REVIEWS

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro long-term review

A 108 MP digicam on a Redmi Take note? How about a 120 Hz AMOLED display screen? Certain, why not, Xiaomi reported, and so the Redmi Note 10 Professional was born. That is an evident oversimplification (and there is a “keep my beer” joke in there someplace that we you should not dare make), but we might be remiss not to point out this phone’s two major differentiating attributes ideal from the get-go.

Normally, it is really a offer of smaller enhancements as opposed to its direct predecessor, the Redmi Notice 9 Pro, which are all welcome of program, but the digicam bump (pun certainly meant) serves two uses. To start with, people today like major quantities on spec sheets, and this a person is, at least for the time currently being, as huge as it gets. Second, the sheer truth that these kinds of a big principal sensor was put in this system is almost certainly also supposed to signify that Redmi is ultimately having digicam picture excellent far more severely than before. Which is a welcome growth in our guide.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro long-term review

There are other mid-rangers with 108 MP cameras all over, and in truth, the 1st-ever cellular phone to have these a sensor (even though not the same one) was the Mi Notice 10, which is also a mid-ranger. So it is not so a lot a tale of “this is the 1st-at any time mid-ranger to consist of this sort of a digicam”, or “108 MP cameras have now produced their way down to the mid-assortment”, but the target need to be on how a lot additional mainstream the Redmi Note line is when compared to something else.

More than the previous couple years it is been the principal driver of product sales for Redmi (and Xiaomi general), so each time a large change comes about listed here, it is important because it suggests any such new aspect is going to be made use of by a ton of men and women. That is also the situation for the 120 Hz AMOLED display, and this one was beforehand a staple of the significant-end realm, and it’s now eventually arriving on a lot more inexpensive equipment like this one particular.

The Redmi Notice 10 Pro appears to be, at the very least on paper, to be a deserving successor to the Redmi Be aware 9 Professional which we lengthy-term reviewed previous yr, and we ended up nervous to see how the encounter of working with it would differ. If you’re curious too, then buckle in and be part of us for the following number of pages as we discover what it was like to dwell with this product day-in, day-out for an extended time period of time.

Design, handling

The theme of the Redmi Note Pro line continues with the tenth iteration when it comes to the materials used. The Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro both had a glass sandwich construction with a plastic frame, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro is no different – right down to the use of Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and the back. That iteration of Corning’s protective material is really getting long in the tooth these days, but it seems to still be preferred for most mid-rangers (with some notable exceptions in the Poco family where GG6 or even Victus feature).

The size of the Redmi Note 10 Pro is also incredibly similar to those of both of its predecessors, and thus the handling experience is pretty much alike. If you had (or tried) a Redmi Note 9 Pro or Redmi Note 8 Pro and liked the feeling of holding it in your hand, you’ll also like this one. There is a welcome change, and that’s the fact that the new model is ever so slightly lighter than both of the older ones.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro is a big phone, there’s no doubt about that, and if you have small hands you may find you need to constantly use both of them to handle it securely. If you have big hands, handling is a breeze, and while the design is nothing especially groundbreaking, it sticks with what it works and doesn’t introduce any weirdness. If you’re coming from a previous Redmi Note Pro handset, you’ll definitely feel right at home here when you pick this one up.

The back glass is a fingerprint magnet on our Onyx Gray review unit, but as usual when that happens there’s a funny counterintuitive way in which it helps – namely, the more fingerprints you have on it, the less slippery it is. You thus need to pick between gross and slippery, which is rather hilarious. The frame is slippery too – it’s not the most slippery ever, but it’s not anti-slip either. On the other hand, it seems to not collect fingerprints at all, not even partial ones, which may be down to the finish of the plastic or just how thin it is.

On the back the camera hump is meant to draw in all your attention, and that’s probably a good thing because there’s nothing else really going on there that would be very interesting. It’s just your average glass back that curves towards the frame, we’ve already seen this a thousand times. Note that the execution is top-notch, with no ‘panel gaps’ or anything like that. The tolerances are tight, the build quality is right – not that we’re surprised, this has been the case for a long time now even at this price point.

The two-stage stepped nature of the camera bump is interesting, as is the symmetry of the placement of the sensors. We’re not sure we necessarily like the fat silver bezel-ring thing which surrounds the main camera, but hey, maybe you need a pointer to tell you which the 108 MP beast is.

We were expecting Redmi to plaster “108 MP” somewhere in there, but instead the brand went with the much more baffling “ultra premium” text, which doesn’t make any sense because there isn’t an “ultra premium” product in history that would need to tell you it’s “ultra premium”. That’s not how “ultra premium” works, Redmi. Just saying. This clearly gives the Note 10 Pro away as a poser, but thankfully the text is rather small so it won’t jump out very much at any onlookers around you.

