[First Cut] Redmi Note 10 Pro Max: It has got everything…even AMOLED!
The Max in Da Note House
- The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is the best-specced of the new Redmi Note 10 series unveiled by Xiaomi.
- The Note 10 Pro Max features a Super AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a 108-megapixel camera.
- At its starting price of Rs 18,999, the Note 10 Pro Max is a formidable proposition, although it is likely to face competition both from its own sibling, the Mi 10i, and the forthcoming 108-megapixel camera phone from Realme.
Xiaomi added a new dimension to its bestselling Redmi Note series last year when it added a Note Pro Max to the portfolio. In simple terms, the Max was basically a Note Pro but with a better camera. And this year, the brand has repeated the formula with the Note 10 Pro Max. Yeah, basically the Note 10 Pro. With a better camera. Wait, make that a MUCH better camera.
That 108 megapixel camera
For, let’s get one thing clear – unlike in the case of the 9 Pro and 9 Pro Max, one of which had a main 48-megapixel snapper and the other a 64 megapixel one – here the difference is far more substantial. The Note 10 Pro has a 64-megapixel sensor, while the Note 10 Pro Max becomes the first phone below Rs 20,000 to sport a 108-megapixel sensor. This is the same sensor, the HM2 from Samsung that we saw on the Mi 10i not too long ago, and which is expected in Realme’s first 108-megapixel camera. That’s a pretty hefty step forward in our books.
There are also three other cameras on the back – an 8-megapixel ultrawide, a 5 megapixel “super macro” sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor- and a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. Xiaomi has tried to talk up the super macro and the ultrawide cameras but make no mistake about it, the buzz is really about the 108-megapixel one. Xiaomi has also thrown in some shooting modes to make the most of it, including Night Mode 2.0, long exposure, dual video, and photo and video clones.
Please to Note – Super AMOLED…finally!
The Redmi Note 10 series has also made headlines for finally switching to Super AMOLED displays. And it does so in a rather impressive manner with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, which sports a 6.67 inch Super AMOLED full HD+, with a 120 Hz refresh rate (Corning Gorilla Glass 5), and a maximum brightness of 1200 nits. On paper, that’s formidable and in reality, it is a very pleasing sight indeed, even in bright sunlight. Mind you, it is not an adaptive sync display, which means it will not adjust its refresh rates as per the content on it – you will have to set the refresh rate at either 60 Hz or 120 Hz manually (there is no 90 Hz option), which could result in a fair bit of battery drain. Still, this could be one of the best displays we have seen in the sub-Rs 20,000 range. And yes, there is an always-on display option.
Evol-utionary design, but still very Note!
Xiaomi spent a fair bit of time talking about the design of the Redmi Note 10 series, pointing to its new Evol (“Love” spelled backward). And well, it does look rather nice. Observe the adjective please – “nice.” The Note series has been more about looking smart and substantial rather than being flashy, and while the Note 10 Pro Max does come with some neat design touches, it follows this very solid style sheet. Its front is of course all about that display with a relatively small punch hole for the selfie camera, but it is the back that will grab attention. It comes with frosted glass and a slightly glossy finish that looks very classy without screaming for attention. Hey, this is a Note. It does not do “scream for attention” types, although the Vintage Bronze will catch attention with its rather different shade.
After a Wall-e experiment with the camera placement with the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, Xiaomi has opted for a slightly more conventional camera unit this time – a rectangle on the upper left corner, a little similar to what we saw on the Mi 10T. There is a clear camera bump but the main sensor has got a rather ornate silver ring around it, and the cameras seem on a bump above the flash unit, which itself is a slight bump above the main back. It looks snazzy but we suspect those ridges will pick up dust. Speaking of which, that back looks attractive not just to humans but also to dust and smudges – thankfully there’s a case in the box, and we would advocate using it to keep the phone smudge-free.
