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Xiaomi Mi 10 Review: A spec sheet monster with a 108 MP 'X' Factor

A strong contender for best smartphone under Rs 50,000 in India.

July 20, 2020 / 07:54 PM IST

The first thing that comes to mind when you think Xiaomi is value-added Redmi smartphones that often defy the price-to-performance metric. However, that changes with the company’s most expensive smartphone launched in India, the ‘Mi 10’. With the Mi 10, Xiaomi aims to target India’s premium smartphone segment, one that's particularly dominated by Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus.

While the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro and Poco F1 arrived in the country with flagship specifications, the Mi 10 distances itself from the flagship killer market, heading into premium territory. The last premium Xiaomi smartphone to arrive in India was the Mi MIX 2, back in 2018. However, Xiaomi’s effort failed to gather steam, and the company has since avoided unveiling premium smartphones in the country until now that is.

In terms of specs, the Mi 10 is right up there with some of the best smartphones in the country. However, specs alone won’t be enough to help Xiaomi win the premium smartphone segment; it will all come down to how those specs translate into real-world scenarios. And whether the Mi 10 can hold a candle to its competitors.

Design

The Mi 10 is certainly one of the better-looking smartphones on the market. The Mi 10 boasts a sleek design with an aluminium frame and is covered with Gorilla Glass on the back and front. The phone is available in Coral Green and Twilight Grey in India, our model, featured the latter. The Twilight Grey model has a glossy finish and distinct blue hues, although the glossy finish does attract smudges.

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The Mi 10 weighs about 208 grams, putting it on the heavy side, but Xiaomi has done a good job in balancing out weight distribution. All the buttons (Volume Rocker & Power Button) on the Mi 10 are located on the right side, while the USB-C port is on the bottom. The Mi 10 features speaker grilles on the top and bottom. You also get a fast and reliable in-display fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone.

Overall audio quality is excellent on the Mi 10, with the device arguably providing one of the best audio experiences of any smartphone. It isn’t one of the loudest phones we’ve tested, but audio performance is excellent and more importantly, consistent. We had no problem watching videos or gaming without headphones.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi 10 opts for an FHD+ (1080*2340 pixels) Super AMOLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The screen is covered with Gorilla Glass 5 and features noticeable curves on the sides. Additionally, the hole-punch camera cutout is placed in the top left corner. The screen boasts a peak brightness of 1,120nits, making it easy to view indoors and out, even in extremely bright sunlight.

The screen on the Mi 10 is HDR10+ compliant, which makes consuming entertainment a joy. The display has excellent viewing angles as well for an OLED panel. Lastly, the Mi 10’s panel boasts a 90Hz refresh rate for a smoother experience. While the display doesn’t quite live up to the mark of the high refresh rate QHD+ panels of the Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro, it is still a great display.

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The panel can reproduce rich and vibrant colours, while the high refresh rate only enhances the overall experience. In terms of FHD+ OLED panels, this is certainly one of the better screens on the market. More importantly, it does not feel like a cheap OLED screen you get on a mid-range phone.

Performance and Battery

The Mi 10 is powered by the flagship Snapdragon 865 SoC paired with 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The phone arrives in two storage options, including 128GB and 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. The phone also features a 5G modem. In terms of performance, the Mi 10 is right up there with the very best and is arguably one of the fastest phones on the market.

The phone managed an 883 single-core score and 3,253 multi-core score on Geekbench 5. Games like Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, and Asphalt 9: Legends ran without a hitch. According to Xiaomi, the Mi 10 boasts a LiquidCool 2.0 vapour chamber and six-stack graphite for keeping the phone cool under stress. We played a straight hour of Call of Duty: Mobile without the phone getting warm.

The Mi 10 has a fairly large 4,780 mAh battery with proprietary 30W fast-charging support. The phone also supports Quick Charge 3.0 as well as wireless charging. Xiaomi does not include a wireless charging adapter in the box, but if you get the Xiaomi wireless charger, you can top up the phone in less than an hour.

The Mi 10’s battery lasted for well over a day with about an hour and a half of gaming. The 30W bundled charger can power up the device in little over an hour. A 15-minute charge gets you around 30 percent of battery life, which is about ten hours of use time. The Mi 10 also supports reverse wireless charging up to 10W to power accessories like earbuds. Overall, the Mi 10’s battery game is quite strong and in-line with what you’d expect from a flagship.

Software

The Mi 10 runs Android 10 with the MIUI 11 skin on-top, which is due to get an update to MIUI 12. Xiaomi’s MIUI custom skin is one of the best in terms of customisations and has come a long way since the last couple of renditions. The Mi 10 has quite a few pre-installed apps that cannot be uninstalled, including some system apps and random games that cannot be uninstalled. While there are some apps that you can uninstall, we wish Xiaomi offered the option when booting the phone.

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Our other big gripe with the software is the unwanted notifications. Some of the pre-installed apps will generate spam and ads, and although there are ways to disable some of these, we would rather not have them at all, especially considering Xiaomi promised a premium Android experience with no bloatware or promoted content. Hopefully, Xiaomi makes it easier to disable ads and allows us to get rid of some more bloatware with MIUI 12.