Flipping the phone over there’s another design element that’s unnecessary, and that’s the silver ring around the hole-punch selfie camera. Because it shines when light hits it, this has the consequence of always drawing your attention to it, and we have to wonder – wasn’t the whole point of hole-punches that they’d be less “in your face” than notches? So whatever happened to that logic? Redmi isn’t the only brand doing this, but we hope it will be a short-lived trend as it makes no sense.

Otherwise, the screen has pretty tiny bezels on three sides and a chin that’s among the smallest in this class (while still giving away the fact that you’re holding a midranger since it is bigger than what you’d find in a more high-end device). The 3.5mm headphone jack at the top will be welcome news for people who are not into Bluetooth, and the phone overall is a tiny bit top-heavy, but so little that you aren’t likely to be put off.

In conclusion, the Redmi Note 10 Pro is a very well-built sandwich of glass and plastic that looks modern and capable without really standing out very much in a sea of lookalikes. If you pay close attention to details, then you may realize that it has a better than usual (for this class) main camera and an AMOLED screen (given the smaller bottom bezel). And maybe you’d also be misled into thinking there’s a top of the line selfie camera in there (because the silver ring kind of reminds you of the one on the back), but that’s not the case.

Case

Speaking of cases, there’s one in the box as usual with Chinese brands, and this one has a matte finish that hides fingerprints well. Unlike the actual back of the phone. This we really like. The rest of it, not so much.

The sides feel incredibly flimsy (it is a gel case after all), while the corners do feel sturdy but so much so that the case is really hard to apply or take off – it’s been a while since we’ve had one that was this rigid in the corners. That’s probably good for drop protection, but the right side, where the buttons are, is the exact opposite with a gap forming between the case and the screen between the power and volume keys.

Finally, the most annoying thing about it is the flap that covers the USB-C port. We’ve seen this before for some Xiaomi (or sub-brand) phones, and we still don’t get it. Thankfully this one opens sideways which makes it slightly easier to get loose and insert the charging cable with one hand. But it’s still not easy enough, and it’s just cumbersome in general, so if this were not a review unit we’d have cut that flap on day one.

Speakers

The Redmi Note 10 Pro has perfectly decent stereo speakers that do the job very well without really being the best at anything. They’re not the loudest we’ve ever heard, but they’re going to be good enough for most use cases (aside from when you are in loud environments), and they’re not the best sounding we’ve ever heard by any stretch of the imagination but they’re not bad either.

One thing to note is that while the earpiece pulls double duty as the second speaker, there’s an additional opening in the top of the frame for sound to go out of. This enhances the way things sound when you’re consuming media, but it also means that when you’re on a phone call there’s more leakage from the other side of the call than you’d get from a device with just an earpiece grille up top.

Proximity sensor

Speaking of calls, the proximity sensor is slow but decently reliable. The slowness may put you off, though, as sometimes it takes around a second or two for it to do its thing and change the screen’s state. We’ve never had it randomly not work on us, but that slowness is something you need to keep in mind.

If for the first second or two after you put the phone back to your ear you aren’t very careful, you may find that your face has touched something on the screen inadvertently. The easy solution to this is to hold the screen away from your face for the first second or two, and then the screen finally turns off, and you’re safe.

The proximity sensor’s working area also seems to be quite small, so you’ll have to be rather precise with positioning the upper part of the phone close to your ear, otherwise, the sensor might think the phone is away and you need the screen turned on. We’d be careful about propping up the phone between your shoulder and face “hands-free” as it were since in this scenario the sensor does tend to turn the screen on (after the aforementioned delay) a lot of times – and that results in plenty of accidental face-touches (for lack of a better term).

Connectivity issues

While we haven’t had any issues with Bluetooth (reconnecting to previously paired devices has historically been a problem for most midrange smartphones we tested, but thankfully not this one), we did consistently run into some niggles with Wi-Fi connectivity.

In places where no other phone has had problems with an Internet connection, the Redmi Note 10 Pro simply refused to load anything. It was still connected to our Wi-Fi network, mind you, and showing about 50% signal, but no data was traveling either way. Sometimes the phone figured this out itself and switched us to mobile data, but most times we would have to manually turn off Wi-Fi to get access to the Internet again.

This never happened in the same room as the router but did consistently happen in another room that’s about 10m away from the router (and with two walls between them). Again, we want to stress that we have had no such problems, in the same spots, with any other phone – and we’ve been using the same router for years.

