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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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Digital SLR Cameras

Sony Launches FE 24-50mm F2.8 G, a Compact, Large Aperture F2.8 G Lens with High-Performance Optics

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Sony Middle East and Africa has announced the release of its new compact 35mm full-frame compatible α (Alpha) E-mount lens, FE 24-50mm F2.8 G (product name SEL2450G) standard zoom with F2.8 maximum aperture over the entire zoom range. Despite its small and lightweight body, it achieves the high-resolution performance and beautiful bokeh that can be expected from a large aperture G Lens with F2.8. It covers a focal length of 24 mm to 50 mm, allowing you to capture everything from still images such as everyday snapshots, and portraits to video shooting, all in high quality but with a design that will easily fit in the smallest of kit bags.

With the latest optical and mechanical design, the dimensions have been kept compact with a filter diameter of φ67 mm, maximum diameter of 74.8 mm, length of 92.3 mm, and weight of approximately 440 g. Sharp and detailed images at all focal lengths are achieved thanks to the arrangement of four aspherical lenses and two pieces of ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, so that aberrations such as chromatic aberration, are reduced, achieving high-resolution performance from the centre to the corner. FE 24-50mm F2.8 G uses an 11-blade circular aperture which together with the optimisation of spherical aberration provides the beautiful, soft and smooth bokeh that is characteristic of the G Lens series. It has a minimum shooting distance of 0.19 m (AF) at the wide end and a maximum magnification of 0.30 x (AF) offering high-quality close-up shooting.

The quality is evident through the AF (auto focus) whereby, equipped with two linear motors, it achieves high speed, high precision, high tracking, and quiet focusing. It also supports high-speed continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking of up to 120 frames per second for the full-frame mirrorless camera Alpha 9 III. For those wanting a solid video performance, AF tracking is available for high frame rate 4K 120p or FHD 240p movie recording where critical focus control is required, plus it supports in-body Active Mode image stabilisation for steady shooting while walking. It is also compatible with the focus breathing compensation on camera bodies, allowing for high-quality video expression.

Intuitive manual focus is achieved thanks to the adoption of linear response MF which allows smooth and superior image expression. FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is equipped with user-friendly functions such as a customisable focus hold button, aperture ring, aperture click ON/OFF switch, and focus mode switch, offering high operability and comprehensive control. Plus, for further ease of use, they are designed to be dust and moisture-proof with a fluorine coating which prevents dirt from sticking to the front surface of the lens.

 The new FE 24-50mm F2.8 G will be available in the region from Q2 2024.

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Gadgets

CORSAIR Intros New 75% Keyboard for Enthusiast Gamers

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CORSAIR has launched a standout addition to its lineup of award-winning gaming keyboards: the K65 PLUS WIRELESS. Beautifully built, and loaded with the essentials needed to win, this 75%-layout keyboard maxes out both performance and personality. When you deploy the K65 PLUS WIRELESS, your gaming persona and your keyboard enthusiast side come out to play.

Powerful performance now resides in a cleverly compact 75% profile. The space-saving K65 PLUS WIRELESS optimizes the important desk space needed for your mouse, while including the essential arrow and utility keys that put game controls right where you want them. Pre-lubricated CORSAIR MLX Red linear switches are buttery smooth and register every input with crisp responsiveness. The switches are also hot-swappable, so you can customize the keyboard by subbing in your switches easily – how you play is completely up to you.

The K65 PLUS WIRELESS offers ultra-satisfying typing, with no modding required. Each keystroke is tempered by two layers of integrated sound dampening that hushes internal pings and clacks. The result is precisely tuned acoustics that you – and everyone nearby – will appreciate. The PBT dye-sublimated keycaps’ midnight grey and silver accents complement any desktop; you will want to make K65 PLUS WIRELESS your primary board for daily use.

Connect and play, more adeptly than ever. Make ultra-fast moves over a reliable, low-latency 2.4GHz wireless connection for gaming, or Bluetooth for tablets, mobile, and more, all with secure AES encryption and up to 266 hours on a single charge with RGB off. Toggle from PC to Mac layout by simply flipping a switch, and connect to multiple devices seamlessly with a single keystroke.

For RGB fanatics, the K65 PLUS WIRELESS comes alive with a shiny array of per-key RGB, endlessly customizable with CORSAIR iCUE software. Use the power of iCUE to record macros, remap keys, and sync your keyboard to the rest of your setup’s RGB and iCUE Murals profiles, for a lighting ambience that makes your space a haven for gaming and working.
Equip the infinitely intriguing K65 PLUS WIRELESS keyboard, and match your superior skill with stunning style.

To celebrate the launch of K65 PLUS WIRELESS, CORSAIR is excited to offer an exclusive deal on DROP Holy Panda X tactile switches. For a limited time, when you buy a K65 PLUS WIRELESS keyboard on the CORSAIR webstore, you can get a set of Holy Panda X switches for 50% off from DROP.com. When brought together, this keyboard and key switch combo makes tactile gaming and typing a delightful experience. (Offer only available in North America)

The CORSAIR K65 PLUS WIRELESS gaming keyboard is available immediately from the CORSAIR webstore and the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized online retailers and distributors. The K65 PLUS WIRELESS is backed by a two-year warranty, alongside the CORSAIR worldwide customer service and technical support network.

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Cars

HONOR Says its Eye-Tracking Features Can Move a Car

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HONOR has introduced an AI-powered eye-tracking feature that can move a car without a driver inside. This experiment, demonstrated by an automotive engineer, uses the eye-tracking feature of the HONOR Magic6 Pro to control a car based on the user’s eye movement.

A video by Autocar, available on YouTube, showcases this innovative technology. The HONOR Magic6 Pro is equipped with four commands that can be activated by eye gaze, allowing the car to start the engine, turn it off, and move forward or backwards. After focusing on a specific button for 2-3 seconds, the corresponding command is activated, and the car responds accordingly.

HONOR says that this demonstration is a testament to the company’s belief that AI can transform the way humans interact with devices in the future. HONOR has announced that its MWC Launch Event will be on February 25th. HONOR will also host an AI Panel with industry partners such as Qualcomm to unveil more discoveries about the future of AI. This event will take place on February 26th at 17:00 (CET) at MWC 2024. Find out more at this link: https://www.hihonor.com/ae-en/events/honor-mwc/

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