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Review: Xiaomi Mi 9

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Xiaomi is out with its latest flagship – the Mi 9. Packing in the company’s very first AI triple camera, 20W wireless charging and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform, it’s a powerhouse. All this, for around half the price of your typical flagship phone! Intrigued yet? Read on.

Design
Xiaomi’s new Mi 9 borrows few design cues from last year’s Mi 8. The major difference in the design though is the Mi 9’s “all curve” back. While the rear of the Mi 8 sported rounded edges but a flat back, the curve of the Mi 9’s Gorilla Glass 5 rear is continuous on all four sides. 

Xiaomi uses a mix of glass and metal for the Mi 9’s body and makes the phone look gorgeous, but at the same time slippery as well. So, you might want to quickly wrap up the Mi 9 in a phone case as you soon as you purchase it. The Mi 9 is also a slim phone, measuring a mere 3.5mm at its thinnest point. 

Three color options are available with the Mi 9 – Ocean Blue, Lavender Violet, and my personal favorite – the glossy Piano Black, which was coincidentally also the colour of our review unit. On the left edge, you get the dual SIM slot and a dedicated Google Assistant button. On the right edge, you have the power button and the volume controls. 

Features
On the top edge, there is a note cancelling microphone and something we weren’t expecting in the Mi 9 – an IR blaster! This is welcome addition and a very useful feature when you pair it with the Mi Remote app, because you can now control all sorts of devices, from TVs to air-conditioning units with your phone. 

The Mi 9 comes with a USB-C port on the bottom edge, along with the speaker grilles placed on either sides of it. No 3.5mm audio jack here – and it doesn’t matter these days, since most phones on the market have stopped including them. And of course you have lots of great options when it comes to wireless earbuds, too.

Camera
And now, the part you have been waiting for – the Mi 9’s triple camera setup. Flip the phone around and you come face to face with the triple camera module at the back of the device. The camera module, though, juts out of the phone’s glossy back and I was worried I would end up scratching the cameras, until I found out it is covered by sapphire glass for protection. Phew! That’s a sigh of relief.

The top-most camera of the camera setup features a “halo ring accent” around it. This holographic ring actually shifts colour when you tilt the phone – so you get orange, blue and green ring around the main camera. The Xiaomi Mi 9 comes with a 6.39-inch 19.5:9 AMOLED display, which is very vibrant.

Display
The display offers a 1080-by-2340 resolution and it bright enough when viewed in bright surroundings. Good thing that the display also supports HDR viewing. The display is protected by the Gorilla Glass 6 and it also comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor, which was quite accurate and fast most of the times.

On the front, you also get a 20-megapixel camera, which also doubles as an RGB face unlock solution if you’re comfortable using it. Xiaomi’s Mi 9 also comes with some useful features such as the Reading mode, which shifts the colour temperature to warmer hues and reduces blue light output in evenings or in dark environments for more comfortable viewing.

Sample 1

There is also an Ambient Display (always-on display) feature, which lets you glance at the screen to check the time or to see whether there are any pending notifications. This is super useful, especially when you are in meetings and do not want to miss any important notifications, without disturbing the entire room with notification alerts. And there is also a tiny white notification LED set into the phone’s thin bezel to help with this, too, without being too intrusive.

Sample 2

Under the Hood
The Mi 9, as mentioned before, is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, which is the latest Qualcomm chip on the market for smartphones right now. This is coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which can be expanded further via the dual SIM slot.

Software
The Mi 9 runs Android 9.0 Pie as the operating system, with Xiaomi’s MIUI 10 on top of it. The overall layout and logic behind MIUI 10 make it quite intuitive, even for first time users. While the phone comes with a bit of third-party bloatware, you can easily uninstall them if you would like to.

If you like to personalize your devices to the maximum extent, then the Mi 9 is the device for you. The device allows you to toy around with features such as power on/off schedules, homescreen transition effects, a system-wide dark mode, and Second Space.

Sample 3

One of the features I loved in the device is the Second Space. This is a password-protected subdivision of the user experience. Once you set this up, your can use it to hide away apps, images and other content that you don’t want prying eyes to access without your knowledge. 

Sample 4

Performance
Performance-wise, the Xiaomi Mi 9 excels in everything you throw at it. In both AnTuTu, 3DMark and Geekbench benchmarks, the Mi 9 aced the tests with flying colours. I did not experience any lags or performance issues, even when playing graphics-intensive games.

Xiaomi packs in a dedicated performance booster that kicks in when the phone detects that you’re playing a game. It frees up memory and processing resources, and ensures that notifications and other distractions don’t get in the way of your gaming session. This is good, if you really want to enjoy a purely fantastic gaming experience.