This might be one of those rare instances where two pieces of Wi-Fi equipment for whatever reason don’t talk well to each other (a much more prevalent issue many years back), or something could be wrong only with our specific Redmi Note 10 Pro review unit. But we thought we’d mention it even so, as it could also be a more widespread problem with this phone model.

Overall, we’d recommend you only get it if you don’t mind something like this happening for you. For us, it was just a mere annoyance as our mobile data plan is unlimited, but if yours is capped you may find it more of a problem.

Biometrics

Although the Redmi Note 10 Pro has an AMOLED screen, it has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor just like its predecessor, the Redmi Note 9 Pro, which sported an LCD. This is probably down to the price differential between such a capacitive sensor and an under-display one, we assume. Maybe by the time the Redmi Note 11 Pro launches the under-display ones will go down enough in price to be included.

Anyway, the fingerprint scanner on offer here is pretty much the standard side-mounted fare for this day and age. For some people it seems to be more reliable than for others, and this reviewer is unfortunately in the latter camp, finding that such sensors are less reliable than most in-display ones. Keep in mind that fingers are quite unique, so this may not apply to yours at all.

We think the issue is how narrow the sensor necessarily has to be in order to fit inside the power button in a seamless fashion. This means you need to take extra care when enrolling your fingers to cover as much surface area as possible, otherwise there will be no stored patterns to recognize.

Despite doing this very carefully, we still found that we had to re-touch the sensor around 4 out of 10 times. That gives a general reliability of about 60%, which is very bad. We’ve gotten used to it, but can’t say we like it. Again, your mileage may vary significantly on this one, which is why we’re not being (even) more critical.

And it’s not just this particular sensor in this particular phone – all recent side-mounted ones have had a similar bad behavior for this reviewer, although the others we tested so far were more like 80-90% reliable from the first try. This one does stand out as being even less so.

As usual, you can decide if you want to only touch the power button for your fingerprint to be scanned, or press it. And also as usual, we went with the latter option, because it feels much more natural that way – after all, pressing the power button to wake up the screen is a very automatic thing we do multiple times a day. This way, there’s the added benefit of the unlocking happening at that time too.

Face unlocking is present but as you’d expect it’s only using the selfie camera and thus offers way less security than the fingerprint scanner. It is fast, though, for what it’s worth – but since you’re usually pressing the power button to trigger face unlocking, you see how this can be very redundant, since pressing that button also triggers the fingerprint scanning.

Vibration motor

The Redmi Note 10 Pro has a perfectly average vibration motor that’s absolutely nothing to write home about. This is definitely not one of those high-end ones used even in some ‘flagship killer’ type devices nowadays. It’s there if you need it, but you will definitely not be amazed by the vibrations it produces. This was clearly one area where costs needed to be cut in order to get the phone to its price.

MIUI still has some gentle nudge-vibrations here and there throughout the UI, but they seem to be less than on other models, and we assume this is because of the vibration motor here – since it’s not among the best, you don’t get the same feeling of physicality when encountering one of those ‘nudges’ as you do on higher-end Xiaomi devices.

Overall then – the vibration motor is there, it works, but you will definitely not remember it as contributing in a great way to the experience of using the phone.

Display quality, brightness, settings

While it’s great to see a 120 Hz AMOLED screen at this price point, and making its debut in the Redmi Note Pro line, we feel like we should mention that you do still need to have your expectations in check. Not all 120 Hz AMOLEDs are the same, and this one is definitely lower-end than most we’ve seen to date – granted, those were all inside more expensive devices.

It gets brighter than LCDs at similar price points do, which is a nice plus but not by a lot. You’ll still feel the difference on a bright sunny day, compared to, say, the Redmi Note 9 Pro or the Poco X3 NFC, but the more sun directly hits the display the harder it is to make out. It’s not outright impossible to view under any conditions, but not as easy as higher-end panels either. We’re not bashing it, we’re just pointing out that your expectations for its quality need to be aligned to the price the Redmi Note 10 Pro goes for.

In that frame of reference, this is a very good screen, better than what was on any of the phone’s predecessors, and better than its LCD-endowed competitors. It’s not all rosy, though – in lower brightness scenarios there’s some rainbowing going on over gray backgrounds, and in pitch darkness, at its lowest brightness setting, it’s reasonably dim, but could definitely have been dimmer – and this is where those LCD competitors take the cake, going much darker.

Reading at night at the lowest brightness isn’t retina-searing, but it could have been more comfortable. We’ve seen this issue a lot in even more expensive AMOLEDs (though not the top-of-the-line ones), so we’re putting it down (speculatively) to the price. If you’re one of those people who don’t care for eye health and constantly blast full brightness stuff at yourself no matter what the ambient light conditions are, you will obviously not care about this.

