Redmi K20 Pro First Impressions: A Masterpiece of Xiaomi’s Perseverance
In its homeland of China, Xiaomi caters to a wide spectrum of users at different price points with its diverse range of electronics and lifestyle products. Internationally, Xiaomi has made its mark by economizing users’ smartphones purchases. Until recently, Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi was mostly committed to budget offerings, but that changed after the company announced its plans to give Redmi its own identity. With this liberty, Redmi ventured out of its traditional target segment and into the premium category with the Redmi K20 Pro and its lower-powered sibling the Redmi K20. Redmi projects the K20 twins as premium flagships intended to kill traditional flagship-killers.
For Xiaomi, India holds a special place being one of its earliest markets outside of China. The company’s endeavors to woo price-conscious Indian buyers have fueled the rate of smartphone adoption in the country over the last five years, making India the second biggest market for smartphones. While India is typically dominated by the mid-range, the premium market has grown thanks to brands like OnePlus. Xiaomi is also a catalyst in this phenomenon and its hottest launch last year was certainly the POCO F1. While we can’t say whether a POCO F2 is in the works, Xiaomi is striving to maintain its winning spree with the Redmi K20 Pro. The Pro along with the standard Redmi K20 just arrived in India with bombshell pricing, charismatic looks, promising camera setups, and more.
The Redmi K20 Pro doesn’t require any affiliations to prove that it’s a flagship, even though it is placed far below on the price chart, definitely benefiting the consumer. Unlike the POCO F1, which was crudely stocked with the best specifications but lagging in aesthetics, the K20 Pro hits off as a stunning device – not just visually but also in terms of the interface’s fluidity from the moment you pick it up in the hand.
We have the 8GB/256GB Redmi K20 Pro, which was sent to us a few days in advance by Xiaomi India. Here are my initial impressions of the new flagship killer in town.
Redmi K20 Pro Specifications
|Specifications||Redmi K20 Pro|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Fingerprint Sensor||Optical In-display|
|Android Version||MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie|
|Colors||Flame Red, Glacier Blue, Carbon Fiber Black|
The design of the Redmi K20 Pro incites mystery and fascination equally. From the moment I got hold of the smartphone, I’ve had the curiosity to determine how Xiaomi managed to wrap such a stimulating design under covering glass on the back. While most competitors have settled with either shiny glass-coated designs or 2D gradients, Xiaomi has employed a 3D pattern that shifts shape as the angle of light falling on it changes. The flagship comes in three intriguing colors that are called Flame Red, Glacier Blue, — both of which come with the shape-shifting pattern — and Carbon Fiber Black, which feels like the perfect iteration to the Armoured Edition of the POCO F1.
Xiaomi is using a polarizing trick on the back along with 6 different translucent layers of glass and the 3D pattern is only visible when there’s a direct source of light beaming over it. When there’s ample light but no source projecting direct light on the smartphone, the colors on the back diffuse inward towards the darker central part. The frame which surrounds the Redmi K20 Pro is made of metal and that is something we most commonly see on other devices with a glass sandwich construction. Further, the smartphone uses a 3D curved glass on the back, and this makes it easier to hold the smartphone. I’d still recommend using a case with the device since there’s a chance that the glass on top of this beautiful 3D design will get scuffed due to use or ruined due to an unexpected fall.
The Redmi K20 Pro comes with triple cameras on the back. In addition to the 48MP primary sensor, the smartphone gets an 8MP telephoto lens and a 13MP wide-angle camera. Unlike the Xiaomi Mi 9 which features all three cameras in a single enclosure, the Redmi flagship has a different approach to the camera design. Here, the primary sensor is separated from the secondary and the tertiary sensors. Meanwhile, the flash is placed under the camera module but is also protected under the glass.
Turning over to the front, you see a gorgeous 6.39-inch notchless AMOLED display on the Redmi K20 Pro. This display has a resolution of Full HD+ and the absence of a notch affords a screen-to-body ratio of roughly 92%. In the past, Xiaomi has experimented with a proper slider design with premium Mi MIX 3 (our review), but with the evolving trends, the company is veering into the pop-up selfie camera realm; its first foray into this design being the new Redmi K20 and the K20 Pro.
While many others have taken this route since last year, Xiaomi’s pop-up camera comes with an interesting addition: LED lights on the sides of the camera casing. These lights turn on every time the pop-up camera is elevated or retracted into the body. You can also choose from among different sounds and visual effects to complement these lights, which otherwise cannot be turned off. On the upper surface of this elevating camera, there’s a ring-shaped outlet which lets some of the light out, acting as an indicator for notifications.
On the right side of the smartphone, you’ll find the power button and the volume rocker while the left side is left blank. The bottom side of the frame features the dual SIM card slot, the USB Type-C port, primary microphone, and a primary speaker. On the top, you’ll find the secondary microphone, and the good part is that the Redmi K20 Pro still retains the 3.5mm headphone jack, even though Xiaomi dropped it from its flagship series with the Mi 8. Unlike the bevy of Xiaomi and Redmi devices, there’s no infrared blaster on the Redmi K20 Pro.
