Redmi Note 10 Pro Review: Bringing a 120Hz display and 108MP camera to the masses
In the world of consumer tech, new cutting-edge hardware always begins life on premium phones with premium features and premium pricing, only to be commoditized later and become affordable for the masses. In most industries, that lifespan of exclusivity can last years, but in the fast-moving, cutthroat smartphone space — especially the Chinese one — it is often a year or less. That’s what’s happening with the 108MP camera and 120Hz displays — two features that just a year ago were headline-grabbing selling points of a $1,400 Samsung premium flagship, but are now available in a sub-$300 device such as Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note 10 Pro.
I’ve been using the global version of the Redmi Note 10 Pro for over a week, and this is my full review.
Note: Chinese phone brands have a habit of using confusing names and it appears to be the case with the Redmi Note 10 Pro. I have the global version meant for the European market, which appears to be different from the Indian version with the same name. The same phone is, however, making its way to India but under the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max branding. Our unit was loaned to us by Xiaomi, but they did not have any inputs in this review.
Redmi Note 10 Pro Specifications
Redmi Note 10 Pro specifications. Click or tap to expand.
|Specification||Redmi Note 10 Pro|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G:|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint scanner|
|Port(s)||USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Audio||Dual speakers, AAC, LDAC, LHDC support|
|Software||MIUI 12 based on Android 10|
Redmi Note 10 Pro: Design
The Redmi Note 10 Pro, in my opinion, is a big improvement over the Redmi Note 9 Pro in terms of looks. Gone is the odd camera bump that protruded out of the back abruptly. In its place is a rectangular-but-with-rounded-corners camera module that carries the same design aesthetic as the Xiaomi Mi 11 and Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra’s module. The silver-coated ring around the 108MP sensor gives it an extra flourish.
The back of the phone is glass, but not Corning Gorilla Glass like its front panel. It attracts fingerprints slightly, but the subtle hues of the “Onyx Gray” color look appealing to my eyes. There are two other colors in this model that are flashier: “Glacier Blue” and “Gradient Bronze,” which, according to official product renders, look light blue and orange.
Around the front, the Redmi Note 10 Pro sports a 1080 x 2400 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate AMOLED display with relatively-thin (for its price bracket) bezels. Despite the AMOLED panel, the device does not have an under-display fingerprint scanner. Instead, there is a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the right that doubles as a power button. Unlike most side-mounted scanners I’ve tested, this one doesn’t indent into the frame, instead, it sits almost flush with the phone’s plastic chassis. Redmi dubs this the “Arc side fingerprint sensor,” a term I won’t be using again. It’s a fingerprint scanner/power button combo that works well — not much more needs to be said.
Since I’m a privileged reviewer spoiled by the latest flagship phones (eg. Xiaomi Mi 11, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra), I can’t say that the Redmi Note 10 Pro’s AMOLED screen impressed me at first sight. In fact, due to the presence of a side-mounted fingerprint scanner and a glossy screen protector (that came pre-installed) which dulled colors, I thought the Redmi Note 10 Pro had an LCD panel at first. Only after I pulled off the screen protector and switched the UI over to dark mode did I notice that this was indeed an OLED screen. It’s not the punchiest panel when placed side-by-side with a Xiaomi Mi 11, but then again, that’s not a fair comparison, is it?
The Redmi Note 10 Pro gets bright enough for outdoor use under the sun, and the 120Hz refresh rate brings noticeably fluid animations.
Inside, the Redmi Note 10 Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G. I have the middle-child variant with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage, though the other two variants offer 6GB + 64GB and 8GB + 128GB.
Redmi Note 10 Pro: Cameras
The Redmi Note 10 Pro’s camera system is headlined by a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2 sensor, flanked by an 8MP ultra-wide lens, 5MP macro sensor, and 2MP depth sensor.
The main 108MP HM2 sensor, contrary to branding, is inferior to the HM1 sensor used in Xiaomi’s Mi 11 (and Mi 10 Pro) because it has a smaller 1/1.52″ sensor. But it still captures vibrant, sharp images thanks to the 9-in-1 pixel binning (which results in 12MP shots). Dynamic range is usually on point too thanks to Redmi’s image processing smarts. It’s worth noting the Xiaomi Mi 10i also uses the same sensor and my colleague Tushar was happy with its camera performance.
Because of the large-ish image sensor, there’s an aesthetically-pleasing natural bokeh effect when I take close shots of an object.
In moderate to low light situations, the Redmi Note 10 Pro does a respectable job of pulling in light. In fact, unless the scene is very dark, I find night mode unnecessary. Below are two shots, one with night mode and one without. The only improvement I see in the night mode shot is the Chinese text in the green neon sign is more properly exposed.
(The photo samples have a wider-than-usual aspect ratio because I had set the camera to take photos in 9:16 format and forgot to switch it back to the default 3:4 aspect ratio).
Video performance with the main camera is good at this price range. The phone is able to capture footage up to 4K/30fps, but I find stabilization suffers in this setting. Instead, I shoot at 1080p/30fps, and footage comes out quite smooth during the day; at night, micro-jitters are a problem, but I can’t complain much for a device at this price point. Audio recording sounds above-average, as is the camera’s ability to adapt dynamic range to shifting light source.
Moving past standard photos and videos, the Redmi Note 10 Pro also brings over some of the camera software tricks previously introduced in Xiaomi devices. I find these very fun to play with, particularly the “Clone” feature, which allows the user to take photos or videos with multiple clones of the same person.