The auto-brightness curve is very good overall, it just seems to be a tad conservative in pushing itself to the max. The only manual adjustments we had to make during our time with the Redmi Note 10 Pro were outside on cloudy days when we felt we needed slightly more brightness than was offered automatically. Otherwise, we’re still happy to see most companies reaching a very good level with their auto-brightness curves in 2020 and 2021, and this is one trend we hope continues. Although we aren’t entirely sure, in use it definitely seemed like the Redmi Note 10 Pro has an additional ambient light sensor on the rear – it always responds to light changes from that side almost instantly, which is a huge plus in our book, especially at this price.

You get the usual settings for screen color calibration, and as always we stuck with the Auto setting for the color scheme since this should adjust the color temperature based on the ambient lighting. This is basically what Apple’s True Tone does, except on this phone it’s either very subtle at changing the colors or doesn’t do much at all, since we haven’t noticed any obvious changes even when going through different ambient lighting strengths and color temperatures.

We also picked the Warm color tone because the default one in the Auto state comes with whites that are much too blue. If you want more accurate colors, that can be achieved too – go with Standard mode and you’ll get sRGB targeted very well indeed.

Always-On Display

Because this is an AMOLED panel, as you’d expect there’s Always-on Display functionality. However, it’s not actually always-on, instead, it’s more akin to what OnePlus used to do with its Ambient Display feature. The always-on display settings, including all the customization options, are the same as you’d find on all Xiaomi/Redmi/Poco devices, albeit missing the Super Wallpapers. The rest of the options are there, you can customize the AOD very extensively.

And yet, all of that is kind of pointless since it will only be shown for a few seconds when you pick the phone up and a few seconds after the screen locks. That’s it. Strangely enough, the relevant menu seems to have been created in a way that allows more options (including, we assume, a truly always-on setting), but you can only ‘pick’ one thing: “For 10 seconds after tapping”.

We’re definitely intrigued by this state of affairs. Perhaps the panel used here isn’t particularly good with battery savings while it’s in the AOD state, or something like that. Regardless of the reason for it, you in effect do not have a truly always-on display, nor do you get even the simplest of notification LED lights. This, to put it mildly, is frustrating. If you don’t have a smartwatch or band to show you notifications, you’ll always have to either pick up the phone or tap the screen to figure out if there’s anything you missed.

Refresh rate

The 120 Hz refresh rate definitely helps with the perception of smoothness on this phone, and it feels much more smooth than the Redmi Note 9 Pro for example, despite the chipset not being a huge upgrade over that one. We’ll go into more detail about smoothness in the Performance section of this review.

While it’s very much welcome and helpful, this 120 Hz refresh rate doesn’t feel exactly like it would on a higher-end phone, and we’re assuming that has to do with the SoC. There are stutters in scrolling here and there, and while those happen even on the Redmi Note 9 Pro, there’s a bigger contrast here between the times everything goes smoothly and those random times when it doesn’t.

We’re not complaining, though, we’d much rather have this sort of 120 Hz situation than have to deal with a 60 Hz panel, for sure. The 120 Hz setting is sort of dynamic, in that it’s always 120 aside from when the screen is showing a static image when it reverts to 60 Hz – and then jumps right back up to 120 Hz the second something changes on the display (or you interact with it).

This is a far cry from many other systems that are much more dynamic in switching between a lot of refresh rate steps, but that only makes sense from a battery-saving perspective, and as you’ll see in the appropriate section, the Redmi Note 10 Pro has great battery life even with this rudimentary system – so we’re not going to knock it for not going with something more dynamic.

Reading Mode

The blue light filter is present and does its job very adequately, although unlike on other phones it seems to have no impact on brightness. So the aforementioned issue regarding minimum brightness being right on the verge of what we’d consider too bright for use in pitch black environments can’t be helped by using the Reading Mode, which is what Xiaomi calls its blue light filter.

As in other MIUI 12.5 implementations, Reading Mode here is the most comprehensive we’ve ever seen, with a Classic setting that does what you’re probably used to, but also an additional Paper option that can give your screen a paper-like look (hence the name).

You can adjust the texture with a slider, as well as the color temperature for both modes, and if you go with Paper you can even pick between using full colors, light colors, or black and white. Seriously, MIUI currently has the best blue light filter out there, and naturally, you can also schedule it (either to turn on and off automatically at sunset/sunrise or using custom times).

