I'm thinking about getting a new phone; what's the best for under 300?

ZOONAMI

Member
Oct 27, 2017
10,683
LG hardware is pretty good, but don't expect software updates, if you care about updates, go pixel or any of the Android one phones
LG has actually gotten much better on the software. My G8 is on 9 with August security.

They have the 10 beta running on the G8 in SK too. I bet it actually gets Android 10 in the US before the end of the year. That's not bad at all.

I also run a pixel 3a xl.

overall I'd recommend that over the G8 though. Better camera and the battery is strangely like astronomically better.
 

Border

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,527
If all you can spend is $300, are you even going to be able to get a phone that is noticeably better than an S8?
 
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BronsonLee

BronsonLee

it me
Member
Oct 24, 2017
16,895

nihilence

nothing but silence
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
3,308
From 'quake area to big OH.

Lant_War

The Fallen
Jul 14, 2018
8,876
I doubt you'll find anything better than your S8 for that price. Your only chances are chinese phones, I'd look from something for Huawei / Xiaomi / Meizu and then replace the rom with stock android.
 
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BronsonLee

BronsonLee

it me
Member
Oct 24, 2017
16,895
Yah me seeing the A20/A30 on Amazon for 130-160 is what kicked this off

I like W I D E B O I S now
 

FernandoRocker

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,985
México
First, a little bit of a background.

I'm a user who comes from a few years of using flagship Android phones, mostly getting last years flagships for the price of new midrange phones. My last phone, before switching to Mi 9T was a Galaxy Note 8, and before that I had a OnePlus 5T. So fair to say I’ve gotten used to the flagship look and feel of the modern phones. Also, I’m somewhat of a power user. I don’t do any sorts of gaming on my phone (well, mostly emulators) but other than that, smartphones for me are basically a substitution for a laptop most of the times. I use my phone for about 3-4 hours a day, sometimes even more than that. Banking, shopping, checking social media (Reddit, Era, WhatsApp), taking photos (a lot of photos), watching movies… that’s what I’m mostly using the Mi 9T (or any phone) for.

All of this above is just so you can get to known how much and for what I use my phones and to see if this phone fits for you too.

My phone: Mi 9T Black (128GB)


1. Build quality



This phone is made form glass and aluminium. It does give the phone the premium look and feel.

The back glass is stunning. It is, however, a fingerprint magnet, but I’m a guy who always uses a case on my phones, so fingerprints don’t bother me at all. I’ll admire the shiny blacl back panel from time to time and show it of to my friends, but it’s mostly covered for safety, because as JerryRig says “glass is glass and it will break”. Also, the phones comes with a very nice case, so you don't need to spend any extra money.

Popup camera feels as solid as it gets, the motor is maybe a bit on a slow side, but it’s not like I’m in a hurry that I need to take a selfie in 0.1 seconds. The fall detection works pretty well so you don’t have to worry about breaking the camera if you drop the phone while taking a selfie. I wouldn’t suggest using the popup camera for unlocking of the device, it’s too slow for that and it messes with the longevity of the motor unnecessary.

In-display fingerprint sensor is also a bit slower than a regular sensor, but it’s only noticeable if you really try for it to be. I find it a bit more forgiving (as in it unlocks my phone even with my finger a bit off or at a weir angle) than some of the fingerprint sensors I’ve used before.


2. Screen

Oh, the screen, all the screen, the beautiful AMOLED screen. I’ve been thinking of getting either this or an S10+ but not having a notch is where I made my decision and boy was that decision right. Once you see the completely bezelless screen in front of you, it’s hard not to wonder what’s the next step in smartphone industry. I keep the brightness and contrast on auto most of the time and it works pretty good. There’s a few times that it can go a bit too dim or too bright for a second or two, but I’ll probably start using it on manual brightness anyways, so it’s not a big deal for me. As for the brightness and contrast it’s plenty bright in plain daylight, the screen and everything on it is readable and it’s, probably, a bit brighter than my Galaxy Note 8 was. Full HD, well this ratio of 1080p resolution is more than enough and I kept all my previous phones that had the ability to change the resolution at 1080p. If you must have 2K resolution, then this won’t be the phone for you, but you may give it a try, because this is a pretty sharp display with solid vibrant colors and I don’t think that not having 2K resolution will mean a lot for me in the future.

