Everyone’s Raving About The Mi 9’s Camera—We Put It To The Test

  • Xiaomi’s latest flagship smartphone, the Mi 9 sports their first triple rear camera setup with a waterdrop notch, and wireless charging.
  • It has the best and latest Snapdragon 855 processor, a 6.39 inch Super AMOLED display, and comes priced from RM1,699 or SGD579.

A little late to the triple rear camera setup party, Xiaomi has just released their flagship Mi 9, their first phone to pack triple main cameras.

It’s actually also a first for Xiaomi to incorporate the waterdrop notch, although other phone manufacturers like Samsung have already ditched it and chosen to use the punch-hole camera instead.

The piano black version of the Mi 9.

For its price at RM1,699 or SGD579 for the 6GB RAM with 64GB storage and the other one at 6GB RAM with 128GB storage at RM1,999 or SGD699, it’s one of the more affordable flagship smartphones out there that touts the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset.

The 64GB model was available on April 6 on Lazada Malaysia and the phone was sold out on the first day (you can still buy it from other retailers).

Fret not, as the model with 128GB storage costs will be available starting April 13 at Mi stores around Malaysia and via Maxis plans.

The Mi 9 and the box that it comes with.

Hardware specs:

Display 6.39 inch Super AMOLED panel, 1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 aspect ratio
Dimensions & Weight 157.5 x 74.7 x 7.6 mm (6.20 x 2.94 x 0.30 in), 173 grams
Camera Triple Rear Camera: 48MP main shooter, 16MP ultrawide lens, 12MP telephoto lens
Front: 20MP selfie camera
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Memory 6GB or 8GB RAM
Storage 64GB/128GB
Battery 3,300 mAh

The Camera

As the first Xiaomi phone to have a triple rear camera setup and a 48-megapixel main sensor that has an f/1.8 aperture and laser autofocus, this review will be more focused towards the camera’s prowess.

Our office cat, Oscar when he is awake and asleep.

While taking photos of animals like our office cat Oscar (who loves to move a lot), it requires a pretty good camera to get shots of him as it’s harder to focus on moving animals—unless he is asleep.

Photo taken with the 48MP camera without Night Mode on.

Even without the Night Mode turned on, the camera is still able to take pretty decent shots as long as there is enough lighting.

Photo taken with Night Mode turned on.

However, I would recommend you to use the dedicated Night Mode that keeps the shutter open longer and can end up producing really good night-time shots.

Photo taken with the 16MP ultrawide lens.

The Mi 9’s 16MP ultrawide lens with 117° field of view helps to take panoramic pictures. Although it can be useful at times as it allows more subjects to be included in the frame, but the wider angle also has a disadvantage as the resulting images do look a little bit squashed.

Photo taken with the 12MP telephoto lens.

The Mi 9’s telephoto lens is also great at depth sensing. It was quick to focus on the subject here which was the bubble tea and it accurately measured the depth to apply the correct amount of background blur, without me selecting the bokeh or beauty mode.

Hence with all of that taken into account, it’s no surprise that it’s also ranked at number 5 on the DxOMark website, beating out the likes of the Apple iPhone XS Max and even the Huawei P20.

Achieving an overall DxOMark Mobile score of 107 points, the Mi 9 is the best Xiaomi phone camera ever, beating its very own two rear camera setup Mi Mix 3.

Its photo score of 112 points is excellent, thanks to the camera’s ability to capture high-quality still images in almost all situations (something I wish my Pocophone had as there’s no Optical Image Stablisation).

Overall Performance

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Other than the superb camera performance, the Mi 9 should also be recognised for being the first Xiaomi phone to have the 20W wireless charging feature.

When using the wired USB-C 27W wired charging that supports Qualcomm’s QC4+ standard, it enables the Mi 9 to charge to 70 percent in just 30 minutes, and fully charge in just 60 mins.

When used with the new 20W version of the Mi Wireless Charging Pad, the phone can fully charge in just 90 minutes, as fast as some wired solutions.