Sample 5

Camera – Performance
The Mi 9 is Xiaomi’s first attempt at a triple-camera phone and I am glad to report it is one of the best when it comes to photography. The main camera is a 48-megapixel primary sensor, which features a wide f/1.75 aperture. You also get a 12-megapixel (Samsung S5K3M5) telephoto sensor that offers a 2x lossless optical zoom. 

Sample 6

The third camera is a 16-megapixel (Sony IMX481) ultra wide-angle sensor –  it boasts a 117-degree field of view. Since the Mi 9 comes with laser autofocus, it delivers impressively fast and accurate focusing, significantly reducing the risk of blur in shots. What you end up with are truly amazing shots, even under low-light conditions!

Sample 7

All this is great – but what blew me away is the sheer quality of videos shot using the Mi 9. The videos shot were possibly the best I have seen on any smartphone till date. With the Mi 9, you are able to shoot at up to 4K  resolution at 60fps. That explains the phone’s impressive DxO mark scores – the Mi 9 offers brilliant auto focus, contrast adjustment and image stability in videos.

Sample 8

Battery
While the Mi 9 comes with a 3300nAh battery, which is slightly smaller than rival flagships on the market, the improved efficiency of the Snapdragon 855 processor will ensure you get more juice per squeeze. On a single charge, I was able to get a little more than a day’s worth of battery life, which is awesome.

The phone comes with an 18W wired charger which recharged the battery from 0% to 55% in about 30 minutes. A full recharge of the phone took about 1 hour and 15 minutes, which is not bad. Mi 9 also supports wireless charging, so you you can use any Qi-compatible charging pad to achieve that. At the launch event of the phone, Xiaomi also said that the Mi 9 supports impressively fast 20W wireless charging. This is made possible by a new fan-cooled charging pad that Xiaomi is selling separately.

Sample 9

Verdict
At the launch event, Donovan Sung of Xiaomi said that the company strives to make smartphones for fans based on what their fans want. The company has held to this promise for years bringing in flagship products that often match or exceed the performance and quality of rival flagships on the market, but coming in at a lower price point.

This holds true for the Xiaomi Mi 9 – it is combines powerhouse performance, brilliant design and build quality and an outstanding camera to back up the promises, at a price point lower than that of rival flagships on the market. For this very promise and delivery, the Xiaomi Mi 9 walks away with the Gadget Voize Editors’ Choice award. 

Price: AED 1849

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Displays

Acer Launches New Monitors and 4K Projector for Home Entertainment

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Acer has announced upgrades across its projector and monitor ranges, bringing new options to gamers and home entertainment enthusiasts. The new 4K laser projector brings high performance and high ECO efficiency to the mainstream market. Two new monitors are also available, one with a WQHD IPS display for prosumers who work and play at home and another with a WQHD 300 Hz panel for gamers.

“The pandemic has changed how people are approaching work and entertainment,” said Victor Chien, President, Digital Display Business, Acer Inc. “People who do their work on notebook computers are investing in monitors, and more families are exploring home cinema technology. We’re doing our best to respond flexibly and meet that new demand.”

Acer L811 Laser Projector
The Acer L811 is an ultra-short-throw laser projector that offers HDR10-compatible 4K resolution and 3,000 lumens of brightness for an incredible home-theater experience. Capable of offering a 120-inch projection from only 0.312 meters (1.02 feet), the device defeats space limitations, making it possible to fit a big screen into a small room. The excellent image quality is further enhanced by a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, allowing for deep blacks, while Acer LumiSense technology analyzes content on a frame-by-frame basis then dynamically adjusts brightness levels to provide the best image quality possible.

Content can also be projected in 3D at 144 Hz 24P via 3D Blu-ray. The projector comes preloaded with an app market that enables users to enjoy a variety of streaming services, social media platforms, and more, right out of the box—no wires necessary. Users can also wirelessly mirror content via Miracast if using Android or Windows devices, or via EShare if using iOS or Android. Low input lag, an option for 240 Hz at 1080p, and two built-in 10W speakers enhanced with Acer TrueHarmony technology enhances the quality of video and audio, while Acer’s EcoProjection technology reduces standby power consumption by up to 66% in order to extend the laser’s lifespan to 30,000 hours.

The projector also supports 24/7 continuous projection, providing users with dependable and high-quality projection when they need it.
With an IP6X “dust-tight” certification, the highest grade available for solid particles, the L811 is a very durable projector that offers reliable performance even in dusty or outdoor environments. From there, users can adjust keystones and each of the projection’s four corners in order to easily accommodate existing mounts or wall space and suit their unique living space.