It's a Super AMOLED with HDR10 and DCI-P3 certified and Gorilla Glass 5.




3. UI/UX

I have a global MIUI version of the phone and coming from Samsung’s own One UI and Oxygen OS, there’s a few things to get used to. Gestures aren’t the same, but I prefer the MIUI gestures over the One UI ones. The swipe from either side of the screen to go back is great and other gestures mimic the ones we see on iPhones, so swipe up for home and hold up for recent apps. Recent apps menu is well organised an it’s also one of the things I prefer over my last phone. I don’t like the lack of an app drawer of this ROM. Period. But an app drawer is coming in MIUI 11 (already in the beta) and it is the same as the Poco Launcher (also made by Xiaomi). I installed the Poco Launcher and now I have an app drawer, but soon will be part of the system. Settings menu is good, but the search function needs some getting used to because Xiaomi has a different way of naming some functions than other manufacturers do. That also may be a personal opinion and preference on my side, but Samsung’s settings search worked way better for me. Other than that, it’s easy to navigate and get to the right settings using the menu itself, it is an Android phone after all so it’s not much different than any other, except the MIUI skin on it.



Notifications are different. First of all, notification icons are turned off by default, so I had to turned them on first. Notification LED is on top of the phone so that also needs a bit of getting used to, but it works and at least Xioami put one there. All things considered, MIUI10 is best that Xiaomi has ever had to offer, it’s blazing fast without any hitches, it has great practicality and if you take the time to set it up along your needs it will treat you well. It does take a bit to setup and get used to, at least for me it did. It is extremely pretty.

Oh, the ambient display (Outer Space) looks amazing and it changes depending on the time of the day.


4. Camera(s)

Were do we start here? There’s 4. Selfie, main, telephoto and wide. I’ve talked about the selfie camera a bit before, but I’ll do it again. It’s a solid camera that get’s the job done. The popup aspect is fun and it gave space for a better camera to be put there than a notch (just my logic). I’ll say this now and it will be applied to all of the cameras.

Main cam captures everything great. If you use the 48MP mode it will have all the detail you need. I mostly use just the regular mode and it handles photography very well. It does get a bit soft in dark, but the night mode fixes that (if you have enough patience to hold your phone still for a few seconds to get that sweet photo).



Wide camera is what I missed the most (I used to own the LG V20). Fun to use, easy to get great photos and new perspectives out of and the distortion correction works nice. It’s lacking the megapixels that the main cam has but it’s one of the most fun mobile photography experiences you can have. I may be biased on this, again, but it’s becoming my main camera for a lot of shots.

Telephoto is not something I’ve used much and not something that I’ll use in the future. It’s there but IMO you won’t use or need it that much, unless you’re using the portrait mode, of course.

P.S. I didn’t do much of a video testing so I’ll update the post with that later on if anyone is interested.


5. Battery

I had to put this in a separate category because the battery blows me away. There isn’t a day that I don’t go to bed with at least 30% still on, and most of the days it’s closer to 40 or 50%. I charge the phone once a day for half an hour and it’s enough for the whole day. 4000 mAh really shines combined with dark mode MIUI and the AMOLED display. If this is something you worry about, then don’t, the battery life is AMAZING!

I will never get a phone with less than 4000 mAh battery.


6. Wow factor

I’ve put this in a special category because there wasn’t a single person who saw this phone in my hands and didn’t go “wow” and that is before I show them the popup camera or the in-display fingerprint sensor. It truly feels like a phone from the future and the wow factor is definitely something to consider nowdays and I’m telling you, this phone has it!



tl;dr: Xiaomi Mi 9T gave me everything I expected from the phone and more. It’s plenty of fast for everyday tasks and as I said, I don’t game that much, but it seems to handle games just fine for what I’ve tried. Screen is beautiful and bezelless design feels like the future is now. The cameras are good and there’s one for almost every situation you find yourself shooting in. Wow factor is there and build quality is on pair with a lot of more expensive phones out there. This phone is good at all the things a regular or even a bit heavier user like me will put it on.

