Technophile

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max review: Xiaomi is turning the market on its head again

Mala Bhargava | Updated on March 18, 2021

It offers top-end features in the budget market — and that includes a 108MP camera

A smartphone with a 108-megapixel camera and a high-end AMOLED display under ₹20,000 would have been unthinkable just a short while ago. But Xiaomi is a past-master at surprising its customers with products they believed they could only get for unaffordable sums of money — and they’ve done it again with the recent Redmi Note 10 series. There are three devices in this line-up: Redmi Note 10, Note 10 Pro and Note 10 Pro Max. The two Pro phones are similar except for the megapixel count on the Max and a few of the specs, while the plain Note 10 is the budget-ier of the lot. Watch out for variants. Each of the three phones has two or three options based on RAM and storage so that the entire range of eight phones starts at ₹11,999 and ends at ₹21,999. How’s that for choice? To give the colours their proper names, they are Dark Night, Vintage Bronze and Glacial Blue.

Love spelt backwards

To take up the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, Xiaomi uses what they call an EVOL design. I’m afraid that means very little, except that it’s love spelt backwards, but it’s a nice enough looking phone. In fact, I haven’t heard a murmur of discontent about the design. I have a grey-black colour variant to check out, but their signature colour is a matte bronze that can be considered gaudy and shiny or elegant and attention-grabbing, depending on your perspective. I find the Dark Knight version one of the best implementations of black, and it looks pretty premium. The back panel has that way of twisting light that all phone makers seem to have suddenly discovered. It looks good, especially in the glass. There’s a small Redmi logo on one side and a big unusual camera assembly boxed up top left. It’s a two-step raised platform with one of the cameras encased in a steely housing. I rather like the look of it. True, the camera bump sticks out and isn’t going to rest flat without a case, but that’s true of all phones now and a trade-off for a capable camera. You can do without a case though there’s one provided. Finger smudges are there, but not too obnoxious even on the glossy version I am checking out.

The phone is on the heavy side at 209gms, but that too is a trade-off for a 5020mAh fast-charging battery. You get a 33W charger in-box. If you’re sensitive to large phones, be warned that this device isn’t the slim and light kind but firmly in the ‘solid’ category. Drop on foot for serious damage to both foot and phone.

Super screen

 

On the front, protected by Gorilla Glass 5, is this phone’s first big highlight: a 6.67inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display. Only recently have AMOLED screens started to make it down to budget phones, but in this case, Xiaomi hasn’t stopped at that. This is a 120Hz refresh rate screen which means it’s fast and fluid to use. It doesn’t do its own background adapting, but you can drop the refresh rate to 60Hz and extend battery life and resources if you like. Everything you do on the screen doesn’t actually leverage the 120Hz rate, so why not. The display also has a claimed 1200nits of brightness possible, so if you’re outdoors a lot, you’ll find this a big convenience. The display is nice and vivid and has all the support you need for watching movies. An especially tiny dot interrupts the display top centre and that has a little ring around it that seems to have distracted some reviewers. It didn’t bother me.

The Max runs on Qualcomm’s 8nm Snapdragon 732G. This is the ‘hmmm, ok’ part of the mix. But then, any more and the price would go up. This processor is great for most tasks and even some solid gaming. There’s either 6 or 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 64 or 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage.

There’s a headphone jack on the top edge of the phone, and stereo speakers, for those who use their phones to consume lots of content. There are stereo speakers, a minor detail you often won’t find on far more expensive phones. Xiaomi retains the IR blaster and has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button. And it even has a dedicated slot for a memory card.

Shot in 108MP

 

The primary camera on this phone really shows how far we’ve come with budget phones. Amazingly, one gets a 108MP sensor, and that’s so soon after 108MP cameras have come into existence in the first place. This time, the primary camera isn’t just there for the megapixel count and isn’t put together as a gimmick. It works really well. In good light, the primary camera takes 108MP images if you choose, and you can zoom in or crop to see details that are captured well. In regular Photo mode, which is what will be used most of all, the images are pixel-binned to 12MP. Again, these are very nice though the colours are often either strong. Indoors the camera does pretty well also, even getting around not blowing up light sources the way others do. The other lenses are an 8MP ultra-wide, a 5MP macro (more than or equal to many flagships) and a 2MP depth sensor. Low light photos are also pretty good and look wonderfully natural. The camera app is replete with modes, including video ones. Overall, it’s an amazing camera for a budget phone.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max doesn’t have 5G support, but I can’t hold that against it. At this price, one can’t expect everything desirable to be thrown in, though if customers do hope that, it’s only Xiaomi’s own fault for giving so much.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is a phone that is going to be easy to recommend. If there’s immediate competition, it’s right there within the Redmi Note 10 series.

Price: ₹19,999 (₹18,999 for 6GB 64GB ₹21,999 for 8GB 128GB)

Pros: Great display, excellent camera, smooth performance, plenty of spec options, great price, premium design

Cons: Slightly smudge prone on the glossy variant, cameras stick out without a case, some preloaded apps as usual

Published on March 18, 2021

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