Although the 3,300 mAh battery might seem small for a flagship phone that packs so much features, don’t worry too much about it if you’re just a moderate user. However, if you game and watch videos a lot like me, you might need to recharge your phone in the middle of the day as for me, the phone usually didn’t last a day without a recharge at some point.

Since we’re on the topic of gaming as well, the Snapdragon 855 is more than sufficient to satisfy all your gaming needs at the highest specs possible.

Playing PUBG on the Mi 9.

High-end games like PUBG Mobile ran smoothly, even on the highest graphics settings and the chipset is also optimised for gaming hence the battery didn’t drain as much when playing games.

However, there’s a downside to it as the phone heats up considerably fast when playing high-end games as there’s no liquid cooling feature in the phone, hence don’t be surprised if the phone feels a little hot after your gaming session.

Verdict

The top and bottom of the Xiaomi Mi 9, sadly missing the headphone jack.

With the price tag on it, it’s a no-brainer that the Xiaomi Mi 9 is one of the most affordable flagship smartphones out there which packs a whole lot of features.

Looking past the smaller battery capacity, the lack of a headphone jack, and of course the infamous MIUI, everything else such as the camera that beats the Apple iPhone XS Max, and top-end Snapdragon 855 chipset proves that it’s a fantastic all-rounder.

If you’re looking for a high-end flagship phone that won’t cost an arm or leg to take beautiful pictures or even for everyday usage, the Xiaomi Mi 9 will be the perfect all-rounder phone for you.

As for me, a Xiaomi fan from start, if I didn’t get the Pocophone F1, I would have bought the Xiaomi Mi 9 in an instant.

Pros Cons
Triple camera setup gives plenty of options Small battery capacity
Impressive low light photography Phone heats up fast
Very affordable price for a flagship No headphone jack

  • You can find out more about the Xiaomi Mi 9 here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.

Also Read: This Company Is Bringing Songkran To M’sia, And The Only Way To Enter Is Through This E-wallet

How This M’sian Got Her Jewellery On Kendall Jenner & Gigi Hadid, & In 400 Stores Worldwide

  • Wanderlust + Co is a Malaysian-based brand that is seen on international celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez. 
  • The brand started in Melbourne, but Jenn moved it back to Malaysia and had to rebuild from scratch.
  • Since then, the brand has become a presence on USA media and influencers, and Wanderlust + Co sees 70% of their revenue from the USA market. 

When Jenn Low began the Wanderlust + Co in the bedroom of her Melbourne apartment, she had approximately RM10,000 of startup money and a makeshift lightbox made of cardboard to photograph her designs with.

She had left her accounting job to pursue her jewellery passion full-time.

Before the rise of the Instafamous or the prevalence of online shopping eight years ago, Jenn set up a website on Wordpress, and did everything by herself—even the graphic design.

Through her efforts, Jenn’s Wanderlust + Co jewellery has been spotted on the likes of Kendall Jenner, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and similar influential names that jumpstarted the brand’s rise to fame.

[caption id="attachment_640226" align="alignnone" width="700"] Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner spotted wearing Wanderlust + Co / Image Credit: Wanderlust + Co[/caption]

“With Wanderlust + Co, I’ve never worked harder in my life, and that’s simply the truth,” said Jenn.

But personal reasons made her start all over again.

“I was in a long distance relationship with my now husband. He’s Australian, living in Malaysia, and I was Malaysian, living in Australia!”

[caption id="attachment_640228" align="alignnone" width="700"] Now Jenn is a well-known mompreneur / Image Credit: Wanderlust + Co[/caption]

Despite already setting up the beginnings of a sustainable business in Melbourne, this Malaysian packed her bags and moved back to start it all over again—with a brand new team and a brand new supply chain process.

This was one year into the brand’s inception.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right support system as well as to practice open communication,” said Jenn.

“In my early days of business, I recall periods where my entire family, even my grandma, was helping to pack jewellery pieces for Christmas orders! We made it fun with music and snacks!”

As it happens, it was after this move that Wanderlust + Co struck gold.

[caption id="attachment_640230" align="alignnone" width="700"] Image Credit: Wanderlust + Co[/caption]

“The intention was always to create a global digital jewellery brand. With that in mind, I realised that it wasn’t about doing everything, but it was about doing the things that mattered.”