Updates

The Redmi Note 10 Pro runs the latest MIUI 12.5 based on Android 11. Our review unit, intended for the European market, got two MIUI 12.5 updates so far, and the first one was definitely not the most stable – so we’re happy the second one arrived a few weeks later and fixed most of the issues introduced by its predecessor. Performance now feels on par with what it was under MIUI 12, which was definitely not the case after the first MIUI 12.5 update.

This brings us to our continuing niggles with Xiaomi’s update cadence and quality control. The latter seems to vary based on how much a device costs – we’ve never had an experience where a top of the line Mi handset got much buggier after an update, for example, but that has happened a few times with the ‘flagship killers’ and a lot with the lower-end devices like this Redmi Note 10 Pro.

In fact, it feels like the least amount of quality control goes into updates for Redmi branded phones (outside of China), with Poco branded devices being treated slightly better, Mi mid-rangers and ‘flagship killers’ a bit better than that, and then at the top the Mi flagships having QC worthy of their prices.

However, one thing all of Xiaomi’s devices have in common is how they only receive updates once every few months, generally, with some exceptions – after a lot of online backlash regarding the first MIUI 12.5 update for the Redmi Note 10 Pro, the company issued the second one less than two months after it, which, believe it or not, is huge progress.

But this is not the usual state of things, and when considering buying a Xiaomi/Redmi/Poco device you still need to keep this in mind. Updates are few and far between, the cheaper the device is the more likely it is that a new update will introduce a whole slew of bugs (or just general slowness, or both), and then you have to wait weeks (if you’re lucky) or months (normally) for a new update to fix all of those issues.

This is far from ideal, we’d say, but perhaps inevitable given how most of the company’s devices, regardless of brand, undercut the competition in price (and significantly in most cases). Maybe that’s the price to pay for getting a cheaper phone? That, and the incessant ads we keep hearing about – that are apparently very prevalent in some markets.

We still can’t talk about ads because as usual we have a European retail unit, and on these, ads are constrained to showing inside the built-in Xiaomi apps, most of which we don’t use. The most annoying ads for us are those that show up after you install an app, but they can easily be turned off forever by hitting the gear icon in the top right and turning off “Show recommendations”.

Because the update cadence isn’t great, with a Xiaomi/Redmi/Poco phone you’re almost guaranteed to never be on the current security patch level either. Case in point: the Redmi Note 10 Pro is now on the June 2021 security patch level. We’re not trying to make a huge deal out of this (especially at this price point), but think you should know very well what to expect.

MIUI 12.5

If we could rant just a bit more about MIUI 12.5 as seen on the Redmi Note 10 Pro, we’d also mention the fact that you can only ever see a maximum of three notification icons in the status bar, despite there being room for at least a few more. If you get additional notifications, you’ll still have three icons on the status bar and then a three-dot icon to their right, signifying that there’s more stuff waiting for you in the notification pane.

We’ve seen this before, randomly, on some other Xiaomi phones, and this behavior still doesn’t make any sense. Fun fact: it all started when notches were a thing, and thus in some cases, there actually wasn’t enough space to show more than three icons. It seems like someone in Xiaomi’s software development team simply forgot about this, and so we see it in the Redmi Note 10 Pro despite it having only a tiny hole-punch for the camera in the middle.

Last but not least, whenever you make a YouTube video full screen, the brightness of the screen “magically” increases a lot. Only when the video is full screen. And we did look – there’s no way to turn this off.

We’ve seen similar “Video enhancer” features in a lot of skins over the years, but they were all either opt-in or at least opt-out. You simply get no such option here, so you’re stuck with this. Truth be told, we didn’t particularly mind it, but you might, so we thought you should know what to expect.

Aside from these niggles, we’d still call MIUI 12.5 one of our favorite Android skins at the moment. Far from the favorite, mind you, but on the list nevertheless. Most of that has to do with the reworked animations, the smoothness of the full-screen gestures, and the way vibrations are used throughout the UI to enhance the user experience. Unfortunately, those vibrations are toned down in the Redmi Note 10 Pro, both in literal intensity because the vibration motor isn’t great, and it also feels like there are fewer of these gentle ‘nudges’ than we felt on, say, the Mi 11.

The other two plus points for MIUI 12.5 do still stand, though. Animations feel ‘organic’, for lack of a better word, and few other skins get close to this feeling – perhaps Google’s “stock” Android, but it’s still not the same. That said, on a phone with a Snapdragon 7-series chipset these are never fully stutter-free, so the feeling of fluidity doesn’t exist to the same extent as on the Mi 11 we’ve recently long-term reviewed.

