Xiaomi is one of the brands that we often associate with great value for money products. Ever since the brand stepped into the smartphone market in the country, it has more often than not delivered products with relatively high-end specs bundled with comparatively low prices. This is especially applicable to its sister brand Redmi, which had only launched phones under Rs. 20,000 bracket… until now. Xiaomi recently released two new smartphones under the Redmi branding, the Redmi K20, and the Redmi K20 Pro. While the Pro is obviously the more strongly specced and highly-priced out of the two, the K20 itself is not too far behind in terms of specs. But it is its price of Rs. 21,999, that has questions floating around it. So, is the K20 worth the spend? Read on to find out…
Table of Contents
Not Pro, but looks like it…GOOD!
The Redmi K20 and the Redmi K20 Pro are two different devices but you actually cannot tell them apart. They are identical when it comes to design, which honestly is a great thing because both the phones look phenomenal. The two are actually amongst the best phones we have seen from Xiaomi in terms of design.
You know how there are some phones with great fronts but just average backs or vice-versa? Well, the Redmi K20 is not one of them. It not only comes with a gorgeous front, which is all about that 6.39 inch AMOLED display but an even more good looking back. Dressed in glass, back and front, the phone is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 to save it from smudges and scratches.
The tall display on the front is surrounded by thin bezels on the three sides while there is slightly thicker chin below it. This is also the first smartphone from Redmi to come with a pop-up camera, which makes the viewing experience even more immersive, thanks to the absence of any kind of notch on the screen. On the front also sits a 20-megapixel selfie camera, which pops out of the top of the phone. And yes, it does seem to do so a little slowly as compared to some of the others we have seen, but it comes with LED lights on the side that light up every time it rises or descends. There is no real use of this effect but it definitely looks very cool.
Smartphones with glass are not as rare as they once used to be and a new phone on the design block has to do something exceptional to stand out – the K20 does just that. It comes with a glass back but with a pattern that is definitely outside the mainstream design lines. Just like the Pro version of the phone, the K20 also has vertical dark center and a lighter color with an almost flame-like pattern on the sides.
The phone carries the primary camera setup on the upper half of the back, in the center. The three sensors are vertically aligned in a line, with the latter two placed in a capsule unit, whereas the first one sits out on its own with a silver ring around the circumference. These triplets are followed by a dual-LED flash. The back also carries the Redmi branding, which has been aligned vertically with the cameras – nice touch.
While brands experiment quite a bit with the fronts and backs of the phone, the frames often bring similar elements, placed at similar positions to the table. That has changed a bit with the K20. The frame holds mostly the same elements but placed differently. The base of the phone carries the dual SIM card tray, the USB Type C port, and the speaker grille. The top carries the 3.5 mm audio jack along with the pop-up camera. The left side of the phone is plain while the right one holds the volume rockers and the power/lock button. We received the Glacier Blue variant of the phone which comes with a hint of red – the power button is red!
Measuring 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm, the phone is definitely not one hand handy and because it is glass, you might want to be a little careful with it. Our advice: use both hands. It sits well in hand and feels solid – one of those phones that not only look but also feel premium. At 191 grams, it might feel a little heavy to some, but it is the kind of heavy that adds to the premium-ness of the phone. It just feels more substantial in hand. Also, the looks of the phone may be slightly on the bold side for some, but it is not loud. It is a phone that you would want to carry without a case, just to turn heads around.
Cutting no corners in experience!
What is also head turning-ly good is the display of the phone. The K20 is one of the first Redmi devices to come with an AMOLED display. The 6.39-inch display is the same as the one on the K20 Pro – a full HD+ screen with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. AMOLED displays are slowly sneaking into the sub Rs. 20,000 price band and we have seen a few of these on smartphones this year from the likes of Samsung and Realme. So, the display of the K20 is not all that special in that regard but that does not take away from the fact that it is a good display indeed, and is one of the rare ones at this price point to come with HDR support. If you are used Samsung’s pop-y, bright-y, displays, this might look a tad dull comparatively but if this is your first with AMOLED, the K20 is definitely going to impress you.
The display is also the home to the in-display fingerprint scanner, which is amongst the many firsts that the K20 brings along to the Redmi world. The fingerprint is quick to register but is not too snappy – unlocking the phone can sometimes take multiple touches. Talking of unlocking features, the K20 also has the Face Unlock feature, but the phone itself warns you that it is not “as secure” as a pattern or a pin and can be fooled by a photograph. In the performance zone, we found the face unlock to be mostly accurate but the feature is slow, as the camera on the K20 pops out visibly slowly as compared to some of the others that we have used recently.
Also making its first appearance on a smartphone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor which powers the Redmi K20, paired with Adreno 618. Now the 730 might be a member of the 700 series of the Qualcomm Snapdragon family tree but it is no mid-segment meddler. As per the company, it is claimed to be the third fastest mobile chipset from Qualcomm present in the market at the time writing, third only to the Snapdragon 845 and 855.
It comes bundled with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, with a 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage as well. The storage on the phone cannot be expanded as there is no microSD card slot present on the device.
Given what we had been told about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730, we expected the device to breeze through our daily chores and so it did. We made it jump various app hoops, from texting to social media to web browsing and the K20 did it all without any hiccups. It ran smoothly even with a number of apps running in the background.
