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Ok, so in a fit of lunacy I sold my Mi 9 and (eventually) purchased a Huawei P30 Pro, for very specific reasons.
I do a huge amount of mobile photography, and I wanted to see if the smartphone with (allegedly) the best camera ever was really worth the extra money.
And, unsurprisingly, I miss the Mi 9 loads! What a truly excellent phone it is!
So, I'll try to give you an objective runthrough of some key points, and you can work out which you think comes out on top.
1) Price & Retail Package
So firstly, and obviously, the Mi 9 is considerably cheaper than the P30 Pro. 'Cheap' can be considered an insult by some - but those people are idiots!
On Xiaomi's official UK site, the Mi 9 is £499 in its 6GB RAM/64 GB storage guise. I'm not going to get drawn into a conversation about the UK price relative to the price in other markets, it is what it is and in all honesty I know Xiaomi would have priced it more keenly if they could.
Now. Let's head over to Amazon and see how much the entry level P30 Pro retails for. Oh. Wow. This is awkward. The P30 Pro costs £899 through Amazon.
Of course, both prices can be beaten if you are prepared to purchase through unofficial channels.
In terms of what you get in the box, the Mi 9 comes with USB-C to 3.5mm adapter, fast charger and a case. The P30 Pro comes with USB-C headphones and a fast charger, if you want a case you'll need to shell out more money.
Winner - the Mi 9 is the standout winner here, first round knockout, the P30 Pro had no chance.
2) Design and Performance
The Mi 9 can be described as an elegant evolution of the Mi series, actually very similar to the Mi 8 but with the triple camera, a much more discreet notch and a finger scanner moved under the screen.
The P30 Pro is a little thicker, and noticeably heavier (thanks to the bigger battery) but they are broadly the same size in the pocket. The Huawei comes in a variety of flash colour schemes, whereas the Mi 9 is only available in black at this time (actually, more of a reflective dark grey in my opinion).
It is worth noting that the P30 Pro has a curved edge screen, this is a matter of taste and preference but not really my cup of tea.
Performance-wise, I'm not a particularly heavy user and certainly not a gamer. These are both flagship devices, though the Kirin 980 of the P30 Pro scores considerably lower than the SnapDragon 855 in the Mi 9 in benchmark testing - I haven't really noticed that one is better than the other in this regard, but based purely on numbers the Mi 9 is a much faster phone.
Winner - this one went right to the wire and the judges were split, but the Mi 9 edges this based on its amazing Antutu scores!
3) Operating System/User Interface
MIUI and EMUI both have their critics. Personally, I love MIUI, and when I have used other operating systems I have really missed a number of features.
I find EMUI similar to MIUI in many ways, but to me it lacks polish. Menus don't look as good, transitions are not as smooth.
Both devices implement gestures in the same way, and if I'm totally honest while this is better than the pure Android gesture system I still think the Samsung implementation is slightly more intuitive.
But! EMUI does have a killer feature that MIUI need to implement sooner rather than later. The ability to add an app drawer... Xiaomi, if you are listening, you really need to get this sorted!
And we'll not even discuss trying to unlock the bootloader on a Huawei!
Winner - Again, another very close fight, but the Mi 9 scores a winner by TKO in the 11th round, just edging it in terms of customisability (if that's a real word)
So, firstoff - a disclaimer. I am a bit of an old goth and spend way too much time in churches, cemeteries and cathedrals. Way too much time.
And what this means is that I take photos in some of the least-forgiving situations. Dark environments, trying to capture ancient details that may be difficult to reach. Nothing about this suggests that smartphone cameras should be any good.
With a f/1.8 48 MP main shooter the Mi 9 should be capable of taking pretty acceptable photos in these scenarios, and it does. I was actually seriously impressed with how good the camera is in the Mi 9.
But without over-exaggerating the P30 Pro's f/1.6 40 MP camera is exceptionally good, and in the tricky scenarios it does outperform the Mi 9 by some way. And, that's before we talk about the 5 x optical zoom.
Winner - P30 Pro wins as the fight is called off in the 9th round due to cuts. The Mi 9 put up a brave fight, but in this category was outclassed.
5) Battery & Charging
The Mi 9 surprisingly has a smaller battery than the Mi 8, with a 3300mAh unit. But, thanks to the incredibly frugal SnapDragon 855 chip I found it lasted longer than the Mi 8. I had absolutely no problems whatsoever in getting the Mi 9 to last all day.
With 27w charging, and wireless charging at up to 20w too the battery can be topped up very quickly too.
The P30 Pro opts for a ridiculous 4200mAh battery, and you can tell. I've only managed to get down to sub-20% once, and it is actually liberating not to have to consider battery life. With 40w charging capability, the P30 Pro charges quicker than the Mi 9 even with a bigger battery. Wireless charging is only up to 15w though - but, should you ever need it, you can use the P30 Pro as a wireless charger itself if you have another Qi device that needs a top up!
Winner - The P30 Pro is a bit of a heavyweight in this competition, and wins with a unanimous judges decision.
In conclusion, there can only be one winner and that's the Mi 9.
I know - I'm a mod on the Mi Community, I'm bound to be biased to Xiaomi right?
Well, while I love everything about Xiaomi I'd like to think that I've given you an objective, balanced opinion here.
The most obvious thing, that cannot be overlooked here, is that the Mi 9 is FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS CHEAPER.
And although the wins for the P30 Pro in camera and battery life absolutely cannot be ignored, you are really, really going to have to want these things for that price differential to be worth it.
In all honesty, I don't think that the P30 Pro is that much better than the Mi 9 to warrant this, and in fact it is bested by the Mi 9 in many areas.
So, do yourself a favour. If you're wondering what smartphone to buy in 2019, wonder no more. The Mi 9 is an absolute bargain, and you should get one as soon as you can!
So, do you agree, disagree, anything you want to know? Just leave a comment below!
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