To get the ball rolling, Jenn sought out partnerships with key stylists in the USA, with media, and put diligent effort into getting her pieces onto influencers and what she calls “IT-girls”, all in a bid to elevate the brand’s image.

In anticipation of an “arm party” held by an influencer Leandra Medine who authors the blog The Man Repeller, Jenn tried sending over some of her favourite Wanderlust + Co party pieces to try her luck.

Leandra ended up wearing them and eventually wrote about them on The Man Repeller. The momentum led to another feature in TimeOut New York, and another by Eva Chen from Teen Vogue.

Now, 70% of Wanderlust + Co’s business comes from the USA, and they are stocked in more than 400 stores globally. On top of that, their website sales and traffic grew six times in early 2017, and their wholesale business keeps growing four times year-on-year.

“It was definitely daunting when I decided to move, but here we are today!” said Jenn.

“For me personally, it’s incredibly motivating to receive feedback from local customers, media and influencers alike, who say they can’t believe that Wanderlust + Co calls Malaysia its home.”

It’s this mix of idealism and realism that propelled the brand to its international standing.

[caption id="attachment_640232" align="alignnone" width="700"] Image Credit: Wanderlust + Co[/caption]

“Moving back has also given us the opportunity to support other Malaysian brands and entrepreneurs because it benefits the industry if we uplift one another,” said Jenn.

“One of the most common assumptions that people make about fashion or the success of a collection is that it all boils down to the design.”

“While design is incredibly crucial, production and the entire process around manufacturing is also key to executing a successful collection. After all, we can create the best design but without the ability and technical skills to manufacture, the pieces will remain only as drawings.”

Therefore, Jenn is involved in the whole process from the moodboard all the way to the markdown prices, despite heading a modest team in their Kuala Lumpur office.

Each line is designed based on current trends or the muse, but also takes more pragmatic considerations like the range’s size, price, and how many SKUs they need to look at to close out a capsule.

Besides helping them keep to their vision, being involved throughout the process helps them keep prices down as well in a bid to ensure that their products are affordable.

The Wanderlust + Co marketing team then plugs an inspirational message around the collections, which Jenn considers integral to their brand DNA.

[caption id="attachment_640233" align="alignnone" width="700"] Messages are imparted even in the website’s lookbook.[/caption]

The message behind the brand needs to be authentic and something that Jenn can stand behind, but she also believes in reinventing your message with the times.

“We pick a muse and energy for our girl every season, and set out to share the new season story and collection with our customers—our genuine voice and intuition-driven messaging sets us apart.”

Their future now lies in pop up stores.

With a newly minted partnerhip with Luxasia, Wanderlust + Co wants to stake a mark back home as well in the SEA market.

They’ve also launched their first pop up store in Manila, Philippines, with a KL one coming next.

“My vision is to continue to grow our retail and wholesale presence via pop-up store initiatives, and distribution partnerships across the world.”

“All of this to continue moving forward to grow our reach, and be true to our vision of being the first Southeast Asian high-street jewellery lifestyle brand to go global.”

  • To check out more Wanderlust + Co products, you can browse their shop here

Also Read: 4 Benefits M’sian SMEs Can Get From Being On BizSmart’s New Reality TV Show

Here’s How To Enjoy Luxury Items In Singapore — For Less

Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Dior… that’s the way the alphabet goes around here nowadays.

Singapore boasts one of the world’s highest concentrations of high-net-worth individuals. We have more than a hundred thousand millionaires and at least 26 billionaires living on this tiny island.

But it’s not just the filthy rich who are cashing out; overall, local consumer expenditure has increased. Late last year, the Department of Statistics reported that more Singaporeans are splashing out on an expensive lifestyle — that includes travel, dining, recreation and… luxury goods.

[caption id="attachment_222822" align="aligncenter" width="725"]Image Credit: somekindofwanderlust.com Image Credit: somekindofwanderlust.com[/caption]

Big names like Chanel and Hermes are certainly no longer just the fetishes of high-flyers.

