[MWC 2019] Hands on with the translucent Xiaomi Mi 9

Last week, Xiaomi launched the Xiaomi Mi 9 flagship in China, and along with the regular edition, the company announced a Transparent Edition, which, much like the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, lets you see the innards of the phone through the rear glass. Aside from the look, the only difference between the two devices is that the transparent one has 12GB of RAM.

Xiaomi is showing off the Mi 9 at MWC 2019 in Barcelona, and we got to take a look at it. I'm a big fan of the idea of having a translucent back and seeing the components of a device. It's just cool to get an idea of what things look like on the inside.

One of the other standout features is the 48MP camera, which we've been seeing increasingly often in phones from Chinese manufacturers, such as the Honor View 20 or the Redmi Note 7 Pro. In this model, this camera is highlighted by a red ring around the lens, and it sits above the secondary sensors, which are a 12MP optical zoom camera and a 16MP ultra-wide angle shooter.

With gaming phones becoming increasingly common, and popular mobile titles such as Fortnite and PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds, Xiaomi also included a Game Booster feature, which is supposed to enhance the performance of compatible games. The Game Booster app has a selection of fairly popular titles, including the two mentioned above. I tried it with Asphalt 9: Legends and I couldn't tell much of a difference, though.

Another new addition here is the AI button, which, unlike Samsung's implementation, summons the Google Assistant, which you might actually want to use sometimes. While you can't turn it off entirely, it does offer some customization, and you can choose from a set of tasks you can do by double-pressing or holding the button. These include turning on the flashlight or jumping into either the front or rear cameras.

That's not all when it comes to shortcuts. There's another feature here called Smart Ball, which rests on the side of your screen. You can drag it in form the side and then tap to get a list of five shortcuts of your choosing. These can be to specific system settings and actions, or you can set shortcuts to open any app you want.

If the huge 6.39-inch display makes it hard to reach the corners of the screen, there's also a one-handed mode that you activate by swiping sideways from the home button. This isn't exactly new in phones, but I think it was kind of cool that you can even set your preferred screen size for one-handed mode, from 3.5 to 4.5 inches.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is currently only available in China, starting at 2999 yuan (roughly $446) for the regular model with 6GB of RAM, but the special edition above will cost you 3999 Yuan (~$595). Other specs include the Snapdragon 855 chipset (without a 5G modem), 128GB of storage, and a 3,500mAh battery capable of fast charging.

Neowin is at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona taking place between Feb 25-28 to bring you coverage direct from the show floor, click here for our other articles at the event.

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