There are probably third-party apps that can do this, but that Xiaomi/Redmi has built the feature directly into the camera app and made it simple to use (you just have to hold the camera still for a few seconds and tap the shutter a few times) just adds to the overall camera experience.
Another feature that’s been around since 2019, but I didn’t learn of its existence until testing the Redmi Note 10 Pro, is “AI skyscaping.” This feature applies a filter to the sky in photos to change the weather so to speak, and it also changes how light is handled by the objects in the image. Some of the results — usually when turning a sky blue — can look quite realistic.
Overall, I’m very happy with the Redmi Note 10 Pro’s main camera. It’s easy and fun to use and shots are usually Instagram-ready.
The other rear-pointing cameras don’t fare as well, however. The 8MP ultra-wide lens is decent if there’s enough lighting, but at night, it tends to be very soft on details. In addition, for some reason, night mode is not available to use with this lens. Note the difference in image quality between the main camera and the ultra-wide camera in the below sample — the ultra-wide shot blows out the lamp and the textures of the green leaves and cement tiles on the ground are lost.
Switching to the ultra-wide-angle camera from the main camera also results in noticeable lag every time that can last up to a half-second. The macro and depth sensors both technically work, but I am not sure the resulting shots aren’t anything the main camera with some software tricks can’t pull off. For example, the so-called macro shot below can’t even focus that close to a subject.
As is usual with Chinese entry-level phones, it’s best to look at these devices as having a dual-camera system instead of a real “quad-camera” array. The selfie camera, on the other hand, is quite good, capturing sharp photos with accurate exposure even against harsh lighting.
Redmi Note 10 Pro performance
Because I’m testing a pre-release model, Redmi has apparently blocked benchmark apps, as I could not run Geekbench 5 (it’d crash before finishing the test); 3DMark, or GFXBench (it couldn’t connect to servers). But I did manage to run AndroBench — which tests storage transfer speeds — successfully, and the UFS 2.2 flash storage here gave back middling results.
However, in real-world usage, I didn’t notice any problems with the Redmi Note 10 Pro other than the noticeable lag when switching to the ultra-wide-angle camera. Throughout my week of testing, I used the phone to send hundreds of WhatsApp/Slack messages, watched dozens of YouTube videos, and played the game Infinity Ops and did not encounter any issues. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G with 6GB of RAM is fine for these use cases. I suspect performance is quite similar to the Xiaomi Mi 10i, which we reviewed here.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro’s large, flat screen along with above-average stereo speakers make the device comfortable to hold and use as a gaming or Netflix phone.
Battery life, as expected from a Redmi device, is really good. Even with the 120Hz display, I finished entire 14-hour days with over 35% of battery life left. Keep in mind I’m a very heavy user and live in a dense city with a lot of cell towers that drain battery faster (I consistently get shorter battery life than what American reviewers report). So for most people, this is probably a one-and-half-day phone easily. For me, not quite. But even then, it serves me through the day.
Redmi Note 10 Pro: Software
My Redmi Note 10 Pro unit runs MIUI 12.0.1 global out of the box. I’ve been a fan of MIUI since version 10 and little has changed here: I like the colorful, whimsical software touch, and the addition of an app tray further makes the software enjoyable to use. Animations, as I mentioned earlier, are fluid and responsive.
However, there are some gripes that keep MIUI from being my favorite Android skin. One-hand mode can only be triggered when using on-screen software buttons, which means there is no one-hand mode for people using gesture swipe navigation. This is a major oversight that Xiaomi/Redmi still hasn’t fixed.
MIUI’s settings panel still has some unusually complicated listings. For example, every time I get a new phone I change the idle time period before the screen auto turns off to two minutes (the out-of-the-box default is usually just 30 seconds, which makes taking product shots a pain). In virtually every other Android phone, this setting is listed under “Display.” In MIUI, it’s listed under “Always-on display and lock screen,” which is a separate section from “Display.”
Redmi Note 10 Pro: Conclusion
I usually roll my eyes at smartphone brand slogans — “Never Settle” comes to mind — but Xiaomi’s slogan “Bringing innovation for everyone” is one I can’t scoff at because the company’s products do indeed bring what was previously cutting-edge tech to the masses.
At prices of $279 (for the 6GB + 64GB version), $299 (6GB + 128GB) and $329 (8GB + 128GB), the Redmi Note 10 Pro is making a 108MP camera sensor and 120Hz OLED screen affordable to those even on a tight budget. Of course, for someone who uses flagship phones, the lack of any zoom cameras or the laggy ultra-wide angle lens is hard to stomach, but for those who are upgrading to the Redmi Note 10 Pro from another similarly priced phone released a couple of years ago, this device will feel like a big jump.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro that I am talking about also makes an appearance in India as the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. In the Indian market, this phone achieves a whole lot under ₹20,000 (~$275), reminding us of the high value-for-money quotient that its predecessors like the Redmi Note 3 and Redmi Note 7 Pro brought along. As it stands right now for that particular market, the phone props up as a de facto choice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it remains sold out for its first few sales. India’s market sees cutthroat competition, and there’s bound to be an answer from competitors in the coming weeks and months. But until then, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is a great choice in the mid-range. The brand has managed to build immense goodwill under the “Redmi Note” branding, and with a high value-for-money quotient, it looks like they have another winner in their hands.