I’d give it an 9/10 rating. It’s not perfect, it has things that need getting used to, but once you get to know and love it, it’s a lot of a phone for a not a lot of a price!

It was just $290 (the Amazon seller doesn't even charge taxes).

If you have any questions I'll try to answer them as quick as I can!



Here some video reviews.


 

FernandoRocker

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,985
México
First, a little bit of a background.

I'm a user who comes from a few years of using flagship Android phones, mostly getting last years flagships for the price of new midrange phones. My last phone, before switching to Mi 9T was a Galaxy Note 8, and before that I had a OnePlus 5T. So fair to say I’ve gotten used to the flagship look and feel of the modern phones. Also, I’m somewhat of a power user. I don’t do any sorts of gaming on my phone (well, mostly emulators) but other than that, smartphones for me are basically a substitution for a laptop most of the times. I use my phone for about 3-4 hours a day, sometimes even more than that. Banking, shopping, checking social media (Reddit, Era, WhatsApp), taking photos (a lot of photos), watching movies… that’s what I’m mostly using the Mi 9T (or any phone) for.

All of this above is just so you can get to known how much and for what I use my phones and to see if this phone fits for you too.

My phone: Mi 9T Black (128GB)


1. Build quality



This phone is made form glass and aluminium. It does give the phone the premium look and feel.

The back glass is stunning. It is, however, a fingerprint magnet, but I’m a guy who always uses a case on my phones, so fingerprints don’t bother me at all. I’ll admire the shiny blacl back panel from time to time and show it of to my friends, but it’s mostly covered for safety, because as JerryRig says “glass is glass and it will break”. Also, the phones comes with a very nice case, so you don't need to spend any extra money.

Popup camera feels as solid as it gets, the motor is maybe a bit on a slow side, but it’s not like I’m in a hurry that I need to take a selfie in 0.1 seconds. The fall detection works pretty well so you don’t have to worry about breaking the camera if you drop the phone while taking a selfie. I wouldn’t suggest using the popup camera for unlocking of the device, it’s too slow for that and it messes with the longevity of the motor unnecessary.

In-display fingerprint sensor is also a bit slower than a regular sensor, but it’s only noticeable if you really try for it to be. I find it a bit more forgiving (as in it unlocks my phone even with my finger a bit off or at a weir angle) than some of the fingerprint sensors I’ve used before.


2. Screen

Oh, the screen, all the screen, the beautiful AMOLED screen. I’ve been thinking of getting either this or an S10+ but not having a notch is where I made my decision and boy was that decision right. Once you see the completely bezelless screen in front of you, it’s hard not to wonder what’s the next step in smartphone industry. I keep the brightness and contrast on auto most of the time and it works pretty good. There’s a few times that it can go a bit too dim or too bright for a second or two, but I’ll probably start using it on manual brightness anyways, so it’s not a big deal for me. As for the brightness and contrast it’s plenty bright in plain daylight, the screen and everything on it is readable and it’s, probably, a bit brighter than my Galaxy Note 8 was. Full HD, well this ratio of 1080p resolution is more than enough and I kept all my previous phones that had the ability to change the resolution at 1080p. If you must have 2K resolution, then this won’t be the phone for you, but you may give it a try, because this is a pretty sharp display with solid vibrant colors and I don’t think that not having 2K resolution will mean a lot for me in the future.

It's a Super AMOLED with HDR10 and DCI-P3 certified and Gorilla Glass 5.




