Xiaomi’s Mi 9 beats iPhone in camera performance

Chinese smartphone makers have been making lots of improvement in the design and application of their products over the past few years.

While many believe that Samsung Electronics and Apple are still the frontrunners in the development of smartphone technology, their Chinese rivals have no intention of being left behind. In fact, they are blazing the path in the smartphone camera department.

Xiaomi (01810.HK) on Wednesday launched its Mi 9 flagship in Beijing. Founder and chief executive Lei Jun apparently could not contain his excitement over his company’s latest product that he decided to reveal its full specifications on social media days before the event.

Nonetheless, the phone managed to create waves in the market, especially after image quality ratings firm DxOMark gave a big thumbs-up to the Mi 9 camera system.

The new Xiaomi device scored 107 on the DxOMark scale, outshining competitors such as Apple’s iPhone XS Max, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and Google’s Pixel 3, which obtained 105, 103 and 101 respectively.

This ranks the Mi 9 at third place on the list of the best cameras on smartphones. The first and second positions are both occupied by Huawei Technologies — the Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro models, which both scored 109.

For video quality, Mi 9 scored 99 marks, the highest score on DxOMark record, making it the best camera for shooting video at the moment.

DxOMark issued the report on Wednesday, coinciding with the Mi 9 launch. It said the Mi 9 has taken the game to a whole new level, elevating the Chinese company’s latest flagship model to the big league along with heavyweights Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.

“With convincing results across the board and no major flaws, the Mi 9 is the third-best device so far for still imaging, edged out only by Huawei juggernauts Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro. In video mode it does even better, finding itself at the very top of our ranking, making it the top choice for mobile video shooters,” the report said.

Lei Jun, of course, was elated with the timely endorsement. Speaking at the launch event, he said Xiaomi was just a step away from the top of the market, which he said was good as it gave the company an impetus to strive harder.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 comes with a triple-rear camera setup, which consists of a Sony IMX586 48-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.75 aperture lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom support, and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens, which supports a point of view of up to 117 degrees. On the front is a 20-megapixel selfie shooter.

The device boasts a “moon mode” capability that enables the camera to capture really distant objects such as the moon with great clarity.

The setup includes a laser auto focus and LED flash.

Xiaomi says the Mi 9 comes with better optics than the Apple iPhone XS Max, and this is corroborated by DxOMark.

According to the image benchmarking website, the Mi 9 does extremely well in low-light conditions and has the best flash seen on any smartphone so far.

Not too long ago, Xiaomi customers have complained about the poor quality of the images captured by its smartphones, compared with the competition.

This prompted the company to establish a separate department focusing on the research and development of all the camera systems being used in Xiaomi smartphones.

As a result, Xiaomi’s new models since last year — Mix 2S, Mi 8 and Mix 3 — have all shown marked improvements in camera performance, with company management eager to compare photos taken by its latest smartphones with those from rival products to show the difference.

Lei said Mi 9 will be Xiaomi’s last flagship smartphone priced below 3,000 yuan (US$446.36) as the company is on track to move to the premium segment to compete with Huawei, Apple andSamsung.

The Mi 9 starts at 2,999 yuan and will be available for purchase starting next week. The smartphone’s reasonable price point is intended to lure consumers with the latest, state-of-the-art mobile chip, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, putting the device in direct competition with Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series, which costs 5,000 yuan or above.

Originally published at www.ejinsight.com on February 21, 2019.

A columnist in political development in Greater China region, technology and gadgets, media industry, parenting and other interesting topics.

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