Addendum: Redmi 9T is now reported not to be able to allow you to make an emergency call in Japan if you use both SIM card slots and other conditions are met. “IIJmio may not be able to make an emergency call on the Xiaomi Redmi 9T for sale – iPhone Wired” is the only news article I could find that reports it in (a tad odd) English. IIJmio is a Japanese MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), just like Cricket Wireless and US Mobile are. But this problem seems to be not limited to any specific carrier. Xiaomi Japan released an official statement on the matter, which you can read in English by automatic translation.
I have no idea the same problem occurs in the US. Either way, they are supposedly working on a fix. You are immune from this problem if you are using just one SIM card slot anyway.
I am sending a Xiaomi Redmi 9T for a friend in the US as a gift (photo album compiled specifically for this friend). This article is meant for her and explains what she is going to get. The reader is assumed to be her, so when I say “you,” it refers to her, unless it’s “the ubiquitous ‘you.'”
This Redmi 9T is a version for the Japanese market. It is basically a global version, but it can handle more frequency bands than the global version. It has dual SIM slots, and is also SIM-unlocked, so you can use any nano-SIM cards with it. However, that does not mean that you can get service in the US because your Redmi 9T needs to be able to handle the bands used by the carrier. I believe you can use T-Mobile comfortably as long as you are in a city, and Verizon too, to a lesser degree. See “Xiaomi Redmi 9T for A Friend in the US?” for details.
The phone comes with the tweaks I am going to detail below. I really wish I could give it in a completely reset state, so you get to “smell the new phone smell,” as it were, but I cannot because resetting the device will wipe out most of the tweaks. I tried to document below all the tweaks I did. There are probably a few that I fail to mention here, but those are either trivial and/or common-sense. But you never know — there may be some you do not like. If so, I am sorry. I will also do my best to erase all of my personal traces, but that can only be done app by app. So there may be residual traces. For that also, I am sorry.
If you really do not like what I did, you can choose to reset it altogether (Settings -> My device -> Factory reset).
I believe my prior research was adequate, and my decision to take the route I took was justified with the knowledge I collected. However, there were certainties, and those certainties ultimately worked against our favor.
I wanted to give you an unofficial ROM which eliminates all the Chinese nonsense but comes with the latest improvements, and “root” it as well to enable additional features that are otherwise impossible. I did, and it works great. However, system updating is now not as simple as it would be otherwise. The problem is that I cannot revert it back to the way it originally was, because I swapped the bootloader.
Everything that comes in the standard package of Xiaomi Redmi 9T, including a transparent cover, a USB cable, and a USB AC fast charger, are all there in the original box, plus the following.
Cover and Strap
The handset will come with the cover you chose and a ring lanyard. I threw in an extra cover of a different color just in case. I do not know if it will suit your tastes, but I chose light orange because I believe that color will also stand out in the innards of your bag.
The ring parts are made of soft silicon. I use those myself. Personally I think they are better than metal ones; you could break your finger(s) with metal ones. If you don’t like them, no big deal, just swap them with whatever suits your tastes.
These covers come with a think rhombus-shaped metal plate each, which you can stick to the inside of the cover (see image). I guess this is useful if you have a magnetic phone holder.
Chinese cell phone manufacturers keep pumping out new models. You can buy their accessories cheap on AliExpress.com, which is great. But the problem is that the accessories, particularly covers that are made to fit the exact physical dimensions of specific models, are not kept in stock for a long time. In the meantime, your cover will break at some point, and that is kind of the point of using a cover; you want it to sacrifice itself and absorb the trauma to protect the phone. So you will eventually need a replacement cover, but it may not be in circulation then. Hence the additional cover.
The covers come with a kickstand, but when you have the phone stand on its own with the help of the kickstand, do not add downward pressure to the phone. The kickstand is not all that strong and just a little extra force to it could easily break it. When you have it stand on its kickstand, the left side of the phone (when seen from the back), which has the power button and the volume buttons, comes on the bottom; you cannot push the buttons unless you pick the phone up (see image).
Oh, you can have you phone stand on its short side, if you want a portrait view (see image).
There was a small, one-sheet manual of sorts for the same style of cover I purchased for my own phone (see image). Somehow it did not come with yours. I did not expect to see anything new there, but actually ② is worth noting; I would not have realized this feature if I had not seen it.