3. UI/UX

I have a global MIUI version of the phone and coming from Samsung’s own One UI and Oxygen OS, there’s a few things to get used to. Gestures aren’t the same, but I prefer the MIUI gestures over the One UI ones. The swipe from either side of the screen to go back is great and other gestures mimic the ones we see on iPhones, so swipe up for home and hold up for recent apps. Recent apps menu is well organised an it’s also one of the things I prefer over my last phone. I don’t like the lack of an app drawer of this ROM. Period. But an app drawer is coming in MIUI 11 (already in the beta) and it is the same as the Poco Launcher (also made by Xiaomi). I installed the Poco Launcher and now I have an app drawer, but soon will be part of the system. Settings menu is good, but the search function needs some getting used to because Xiaomi has a different way of naming some functions than other manufacturers do. That also may be a personal opinion and preference on my side, but Samsung’s settings search worked way better for me. Other than that, it’s easy to navigate and get to the right settings using the menu itself, it is an Android phone after all so it’s not much different than any other, except the MIUI skin on it.



Notifications are different. First of all, notification icons are turned off by default, so I had to turned them on first. Notification LED is on top of the phone so that also needs a bit of getting used to, but it works and at least Xioami put one there. All things considered, MIUI10 is best that Xiaomi has ever had to offer, it’s blazing fast without any hitches, it has great practicality and if you take the time to set it up along your needs it will treat you well. It does take a bit to setup and get used to, at least for me it did. It is extremely pretty.

Oh, the ambient display (Outer Space) looks amazing and it changes depending on the time of the day.


4. Camera(s)

Were do we start here? There’s 4. Selfie, main, telephoto and wide. I’ve talked about the selfie camera a bit before, but I’ll do it again. It’s a solid camera that get’s the job done. The popup aspect is fun and it gave space for a better camera to be put there than a notch (just my logic). I’ll say this now and it will be applied to all of the cameras.

Main cam captures everything great. If you use the 48MP mode it will have all the detail you need. I mostly use just the regular mode and it handles photography very well. It does get a bit soft in dark, but the night mode fixes that (if you have enough patience to hold your phone still for a few seconds to get that sweet photo).



Wide camera is what I missed the most (I used to own the LG V20). Fun to use, easy to get great photos and new perspectives out of and the distortion correction works nice. It’s lacking the megapixels that the main cam has but it’s one of the most fun mobile photography experiences you can have. I may be biased on this, again, but it’s becoming my main camera for a lot of shots.

Telephoto is not something I’ve used much and not something that I’ll use in the future. It’s there but IMO you won’t use or need it that much, unless you’re using the portrait mode, of course.

P.S. I didn’t do much of a video testing so I’ll update the post with that later on if anyone is interested.


5. Battery

I had to put this in a separate category because the battery blows me away. There isn’t a day that I don’t go to bed with at least 30% still on, and most of the days it’s closer to 40 or 50%. I charge the phone once a day for half an hour and it’s enough for the whole day. 4000 mAh really shines combined with dark mode MIUI and the AMOLED display. If this is something you worry about, then don’t, the battery life is AMAZING!

I will never get a phone with less than 4000 mAh battery.


6. Wow factor

I’ve put this in a special category because there wasn’t a single person who saw this phone in my hands and didn’t go “wow” and that is before I show them the popup camera or the in-display fingerprint sensor. It truly feels like a phone from the future and the wow factor is definitely something to consider nowdays and I’m telling you, this phone has it!



tl;dr: Xiaomi Mi 9T gave me everything I expected from the phone and more. It’s plenty of fast for everyday tasks and as I said, I don’t game that much, but it seems to handle games just fine for what I’ve tried. Screen is beautiful and bezelless design feels like the future is now. The cameras are good and there’s one for almost every situation you find yourself shooting in. Wow factor is there and build quality is on pair with a lot of more expensive phones out there. This phone is good at all the things a regular or even a bit heavier user like me will put it on.

I’d give it an 9/10 rating. It’s not perfect, it has things that need getting used to, but once you get to know and love it, it’s a lot of a phone for a not a lot of a price!

It was just $290 (the Amazon seller doesn't even charge taxes).

If you have any questions I'll try to answer them as quick as I can!



Here some video reviews.


