In the world of technology, cutting-edge, headline-grabbing hardware always begin life as premium, expensive features, only to be commoditized later and become affordable for the masses. In many industries, that lifespan of exclusivity can last years, but in the fast-moving, cut-throat Chinese smartphone space, it is often a year or less.
That's what has happened with the pop-up selfie camera and in-display fingerprint reader, features that seemed impossibly futuristic and dropped many jaws just last year. Now, they're features that are available on not just recent Android flagships, such as the Oppo Reno 10X orOnePlus 7 Pro, but even $250 devices like the Realme X.
Xiaomi's latest, the Mi 9T, which starts at $300, of course, keeps pace and offers an all-screen design courtesy of a pop-up camera and an in-display scanner, too, but it also commoditizes another hardware component that was considered a premium feature just a year ago: the triple-camera system.
That makes the Mi 9T arguably the best value of the bunch among the recent slew of really good mid-tier (sub-$400) releases. Sure, the Realme X is a bit cheaper, but it only has two main cameras–it's missing that crucial wide-angle lens–not to mention an older chipset; the Google Pixel 3A has a vastly superior main camera, but falls short everywhere else with a chunky bezelled design and no wide-angle camera.