A 128GB microSD card is already inserted. It is a Samsung Evo Plus card. I personally benchmarked it and found out that it gives better performance than the popular one from Sandisk with an A1 rating. I have all my current smartphones and my girlfriend’s use Samsung Evo Plus micro SD cards for this reason. The performance of MicroSD cards vary greatly from brand to brand, so I chose one for you so you will not run into performance issues because of an inferior card. The card came with a MicroSD-to-(standard)SD adapter, so I am including that as well (see image).
And I did not use the Adoptable Storage feature of Android. If you are curious about what it is and why I made that decision, read on.
Adoptable Storage is a feature introduced in Android 6.0, which allows you to have Android treat (all or part of) the MicroSD card inserted into the phone as if it was part of the internal storage. This could be good news with lower-end devices with limited internal storage, but it does not always work the way you expect. MicroSD cards cannot work as fast as real internal storage, so when you use it like internal storage, you will get lesser performance. This is inevitable and there is no way around it. The question is how much lesser, and it depends on how fast or slow your MicroSD card works.
Recently Android device manufacturers often hide this Adoptable Storage feature because they do not want users to use it. When laymen do, they often complain, “My Android phone is now very sluggish after I inserted a MicroSD card and chose Adoptable Storage!” Like I said, that phenomenon is bound to happen, and they cannot blame the phone manufacturers for it. Obviously many manufacturers do not want to deal with this kind of nonsense.
Xiaomi is apparently one of those manufacturers, and this feature appears non-existent on their recent Andoroid phones, including Redmi 9T. There is a way to activate it, but I chose not to go that route. Your Redmi 9T has 64GB of internal storage, and that should be enough for normal use, as long as you install apps on the MicroSD card where possible, and have all your apps (that you can configure) to save their data on the MicroSD card.
Unfortunately, the latter can be configured only on the per-app basis. Typical storage hoggers are camera apps, particularly if you shoot videos, video streaming apps if you save videos for offline use, Web browsers because you are likely to download files from the Web, and then possibly electronic book reader apps, and podcast apps. Make sure these apps are configured to save their data on the microSD card or “external storage.”
USB OTG cable
I am also throwing in a USB OTG cable (see image). This should come in handy when you want to connect an external USB device to the phone, such as a USB memory stick, perhaps even a USB HDD/SDD, or a USB keyboard and/or mouse. I specifically chose the cable with which you can also charge the phone at the same time. Try not to lose this cable because you may desperately need it one day.
When you want to use the USB OTG functionality, it needs to be explicitly turned on in the Settings menu.
Redmi 9T is supposed to have NFC features on some select markets. Unfortunately, it seems Japan was not one of them. It is a big pity because if it did, you could use it as a virtual Hop Fastpass card in Portland.
Installation of Xiaomi.eu ROM and Rooting
Your Redmi 9T originally came with the “stock” global ROM (“ROM” here means firmware; calling it “ROM” is not accurate, but is a common practice). I swapped it with so-called Xiaomi.eu ROM or euROM for short, because the stock ROM had minor nuisances such as system apps showing ads while the euROM has some functionality enhancements. The euROM has a semi-official status, and you will not be missing any feature compared with the stock global ROM.
Because of this euROM, this Redmi 9T claims to be Redmi Note 9 4G, but it is (still) Redmi 9T!
I also “rooted” it, meaning, hacked it so we can have the “root,” or administrator privileges, which allow us to do things you cannot normally do, as you will see below. For rooting, I used a system called Magisk.
The whole process of installing the euROM and rooting it is documented in detail in “Installing euROM on Xiaomi Redmi 9T and Rooting it.”
Any app that is related to rooting is potentially dangerous. I have put them into a folder on the home screen called “*DANGER*.”
This new euROM is based on Android 11 as opposed to the original Android 10, and has a feature called “memory extension.” It is turned on by default.
Battery Charge Limit app, when enabled, automatically stops recharging when the battery reaches its 80% capacity. This is intended to prolong the life of the built-in battery. This behavior is possible only when the phone is turned on.
Redmi 9T has an impressive 6,000 MAh battery, so I would think even at its 80% capacity, it will still give you enough juice for the day. If you need to have it charged full for whatever reasons, disable this feature in Battery Charge Limit (see pic — you can turn it on and off with the orange toggle button on the upper right corner).
Addendum: I believe it did on your Redmi 9T when I tested it, but if this app does not work as expected, please see “Setting Up Battery Charge Limit App for Xiaomi Devices.” It did not work on my Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the remedy is there. This issue might be common among Xiaomi devices.