You can also get the Pro version with a Snapdragon 855 on eBay for $400. Remember that these are GSM phones, so no CDMA carriers will work (Verizon). It's the Global version, so it works on almost any band (I have used the phone in the USA with T-Mobile & AT&T without problems).
 
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BronsonLee

BronsonLee

it me
Member
Oct 24, 2017
16,895
LAWD look at that Mi 9T

And I can get the LG G8 for like 330 off eBay if I count the 40$ in eBay Bucks I would get

I am sweatin'
 

FernandoRocker

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,985
México
LAWD look at that Mi 9T

And I can get the LG G8 for like 330 off eBay if I count the 40$ in eBay Bucks I would get

I am sweatin'
You could try it, and if you don't like it, just return it (one of the advantages of buying unlocked phones). And if you have Amazon Prime, you could get it on Friday, test on the weekend, and decide on Monday if you want to keep it or return it. Pretty easy.
 

Hyperfludd

Member
Oct 27, 2017
476
Dang, the Mi 9T looks real nice. I'm gonna need to upgrade my my Essential PH-1 and it's cracked screen soon and that's looking like a real option. Slightly hesitant on non-stock android I guess, and I'd like to see how it'd deal with games. But dang it's looking like a pick up for me later. I'm look at either this or one of promising Nokia phones. Thanks for that great post, FernandoRocker
 

FernandoRocker

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,985
México
Dang, the Mi 9T looks real nice. I'm gonna need to upgrade my my Essential PH-1 and it's cracked screen soon and that's looking like a real option. Slightly hesitant on non-stock android I guess, and I'd like to see how it'd deal with games. But dang it's looking like a pick up for me later. I'm look at either this or one of promising Nokia phones. Thanks for that great post, FernandoRocker
And that was one the compelling reasons why I wanted a Xiaomi phone. I have had a Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Pixel XL, Moto G2, OnePlus 5T and others I can't remember, and I was getting bored with stock Android.

MIUI is very good. The only thing I don't like is the lack of an app drawer, but an app drawer is already available on the latest MIUI beta (I installed the Poco Launcher which is also Xiaomi and it looks like the one in the MIUI beta).

Seriously, I liked MIUI a lot and I liked the ROM a lot more than Samsung's, for example.
 

LewieP

Member
Oct 26, 2017
7,904
I heard second hand that LineageOS are working on adding Mi 9T and Mi 9T Pro relatively soon, for folks who find the hardware appealing but aren't entirely on board with MIUI.
 

YukiCT

Member
Oct 30, 2017
920
I have the Xiaomi M9T as well. It's the best midrange phone for it's price that it's feels like a high end phone. Granted, I don't use the phone much beyond reading comics/books, watching films, making calls, browsing internet a lot. I think it lasts a day hotspoting/browsing on high brightness.

I’ve put this in a special category because there wasn’t a single person who saw this phone in my hands and didn’t go “wow” and that is before I show them the popup camera or the in-display fingerprint sensor. It truly feels like a phone from the future and the wow factor is definitely something to consider nowdays and I’m telling you, this phone has it!
Agree and while people kind of talk about mechanical front facing camera as a negative, I mean, how many times are people really going to be pulling that camera out? This is a far better solution that the ugly notch that you have to look at every single time. Fingerprint sensor is a very good solution as well.
 

TaySan

Member
Dec 10, 2018
4,778
How is this one?


LG G8 for 375
I own an LG V40 and before that a G4.
Great hardware and devices overall, but slow on software updates. Just recently we finally got Android pie
 

dirtyjane

Member
Oct 27, 2017
356
Regular Mi 9?

The thing I love about the T version is the gigantic 4000mAh coupled with an 8nm processor. It's almost impossible to kill the battery.

I think the Mi 9 (regular) has a much smaller battery
My mistake, I'm getting the 9t 128gb black for 261€, a steal. I'm upgrading from an One Plus 3 with a defect camera, cracked screen (happened just yesterday), faulty USB connector and generally beat up look. Say what you will but this phone was built like a tank for all the stuff it had to go through.