Performance, smoothness

The Redmi Note 10 Pro performs well for its price point. Compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro we long-term reviewed last year, it feels faster in use even though on paper, the difference between the chipsets used seems minor. This, however, is one of those cases where specs don’t tell the whole story – or maybe they do, but a 5% improvement feels higher subjectively the lower your baseline is.

We’ve seen a similar thing in the Poco X3 NFC, which uses the same Snapdragon 732G as the Redmi Note 10 Pro, so we’re pretty sure we’re not just imagining things. Like the Poco X3, the Redmi Note 10 Pro also feels subjectively smoother than the Redmi Note 9 Pro in every interaction. Not by much, mind you, but it’s still an improvement that was obvious to us while we were using it.

All this said, the SoC here is decidedly mid-range, despite what the 7-series designation might imply in relation to the high-end 8-series – that’s a neat marketing trick Qualcomm pulled, by the way. Because it’s mid-range, and not “almost premium” as the naming might imply, you get what you pay for. This isn’t a knock on the Redmi Note 10 Pro, it’s just a fact. Then again, it also depends what you compare to – Samsung, for example, seems to always have a more expensive offering available running on similar if not inferior silicon, so compared to one such device, you’re actually getting more value with the Redmi.

It’s one of the fastest-feeling and smoothest-feeling phones with a 4G 7-series Qualcomm chip (the 5G 7-series SoCs also have better CPUs and GPUs which is why we’re excluding them), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stutter from time to time, or that it’s anywhere near as fast-feeling as even a flagship from last year (or two years ago). You just can’t get there with a Snapdragon 732G.

What you do get, on the other hand, is perfectly adequate performance for most day-to-day tasks, if you can handle a general requirement for a teeny tiny bit of patience in everything you do. Things you intend to happen will happen, but never instantly – if you don’t mind waiting a split second, you’re set. Smoothness is okay, while obviously nowhere near perfect. The 120 Hz screen helps with smoothness a lot, even though it feels less smooth in operation than a 120 Hz panel on a flagship.

It is, however, a massive improvement compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s 60 Hz panel. And most of the time, we’d wager a bet that you won’t feel disappointed. Some random stutters do feel shocking, but they aren’t worse than what Samsung’s One UI used to produce on flagship devices a couple of years ago.

Heat hasn’t been a problem throughout our time with the Redmi Note 10 Pro, as in we haven’t felt it overheating (and we’ve used it during a heatwave). That said, note that this reviewer isn’t a gamer, so we can’t speak for sustained performance during games – and how heat might be handled there.

Battery life

Just as it seems like the cheaper a Xiaomi/Redmi/Poco phone is, the less quality control its software updates get, there’s another interesting trend we think we’ve spotted for the company’s products. The cheaper a phone is (up to a point), the better battery life it has. And conversely, the more expensive it is, the less impressive the battery life (although it’s still generally decent even at the high end).

The Redmi Note 10 Pro thus, unsurprisingly, manages to impress. We’d call its battery life incredibly good for this day and age, although we’d probably not go so far as to say it’s outstanding. It is less impressive than what we saw in the Redmi Note 9 Pro last year, for example, and we’re assuming this has to do with the screen – both its high refresh rate (100% of our usage was with the setting at 120 Hz), as well as the fact that it doesn’t seem to be a very efficient AMOLED – going by the fact that you can’t have an actually always-on Always-On Display.

So with this our screen on time numbers for the Redmi Note 10 Pro are about one hour lower than they were for the Redmi Note 9 Pro, with very similar usage. You may take that to be a problem, but here’s the thing – we went from easily hitting 8 hours of SoT with at least 20% battery capacity to spare, to easily hitting 7 hours of SoT with at least 20% capacity to spare. That’s still better than what most flagships can attain, so it’s definitely nothing to scoff at. And as two of the screenshots above can attest, we did manage to go over 8 hours a couple of times, one of those with ample milliamp hours left to spare. But those were exceptions.

While we weren’t mind-blown by the battery life, we were nevertheless impressed, and we think most people will be able to get a full day out of this phone’s battery regardless of how intensively they use it. We never had to resort to a midday top-up, that’s for sure. On the other hand, the battery was never able to last us two days, and we didn’t feel like chancing it and finding out whether it would last for at least a day and a half. It very well might, for a lot of people, depending on specific usage.

Speaking of that, our usage, as usual, involves about 12-16 hours off the charger with mostly Wi-Fi connectivity, about an hour or two on mobile data, Bluetooth always on and connected to headphones and speakers for an hour or so of music playback and an hour or two of calls, and location on with GPS navigation through Waze or Google Maps for around half an hour each day. That’s the context for the numbers you can see in the screenshots above.

