I am considering giving a Xiaomi Redmi 9T to a friend in the US (my private photo album regarding this handset; shared album compiled specifically for this friend). Why? She was very nice to me while I was there, and it is important for me to show my appreciation in a tangible form. From what I hear, Redmi 9T could be a good fit for her needs.
- Xiaomi Redmi 9T review – GSMArena.com tests
- Compare Xiaomi Redmi 9T vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 edge – GSMArena.com
- “「Redmi 9T」の本誌記事、詳細スペックまとめ [新機種まとめ] – ケータイ Watch“
According to her account, her current phone happens to be showing signs of aging and, particularly, its battery does not last as long as before. I happened to have a few Redmi 9T’s that I recently managed to lay my hands on relatively cheaply. Now admittedly Redmi 9T is not the top-of-the-line model, but it is more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks. Plus it has a large 6,000 MAh battery.
GCam to the Rescue
Many people will place Redmi 9T in the lower middle range of all smart phones. With those models, they have to cut corners to make the price affordable, and what often gets neglected is the camera. Redmi 9T is no exception (but neither is any of the middle-range smart phones). Luckily, there is a remedial measure.
Google develops a camera app called GCam exclusively for its own Pixel-brand Android phones, but the app is ported by volunteers to other models, including Redmi 9T. I know for a fact that the ported GCam gives you a dramatic boost in the quality of image compared to that by the built-in camera app. See「GCam入れたらカメラ画質が別次元に向上。オートフォーカス、夜景、露出、低ノイズ」 for side-by-side (or more accurately, “top-by-bottom”?) comparison. You do not have to understand Japanese to see the differences. Whenever they show a pair of photos of the same object, the top one was shot with a built-in camera app, and the bottom one, by the ported GCam app. You will see the differences are not subtle, but rather dramatic. So Redmi 9T can practically have a better camera, and this is what convinced me that Redmi 9T is “present-worthy” enough.
My Ulterior Motive
I also have an ulterior motive — well, when I put it out there in public like this, I guess it is not really ulterior, so I am going to call it a selfish motive. Last year, I began to experience trouble accessing my online banking site in the US and the US Paypal site because I could no longer receive verification SMSes at my Google Voice number. It turned out they stopped sending verification messages to “Internet phone numbers” such as those provided by Google Voice. I have since devised a workaround and I can get by for now. I actually think this change is reasonable and generally a good thing for the US residents, but not so much for expats or myself. At this time, I still cannot use other services such as Venmo or Zelle, simply because I do not have a “real” cell phone number at which I can receive verification services.
So far, I do not need to start using other money-sending services. But in case I run into a situation in the future where I need to, or my US bank or Paypal starts to impose stricter restrictions, I would like to have the option of acquiring and being able to use a real US cell phone number. But that is not necessarily easy to achieve, because for that to work for my purposes, I will need the following:
- a real cell phone number I myself have acquired (I am thinking either US Mobile or PagePlus).
- a working cell phone physically in the US with the SIM card for that number being active.
- optionally, some mechanism in the cell phone which automatically forwards incoming SMSes to me.
All this cannot be done without help from someone who is physically in the US, except the first one. The remaining two are not necessarily easy. Some people never replaced SIM cards in their phone, but with a little instruction, many people will be able to. But the last one is not a trivial task. It may require some modest programming, and it is very difficult to do remotely, if not entirely impossible.
Luckily, Redmi 9T has two SIM card slots, and they can be activated at the same time. So she can use one for her own SIM card, and the other for my SIM card. If I set everything up before I send it to her, then she does not have to do anything except moving her own SIM card from her current phone to this Redmi 9T. It will be her phone, which she will use every day. So I can count on it that it is turned on pretty much all the time, and the battery gets recharged every time it gets low. This may sound trivial, but it really isn’t if I ask her to have a separate phone just for my own cell phone line, because it becomes additional work for her.