There’s also a subtle change in the fingerprint scanner on the side (yay!). It also doubles as a power/display button, but is no longer slightly recessed (as in other Xiaomi devices) and is actually raised like a regular button, and also has a similar texture to the volume rocker above it. We are not sure we like it as the previous one had a far more textured and distinct feel to it, but then it is one of those things one gets used to over time. The metal-like frame between the front and back also houses a USB type C port, a 3.5 mm audio jack, an infra-red port, and a speaker on the base and on the top (oh yes, twin speakers)! We are told the phone is splash resistant, and while the camera unit does jut out on the back, the entire feel of the phone is right in the Note-solid zone.
At 164.5 mm, the Note 10 Pro Max is not a small phone, but it is impressively slim at 8.1 mm and feels relatively lightweight at 192 grams when you consider what it contains. Which takes us to them specs.
A chip off the (slightly) old block, but solid specs
The Snapdragon 732G is the elephant in the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s spec room. In recent times, the Redmi Note series has been known to come with new processors – it was the first to get the likes of the Snapdragon 636, Snapdragon 650, and the Snapdragon 675 and one of the first to come with the Snapdragon 720. Well, the Snapdragon 732G is a relative veteran by those standards. Mind you, it has been seen on only one other phone in India – the Poco X3. It delivered a very good performance on that device and is considered one of the best in the price segment of the 10 Pro Max, but well, it is not the latest. And it has no 5G support. This might rile some “futuristic” observers, but given the state of affairs (with no 5G on the horizon for at least a year, if not more), we do not see it as a deal-breaker.
That apart, the Note 10 Pro Max ticks all hardware boxes. You get RAM and storage variants of 6 GB/ 64 GB, 6 GB/ 128 GN and 8 GB/ 128 GB. The RAM is LPDDR4X and the storage is UFS 2,2. There are stereo speakers here and in connectivity terms, you get 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and of course, the infra-red port that is becoming a Xiaomi trademark (why do others not carry it is a mystery, given its utility). There is also MIUI 12 running on top of Android 11 (praise be). Xiaomi has been getting rid of ads and bloat with a vengeance of late and has promised that MIUI 12.5 (which this phone will get) will be one of the cleanest UIs around.
Finally, there is the battery. The Note series kind of set the ball rolling for big batteries in the mid-segment with the Note 3, and the Note 10 Pro Max carries this tradition ahead. There is a surprisingly large 5020 mAh battery – surprising because the phone seems relatively slim and light to be containing a battery this big – and with a 33W fast charger in the box as well.
…potentially another benchmark setter
The Redmi Note series has been setting the benchmark for the mid-segment since 2016, and the Note 10 Pro Max definitely has what it takes to continue that tradition. No, it does not have the new processor edge that some recent Notes did, but the display, camera, sound (we cannot state the importance of stereo speakers in this “content consumption” era), and battery all promise to make this another Note-worthy device. In fact, it would be safe to say that like its predecessors, it pretty much packs in everything, and this time cannot even be faulted (as some did) for not having an AMOLED display.
And at prices of Rs 18,999 (6GB/ 64 GB), Rs 19,999 (6 GB/ 128 GB) and Rs 21,999 (8 GB/ 128 GB), it definitely delivers a lot. And is easily the big Note of the Note 10 series. As we already pointed out, it is the most affordable phone with a 108-megapixel camera.
That does not mean it faces no competition, though. Perhaps its most notable opponent is going to be the Mi 10i which also sports a 120 Hz refresh rate display (although not a Super AMOLED one) and a 108-megapixel main sensor and also brings a Snapdragon 750G chip to the battle (as well as 5G) for Rs 20,990. There is also the Poco X3 which has a 120 Hz refresh rate display (again, not AMOLED) and the same chip, and while it loses out on the 108-megapixel camera, it comes with a bigger battery and is available at Rs 16,999. And as this is being written, there is also talk of Realme unleashing its first 108-megapixel device, which is likely to be in the same price bracket.
Just how well the Note 10 Pro Max performs and compares with all these will be revealed in our review. As of now, all we can say is that the Max has arrived in the Note 10 house. And it sure looks promising!