Charging isn’t the fastest around, but it’s fast enough for this class of device, taking the battery from zero to 100% takes around 80 minutes. That’s marginally more time than for the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Poco X3 NFC, but it’s still better than what a lot of competitors offer in similarly priced devices (cough… Samsung… cough). Also, if the phone easily lasts you all day and you charge it through the night, the speed is kind of irrelevant. That said, we’d obviously like to see Xiaomi mid-rangers break past 33W in the future.

Camera

One of the Redmi Note 10 Pro’s main differentiating features compared to most of its competitors is its main camera, a 108 MP sensor that’s a first for the Redmi line (although not a first for a Xiaomi mid-ranger, as the first-ever 108 MP camera was seen in the Mi Note 10, which was also not a flagship – though it did sit in a higher price tier than this one).

The huge number obviously draws a lot of attention to itself and implies the production of some good-looking pictures, and also, subtly, that Redmi is now getting (more) serious about cameras – long a sticking point for otherwise amazingly specced handsets for their respective prices.

We’re just going to dive right into samples here, and say it outright: the photos are amazing for a phone that costs this little. The daylight samples have a ton of detail, excellent (yet generally not overdone) dynamic range, low noise levels, and nice contrast and colors. Speaking of the colors, these look “natural” but aren’t actually accurate – something that’s pretty much become the norm in the mobile world recently.

There is some excessive oversharpening in some areas, notably building facades, sometimes, however. Some people might like that, we’d rather it was toned down a little, but this still doesn’t take away from the fact that these are probably the best main camera shots you can get at this price.

Moving over to the ultrawide, this churns out some decent pictures but it can’t match the main sensor. It’s limited by resolution and sheer quality of the optics. You do get some rich detail, nice colors, decent dynamic range, low-ish noise, and good straightening of corners.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro doesn’t have a dedicated telephoto camera (because all manufacturers seem to have collectively decided that’s a “premium” feature now), but there is a 2x toggle in the viewfinder. This produces a cropped and upscaled shot from the main camera, and because of the digital zoom, the images are all rather bad really – soft and lacking in detail.

As usual in long-term reviews we refrained from using the 108 MP mode for the main sensor, as we intend to show how phones behave on their Auto/default modes as much as possible. Also, as usual, we didn’t shoot any macro samples with the dedicated macro camera, because frankly, we can’t wait for phone makers to stop adding sensors just to pad the devices’ backs. Having autofocus on the ultrawide generally makes for much better macro shots than any dedicated 2MP-5MP macro camera could ever hope to take.

Switching over to nighttime now, we need to talk about Auto Night Mode. This is a toggle that can be activated or deactivated in Settings, and when it’s on, if certain ambient lighting conditions are met, the phone will capture an Auto Night Mode shot from Auto mode on the main sensor (this only works for 1x shots, not 2x). It’s not the same thing as a manual Night Mode shot, however – the manually triggered ones have longer exposures, generally by a second or so.

So basically we now have three ways to capture stuff at night – Auto mode with Auto Night Mode off or not triggered, Auto mode with Auto Night Mode on and triggered, and manual Night Mode. This is getting confusing, fast, but our rule of thumb after shooting hundreds of pics with the Redmi Note 10 Pro is this: leave (or turn) Auto Night Mode on. Whenever it triggers it always (yes, every single time) produces a better image than Auto mode would have with Auto Night Mode off.

The downside is that when Auto Night Mode triggers, the capture takes about two seconds, but we don’t think that’s long enough for this to be a real inconvenience most of the time. If you have even more time (and the ability to stay still for an extra second or two), then the manual Night Mode will result in shots with even less noise, a bit more highlight restoration, and slightly better color saturation.

So with all that in mind, here’s our suggestion: at night, when you can, use manual Night Mode, and when you can’t, let Auto Night Mode do its thing if it triggers. If your hands are really shaky, then and only then we’d say stick with Auto and turn Auto Night Mode off. As this phone doesn’t have optical image stabilization on any of its cameras, camera shake can be a real issue with longer exposures.

Overall then the Redmi Note 10 Pro has a great main camera for this price point, one that would’ve probably been made even greater by the addition of OIS. Even so, the daytime shots it produces are great, while at night with a steady hand you can get some good results too. The ultrawide is there for flexibility, but as usual for this price range, its usability during nighttime is limited. If your phone purchasing budget is around what the Redmi Note 10 Pro costs and camera image quality is very important for you, then this is probably the one to get.

Conclusion

According to our stats, the Redmi Note 10 Pro has been immensely popular with you, our readers, ever since it launched. And after using it for a long period of time as our one and only smartphone, we have to say – we get it. There’s a lot to like here.

