Mi 10: Xiaomi enters the big league in style

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on May 27, 2020

Curved Amoled display, 108MP camera, 5G — this snazzy super-premium flagship is a specs monster

Product: Mi 10 5G

Price: ₹49,990

Xiaomi is popular for its budget and mid-range smartphones. In these segments, the Chinese gadget giant enjoys extreme popularity in India, where its Redmi smartphones have changed the gadget game like never before.

Mi 10 5G, the latest from the Xiaomi stable, is in a way a break from the past given the way it is priced, promoted and packed with features. Clearly, with the Mi 10 5G, Xiaomi wants to disrupt the flagship landscape in India and, considering the way it has played the game in the budget and mid-range segment with the Redmi series and the Pocco, which was later spun off into a standalone arm, the Mi 10 comes pre-loaded with high expectations.

The timing of the launch of the Mi 10 5G is a little tricky. The pandemic has forced companies to shut operations and trim product portfolios, but Xiaomi has decided to place its bets boldly and launched the Mi10 5G in India, which is relatively well off when it comes to casualties of the coronavirus. Still, considering that most consumers are forced to cut spending courtesy the pay cuts and job losses, Xiaomi’s latest move becomes an extremely bold one.

So, will the risk get the gadget-maker a decent dividend? Let’s take a look.

Great body and display

The Mi 10 5G looks elegant. It is compact and easy to handle. The phone comes in two colour variants: Twilight Grey (which we have for review) and Coral Green. The grey gives the phone a luxurious character, especially when it is joined by a curved Amoled display. Weighing a little over 208 grams, the phone feels a little heavy while being handled with a single hand, but to be fair we kind of like such phones as they don’t slip away easily. The Mi 10 is 162.58 mm long and 74.8 mm wide.

The 6.67-inch TrueColour display is delightfully elegant. Images and videos are displayed crisply. The display’s 19.5:9 aspect ratio aided by a 92.4 per cent screen-to-body ratio helps images and videos look normal, fitting and fine-tuned. The display has a resolution of full-HD Plus (2340x1080) and supports the latest video technologies such as HDR10+, which makes streaming the latest ultra HD videos a great experience on the Mi 10.

There is no delay in displaying extremely high-quality images or videos, thanks to a 90Hz RealityFlow refresh rate. The 90Hz is good enough for a phone of this size and specs. But, at this price, it could have been 120Hz (like in the case of Mi’s recently launched mid-range cousin, Pocco X2). Refresh rates may not be a big deal for many but they matter when it comes to delivering nuanced display performance, especially while executing transitions and motions. This faculty is tested a lot while playing games. The Mi 10 has an impressive touch response rate. The panel is soft on your fingers and it supports multi-touch.

The Mi 10 5G has a 3D glass front and back, powered by the Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Both sides feel strong and do not attract scratches. But the front panel attracts finger marks abundantly, forcing you to search for the cleaning cloth now and then. That said, the panels give enough grip and the phone is not very slippery. It can withstand a good fall and is resistant to water sprays and sweat. It checks dust pretty efficiently, too. The control buttons are on the right ridge and they are easy to reach. The in-display fingerprint scanner takes a second to respond and this helps check accidental unlocking, which has been a bane of many such phones. The fingerprint scanner sports a nice set of animations users can choose from and this feature just adds to the overall charm of the user interface.

Processor power

The Mi 10 5G is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 chipset with eight Kryo 585 cores. The Snapdragon 865 powers a clutch of the latest premium phones, such as the Realme X50 Pro, Motorola Edge Plus and the Vivo iQOO3. Extremely energy-efficient, it supports complex artificial intelligence functions, especially the machine’s interactions with virtual assistants, etc. The Mi 10 supports 5G and offers a set of AI functions and the 865 offers great assistance by supporting such complex exchanges. Obviously, the result is quite apparent. The Mi 10 is extremely energy efficient and aided with an 8GB RAM, the machine delivers a flawless performance.

The Mi 10 comes with 128GB or 256GB ROM (Universal Flash Storage, or UFS 3.0) and said to sport a sophisticated cooling system, LiquidCool 2.0, which is an advanced cooling system with a large vapour chamber and multi-layer graphite and graphene stacks that dissipate heat to ensure sustained peak performance. But our experience shows the machine emits a good amount of heat while pushed to perform heavy-duty tasks such as high-quality video shooting and hi-fi gaming.