By the way, this app requires root privileges. If you wanted to achieve the same effect with an unrooted phone, you would have to control the charger somehow, which is a hassle to set up. It is not “portable” either because you can have that benefit only when using a specific, pre-programmed AC adapter.
I excluded this app from battery optimization. Obviously, it cannot serve its purpose if it gets killed while working.
There is a Magisk module, which more or less does the same thing, but I opted for a regular app, so you can easily turn it on or off as you wish.
Incidentally, even though Redmi 9T comes with a fast charger, which really helps when you need to recharge your phone in a short time, avoid using it when you can. Fast charging often results in making the battery hot, which is damaging to the battery. Read “BU-808: How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries – Battery University” for more in-depth information on the matter.
Automatic Shutoff and Starting
Every day, the handset automatically shuts off at 4:00am and restarts at 4:10am (Schedule power on/off — should be found in the Settings app, but I cannot get there manually; use the search feature) because many technical issues can be resolved just be rebooting.
⇦ I found it. Settings -> Battery -> “Battery” tab, to the right of “Battery saver” tab -> “Schedule power on/off”
⇦⇦ You may want to turn this off entirely. The Xiaomi.eu ROM 12.5.9 on my Redmi Note 10 Pro does not auto start apps and I have no other choice but to turn it off myself. If you experience the same problem, I am afraid you’ll have to do the same.
How to Make Sure Your Apps Get Run and Not Killed
Redmi 9T has a built-in IR blaster, with which it can act as remotes for the devices you use. Mi Remote controller – for TV, STB, AC and more comes pre-installed in the stock global ROM, but somehow it is omitted in the euROM. So I installed it and made sure it works.
(Scroll down; there’s more!)
GCam Camera App
I have installed a GCam app. See “GCam and Other Camera Apps for Android” for details. As detailed in the article, finding the right variant of GCam is itself not a trivial job. I chose one from what little I knew and installed it. Ideally, I should make sure that it works on your Redmi 9T and you can take advantage of all the hardware capabilities of 9T’s camera, but to do that, I need to have quite in-depth knowledge of it. I gave up on doing it because even if I tried to do it, it’d possibly take months, and that would make your receipt of this phone that much later.
What I want to emphasize, whether you use the stock camera app, GCam, or whatever, is that Redmi 9T has a ultra-wide angle camera and a macro camera. This is not necessarily a standard feature for a smartphone, and it can be extremely useful depending on your usage. Personally I would use it extensively.
Both of the following shots were shot at my nearest Costco, with Redmi 9T using the stock camera app.
I have put all the camera apps, including the stock one, into a folder called “Camera Apps” (see image). I included Open Camera there because it can be quite useful. Also, an app called GCamloader, which is mentioned in “Download GCam for your device easily – xiaomiui.” It is supposed to help you find the GCam app that is compatible with your device. Redmi 9T is currently not in the list, but I am sure it will eventually make the list.
Addendum: I did not know this when I configured your phone, but GCam cannot save to an external microSD card, which is bad news if you use GCam a lot because your Redmi 9T’s internal storage is not necessarily great (64GB). I listed a few workarounds, but if you get stuck, please let me know.
“Xiaomi Redmi 9T test Camera full features – YouTube” gives you an overview of the camera features of Redmi 9T.
The euROM does not include standard apps from Google, except essential ones such as Play Store. I installed some, but that may not be enough. All you have to do is head over to Play Store and install whatever apps you need.
F-Droid: A FOSS App Store
F-Droid is a “free and open source Android app repository.” and I installed the management app for it. Think of it as an alternative Play Store, which only serves free and open-source apps. Both NewPipe and AdAway apps below were installed from F-Droid.
NewPipe: A YouTube Viewer
If you want to watch YouTube videos without those annoying ads, or just listen to the audio portion of them, use NewPipe. You do not need YouTube premium membership. The only downside of using NewPipe is that whatever you do with it (such as viewing history, favorites, etc.) is not propagated to your experience on the YouTube website or the official YouTube mobile app through your YouTube account. Use the F-Droid app to update NewPipe.
Oh, downloading YouTube videos or just the audio portions of them to your device is a snap with NewPipe. This will come in handy when you have to watch the same video over and over. Once you download it, you can watch it as many times as you like locally, even when you are offline.
AdAway: An Ad Blocker
To prevent unwanted ads from showing, I installed AdAway after referencing “The best ad blocker apps for Android – Android Authority.” This also requires root privileges. Use the F-Droid app to update AdAway (note to self: ‘Systemless hosts’ had to be enabled in Magisk Manager’s Settings page).
