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Last Updated : Nov 20, 2019 12:24 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Redmi Note 8 review: An all-rounder smartphone in the under-Rs 10,000 price bracket

Can the Redmi Note 8 maintain its ‘best in category’ reputation? We’ve been using the Note 8 for a few days and here is what we like and dislike about it.

Talk or think about budget smartphones in the Indian market and Xiaomi will definitely be a mention. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer has made its mark in India and has maintained its first position in the list of top smartphone brands in just five years. A mix of value-for-money smartphones with good and targeted marketing could be the reason for Xiaomi’s success in India. 

The company has been launching a bunch of smartphones, primarily under its Redmi sub-brand. Amongst its many smartphone series, one of the most popular and note-worthy smartphones has been the Redmi Note series. 

The Redmi Note 8 is Xiaomi’s latest and greatest offering under the sub-Rs 10,000 category. Like previous Note series smartphones, the Note 8 comes loaded with some impressive specifications on paper.

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For Rs 10,000, you get quad-cameras, a Full HD+ display, a reliable processor with a good amount of RAM + ROM combo. The Note 8 is even a better deal with a fast charger inside the box. 

However, as they say, specifications may not be the only factor in making a smartphone the best in its category. The Redmi Note 8 is surrounded by competitors, particularly by Realme and Vivo.

Can the Redmi Note 8 maintain its ‘best in category’ reputation? We’ve been using the Note 8 for a few days and here is what we like and dislike about it.

Design and Display

Xiaomi is known to make value-for-money smartphones that come loaded with top features. With the Redmi Note 8, the company continues to better the design with a Gorilla Glass 5 front and back. At 188 grams, we thought the Redmi Note 8 will be heavy, but we were wrong. Hold the device, and there are high chances of you getting this premium feel, especially with the rounded edges that assist in offering a better grip.

The Redmi Note 8 features a 6.3-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD panel. The display is crisp and leans slightly on a cooler side, but looks slightly underwhelming and less vibrant. Xiaomi’s MiUi allows you to tinker around with the contrast and colours in the display settings.

The 500 nits brightness should be enough for you to use in outdoor conditions. The display is WideVine L1-certified, which means you can watch shows on Netflix, Prime Video and other streaming platforms at the highest resolution.

Redmi Note 8

The screen comes wrapped around by not-so-thick bezels, but the chin is significantly thicker. Xiaomi has tried to give a trendy touch to the Redmi Note 8 with blue accents on our Neptune Blue review unit. 

On the back, there’s a quad-camera module on the top right corner. The camera module protrudes a lot, resulting in the Redmi Note 8 to rock when kept on a flat surface. There’s also a fingerprint scanner positioned in the centre of the rear panel. While the fingerprint scanner is quick to detect and unlock the smartphone, it is too small in size for our liking. The gradient coloured back has a mirror finish and is a fingerprint magnet as well.

The power and volume buttons are placed on the right edge, whereas the dual-SIM tray is located on the left. At the bottom edge, there’s the USB Type-C port between the speaker grille and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Xiaomi’s also offering the Redmi Note 8 with a tiny notification LED indicator that sits to the left of the water-drop notch.

Redmi Note 8 is P2i coated for splash resistance, which means a spill of water here and there shouldn’t be a problem.

Camera

The USP of Redmi Note 8 is its camera unit. We liked the performance of Redmi Note 8’s camera considering the price tag. Like the Redmi Note 7S, Xiaomi is offering the Redmi Note 8 with a 48MP f/1.7 primary sensor. The 48MP camera is now coupled with three more sensors that include an ultra-wide lens, a macro lens, and a depth sensor.

Redmi Note 8 camera module

Like most smartphones, the Redmi Note 8’s 48MP f/1.79 camera uses pixel-binning and converts the images to 12MP. Images shot using the primary camera offer detailed results in good lighting conditions. The colours are vibrant and offer natural levels of saturation and exposure. 

Redmi Note 8 Primary camera

You can switch to the 8MP ultra-wide camera using the toggle in the Redmi Note 8’s camera app UI. The ultra-wide camera performs very well. However, when you compare it to the main camera, it isn’t as detailed. The shadows are slightly darker, and there is some amount of noise on the edges. Exposure, too, is a bit on the higher side on the ultra-wide camera. You got to give credit to Xiaomi for ensuring that the distortion on the Note 8’s ultra-wide-angle is minimum.

Redmi Note 8 ultra-wide

There’s also a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro lens on the Redmi Note 8. we were particularly impressed with the macro camera’s output. You can activate macro mode by tapping on the icon on the top row of the camera UI and shoot close-ups to 2cm from the subject. Here are a few images we shot using the macro lens. We got detailed shots with good colour accuracy and depth. 

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The camera struggles to focus in low-light, which is when the ‘Night’ mode comes in play. Although the difference between the two modes isn’t drastic, you would get much better results while shooting in low-light with the Night mode. 