Our generation’s unbridled enthusiasm for the high-end is tangible and clear. Once seen as status symbols, Singaporeans are now decked up to the likes of Tinsel town inhabitants, with thousand dollar bags a dime a dozen. Telling Gucci from Givenchy is well-acquired knowledge by both the young and old.

A quick look makes case in point. Teenagers are touting Longchamp bags as if they are given out free on the road. Ladies spend their spare time chatting about the Chanel flap bag version 1, 2, 3. The guys typically obsess over watches — the bigger the better.

[caption id="attachment_222831" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image Credit: Pinterest Image Credit: Pinterest[/caption]

Whether it is by influence, a form of investment, or an induction into the culture of indulgence, everyone seems to want a chance to lap up luxury, even if their paycheck can’t afford it.

Now we all know the risk in spending beyond your means, so here are 5 ways you can feed that lust in an affordable manner and prove that you don’t need to be rich, to look rich.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a sponsored post. Any organisation mentioned has not paid us to write about them.

The Expensive for Cheap(er)

[caption id="attachment_222841" align="aligncenter" width="722"]Image Credit: is.asia-city.com Reebonz Singapore (Image Credit: is.asia-city.com)[/caption]

Reebonz is surely no stranger to the e-commerce industry, and it does a pretty acceptable job in satiating any hankering for extravagance.

Born in 2009, Reebonz offers a wide variety of new and pre-owned luxury items at discounted rates — typically 30 to 40 percent off. Special events can see items going for up to 80 to 90 percent off, and are usually held both online and at their brick-and-mortar store — Reebonz Space — located at Raffles Place.

As a loyal follower of Reebonz, I’ve witnessed some pretty awesome steals on their site. Take for example this year’s March blowout sale — items were marked down to a flat 70% off. Can you imagine Yves Saint Laurent bags going for less than S$500?!

[caption id="attachment_222851" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Prices for these bags usually start at around US$1890. (Image Credit: bagaholicboy.com) Prices for these bags usually start at around US$1890. (Image Credit: bagaholicboy.com)[/caption]

Needless to say, shopping during such massive cuts is the ultimate game of fastest fingers first. Make sure you refresh the product page every few seconds because visitors of the site are constantly removing and/or carting out items. So the product you thought was sold out could be in stock again within the next few minutes, and vice versa.

Alternatively, participate in sale events at their physical store. But do be prepared to fight with hordes of territorial females and OLs (Office Ladies) equipped with (literally) killer heels. You can read about a buyers’ first hand account at the store during a sale last June.

Lastly, it is advisable to subscribe to their mailer and/or ‘like’ their Facebook page to get any additional discount codes.

Straight off the European racks

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 10.25.23 am

I chanced upon this website earlier this year during one of my many relentless pursuits of an old season bag.

Similar to Reebonz, Premium Mall brings in luxury bags, accessories and shoes, at cheaper-than-retail prices. Bee Yee, the sole owner and manager of the store, frequents Outlet malls in Europe and returns with major hauls every few months.

Bee Yee updates her website, Facebook and Instagram accounts rather frequently with her handpicked loot. She also informs customers via text message when her next trip will be, and what she will be bringing back next.

One man’s Trash is another man’s Treasure

[caption id="attachment_222881" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image Credit: thafashiongal.blogspot.com Image Credit: thafashiongal.blogspot.com[/caption]

If you are dead serious about getting the best bang for your buck, then second-hand goods are a great option to consider. Personally, I have no grouses about buying a used item since I’m not one who treats her stuff like gold anyway.

So if you are like me, then your heaven on Earth is probably…Carousell. This nifty mobile application provides a platform that allows users to post their used items for sale, and buyers to make corresponding bids and deals. And one of the categories prominently featured is Luxury.

I can spend hours on end just scrolling through the huge selection of items. What I especially appreciate about the platform is that it gives me the ability to find items that tend to be sold out in stores.

But as with purchasing any kind of used good, there is a need for you to practice a level of discernment in assessment. So schedule a meet up with the seller and have a good go at feeling up the item before committing to a purchase. Also, it is highly advisable to do some homework on authentication checks beforehand.