Adway is configured to run a Web server on its own and show replacement content in place of an ad. To be able to do that, it has to install a certificate, and that is why you see “Certificate authority installed” notice. If you do not like this, you can change this in its settings menu.
Again, there is a Magisk module that serves the same purpose, but I opted for a regular app, so you will know it is there, and can turn it off if you want to.
Teamviewer Quick Support
I installed TeamViewer Quick Support in case you need help from me with handling the phone. Or perhaps it could be me wanting help from you. At any rate, it is a remote screen sharing and manipulation app, but do not worry — unless you start the app and explicitly give me the access code that it shows, I will not be able to access your phone.
My ulterior motive of sending you this phone was having an option of using a real cell phone number in the US on this phone. In reality, the chance of me having to resort to this option is very, very slim. It’s good to have this option as the ultimate backup plan, but at the same time, I do not want to use it unless absolutely necessary.
After spending hours and hours trying to find a solution for this, I concluded that the best solution is actually to create a simple program by myself. With other candidates, I cannot guarantee that I will have no access to the other SIM card, i.e., yours.
My solution requires that the SIM card for my own use be used as SIM 1. Use the SIM 2 card slot for your own SIM card (see image). Notice the numbering is counter-intuitive — well, at least, to me (note to self: internally, SIM 2 is indeed 1 and SIM 1, 2 — program Automate accordingly). Unless you explicitly turn on my program yourself, the phone does absolutely nothing out of the ordinary regarding text messages, and you are free to use SIM 1 for yourself too if you’d like as long as I do not have to.
Let’s say somehow I find myself in a situation where I need to resort to this last option. I will arrange for a SIM card and have it sent to you. I need you to put it in the SIM card tray of your Redmi 9T as SIM 1 (see the image above). I need you to activate the SIM 1 SIM card slot on your phone (Settings -> SIM cards & mobile networks -> tap on “1” -> tap on the toggle to enable the SIM 1 slot). See the images on the left. My SIM should now be operational.
Now on to the software setup. All of the SMS-related apps are placed in the “SMS” folder on your home screen. Among the apps there, you will find Automate. When you launch Automate, you will be presented with a list of programs created in Automate.
In the list, find “Automatic SMS forwarding to email….” Tap on it (see image). In the screen that opens, tap on “START” (see image). The program starts, and the screen changes. Now you will see “STOP (1),” instead of the previous “STOP” (see image). This indicates that the program is running. That’s it. You do not have to do anything else.
Even if you shut down the phone, the program will resume running as soon as you restart the phone (because “Run on system startup” is enabled in the Settings of Automate). To stop the program, follow the same steps, except tapping on “STOP” in the end. Automate is excluded from battery optimization.
One Google accounts of mine is intentionally left on your Redmi 9T. I made this account specifically to allow emailing for text forwarding. If you feel uncomfortable about it, you can delete the account, but I will need you to add it again if I should need to resort to SMS-to-email forwarding on your device. Alternatively, it can be set up so the email will be sent from your own Google account.
If you have doubts about the safety of the program, feel free to inspect it by yourself. Click on the pen/pencil-in-circle icon on the lower right corner, and the program will be shown for your perusal. It really does not do anything fancy — it just mindlessly forwards the incoming text messages to SIM 1 (somehow internally 2) to my email address.
Unlike other sections, this section is about what I did not do.
The built-in FM radio app covers the 87.0 -108.0MHz range. Since in the US it starts at 88.0 MHz and ends at 108.0 MHz, the app completely covers the used range in the US. Incidentally, in Japan it is 76 – 90MHz, so there are FM stations in Japan whose broadcast you cannot listen to with the built-in app.
Personally I greatly value the availability of an FM radio app in a phone because that gives you one more way to get information from the outside world. The FCC apparently has the same opinion, at least it did back in 2017. When a large-scale natural disaster strikes, it can be what separates life and death. People tend to take their cell phone for granted and assume it is always there, but if the disaster is big enough, the Internet access can easily be disrupted.
So I wanted to extend the frequency range of the built-in FM app. It seems doable, but it also sounds like it requires a lot of work. So I decided to put it on the back burner, and give the handset to you without any modification to the FM radio app. The modification would mean a lot to those of us who are living in Japan, but you are fine with the app as is anyway as long as you are in the US or most of the countries in the world.
