-edge 7nm process, and unlike the Kirin 980 (also 7nm), it heats up considerably less. The chip does release some amount of heat and the Mi 9 does have a few spots that get warm under pressure but that's about it - nothing gets uncomfortably hot. Some throttling may occur after running consecutive benchmark tests but only then.

Qualcomm has delivered an all-around great chip once again with class-leading graphics and competitive processor and the Mi 9 will get all the benefits from being among the first to carry it.

Reader comments

  • Sharing

I assume your Mi 9 was a China rom. May I ask what is the problem with your Mi 9? I am using a global version Mi 9 for 1.5 years and so far no major problem.

  • Bobpeck

When I was living in China one of the question I always from myself was why chinese people get to used to buy other countries goods instead of chinese last year I got a MI9 not after one year because of some problem which I did not have with my last ...

And no ois