[First cut] Redmi Note 10: Doing what the Note does best
Promising to deliver great value for money...as usual
- The Redmi Note 10 is on paper the most affordable of the new Note 10 series from Xiaomi, starting at Rs 11,999
- It might seem less powerful than its siblings, the Note 10 Pro, and the Note 10 Pro Max, but it still brings a brand new processor and a very impressive Super AMOLED display to the mid-segment.
- At its price point, the Note 10 faces very little competition at the time of writing, and that could make it the suffix-less champ of the Note range.
The Redmi Note series has been one of the most remarkable smartphone series, not only for Xiaomi as a company but for the overall smartphone industry as well. The series has had several devices over the past few years, each of which managed to pass on the “Note-batton” quite seamlessly to the next generation, and set sales records – as per Xiaomi if the Note was in itself a phone brand, it would have easily been one of the top phone brands in the country! But then because the Note series is a crowd favorite, every new device that joins the league has a mountain of pressure to not only fill in the massive Note shoes of its predecessor but also expand them a little in its own way.
It is the Note season again (although last year had only one Note series release, unlike 2019 and 2018, which saw a summer and a winter Note), and keeping up with last year’s tradition, Xiaomi has introduced three different avatars of the Note this year: the Redmi Note 10, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and the Redmi Note 10 Pro. While the Note 10 Pro Max and the Note 10 Pro take the Note-game to a slightly higher price range, it is the suffix-less variant that remains the closest to the true Note ethos in terms of sheer price point, with a starting price of Rs. 11,999. But will this new Note manage to leave as Note-worthy a first impression as it is expected to?
That design is very Redmi, very Note
The Note series from Redmi has seldom come as a surprise or a shock in terms of looks. The series has always come out with smartphones that look and feel very smart and mainstream without ever looking boring. Smartphones in this lineup look smarter in a conventional way rather than spectacular in an odd way. And the Redmi Note 10 follows the same line of design.
The Redmi Note 10 looks good. Very good, some might even say. But the design of the smartphone is very unlikely to be a lead in a conversation. The frontal arrangement follows conventions to a T. It is dominated by a tall, 6.43-inch dot-notch display. Thin bezels perimeter the display from three sides while a slightly thicker chin sits right below it.
The back, however, is slightly less traditional and a little more modern. The Redmi Note 10 dons a plastic (or “carbonate” if you will) back which does a surprisingly good job of passing off as glass. So good that if there was a club of glass backs, the Redmi Note 10 would get an all-access pass without any problem. We especially laud this effort by Redmi because not only does having a glass-like plastic back gets you on the glass-back-looks-bandwagon but the material makes the smartphone lighter and also less fragile.
The back has a matte finish with a slight hint of shine. The top left side of the smartphone carries the rectangular-shaped primary camera unit (which juts out a little) while the Redmi branding sits vertically near the bottom left side of the smartphone. We received the Frost White variant of the smartphone (there’s also Shadow Black and Aqua Green) and the texture of the back and color combined make for a back that does not show scratches or smudges as easily as a basic glass back phone with a shiny color would – even its Note 10 Pro Max sibling picked up smudges more easily.
All of that bling that was seemingly lost on the matte back makes an appearance around the sides, thanks to the shiny, sliver, metal-finished frame that the Redmi Note 10 sports. But the shine is not all that the sides carry. They also lift the heavyweight of other features and functions on their shoulders. The Note 10 also gets an infrared port on the top, the base carries a 3.5 mm audio jack, a USB type C port, and the speaker grille. The right side of the phone holds the volume rocker and a matte power/lock button that also doubles up as a physical fingerprint scanner (the best fingerprint scanner there is in our opinion) while the left side carries the SIM card and micro SD card tray.
For a smartphone that carries a 5,000 mAh battery under the hood, the Redmi Note 10 feels light in hand and the pocket, and at 8.3 mm, it is definitely on the slimmer side. The phone certainly will not weigh you down and perhaps some of the credit for that goes to the plastic back. There is a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front which may be old but will offer some protection against drops and scratches. The phone also comes with splash resistance and an IP 53 rating. All in all, this is a good-looking phone that feels solid. So typically Note.
No suffix, but a new chip for this Note…and AMOLED too!
It may be in best Redmi tradition to have a design that is more safe than scandalous, but the specs that Redmi tends to bundle in the Note package certainly make heads turn and eyes pop. And simply based on the “looks” of the spec sheet of the Redmi Note 10, we think it would be the winner Note of the season.
The Redmi Note 10 comes with a tall 6.43-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED display with a screen resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels. This is the first time in the history of Redmi Notes that a Note has come out with an AMOLED display and we think it will only bring more colors to this Note-y palette. The Note 10 comes with 60 Hz refresh rate which may be quite basic as opposed to the 120 Hz refresh rate that its suffixed siblings bring along but then it does come with a much lower price tag. The Note 10 has few new aces up its sleeve as well.
The Note 10 is the only Note in the line-up that is powered by a new processor. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 processor paired with 6 GB RAM And 128 GB storage. The other two Note 10s bring along a processor that we have seen and experienced before, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G. Of course, it is not as powerful as the Snapdragon 732G, but it is supposed to be a step up from the Snapdragon 675 which had made its debut on the Note 7 Pro and was a very good performer. This comes paired with two RAM and storage variants, 4 GB/ 64 GB and 6 GB/ 128 GB, with storage expandable to 512 GB using a memory card.
48-megapixel camera, a big battery (and a fast charger in the box)
In the camera department, the Note 10 brings a quad-camera setup on the back comprising a 48 megapixel Sony IMX 582 main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 2-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. On the front, there is a 13-megapixel selfie shooter. No, they do not sound as impressive as the 108 megapixel and 64 megapixel main sensors on other Notes, but at its price point, this is quite formidable.
The smartphone runs on Android 11 topped with MIUI 12. The ads on the MIUI 12 have been a constant source of distress and objections and while the company has dialed back a lot, they can still pop up in the UI. Other than that, the MIUI is generally pretty clean and easy to use and we expect the same on the Note 10 as well. There is also the promise of MIUI 12.5 making its way to the device soon, and Xiaomi claims that it to be the cleanest version of its Android interface ever.
The Redmi Note 10 is powered by a 5,000 mAh battery which is marginally smaller than what its siblings have (a mere 20 mAh smaller) but it comes with support for fast charging and with a 33W charger in the box which should get the phone charged quite swiftly. Apart from this, the Redmi Note 10 also gets stereo speakers this year. The phone does not come with support for 5G, something which seems to be a must-have nowadays, even though the network is not here in the country. But other than that, we think the Note 10 brings a more than decent spec sheet to the table. In fact, we would go so far as to say that it is easily the most powerfully specced phone in its segment.
Sticking to the Note’s success mantra
With Redmi Note 10, Redmi has stuck to what it does best. It brings a design that is pleasant to look at but will not really turn heads and has gone with a spec sheet that looks like it can turn out to be a headache for smartphones in this space. Indeed, the combination of AMOLED display (at last, some would say), new processor, well-specced cameras, and that massive battery within a good looking frame makes the Note 10 seem like staggering value for money at its starting price of Rs 11,999 for the 4 GB/ 64 GB variant (the 6 GB/ 128 GB variant is priced at Rs 13,999). Indeed, at that price point, we cannot really spot any device matching it at the moment. This is why we suspect it might well turn out to the bestseller in the series – it is very much ahead of the competition on paper.
Off paper? Well, it is a Note, and expectations are soaring but to know just how well it does, wait for our detailed review!