The Indian tech community lost its sanity when Xiaomi dropped the new Redmi Note 10 series in India last week. Starting at Rs 11,999, this year’s Redmi Note devices bring some of the fan-favourite features at appealing prices. A 120Hz AMOLED display on the Pro variants was enough on its own to make people flock over to the nearest Xiaomi store. The Pro Max variant even offers a 108-megapixel camera! For the Mi fans, that’s more than enough to keep them happy for another 365 days. Also Read - Not just Mi 11 Ultra, Xiaomi will launch more Mi 11 series phones in India on April 23
While the Redmi Note 10 will keep Xiaomi’s cash-registers flowing with its sweet price tag, it is the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max that will be the poster boy for the Redmi Note crowd. It starts at Rs 18,999 and takes the crown of the most feature-packed Redmi Note device ever sold in India. It is reminiscent of the not-so-old Xiaomi Mi 10i but it focuses on the basics instead of the gimmicks. Also Read - Apple iPhone 12 was the best selling smartphone in January: Counterpoint
I have spent a few hours setting up my unit of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and here’s a brief account of my initial impressions. (Psst, it’s damn good!) Also Read - Xiaomi, Oppo developing in-house 5G chipsets to power upcoming smartphones: Report
In the illustrious history of the Redmi Note series, I can’t recall any of the models that was built poorly. In fact, the early Redmi Note devices were the trendsetters of their respective year. Last year’s Redmi Note 9 Pro Max was impeccably built and with the Note 10 Pro Max, Xiaomi takes it up a notch.
To my eyes, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max looks no different from the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro flagship. It even feels a lot like the Mi 10T Pro in the hands. The premium glass body, the meticulously finished camera hump, the flattened frame on two sides, and a host of lines as well as curves – all of them make it a stunning phone to behold. That’s commendable, given that the Mi 10T Pro costs Rs 40,000 and Xiaomi is able to emulate the same experience on its sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone.
You get frosted glass on the Vintage Bronze (read orange) and Glacial Blue colour variants. The Dark Night colour variant that I have gets the glossy finish (yeah, the one that loves smudges). The gradient finish is elegant but the chrome insert around the main camera is stark departure from the otherwise mild aesthetics.
The front is flat and there’s a narrow-bezel display acquiring the majority of the surface. There’s some substantial chin that falls out of place when compared to the uniform bezels on the other three sides. Similar to Samsung, Redmi has marked the selfie camera with a chrome ring – why? Other brands are busy masking it and Xiaomi makes the cutout prominent. If you love bling, you might like it but a majority of people around me (non-techy people) didn’t like the highlighted camera.
What most of them loved though was the beautiful integration of the fingerprint sensor into a power key that doesn’t make the latter look like as if it’s on steroids. The button isn’t recessed and yet it functions like a full-blown fingerprint scanner. The buttons themselves are tactile and seem to last for years. I loved the dedicated stereo speaker setup; there’s a second dedicated loudspeaker to give out the stereo effect – not an earpiece integrated module.
At 8.1mm, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is fairly slim for a phone housing a 5020mAh battery. It is well-weighted too, with a total weight of 192 grams. In my initial few hours with the phone, I find the Note 10 Pro Max comfortable to use.
I think Xiaomi has justified the Max moniker on the Redmi Note series this year. Two of the most hyped aspects include the 108-megapixel main camera, and the 120Hz AMOLED display.
Redmi Note fans have long demanded an AMOLED display and Xiaomi finally gave in this year. Unlike the controversial Mi A3, the AMOLED display on the Redmi Note 10 series doesn’t seem to compromise anywhere. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max earns brownie points for having an AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Up until the last month, this was reserved for the flagships costing upwards of Rs 30,000!
I can’t speak much about the display yet but after a quick glance, I think this is the most substantial upgrade on the Redmi Note series this year. The usual benefits of AMOLED, i.e., highly saturated colours, extremely high brightness levels, and sharp image quality, are all visible. The 120Hz refresh rate makes scrolling seem smoother than usual.
Underneath that 6.67-inch AMOLED display lies a rather uninspiring Snapdragon 732G chip. This is the same chip from the Poco X3 from last year. It is a powerful-enough chipset and for most “pro” multimedia users, it has enough muscles to take the load and then spare some. So far, the phone has been glitch-free and smooth, even with the feature-loaded MIUI 12 experience onboard. That said, I expected to Xiaomi to reserve the Snapdragon 750G from the Mi 10i for the Pro Max.
Do note that MIUI 12 on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max runs on Android 11. There are no visible traces of Android 11 here and it’s mostly the same MIUI 12 experience you may have seen on a Redmi Note 9 Pro or a Mi 10i. The AMOLED display brings the Always-On Display feature here but MIUI 12 limits the timeout to 10 seconds. Theoretically, it isn’t “always on” and is more akin to Ambient Display from Oxygen OS 10.
I am yet to explore all the other bits of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max but here are a few things I should talk about in brief.
-The 108-megapixel camera is using the same Samsung HM2 sensor as the Xiaomi Mi 10i’s main camera. It also shares the 8-megapixel ultra-wide and 2-megapixel depth cameras from the Mi 10i. The 5-megapixel macro camera from the Note 9 Pro Max makes it to this year as well. A few rough shots so far have displayed promise. Wait for our detailed take on this one.
-The Note 10 Pro Max is rated IP53 for water and dust resistance. This means that your phone should survive light showers and sweaty conditions.
-The new Z-axis haptic motor isn’t able to emulate the feedback levels from premium phones like the OnePlus Nord, Mi 10T, and OnePlus 7T. This could be due to the early versions of the software on our review unit. Keep an eye for our full review for an update on the haptics.
-I am yet to test out the battery life but the 33W wired charging system does fulfil its promise of filling up the 5020mAh battery in close to an hour (so far).
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is undoubtedly the most loaded Redmi Note smartphone I have ever used. It is built unlike any other phone in its price range and the same can also be said for the way it looks. The AMOLED upgrade seems legitimate while the 108-megapixel camera does condition my mind into justifying the “Max” moniker in the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.
Is the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max truly an upgrade from last year’s Redmi Note 9 Pro Max? Does it make more sense over the similarly priced Xiaomi Mi 10i? How does it fare against the fierce competition from Realme and Samsung? These are the questions that will get answered in our full review. Stay tuned.