Written by by Daniel Marans, CNN
Fujitsu is counting on a history of innovation in the smartphone world to drive sales of its latest Mi 9 Pro model. In the space of a decade, the company has gone from developing smartphone designs that break outside the boundaries of the mainstream to building phones that combine phone components of varying size and design.
A phone bearing its distinctive name could be the product of this bold strategy. With an impressive array of functions, an attractive industrial design and battery that lasts for days, the Mi 9 Pro is one of the most capable phones on the market, with the help of so-called “mass customization.”
Design by emulators
The Mi 9 Pro draws heavily on the modular nature of the devices sold by Huawei, which is now the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. In 2017, the Chinese tech giant introduced the Mate 20 Pro, which incorporated a wide range of interchangeable modules in what was then the most modular phone on the market.
The Mi 9 Pro is available with either an 18:9 aspect ratio or a 16:9 ratio display and a frosted glass backing. But the unique selling point — one I haven’t seen elsewhere — is the inclusion of a phablet that wraps around your palm, creating a handset that seems to double as a large tablet.
You choose the size and configuration of your new phone
The phone comes with two cell service providers, one for Japan and another for Japan and other regions. Some of the available accessories — namely a curved WQHD LCD screen, set of interchangeable attachments, a Mate keyboard and a Mi Grip case — are available separately, either for purchase or to buy and receive on a later date.
A 12 megapixel dual-lens camera is mounted on the back of the Mi 9 Pro, where you can mount your Mi Grip case. Credit: jason zaman/CNET
Keeping hardware extensions charged is a unique piece of hardware on the Mi 9 Pro, the Mi Grip, with a detachable battery pack. Credit: xiaomi
This is the first time Fujitsu has offered a device with a modular design, and though the specs and features on this new phone make it attractive to the techie elite, the designs of the covers are testament to the durability and durability of the product.
The Mi Grip is constructed entirely of aluminum, double the weight of any metal case the company has produced. The front of the phone features an A5, or 3.7 inch display, which has been tempered to reduce reflection, while using carbon fiber to cut down on weight. While polycarbonate is common among smartphone makers, the Mi 9 Pro is the only mobile phone I have ever used that comes with a hardened, completely treated and non-metallic version of the material.
Now you just put the phone where you want it
The Mi 9 Pro comes with either the 18:9 aspect ratio (which turns the phone into a budget tablet) or the 16:9 aspect ratio display and a frosted glass backing. Credit: jason zaman/CNET
The Mi 9 Pro carries a price tag of 9,999 yen ($79) when it goes on sale in Japan on July 29. While the day-to-day functionality is admirable, given the competition the Mi 9 Pro comes up against, this premium price point may be a deterrent to many would-be buyers.
However, the Mi 9 Pro is not available in other regions, so those wanting to experience mass customization (and thus hopefully a better fit with local conditions) may have to look elsewhere.