Over the years, the Redmi Note by itself has become a brand name more than a phone series. But it isn’t as exclusive as it once used to be. The series which initially started out with just one phone in it, now comes with a number that keeps increasing year by year. So far this year, we have seen the Redmi Note 10, the Redmi Note10 Pro, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. And now, Xiaomi has added another to that lineup – the Redmi Note 10S. Coming almost two months after the Redmi Note 10 series was launched, how much Note-ness does this latest Note bring to the table?

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The Quintessential Redmi Note 10

In terms of sheer looks and design, the Redmi Note 10S shares more than just the name with the Redmi Note 10. The two phones look so similar that they might seem like the same phone and not two different ones when kept next to each other. It basically seems like Xiaomi has added the S element on the inside of the phone because it really is impossible to physically tell them apart.

This means, the Redmi Note 10S also has the same “decent and mainstream without looking boring” look to it. The front of the smartphone is essentially the same as most of the smartphones in the market at the moment: you get a tall 6.43-inch display (with Gorilla Glass 3 protection) which is outlined by very thin bezels on three sides and a relatively thicker chin at the base. A punch hole in the top central part of the display to carry the front camera completes the package. Standard fare, you know, as is the trend.

The back of the Redmi Note 10… sorry (not sorry), the Redmi Note 10S, would also seem very familiar if you have come across the Redmi Note 10 because the two phones look literally identical. So much so that we are tempted to just point you to our first cut of the Redmi Note 10, but never mind.

A smart modern-looking phone (and the plastic is a plus!)

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Redmi has done a very good job with the polycarbonate back of the Redmi Note 10S. You will not be able to tell that it is plastic and not glass by merely looking at it. The matte-finished back comes with a whisper of shine, giving it just the right amount of glam without making it too blingy.

We received the Ocean Blue color variant of the device, and its back had a noticeable color gradient. The top is silver-ish/white in color which blends into blue that keeps getting deeper as it flows down the back. The top left corner of the back carries the same elaborate-looking camera unit that we previously saw on the Redmi Note 10 – a rectangular setup that liberally uses a combination of silver and black colors. The main camera is physically the biggest in size here and is highlighted with silver margins. You will find three relatively smaller lenses right below it while the flash sits on the side on the silver strip right next to the cameras. The arrangement adds a very stylish look to the back, offering much-needed relief from the otherwise traditional design. A vertically aligned Redmi logo sits on the bottom left side of the back.

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The Redmi Note 10S even brings the same port placements and the Redmi Note 10. The shiny metal-finished frame carries an infrared port and speaker grille on top while another speaker grille, USB Type C port, and a 3.5 mm audio jack sit on the base. The right side is home to the volume rocker and the flat, matte power/lock button which also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. The left side holds the dual SIM card and microSD card tray.

While the looks of the Redmi Note 10S may not be out of the box, polarising, or even surprising, the phone still looks very smart and follows the idea of a modern phone to a T. The glass-like polycarbonate back in our opinion is a major plus. It takes the extra weight off the equation and makes your phone less fragile. The matte texture makes it less prone to scratches and smudges. The phone also brings an IP53 rating making it dust and splash-proof (a big plus in this price segment).

Chip-ping it differently and coming with MIUI 12.5

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The Redmi Note 10S might be all things Redmi Note 10 on the outside but it is on the inside where the “S” factor shines through – did the S stand for “specs”? Unlike the other Redmi Note 10s in the series, this comes with not only a different processor but a different processor from a different brand as well.

The Redmi Note 10S is powered by a MediaTek Helio G95 chipset and our variant was paired with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The phone is also available in 6 GB/ 64 GB and 6GB/ 128 GB variants -there is no 4 GB variant. It comes with expandable storage for which you get a dedicated microSD card slot.

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The MediaTek Helio G95 is not a new processor. We have seen it on the likes of the Realme Narzo 20 Pro, the Realme 8, and the Realme 7. The processor is known for its gaming and multitasking prowess in the budget segment, and in terms of gaming, is ranked ahead of the Snapdragon 678 (on the Note 10). All of which, combined with stereo speakers and hi-res audio certification – makes us look forward to some good gaming.

The phone comes with a 6.43-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ Display, although it sticks to a conventional 60 Hz refresh rate. On paper, it is impressive and has a maximum brightness of 1100 nits. The quad-camera setup on the back features a 64-megapixel wide-angle main sensor with f/1.79 aperture, supported by three secondary sensors– an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor with f/2.2 aperture, a 2-megapixel depth, and a 2-megapixel macro sensor both with f/2.4 aperture. There is a 13-megapixel camera on the front for video calling and selfies.

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Running the phone is Android 11 with a layer of Xiaomi’s MIUI 12.5 on top, making this the first phone to come with MIUI 12.5 out of the box. Xiaomi claims that this is the cleanest and least cluttered version of its famous interface, which often polarises opinions (some love the additional features, some hate the ads). Powering all this is a big 5,000 mAh battery which comes with 33 W fast charging support, and a 33W charger in the box too. There is 4G, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity and also an infra-red port, a Xiaomi signature feature now.

Another notable Note?

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With the price of Rs. 14,999 for 6GB/64GB (the 6GB/128GB is priced at Rs 15,999), the Redmi Note 10S finds itself in the cutthroat budget segment which is anything but merciful on new entrants. The likes of Realme 8, the Moto G40 Fusion, the Poco X3 lurk and its own Note 10 bro lurk in the background, making it quite a task for a newbie to make space for itself in the zone. That said, the fact that the new Redmi phone comes from the iconic Note family, which already gives it a bit of an edge over the competition. A promising spec sheet and a trendy design, combined with that price tag, should make it a worthy enough option in the market and also slot in between its other Note 10 siblings.

How well it will handle the competition heat and whether its performance lives up to Note tradition, will be revealed in our detailed review.

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