With the Redmi K20 Pro, Xiaomi exhibits its ability to craft beautiful smartphones. The 3D texture design is certainly something exciting, but if you’re not in for excitement, the Carbon Fiber finish should deliver your expectations of a more premium and classy appearance. Overall, the striking construction is complemented by a balanced and ergonomic design. The K20 Pro feels to be a blend of all good features you may be looking for in a smartphone that sits comfortably in your hand and even gets you head turns and compliments at times.
The 6.39-inch AMOLED display on the Redmi K20 Pro comes with flat edges instead of curves. This is acceptable considering it doesn’t rob you of the premium experience you may be expecting from the smartphone. The display here is aptly bright, crisp, and has a good color output. It appears to respond very well and work fluidly in my limited experience. Being an AMOLED, the display supports always-on display which shows the current time and date, the weather, and the remaining battery. You also get to choose from a host of colorful backgrounds for the display; my favorite out of the lot is the astronaut peeping through a spaceship’s window.
You can also change the colors and the contrast settings for the display as per your delight. MIUI 10 on the Redmi K20 Pro also brings a dark mode to the smartphone which has rolled out to a handful of other Xiaomi and Redmi devices already. Further, the display also supports DC Dimming to prevent eye strain at lower brightness levels.
Since there is no physical fingerprint scanner, there’s an optical under-display fingerprint scanner for biometric authentication. The scanner feels veritably fast and almost on par with the module on the Realme X, which we recently had the opportunity to review. The efficiency of the fingerprint scanner is something I’ll be assessing in my usage of the smartphone over the coming few days.
Overall, the display on the Redmi K20 Pro appears pretty well off for the price. The rich blacks, vibrant colors, and ability to withstand bright external lights are augmented by Xiaomi’s efficient software that lets you customize colors to your preference. Even if you don’t wish to customize the colors, the AMOLED display feels balanced and adequately bright.
The triple rear camera setup on the Redmi K20 Pro is comprised of a 48MP primary sensor with an f/1.75 aperture lens. We see a similar setup on the Redmi K20 but with a minor change. The sensor on the Redmi K20 Pro is a Sony IMX586 while the one on the K20 is a Sony IMX582. Even though both are 48MP sensors, only the former supports 4K video recording at 60fps. Along with the 48MP primary camera, there’s an 8MP telephoto sensor which features an f/2.4 aperture lens that allows zooming at 2X with autofocus, and an ultra-wide-angle 13MP sensor with a 125º field of view but a fixed focus f/2.4 aperture lens. Just like with the assortment of smartphones that comes with the Sony IMX586 sensor, 4-in-1 pixel binning is supported in the Redmi K20 Pro and thus the camera renders 12MP images by default.
The pop-up selfie camera features a 20MP sensor with an f/2.2 lens. This camera assembly, just like the rear camera, is protected under the so-called “sapphire glass,” which prevents frequent drawing in and out of the camera from scuffing the camera cover. The lights on this camera are only for visual appeal and cannot be used for illuminating selfies in low light.
The Camera UI is primarily the same as we would see on any recently launched or updated MIUI smartphone with the addition of a 48MP option to seamlessly jump into the 48MP mode and capture higher resolution images. Besides, there are three dots to choose from among the different cameras. You won’t be able to switch the camera modes by swiping over this batch of dots — it is only possible via tapping each of the dots or by pinching in and out on the viewfinder.
In my view, the Redmi K20 Pro’s rear camera puts up an exciting show of skill and power. I’ve taken a few shots in different modes for this first impressions piece and am intrigued to try out more. Images in the telephoto or the ultra-wide mode may appear darker because of the smaller aperture of the camera, but they boast sufficient quality. Take a look for yourself:
In terms of selfies, however, I can’t dismiss that the K20 pro is bullish on smoothening my face even when the beautification mode is turned off. Besides that, I find selfies to be reasonably detailed in daylight, but you may long for better selfies in low light. Additionally, the app lets you adjust the strength of the blur as well as choose from among several stage lighting effects in the portrait mode even after clicking images.
In terms of videos, the Redmi K20 Pro sports 4K recording at up to 60fps, a killer feature that is not even present on a host of premium flagship smartphones including the Huawei P30 Pro. There’s also support for slow-motion video recording at up to 960fps at up to Full HD resolution, albeit this employs interpolation. Notably, you can record 4K videos with all three sensors on the back. Meanwhile, the front camera supports recording videos at up to Full HD at 30fps.
Lastly, the Redmi K20 Pro gets Level_3 Camera2 API support, so I’m eager to try the Google Camera mod for the smartphone to hopefully supercharge its camera performance – and fortunately rectify the smoothening issue with selfies.
Performance & Battery
The Redmi K20 Pro stands on the back of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 mobile platform to justify its title of “flagship killer 2.0.” The 7nm chipset comes with eight cores, out of which one core is clocked at 2.84GHz, three at 2.42GHz, and four at 1.80GHz. The performance is expected to be neck-and-neck with the OnePlus 7 (our review), which has the same configuration. The Redmi K20 Pro also gets similar RAM and storage options, with an additional 6GB/64GB model to appease those who want the flagship experience but without burning a hole in their pockets.