Aim a little lower

[caption id="attachment_222891" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image Credit: zeereport.com Image Credit: zeereport.com[/caption]

Online fashion and beauty stores Shopbop and ASOS don’t exactly offer upmarket material. Rather, they cater to a market satisfied with mid-tier brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch, which of course are way more affordable, and yet still slapped on with a label. So if you aren’t ready to go all out to splurge your entire paycheck, then start small.

Quick tip for shopping on ASOS: make your purchase in Pounds. That will make the final bill a little easier on your wallet.

$100 for a Balenciaga bag. No Kidding.

[caption id="attachment_222901" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image Credit: wearseesnap.com Image Credit: wearseesnap.com[/caption]

What happens if your wallet really can’t bear the brunt of another huge expense, but yet, you heart has been sold to the Devil who wears Prada?

Well, I think you need to seek help.

But, if push comes to shove and you really can’t shake off that extravagant shopaholic alter ego, you could possibly indulge in the short-term solution…of renting a bag.

Singapore has a host of bag rental services such as SGBagrental, Bagsnoenough, or Bagborroworsteal to fuel that inner chi chi lust. Sites typically offer their bags at per week or per month rental prices. This option is also great for those looking to test a particular bag model out first, before committing to a purchase.

At the end of the day, it is always best to make sure you finances are well in order before you go splurging on a Want, not a Need.

Also Read: How To Enjoy A 10-Day Trip To Japan For Less Than S$1700

Theartbounty’s Gregory Ong On Bringing Art Online, And The Value of Art To Singaporeans

Back in November last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasized the importance of the arts in Singapore by quoting, “Man does not live by bread alone.” But despite Singapore’s bid to establish itself as an international arts hub, and our fast-expanding calendar of local arts events like the Affordable Art Fair and Singapore Art Week, it’s undeniable that our arts scene is far from joining the ranks of global arts epicentres such as New York and Paris.

What is theartbounty about?

And 23-year-old Gregory Ong would like to change that. Last year, he started online art gallery theartbounty as a platform where budding local artists can be empowered to monetise their works, while the man on the street can discover and buy art at affordable prices. Asked about the spark behind his startup, he said:

“Theartbounty was birthed due to two reasons – firstly, I felt that Singaporeans deserved to enjoy and own art easily. Secondly, I felt that locally-based artists have trouble making a living out of their passion. And many of them are really talented.

And so, I started talking to artists, and people whom I felt would be interested in art, and theartbounty was started.”

[caption id="attachment_194441" align="aligncenter" width="617"]Gregory Ong, founder of theartbounty Gregory Ong, founder of theartbounty[/caption]

How it Works

For local artists – and especially less-established ones – theartbounty works as a freelance platform for them to exhibit works online; an alternative to traditional channels such as museums or art galleries. Each artwork comes complete with photos and a synopsis – if you find one that speaks to you, you can purchase the piece through the site, making payment only upon delivery. Prices range from around $50 SGD to above $5, 000 SGD.

One downside of online art galleries is the lack of live viewing, making purchase a rather delicate decision. To counter that, customers are allowed to reject a work before making payment. In addition, there is a refund policy that lasts three days.

[caption id="attachment_194471" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image Credit: theartbounty Image Credit: theartbounty[/caption]

Are Singaporeans Art Lovers?

Think of the average Singaporean, and “art-lover” is rarely a description that comes to mind — we typically perceive the arts as being separate from more practical concerns of everyday life. So what is the point of bringing art – even affordable art – to Singaporeans? For Gregory, the answer is clear:

“I think art represents culture. And I feel that moving forward, we should all learn to appreciate art a bit more than we did, and move towards having a more cultural perspective when it comes to living in Singapore. Appreciating subtle, and possibly unseen, beauty is what art is about.”

After all, Gregory emphasizes that he himself is nearer to the average Singaporean than a professional art collector. He would describe himself, he says, as “someone who’s always appreciated art — in every form — because of its beauty and what it represents.”