That said, thanks to the processor and the RAM, the Mi 10 can easily be billed as a multi-tasking monster. Be it data processing, content editing (audio and video), high definition playback, video conferencing or recording, the machine is always ready and goes about its business without any lags or glitches. Since the Mi 10 5G supports NFC, data sharing is a hassle-free affair; it helps in contactless payments and such, which comes handy during these days of social distancing.

Camera for the pro

The Mi 10 comes with a massive 108 MP rear camera set up. The four-camera apparatus also features a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens with an impressive and extremely useful 123-degree field of view (FOV). There are a 2MP macro lens and 2MP depth sensor for beautiful bouquet effects. The 108 MP shooter does a good job even though, as you would have guessed by now, the original effect will be much lower than the claimed 108 MP since the photos undergo oversampling (4*1), which means the device uses a higher resolution image sensor than the resolution of the camera’s output image.

The scaling is done inside the camera so that the image comes out bigger even though the display resolution remains much lower. In the Mi 10, the main shooter has a 1/1.33-inch sensor with optical stabilisation and an aperture of f/1.7.

Still, the images come out in pro quality. The basic photo mode is a work in progress but the AI mode can give you great shots, especially landscape shots. That said, the best part of the camera, according to this reviewer, is the night shots. The Mi 10 5G gives you the best night shots in the market. Cityscapes, landscapes, rooms, buildings, the Mi 10 captures them beautifully in darkness. This feature alone makes it a value-for-money proposition, especially for news photographers and short filmmakers.

Another impressive feature from the Mi 10 5G is the 8K video recording capability. Inarguably, this is the best in the range. There is a cap on the duration of the 8K videos you can shoot with the Mi 10 — six minutes; you’ve to stop and restart the camera app to continue shooting. Still, this is a great feature.

That said, the device can shoot in 4K, Full HD and HD. The AI mode doesn’t make a big difference in the video department, though — most effects are of poor quality. However, the 4K video that Mi 10 captures is of professional quality and can be used for proper filmmaking, thanks to the lenses and impeccable image stabilisation. The quality of the 4K video (60 fps) can match that of most professional DSLR cameras (the midrange ones). The front camera also allows for a portrait mode which is a good plus. The dedicated macro lens in the rear camera can help you take clear close-up shots. The RAW mode helps users take photos under challenging lighting conditions and process it later.

The selfie camera with a 20 MP sensor is equally good. Selfies come up crisp and well-saturated in daylight and the shooter does a commendable job in dark environs as well. The selfie camera also sports AI-backed effects and most of them are nice to try. The selfie videos are also nice and they come out in broadcast quality.

Good audio, great battery

The Mi 10 gives a good audio performance. You can stream audio and enjoy the experience as the stereo (effect) speakers deliver the audio with impressive clarity and depth. That said, in the Mi 10, Xiaomi has got rid of the 3.5 mm jack for plugging earphones. You should use wireless audio accessories. Not an issue, given the extreme popularity of wireless headphones and earbuds. We paired the Mi 10 with Xiaomi’s recently launched True Wireless Mi 2 earphones and the effect was quite telling. The Mi 10 also offers great call quality. Incoming audio is rendered without blemishes and the experience does not hurt your ears at all.

The Mi 10 sports a 4780 mAh high capacity battery and it lasts long enough for an average user. In our experience, it lasts two days if you are using it mostly for calls and basic surfing and social media uses. If you are using it for gaming, the battery lasts a good day and a little more. The Mi 10 supports 30W wired charging and what Xiaomi claims is the world’s fastest 30W wireless charging. It also supports 10W reverse wireless charge, allowing users to charge other devices on the go. The Mi 10 runs on Android 10, sporting the MIUI 11 interface. The device comes with a 30W fast charger and a back case.

To sum up, the Mi 10 5G is a specs monster given the price, and can rub shoulders with most of its rivals including the OnePlus 8 and better many of them in departments such as night photography, video (thanks to the 8K), energy efficiency and looks. Clearly, Xiaomi has made a spectacular entry into the flagships market and the disruption the Mi 10 is going to cause here would be very interesting to watch.

Pros: Great, compact design; excellent curvy Amoled display, long battery life, value-for-money camera performance, 8K video shoot option; fast wireless charging

Cons: Heating issues while playing games and shooting high-quality video, especially; screen gathers finger marks; work-in-progress camera app

Published on May 27, 2020

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