We had a glitch-free experience while trying casual games like Subway Surfer and Hangline. Nothing changed much in the high-end game zone as well. We tried games like PUBG and Asphalt Xtreme and expect for a few occasional lags, the gaming experience turned out to be pretty smooth. The phone did get slightly warm when pushed, but temperatures never reached an alarming level.
The sound on the K20 is pretty good, too. It does not have a lot of dimensions and is pretty flat on the loudspeaker but is loud and clear, which is what you expect at this price point. And hooray, there is a 3.5 mm jack so you can plug in your trusty wired earphones, over which sound is pretty good.
There is a 4,000 mAh battery that powers the phone and comes with support for fast charging. This can easily see you through a day of heavy usage and can last a day and a half when used for basics like texting, social media scrolling, and web browsing. Unlike most Xiaomi devices that support fast charging, but do not come with a fast charger in the box, this one comes with an 18W charger, that you do not need to buy separately (yay!). However, it does not support a 27W charger like its Pro sibling.
Rockin’ cameras…that are sometimes noisy!
It is raining 48-megapixel cameras and a drop of it has fallen on the Redmi K20 as well. There are three cameras on the back— a 48-megapixel main sensor with f/1.8 aperture, a 13-megapixel ultrawide sensor with f/2.4 and an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor with an f/2.4 sensor. The numbers may sound familiar— remember the camera set up on the Redmi K20 Pro? There is a subtle difference though – the K20 comes with Sony IMX582 sensor which just a notch below the Sony IMX586 sensor which is present on the K20, which means that you will get 30 fps 4K video from it, unlike 60 fps 4K on the IMX586.
There is no denying that the camera set up of the K20 is a good one. It performs really well in good light conditions and captures a great amount of detail. We were really impressed with how well it took close up shots and the bokeh created in these. The phone also did well in landscape mode and captured good overall detail. But just when we thought it was everything that a camera needed to be in today’s day and age, we were hit by the inconsistency train. There were times when the phone just could not do justice to the subject. It did not capture moving objects and we did miss OIS on the phone as we often ended up with blurry images, even when we kept our hands as steady as we could.
The camera app offers a number of modes including a 48-megapixel mode (which many phones hideaway in settings, but is right upfront here), a Pro Mode, Slo-Mo, and Portrait Mode. There are a number of editing options and filters that the camera app brings along, which makes the whole photo-taking experience a little more fun.
The camera on the K20 often handles well what many phones fail to – the edges of a subject in Portrait mode. That said, it is also inconsistent in terms of detail, especially if you do not have very good light conditions around. So, even if you are trying to take a portrait shot in a slightly mixed light conditions (too much light in some areas, too little in others), the phone will give you a very noisy image.[Click here for Full resolution images]
The 20-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.2 aperture is pretty much as good as any selfie camera in the price segment. Much like most front cameras in this price range, this one also delivers slightly saturated results that are often smoothened just a little even when the beauty mode is off. That said, the results are good enough for any social media platform. The phone heats up a little if you use the selfie camera on the phone for even five minutes straight, which was very odd to see. It was nothing alarming, but it did happen. Also using the pop-up camera too frequently in a short amount of time, no matter if you are using it to unlock your phone or taking selfies, will get you a warning – again, odd!
The Redmi K20 runs on Android 9 (Pie) out of the box and comes with a layer of MIUI 10 on top. However, unlike other Redmi devices, this one has Poco launcher, which means you get an app drawer, where you can also view apps classified under different categories. The good old ad problem that Xiaomi has is present here as well. While Xiaomi won’t be showing the display ads, the system apps continue to bombard with notifications. You can turn them off, but it would have been nice to not have them in the first place. Overall, MIUI is not overwhelming and useful in the most subtle way possible, which is what we think UI skins should be about.
Seems pricey, but STILL very good value for money
All of this brings us to the most discussed aspect of the Redmi K20: its price. On the surface, this might seem a little odd, for the K20 is basically the K20 Pro with a different processor (which is not too far behind) and a different main camera sensor (which again, is not too inferior). In fact, the phone is the first in the country to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chip. However, the thing about the K20 is that it comes with a Redmi branding, which many identify with super affordability, which is basically any figure in the vicinity of Rs. 15,000. The Redmi K20 cost significantly more and crosses the unholy (for some) Rs. 20,000 line, which makes it appear slightly expensive. We do not think the discussion about the price of the Redmi K20 would have been as heated or intense if the phone had come from a brand more closely identified with higher-priced phones like Samsung or Vivo.
Is the phone worth your money? Yes, we think it is. Some might have a tough time accepting the price tag simply because it comes from Redmi. But if you are more concerned about those lovely twins – performance and style – this is easily one of the best options out there.
At this price.
There, we said it.
- Head-turningly good design
- Smooth performer
- Very good display
- Inconsistent cameras
- Slightly slow pop-up camera
- No expandable memory
Design and looks
It was supposed to be part of Redmi’s bold new move into the premium segment. But unlike its Pro bother, the Redmi K20 has been in the center of a price storm. Is it too expensive for what it offers? Or does it continue Redmi’s amazing value for money tradition?