Nitro XV2 Series
The Nitro XV272U KF is a 27” WQHD monitor that boasts a 300 Hz refresh rate for seriously smooth visuals. AMD FreeSync Premium Technology further enhances visual performance by varying the display’s refresh rate to match that of the GPU, eliminating choppy gameplay. A low 0.5 ms (G-to-G) response time[] further improves image quality by virtually eliminating the blur of fast-moving objects on the screen to enable lightning-fast reactions to gameplay, while Acer Black Boost technology makes it easier to pick out details such as hidden enemies when in darker environments.

VESA DisplayHDR 600-Certified, the monitor takes advantage of 90% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut and Delta E<1 color accuracy rating to make games look more lifelike. Acer’s Agile-Splendor IPS panel provides high contrast and vivid colors even at wide viewing angles, while Acer Vision Care 3.0 technology brings several features that may help reduce eye strain during prolonged usage for a more comfortable viewing experience. For example, Acer LightSense detects the amount of ambient light in an environment and adjusts the display’s brightness accordingly, and Acer ColorSense matches the display’s color temperature to that of the surrounding environment. Additionally, the monitor is TÜV/Eyesafe certified.

The Nitro XV272U KF monitor sits on an Ergostand that allows users to find the perfect viewing angle by adjusting its tilt, height, swivel and pivot. It also includes the Acer Display Widget, a tool that allows gamers to automatically adjust color settings and choose from a range of 11 preset screen-snap configurations to simplify the process of keeping multiple windows tidy.

Acer CB273U Monitor
The Acer CB273U is a 27” WQHD (2560×1440) IPS monitor that displays vivid 8-Bit colors, making it great for photo editing and design. HDR10 support allows for deeper blacks and more brilliant whites, presenting colors in Delta E<1 color accuracy. For creators who enjoy playing games on the side, AMD FreeSync makes gameplay smoother and decreases lag for virtually blur-free images, further enhanced by a 1 ms Visual Response Boost (VRB).

Acer’s CB3 Series monitors support 178-degree wide viewing angles and feature a docking station so users can create a perfect, clutter-free workspace that only has to be set up once. The dock includes a 90W USB Type-C port that supports power delivery for notebooks, an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port, and a built-in KVM switch that makes it possible to switch between desktops and laptops without having to change monitors, keyboards, or mice.

The monitor is TÜV/Eyesafe certified and includes a variety of techniques to allow for the most comfortable viewing experience possible, including Acer BlueLightShield Pro technology, Acer Flickerless technology to eliminate screen flickering, and Acer’s low-dimming[] technology. Allowing for even further personalization, the monitor’s Ergostand allows users to find the perfect viewing angle by adjusting its tilt, height, swivel, and pivot.

The Acer L811 projector (UL5630) will be available in EMEA in November at EUR 2,599. The Nitro XV272U KF monitor will be available in EMEA in November at EUR 1,149. The Acer CB273U monitor will be available in EMEA in November at EUR 449.

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Gadgets

Oral-B Launches the iO Electric Toothbrush in the Region

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Oral-B has launched the iO toothbrush in the region, ensuring a professional level clean feeling is achievable at home every day. This latest addition to the brand’s line of electric toothbrushes comes after six years of intensive product research and development and over 250 patents from around the world. The iO boasts a coveted position as 2020’s CES Innovation Award Honorees due to its advanced technology.

The UAE will be the first market in the Middle East and Africa region to launch the innovative Oral-B iO electric toothbrush. P&G’s use of cutting-edge technologies to develop connected, innovative products that transform everyday consumer experiences, aligns with the “Creating the Future” agenda of Expo 2020 Dubai. Oral-B iO combines best-ever clinical performance with a superior user experience, making it one of the industry’s most advanced brushing products.

According to the company, in clinical tests, Oral-B iO provided a deeper cleaning of teeth and gums, allowing users to easily and effectively maintain oral health. When compared to manual toothbrushes, Oral-B iO users experienced:

  • 100 percent more plaque removal after eight weeks vs a regular manual toothbrush
  • 100 percent healthier gums in just one week vs a regular manual toothbrush

“There is nothing like the Oral-B iO. It introduces a new era in brushing and is a monumental leap in innovative oral care technology,” said Paolo Zilianti, Senior Brand Director, Oral Care Middle East & Africa. “The result of years of expert development, Oral-B iO strikes the right balance between effectiveness and experience and reimagines how a brush performs, cleans, and feels. It is a brush that people will look forward to using and will deliver superior oral health. Aligning with the UAE’s digital transformation strategy, P&G is constructively disrupting its business to deliver experiences that reinvent what people expect of everyday products.”

