Xiaomi's new Mi 9 flagship: Three rear cameras, super-fast wireless charging

The Mi 9's sub-$500 starting price could appeal to Chinese consumers turned off by the $1,000-plus iPhone XS.

What innovations to look out for at MWC 2019 Big, small, folding and curvy; MWC should see plenty of oddities to tempt jaded gadget buyers. But the real action is elsewhere.

Xiaomi has unveiled its 2019 Mi 9 flagship smartphone with three rear cameras and a slightly cheaper sibling, the Mi 9 SE. 

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The three-camera setup on the rear is one of the key differences between last year's Mi 8, which had two rear cameras. The Mi 9 also introduces a curved back and does not include a fingerprint sensor on the rear. 

The Mi 9 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and features a 6.39-inch Samsung AMOLED screen with an in-screen fingerprint reader and a small circular notch at the top. 

Another headline feature of the Mi 9 is that it's the world's first smartphone with 20W wireless charging. 

The rear cameras included a 48-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel camera with 2x optical zoom, and a 16-megapixel camera with wide-angle and macro lens. The front camera can take 20-megapixel images.

Xiaomi's Mi 9 is available with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of optional flash storage. A special transparent version with 'simulated' inner components has 12GB or RAM and 256GB onboard storage. 

Don't expect the Mi 9 to ship to the US, but after launching in China it should be available in other markets Xiaomi currently ships to. 

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Pre-order sales of the Mi 9 kick off in China on February 25 with prices starting at RMB2,999 ($446) — a price that's sure to appeal to Chinese consumers turned off by the price of an iPhone XS.    

Even more appealing to budget-conscious buyers could be the cheaper Mi 9 SE, which starts at RMB1,999 ($297) and features the same front and rear camera setup as the Mi 9, but runs on a Snapdragon 712 processor. 

The Mi 9 SE features a 5.97-inch screen AMOLED screen with an in-screen fingerprint reader and the same notch.    

The Mi 9 SE is available with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage or it's available with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for RMB2,299 ($341). 

Despite Xiaomi's past success in China, last year the company's shipments to the world's biggest smartphone market took a hit, alongside Apple

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Image: Lori Grunin/CNET

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