“And at the same time, I used to think that collecting art was a very expensive hobby — not something I could particularly afford. So one of the reasons why I started theartbounty was for others, who are just like me, to collect art at affordable prices. You can’t expect Singaporeans to start collecting art when prices are set so high – I’m trying to help make their entry into art ownership and appreciating a bit easier.”

[caption id="attachment_194481" align="aligncenter" width="709"]Image Credit: theartbounty Image Credit: theartbounty[/caption]

Problems In The Art World

It might be surprising for some, Gregory notes, to learn that in the arts scene, “there’s not as much support as you’d think there should be. And [some] artists stop practising art because they are unable to make a proper income through their works.”

In Singapore’s drive to develop its artistic presence in the world, it was announced last year that $20 million would be dedicated to promoting our local art and artists abroad. A new visual arts institution, National Gallery Singapore, is set to open later this year. Art Stage Singapore, our flagship art fair showcasing Asian contemporary art, has been providing valuable exposure for local artists, and this year’s edition saw a record-high attendance of 51,000 visitors.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="706"] Visitors at Art Stage Singapore 2015 (Image Credit: TimeOut Singapore)[/caption]

So you could say that Singapore’s art scene is definitely picking up steam. Yet, to be an artist in Singapore still means straying off the beaten path in some way – the path which decrees ‘study, get a good degree, and work your way up the corporate ladder’. Besides a lack of exposure, Gregory feels that local artists face difficulties because “no one gives a voice to the community.”

It’s testament to his unique position as both art insider and non-art-professional that he provides an interesting flipside to the situation, commenting, “It doesn’t help that there isn’t much effort [from the art community] to show the rest of us, meaning non-artists or collectors, the beauty and subtlety of art.”

Also Read: Eric Khoo: From Comic Artist To Acclaimed Director

[caption id="attachment_194501" align="aligncenter" width="717"]Image Credit: theartbounty Image Credit: theartbounty[/caption]

Online Art Galleries – A Break from Tradition

As an art gallery in cyberspace, theartbounty is an intersection of many things. Besides aiming to bring the mass public into the world of art appreciation, art and tech share a distinctive fusion here.

Other than theartbounty, there are several other virtual art galleries based locally, such as The Artling and The Bower Birds – and these have the potential to disrupt the art industry. The art world is traditionally based upon periodic exhibitions and art fairs, and Gregory is quick to point out the major advantage of online art galleries: “they can obviously display more works and a wider variety than a gallery at a certain point in time.” Besides, just as online shopping from your armchair at home is clearly more convenient, so online art galleries may be less cumbersome for both artist and buyer.

[caption id="attachment_194511" align="aligncenter" width="711"]"Little You And I" by artist Amirah Eliyana (Image Credit: theartbounty) “Little You And I” by artist Amirah Eliyana (Image Credit: theartbounty)[/caption]

Still, there’s something about art that constantly makes us question: ‘Why?’ Why buy art from obscure, indie artists who haven’t made their name yet? This is, Gregory tells us, one of the hugest challenges that theartbounty has faced, and his answer to that:

“One big obstacle is making people realise: you don’t have to purchase art only from well-known and established names. Some budding artists produce really amazing art, and what they need is a chance. In fact, purchasing art by budding artists can be seen as an investment, just like real estate or stocks. Art has the ability to greatly appreciate in value.”

Because of this, Gregory counts it as an achievement that his startup has managed to show that “locally-based art can be equally amazing.” Another thing theartbounty has proved, he says, is that “buying art online isn’t as scary as it sounds”.

[caption id="attachment_194521" align="aligncenter" width="708"]Image Credit: theartbounty Image Credit: theartbounty[/caption]

So, what’s ahead for theartbounty? Gregory believes that “we are far, far away from achieving our long term goal of establishing Singapore as an art city.”  He remains undaunted, though, and affirms that he and others in the local arts scene will continue to put in their efforts in pursuit of that goal. Asked about his vision for theartbounty a year from now, he says, “The same as it was when theartbounty was started — to bring art to everyone — collector or not — and to help artists carve a living out of their passion.”

Also Read: Daniel Peng Zhuo On The Beauty Of 3D Food Printing And Singapore’s Own 3D Printing Exhibition

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