One of the biases against Chinese products is that their cheap prices come at the cost of quality and durability. That attitude carried over to smartphones and may have been true in the early days of the Chinese smartphone market. These days, however, products from the likes of Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, and the like have started putting bigger companies to shame. With its latest Mi 9 flagship, Xiaomi claims to use “sapphire glass” for its main cameras and, naturally, it was a challenge JerryRigEverything’s Zack Nelson couldn’t turn down.
Why would you want to use an expensive material for such a small part of the phone in the first place? Given how cameras jut out of the phone’s body, it is pretty much the first thing that comes in contact with any surface, like when putting down the phone on a table. And considering how scratches could affect the passage of light through the lenses, making sure they’re durable also means protecting the quality of the cameras’ output.
Xiaomi isn’t the first nor the only company to boast using sapphire to protect its cameras. Apple makes that claim as well. Nelson has more or less called out the company for that after proving it’s not the kind of scratch-proof material you’d expect from sapphire. Turns out Xiaomi is on the exact same boat as well.
The Mohs pick scratch test reveals that Xiaomi’s “sapphire glass” is more glass than sapphire, scratching at a level 6 with deeper grooves at a level 7. That said, his diamond detector does detect an amount of sapphire mixed with glass, so it’s not entirely a lie either.
The good news is that aside from that little fib, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is as durable as more expensive smartphones in the market and at almost half the price. That price does also include mostly high-end specs as well. The only drawback is, just like some high-end phones nowadays, the Mi 9 not only throws out the headphone jack but the microSD storage expansion as well.