To be able to use your FM radio app on the go, always carry a wired headphone/headset with you, which acts as an antenna. I cannot emphasize this enough because once you have a Bluetooth headset, you tend not to carry a wired one with you any more.
Transferring Apps and Data from Your Old Phone
For the methods on how to transfer apps and data from your old phone to your new Redmi 9T, see “Transferring Apps and Settings from Your Old Android Phone to A New One.”
Android itself offers backup facility, but it is not as thorough as the two methods I am going to explain below. One is to use an app called Titanium Backup, and it works only on a rooted device. The other is to use OrangeFox Recovery.
Their features are as follows:
- Titanium Backup backs up on the per-app basis. So if you have an app that is acting up, you can easily revert to its previous state with TB— provided that you have made backups using TB before. The free version of TB can only make one backup for each app.
- OrangeFox Recovery backs up on the per-partition basis. So, let’s say your system gets unstable and you have no idea why, but you know for certain it was fine up to a certain point. In a case like this, backups made with OFR could be a life saver; you can bring the whole system back to the previous state provided you made a backup then. There’s no limit for the number of OrangeFox Recovery backups, so I suggest you make backups whenever you are about to give a big change to the system.
The following videos I shot will hopefully show you how to use them.
See “How to Make Backups using OrangeFox Recovery on Xiaomi Redmi 9T – YouTube.” To boot into recovery when your Redmi 9T is off, press the volume up button and the power button at the same time and not release them, until you feel the phone vibrate. This video does not show it, but when the backup is done, you will be prompted to reboot the phone.
The big concern I had was whether applying a system update, when there is one, will a stress-free experience for you or not. I was hoping that I chose the right tool for it (OrangeFox Recovery), but unfortunately, it does not look so. This is due to the fact that this instance of OrangeFox Recovery does not have the necessary feature; it is only an unofficial version for Redmi 9T and it seems to be lacking it.
So, sorry, the updating process is a bit tedious. I recorded the whole process in “Upgrading euROM on Xiaomi Redmi 9T using OrangeFox Recovery – YouTube” (the video clip below). The procedure is essentially as follows:
- You get notified of an available update by the Updater app.
- Have the app download the update.
- When done, the app prompts you to “Check MD5 & Install.”
- When you agree by tapping on the button, your phone reboots into OrangeFox Recovery.
- Know from this point onwards, you need to be extremely careful when you interact with OrangeFox Recovery because you can easily corrupt the system and make it unusable.
- Find the update file (.zip) and its “signature” file (.md5) in /sdcard (not /sdcard1).
- Copy those two files to the external microSD card, i.e., to /sdcard1/_ROMs. It’s important those files are in the real microSD card. (In the video, I used /sdcard1. Actually they can be anywhere as long as they are on the real microSD card and you can find the files in the next step, but probably it’d be best store it in /sdcard1/_ROMs for organization purposes.)
- Click on the .zip file in /sdcard1/_ROMs. You will be asked if you want to install it. Make sure all the checkboxes are checked in, and proceed to install it.
- The installation process will take time — 5 to 10 minutes. Just be patient.
- If the installation succeeds, your phone reboots to a normal state.
Another unfortunate thing is that this system update deactivated rooting, so it needs to be re-rooted. The method I show in “Rerooting Redmi 9T Using OrangeFox Recovery – YouTube” (the clip below) is actually not the recommended method, as explained in “How to Install Magisk to Root or Customize your Android Phone,” but it can get the job done.
Hope you’ll enjoy the phone!
Postscript: Successful Delivery
Originally, I wanted it to be delivered to her by Christmas. I failed in that. Then I wanted to have it shipped by Christmas. I failed in that also. Then I wanted to ship it by the end of 2021, which I finally succeeded in. They accepted the package on December 30th, and she received it on January 7th (see the tracking info at the end). So it took about 10 days. It is about three times as much time as the “usual” delivery time by EMS, but perhaps not all that bad considering the recent reduced flights and all.
As a matter of fact, I brought the package to the post office on December 29th. I was planning to ship it by small packet, which is based on SAL (Surface Air Lifted), but the SAL service was not in operation between the US and Japan due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.
The only choice left, other than out-of-the-question surface, was pricier but faster EMS (Express Mail Service). However, the US no longer accepted handwritten labels and senders had to register the package info electronically and print the necessary documents using Electronic Advance Data (EAD). So I had go go back home, do it, and come back the next day. The thus created document was rather complicated (the link is accessible only by her and me).