It’s been three whole years since Xiaomi launched its Redmi K20 series and did what it does best - surprised everyone with the sheer ratio of price to performance. Everybody else catches up quickly, so it’s difficult to repeat that trick, but now they’re having a go at it with the new K50i 5G, a high performance smartphone that starts out at just Rs 25,999. 

As is the norm these days, the K50i comes out of a box that contrasts with those that package the most expensive phones. There’s a big huge charger in the box, which has the specs proudly displayed, specially Dimensity 8100, the MediaTek processor that give it those performance chops. 

The phone has a flat design and would have been really weighty had it been made with glass on the back. Instead, it has a glitzy polycarbonate panel and is not too heavy to hold. It is also not terribly broad, so one’s hand grips it quite well. We received a silvery coloured variant, which looked quite nice on the whole. You might still want to use a case to prevent the polycarbonate from getting scratched. Luckily, it stays nicely clean and shows no fingerprint smudges and other unsavoury details. 

Fast touch

The display of the K50i gives something and takes away something to able to come in at an affordable price point. It’s a 6.6” FHD+ LCD Dot Display, which is to say it’s not an OLED. This is obvious even before you set up the phone and see the colours on it, because of that slight colour shift at different angles. Colours turn out nice enough, but the blacks (and, therefore, the contrast) aren’t as deep as with an OLED screen. Since affordable phones are beginning to offer that, one has become a little spoilt. If you’re alright with an LCD though, you’ll find you’re dealing with a higher-than-ever refresh rate of 144Hz. Also, a touch sampling rate of 270Hz. This is important on a phone that gamers are expected to take to. The 2460 x 1080 display supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It has a brightness of 650 Nits. 

The display has slightly thicker bezels than one is used to these days, but nothing serious. The lower bezel is thicker for components, but users do complain about the lack of symmetry when this happens. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. 

Bordering the display top and bottom are two rather loud stereo speakers. These support Dolby Atmos and hi-res music. There’s definitely an atypical depth to them and they sound good, which is nice for movie watchers and gamers. There’s also the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is great because users have absolutely not forgiven companies for removing it from devices. 

Dimensity 8100 scores

The chip running the show on the K50i is MediaTek’s 8100, which is roughly equivalent to the Snapdragon 888, which was and more or less still is the one powering the top-end performers. There are 6GB and 8GB LPDDR5 RAM variants, with 128GB and 256GB UFS3.1 storage models. The phone scores a 822,274 in performance mode without heating up because there’s an effective cooling system as well as temperature management. Gamers have a good time playing the most intensive games on it without complaining of frame drops. 

The K50i supports 12 5G bands. It uses the Wifi 6 standard and unusually, Bluetooth 5.3. The popular IR blaster is retained on the phone. 

The software on the K50i is, of course, Android 12 (with promised upgrades for two years, plus three years of security patches), with Xiaomi’s famous MIUI - in version 13 currently. Now, this is a busy, customised interface that some love and some just don’t. Happily, it does not have the worst of the lot of unwanted apps, and for the most part has apps that one would opt to use including Spotify, Netflix, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are no annoying and stubborn notifications bombarding the user. 

A hefty 5080mAh battery keeps this device going. 67W charging takes about an hour, with the speed best using its own charger. 

The camera set-up is mostly mid-range and familiar. There’s a primary 64MP Samsung sensor with an 8MP ultra wide and the usual 2MP macro. The camera app is full featured. Colour accuracy and details are quite good in daylight with the main camera. Night photos are okay, but sometimes overly sharp.. The cameras don’t have OIS. Recording in 4K with 30fps is supported. The front camera is a 16MP and does fine. 

The Redmi K50i costs Rs 25,999 and Rs 28,999, but if you can catch introductory offers, the price goes down to Rs 20,999 and Rs 23,999.