In “米サービスが本人認証のために送るSMSが受け取れる携帯番号取得法,” I looked at a few online alternatives, but I have serious doubts about their usefulness.
The Japanese version of Xiaomi Redmi 9T is capable of handling more bands than its global version. Compare the list of the supported bands of the Japanese version and that of the global version, both taken from the official website of Xiaomi ( “日本版「Redmi 9T」レビュー！低価格Xiaomiスマホの性能は？” mentions this fact. The info in “Xiaomi Redmi 9Tのスペックまとめ、対応バンド、価格 | telektlist” is about the global version, and thus does not apply in this case.).
2G: GSM: B2/3/5/83G:
4G: TDD-LTE: B38/40/41(2545-2650MHz)
4G: FDD-LTE: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/18/19/20/26/28
US Mobile has this to say about the bands they use.
Below are the network frequencies and bands supported by our GSM LTE network (Tmobile). GSM- Bands 2 and 4. Band 12 needed for 4G LTE. In most cases, GSM unlocked devices with a sim slot and without restrictions work, given they support these bands and your area has the specific frequency and band coverage. 2G/GPRS/Edge: Band 2 1900 MHz 3G/WCDMA: Band 2 1900 MHz 4G: Band 4 1700/2100 MHz LTE: Band 12 (700 MHz)
The bands supported on Super LTE are 2, 4 and 13 and along with these, the phone needs to be HD calling/VoLTE compatible and certified by Verizon.
“Cheat sheet: which 4G LTE bands do AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint use in the USA? – Business” shows not only the bands each carrier uses, but also which bands are more important for use on each carrier. So how will the Japanese version of Redmi 9T fare on T-Mobile and on Verizon?
- T-Mobile: Bands 2, 4, and 5 are supported, so she should be fine. Supposedly T-Mobile’s use of Band 5 (850MHz) is “extremely limited.” It is a pity that Band 12 (700MHz) isn’t supported, so she might run into reception issues in rural areas with T-Mobile.
- Verizon: Bands 2, 4, and 5 are supported, so she probably should be fine. However, Band 13 (700MHz), “the backbone of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network,” isn’t, so reception issues are more likely than with T-Mobile.
T-Mobile would be a safer bet for her even from the LTE compatibility. In addition, with T-Mobile, you can fall back on 3G (WCDMA/UMTS). Verizon’s 3G is CDMA2000, which Redmi 9T does not support. US Mobile may not support Verizon’s 3G network, to begin with.
I need to make sure VoLTE is enabled.
You could hack the phone and enable some additional bands, but this is too tricky to try. The worst problem is that I cannot personally verify if the desired results have indeed taken effect from inside Japan.
I purchased a cover with lanyard holes on AliExpress for ~$3. She chose the color by herself.
IMHO, everyone should use a cover with lanyard holes. If you always use a lanyard while handling your phone, by making your head, arm, hand, or finger go through it, it is practically impossible for you to drop your phone.
Other Nice Things about Redmi 9T
- Has a USB-C port, which supports 18W fast charging and comes with a 22.5W fast charger.
- Has a ultra-angle camera and a macro camera too.
Supports NFC. Unfortunately, the availability of the NFC feature depends on the market, and the one for the Japanese market does not have it.
- Can support all three of two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time (typically, you can use either a second nano-SIM card or a microSD card, but not both at the same time, although there is a workaround).
- Can function as an FM radio — crucially important when you’re struck by a large-scale disaster. ⇦ I explored more on this in “FMラジオ機能を持つXiaomi機の日本のFM周波数への対応.”
- Has stereo speakers — should make your video viewing more enjoyable.
- Has a 3.5mm audio jack — in all likelihood, you can use any of your old 3.5mm audio headsets or headphones; if you’re interested read “External Microphones for Use with Android Devices” for the technical reasons why you sometimes cannot.
- Has a built-in IR blaster — it can work as as a remote.