Redmi Note 8 Night mode

Night mode on Redmi Note 8 bumps up the exposure in a quest to offer better detail but loses out on sharpness and noise levels. But for the price, the camera offers impressive results. Another thing that we noticed is that the colour temperature and white balance of the images clicked from the three cameras didn’t differ a lot.

For selfies, there’s a 13MP f/2.0 sensor on the Redmi Note 8. Our biggest concern about the front camera on budget and some midrange smartphones has been, skin tone and softening, that too without the ‘beauty’ mode.

Safe to say, the Redmi Note 8 clicks close-to-real selfies. There is a bit of smoothening, but we did not find it to be as aggressive as some of the competition. Edge detection and background blur in portrait mode, too, is very good.

Performance

Redmi Note 8 gets powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, paired with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal memory. Our review unit has a 6GB + 128GB configuration.

With Android 9 based MiUi 10, performing the day-to-day tasks on the Redmi Note 8 is no big deal. The smartphone performs smoothly, even with some apps open in the background. We didn’t experience any sort of lag or stutter while performing basic tasks.

Even while playing PUBG on the Redmi Note 8, there wasn’t any lag. The game loaded on ‘low’ graphics with ‘Medium’ frame rate. Our usual PUBG sessions were limited to playing Team Death Matches which last for 7-8 minutes each. After 3-4 matches, the rear panel did feel slightly warm but wasn’t something that is worrying. There wasn’t any sort of stutter, and the frame drops were negligible.

If you are someone who listens to a lot of music while scrolling through social media feeds and chats on WhatsApp while commuting, the Redmi Note 8’s battery will have your back.

There’s a 4,000 mAh battery, which has been a standard across almost all Redmi devices. You can get through a day and a half quite easily on moderate levels of usage. Even if you run out of juice, there’s an 18W charger that Xiaomi has bundled with the Redmi Note 8 inside the box. The smartphone charges from 0 to 80 via USB Type-C in just over an hour.

For unlocking the device, there’s a fingerprint scanner and face unlock on the Redmi Note 8. Xiaomi, for some unknown reason, decided to make the fingerprint scanner smaller on the Redmi Note 8. We initially found it tough to precisely place a finger over the scanner, but it isn’t an issue after getting used to. The face unlock isn’t the fastest, but gets the job done.

There’s a single bottom-firing speaker on the Redmi Note 8 that isn’t extraordinary. The speaker is loud enough to hear in outdoor conditions. However, while playing games, the speakers often got covered and I wished the earpiece doubled as a secondary speaker.

RAM management on the Redmi Note 8 also seems to be fine. 

While writing this review, the smartphone was running on MiUi 10.3.3 based on Android 9. We left a bunch of apps running in the background. With the Note 8, most apps opened where we left them. A couple of apps did take some time to refresh, while the graphic-heavy PUBG had to load from the start.

The most common complaints about MiUi, leaving the preloaded bloatware aside, has been random ads and app suggestions popping up in the notifications. One has to make peace with that as ads aren’t going away anytime soon. However, ads on the Redmi Note 8 were limited. Regarding the bloatware, most apps can be deleted and you can even not install some of them during the installation process.

MiUi 10 comes with dark mode, game mode and support for a bunch of gestures that help enhance the user experience.

The smartphone is scheduled to get MiUi 11 based on Android 9 during the second half of November. MiUi 11 for Redmi Note 8 looks like a promising update as the update would bring in features like an Always-On Display, redesigned Mi apps, a new lock screen and customisation options.

Verdict 

Xiaomi’s called the Redmi Note 8 as the ‘64MP Allrounder’. Sure there are smartphones from other brands that are catching up, but Xiaomi manages to take (or at least tries to) the lead with every smartphone it launches.

For Rs 10,000, you get features and specifications that make the Redmi Note 8 a smartphone for everyone.

The design looks and feels premium and the display is bright enough and colour accurate, but the highlight spec has to be the camera unit. 

The quad-cameras on the back and the selfie camera have clicked detailed and colour accurate shots. The Redmi Note 8 is an actual upgrade over the Redmi Note 7S, which has a 48MP dual-camera setup. With the Note 8, you get a varied set of cameras that shoot in different focal lengths.

Shots taken in low-light using the ‘Night’ mode are pretty good for the price, we would say. There are some limitations to it, but let’s be fair, you can’t have it all for Rs 10,000.

The battery life, too, is solid and you will appreciate Xiaomi for adding an 18W fast charger inside the box. While gaming may not be its forte, the Redmi Note 8 performs quite well for basic, day-to-day tasks and can even handle games like PUBG.

Overall, if you plan to buy a smartphone under Rs 10,000 that offers superb build quality, reliable performance with great battery life and a versatile set of cameras, the Redmi Note 8, hands down, is the one you should buy.

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First Published on Nov 19, 2019 12:45 pm
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