The one area where the Redmi K20 Pro lags behind the OnePlus 7 is in terms of storage technology. While the OnePlus 7 has a UFS 3.0 storage, the Redmi K20 Pro comes with an older UFS 2.1 drive. That being said, UFS 2.1 is the standard on most recent flagship devices, and there’s not a huge real-world difference with UFS 3.0. Redmi has ensured a really appealing price to justify the decision anyway.
The Snapdragon 855 provides the necessary muscle power for an impressive and lag-free performance. Gaming is bliss on this smartphone and that was evident within the first few minutes of me using it for playing intensive games such as PUBG. Fortnite on the Redmi K20 Pro is limited to 30fps but since Mi 9 got 60fps support a few months ago, we hope support will trickle down to the K20 Pro eventually. Most other games work like a charm on this smartphone, and the smooth and responsive display adds to the experience.
To keep temperatures under control, the Redmi K20 Pro features an eight-layer graphite cooling system to dissipate heat and spread it evenly throughout the smartphone’s body. The smartphone does tend to heat noticeably while gaming, but I hope to test this more extensively before making any solid claims. The heat, however, remains bearable and does not impede or hinder the experience in any way.
In terms of power backup and consumption, the Redmi K20 Pro can be expected to have a solid appetite, owing to its top-tier hardware. The AMOLED display helps with some respite but overall, I can see the 4000mAh battery on the smartphone easily surviving nearly 24 hours per charge. Besides this, the smartphone supports Android 9 Pie’s Adaptive Battery control to restrict rarely used apps from sucking on the battery while running in the background.
Additionally, the smartphone supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+, which means you can charge at up to 27W. While Xiaomi is including an 18W charger in the box, you will be able to buy the 27W charger separately for ₹999. the Redmi K20 Pro also supports USB-PD which allows you to use other chargers including those for many laptops to charge the smartphone at a faster rate. Although I’ve had to charge the Redmi K20 Pro only twice, it has taken between 75 to 90 minutes to go from 10% to 100%. I will be subjecting it to extensive stress testing during my full review of the smartphone.
The Redmi K20 Pro runs MIUI 10.3.1 based on Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box. The device currently has Android security patches from May 2019 but that may be updated soon with an upcoming security update. While there are no unique or new MIUI features on the Redmi K20 Pro, there is a system-wide dark theme. There are some irksome features including Xiaomi’s tendency to impose its own apps onto users as well as forcing users to use the Theme store even for changing things like the wallpaper. Plus, Xiaomi has ways of sneaking ads in such as in the Browser, Music, Videos, Calendar, etc., although this is something that is anticipated to be toned down with MIUI 11.
Notably, the Redmi K20 Pro runs POCO Launcher as default launcher, and this concerns me about the future of the POCO brand since it catered to users who desired hardcore performance and believed in function over form. It will be somewhat disheartening if the POCO brand is being phased out, but to be honest, the Redmi K20 Pro is a fine successor to the POCO F1. (Wishful thinkers hope the hypothetical POCO F2 will be powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ mobile platform).
I’ll be digging through more areas in the UI which serve as canvases for ads alongside other changes in the UI specific to the Redmi K20 Pro in the final review.
Redmi K20 Pro: Xiaomi aces the price game once again
In the past, Xiaomi has produced some great smartphones with a motley of those eligible for the flagship tag, and its aggressive efforts have been increasing with each new smartphone. The Redmi K20 series marks Redmi’s entry into the flagship segment and is likely to spur the company’s growth in key markets including India. In Europe, the Redmi K20 has already been launched as the Xiaomi Mi 9T and strong evidence points to the possibility of the K20 Pro launching as the Mi 9T Pro. In Western regions, the pricing may not be as strategic as it is in India, but we can expect a similar impact since the company can benefit from the popularity of phones like the POCO F1.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, up to 8GB of RAM, and a maximum of 256GB UFS 2.1 storage, as well as featuring quirks like the notchless AMOLED display, the pop-up selfie camera along with triple camera on the back, an attention-grabbing design, and a good battery, the Redmi K20 Pro is entitled to be called a masterpiece. It would be nitpicking if I were to complain about the issues I faced with it since I didn’t come across any major gripes. Yes, I would love if the smartphone featured dual speakers and a slightly faster pop-up camera, but the lack of these features does not hamper my first impressions of the smartphone.
In India, the Redmi K20 Pro will be sold via Flipkart, Mi.com, and Mi Home offline stores starting July 22nd through a flash sale. Xiaomi India has only launched two variants – 6GB/128GB for ₹27,999 (~$405) and the 8GB/256GB variant for ₹30,999 (~$450). You can buy the 27W fast charger with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support for ₹999 (~$15).
To mark its fifth anniversary in India, Xiaomi has also announced a gold-plated version which will be available in limited numbers for ₹480,000 (~$7000).
I’m inclined to test the K20 Pro by putting it through really demanding tasks in the coming days, so stay tuned!