The Oral-B iO uniquely features a frictionless magnetic drive, which distributes energy more efficiently to the tips of the bristles, resulting in a smooth, quiet, sensational cleaning experience. The new magnetic drive delivers cleaning energy to the redesigned iO brush head, which has been engineered to combine oscillating and rotating cleaning motions with micro-vibrations for a professional clean feel. As a result of input from more than 1,800 consumers, the Oral-B iO includes five key pillars of design features and experience capabilities:

  • Linear Magnetic Drive: created from the need to deliver an effective and enjoyable brushing routine. Producing controlled, harmonious movements, the quiet and frictionless linear drive system efficiently transfers more energy directly to the bristle tips.
  • Superior Cleaning Action and Redesigned Brush Head: Oral-B iO brush heads combine oscillating, rotating movements with micro-vibrations to ensure a deep clean that reaches every contour. The brush head has been redesigned with twisted bristles, and reinforced with a high-density tuft-in-tuft configuration, for a sensational brushing experience.
  • Bimodal Smart Pressure Sensor: an innovation that is the first of its kind to provide positive brushing feedback, identifying and guiding users to brush in the optimal pressure range. The Sensor features a variable-speed smart drive that adjusts the frequency to protect gums and enamel.
  • Smart Display with Personalised Brushing Modes: an intuitive interface that greets users, while also providing coaching and motivation throughout the cleaning process. Features up to seven brush modes for a highly personalized experience.
  • Artificial Intelligence Tracking via the Oral-B iO App: provides real-time individual tracking and coaching, thanks to artificial intelligence informed by thousands of recorded brushing sessions. Oral-B iO has a simple and intuitive user interface that guides consumers through a two-minute brushing session with 3D teeth tracking across 16 zones (in the iO9) to ensure a professional clean feeling every time.

The new Oral-B iO is available for purchase in the UAE immediately and is available in the following colours and prices:

  • Oral-B iO 9 Series Black: AED 1499
  • Oral-B iO 7 Series White: AED 899
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Audio Devices

Sony MEA Intros Dolby Atmos HT-A9 Soundbar Powered by 360 Spatial Sound Mapping Tech

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Sony Middle East & Africa has announced the launch of its premium HT-A9 surround sound system, delivering revolutionary multi-dimensional sound experiences in the region. The innovative surround sound technology creates an incredibly immersive home theatre and soundscape experience. “Music, film, and gaming content is richer and more immersive with the Sony HT-A9, a new and powerful era for our portfolio of home audio products. Its unique optimization features enable anyone the ability to create immersive cinematic experiences at home,” said, Shintaro Hayatani, Head of Marketing, Sony Middle East & Africa.

The 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology of the Sony HT-A9 can create up to twelve phantom speakers from just four real speakers by synthesizing sound waves based on the positional information. An ultra-wide listening area fills every part of your living space so your family and friends get the same sound experience. The listening area is not limited to the front of the TV but encompasses a much wider space.

The HT-A9 also supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, so users can experience cinematic surround sound without leaving home. Surrounded on all sides by multiple phantom speakers within an optimised sound field, you’ll hear every flap of wing and gust of wind with incredible intensity. It’s like you and your living room are inside the movie. The HT-A9 features Sony’s latest Omnidirectional Block Design. The cylindrical shape represents a single solid block providing 360 spatial sound. It fits perfectly against the wall with a flat rear surface. Its light pearl grey color can seamlessly blend with most decor schemes. The inside of the speakers features rectangular X-Balanced Speaker Units to maximize the diaphragm area for richer bass and sound pressure.

Enjoy music the way the artists truly intended with High-Resolution Audio and 360 Reality Audio, which immerses users in music as if they were right in front of their favourite artist and can be streamed through Apple Music. The A9 also features DSEE Extreme, which restores the high-range sound of compressed digital music in real-time. Paired with compatible BRAVIA televisions, the HT-A9 offers the ultimate immersive audio-visual experience with Sony’s best picture and sound quality. With Acoustic Center Sync, the HT-A9 precisely matches where the audio is coming from with what’s on the screen for even deeper immersion.

HT-A7000 Home Theater System
Sony Middle East & Africa also launched the flagship HT-A7000 soundbar, delivering a new and revolutionary multi-dimensional sound experience. The 7.1.2-channel soundbar features two up-firing speakers for overhead sound, two beam tweeters and five front speakers for wider surround, and a built-in dual subwoofer for deep bass, giving the feeling of the action happening above and from every corner of the living room with innovative surround sound technologies.

Thanks to Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force PRO Front Surround, the A7000 can position sound in vertical space to create overhead audio without the need for in-ceiling speakers. The soundbar can virtually reproduce the surround sound field, with audio coming from both horizontal directions. Featuring Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and the Sound Field Optimization, the A7000 utilizes built-in microphones to intelligently measure the height and width of the room, as well as the position of an optional subwoofer and rear speakers, and perfectly optimizes sound to the room’s layout.

The HT-A9 and HT-A7000 are now available in the Middle East and Africa.

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