Camera

Finally, to the main highlight of the Mi 10; ‘the 108 MP quad-camera setup’. The Mi 10 boasts a quad-camera setup comprising of a 108 MP Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor with a sensor size of 1/1.33-inch and a max aperture of f/1.7. The 108 MP sensor also features a 7p lens (8p on the Mi 10 Pro) and features 4-axis OIS. The main 108 MP camera sensor is paired with 13 MP ultrawide lens with an f/2.4 aperture, a 2 MP depth sensor, and a 2 MP macro snapper.

The big highlight of the Mi 10 is the 108 MP camera and is a great addition to the phone, especially at this price point. The other two smartphones in India with a 108 MP camera, include the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Motorola Edge+ that are priced at Rs 97,999 and Rs 74,999, respectively. The Mi 10’s 108 MP sensor uses pixel binning to output images in 25 megapixels.

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Images taken in daylight manage to produce excellent colour and detail. However, you will notice some irregularity with shadows. The camera on the Mi 10 also does a good job in dealing with noise, although colour can look exaggerated at times. The Mi 10 also has a strong game and photos look great on the phone’s screen. Photos taken in low light tend to handle noise well but are on the darker side with heavier than ideal contrast.

Night mode on the Mi 10 is only available on the main camera and results can vary depending on the amount of light in the area. Results are generally good but can be unpredictable at times. Night mode on the Mi 10 has not yet reached ‘premium level’ like that of Google and Apple, but it is pretty decent. The great part of the 108 MP sensor is that it can capture a lot of light even in the night, and it might be preferable at times.

The ultrawide camera on the Mi 10 works well in daylight, and is much better than some of the other flagships from 2020, including the iQOO 3 5G and Realme X50 Pro. Photos on the ultrawide camera feature noticeably less detail as compared to the primary camera, while edges on images appear softer. However, colour reproduction is bright and vibrant. The ultrawide camera does tend to fall apart in lowlight that coupled with the lack of a night mode, makes results unusable.

Mi 10

The macro camera requires works quite well in good light but requires patience. We are not big fans of a macro camera, especially on a phone at this price. Most users wouldn’t mind trading both the depth sensor and macro camera for a telephoto snapper. That being said, portrait mode is another strong suit of the Mi 10, edge detection is on point, while the level of background blur can also be adjusted.

When it comes to video, the Mi 10 can capture video in up to 8K resolution at 30fps. You can also record 4K and 1080p video at 60fps. Images shot in 8K in daylight or lowlight are quite good with little to no noise. However, 8K videos tend to eat up your storage space, while there is no stabilisation at 8K resolution.

Scaling the resolution to 4K does not make a lot of difference; image quality is still top-notch, while you also get the benefit of stabilisation. Xiaomi also features an ultra-steady option, but the resolution is limited to 1080p resolution. We also found stabilisation on 4K video at 30fps better than 4K video at 60fps. Video footage is extremely strong in daylight but does tend to suffer in low light.

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The ultrawide camera can capture 4K video at 30fps, although noise is quite noticeable. The one drawback here is that you cannot switch between the main camera and ultrawide camera while recording a video. The Mi 10 also records clear audio for the most part. Xiaomi has also bundled a ton of features that may appeal to content creators, including an integrated VLOG mode.

On the front, the Mi 10 opts for a single 20 MP sensor with an f/2.3 aperture. Photos taken on the selfie camera look great during the day with strong details. You can also get decent selfies in good ambient light at night, although results in low light are not serviceable, even if you use the night mode. Videos taken on the front camera are limited to 1080p at 30fps, but there is a complete lack of stabilisation.

Conclusion

At a starting price of Rs 49,999, the Mi 10 is Xiaomi’s most expensive phone in India and has received considerable flak for its premium price. However, in our view, the Mi 10 is arguably one of the best smartphones in India’s sub 50K segment, it might actually be the best. As far as competitors go, the Realme X50 Pro, iQOO 3 5G, and OnePlus 8 are all cheaper than the Mi 10. But all three phones feature noticeable compromises.

Take the OnePlus 8, for example, which does not do enough to distinguish itself from its 2019 counterparts. Then there is the iQOO 3 and Realme X50 Pro, both excellent smartphones, but far from the premium offering, especially in the camera department. The only real competitor to the Mi 10 would have to be the OnePlus 8 Pro. Stay tuned for our full comparison of the two phones. When you factor in India’s new GST hike, import costs, and significantly more expensive Snapdragon 865 chip, you can see that the quality of the hardware lives up to the price.

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Just look at what you are getting here, an excellent display, a premium design, a powerful chipset, lasting battery life, and a strong and reliable primary camera. However, the Mi 10 does have its fair share of issues. For a premium smartphone, it lacks an IP rating. While the display is excellent, it is limited to Full HD resolution as opposed to Quad HD.

Although these issues are easier to overlook than the app-preloads and pop-ups in MIUI. On a flagship killer, mid-range or budget smartphone, MIUI’s software woes might be easy to ignore, but it becomes significantly harder at this price. In fact, the only thing holding the Mi 10 5G back is software; Xiaomi has more than delivered on the hardware front.

We’d have to say that the Mi 10 5G is definitely worth the price and should definitely be on your radar if you’re looking for a phone with a 50K budget. It is worth noting that the great part of software issues is that they can be fixed with updates. Hopefully, MIUI 12 will address these issues and turn Xiaomi’s software woes to strengths.

Also Read: In Pics | Vivo X50 Pro First Impressions
Carlsen Martin
first published: Jul 20, 2020 07:54 pm

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