We don’t long-term review a lot of midrangers, simply because there are gazillions of them out there and we just couldn’t go through a large sample – there isn’t enough time. We blame physics. Jokes aside, we try to look at the most popular midrangers each year, and recently those have all been made by Xiaomi – under either the Redmi or Poco brands. That in itself tells you something about where the strengths of the company lie, and it hasn’t disappointed at all with the Redmi Note 10 Pro.

As we said in the Introduction, this phone has two features that make it stand out from a sea of similar-looking and similarly priced devices on the market: its screen and its main camera. Both, as it turns out, deliver on the hype.

While the display isn’t on par, quality-wise, with panels we’ve seen in much more expensive devices, the sheer fact that Xiaomi was able to cram a 120 Hz AMOLED inside a Redmi Note is something to be celebrated. And it does get pretty close to the top ones out there, mind you. Brightness is lower but still adequate (and higher than any LCD on any previous Redmi or current competing handset), while the high refresh rate helps a lot with the feeling of smoothness, even if it does seem to take a small toll on battery life (more on that in a bit).

The main camera is simply outstanding for this price range, although it would have been made even more so by the addition of OIS. Maybe next year? Still, even so daytime shots come out very good, and at night you’ll have no issues if you have time for (Auto) Night Mode to do its thing and your hands aren’t too shaky. There’s also an ultrawide which adds framing flexibility during the day, though unsurprisingly it’s not very useful at night (that’s kind of the norm at this price point).

Battery life is great, if not amazing. As we said before the screen is probably to blame, but we’ll take this screen with this battery life over the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s 60 Hz LCD panel with its marginally better endurance every day. Performance is better than in the Redmi Note 9 Pro, although the improvement isn’t night and day. Smoothness also appears slightly better, aided by the 120 Hz refresh rate.

While we would have enjoyed a bigger improvement, we understand that price constraints were involved. There’s also the fact that Qualcomm seems to have given up completely on developing new, better performing 4G chipsets, so we’re left with either the Snapdragon 732G in the Redmi Note 10 Pro or the rebadged 855 that is the 860 in the Poco X3 Pro. That one does perform better, by the way, but you’re sacrificing the Redmi’s main selling points if you go for that Poco – both the screen and the main camera are inferior.

The Note 10 Pro runs the latest MIUI 12.5 based on Android 11, and after a first update that introduced a fair share of lag issues, a subsequent one thankfully fixed them – albeit many weeks later, after a pretty big online backlash. This is life with MIUI – updates come slowly, and you’re almost guaranteed to never be on the current security patch level. It definitely feels like Redmi branded phones suffer from much more lenient software quality control than we see for the Mi branded flagships, with Poco devices somewhere in between.

This is the state of things, and while we are hoping for improvements in the future, you shouldn’t dream of those in making a purchasing decision. We assume some things have to give in order to reach such aggressive price points in relation to specs on offer, and this could be one of those things. It’s important to keep in mind so that you aren’t disappointed.

Otherwise, MIUI 12.5 itself is easy enough to use, although still has some distinct idiosyncrasies, its animations are among the best out there, and you also have extensive theming options at your disposal right through the Settings app (that connects you directly to the theme store).

Performance is good enough for the price, while the vibration motor being decidedly average means some of the vibrations used throughout the UI won’t feel as ‘physical’ as on other, more expensive Mi phones. They’re not bad and still welcome to have, they just don’t pack the same oomph. On the other hand, the stereo speakers are very good – not the best, but they get the job done in all but the noisiest conditions.

The fingerprint sensor has been an issue for this reviewer, but do note that this has been true for all recent side-mounted scanners, and it seems like other people don’t have the same problems. The proximity sensor is definitely not the best, but it’s far from the worst either – it’s just slower than you might expect, but does work all the time. Perhaps the main issue we’ve had with the Redmi Note 10 Pro was the bad Wi-Fi connectivity, which seems to be more spotty than for most other phones. If you have a great Wi-Fi signal, though, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro is a very worthy successor to the Redmi Note 9 Pro, and an intriguing alternative to the Poco X3 Pro. After having used it for an extended period of time, we also see why Xiaomi thought about discontinuing the Poco X3 NFC – the Redmi has the same SoC, a similar price, but a much better screen and main camera. As we said above, if you value sheer performance above all else (and are on this budget), go for the Poco X3 Pro. If you value the screen quality and camera image quality more, then the Redmi Note 10 Pro is the one for you.

Few phones at any price point have ever offered so much value for money. Xiaomi has always been known for this, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro, just proves that the company continues to be the king of value.

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