When Xiaomi announced it will bring the Mi 10i to India, it raised the eyebrows of many smartphone aficionados as well as mobile gamers. After all, a smartphone with a Snapdragon 750G chipset would be the performance bargain most young users would want their hands on. Moreover, it brings 5G support, which is again crucial for those who wish to use the phone for at least two-three years. And with Xiaomi teasing the Pacific Sunrise color, it did make us look forward to the Mi 10i. Also Read - Xiaomi Mi 10T at Rs 32,999 without bank offers on Flipkart: Is it worth buying?
Fast forward to January 5, 2021 and the Mi 10i seems quite exciting for a midrange Android phone. After all, it is Xiaomi’s attempt at taking on the likes of Moto G 5G and Realme 7 Pro, with prices so appealing that may make you want to upgrade, even if you got the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max last year. Starting at Rs 21,999, the Mi 10i brings us a 108-megapixel camera system, 5G connectivity (even though it is useless at this point), and a spec sheet you wouldn’t mind boasting about. Also Read - Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 11 Lite launching in India but no date confirmed yet
I have spent a few days with the Mi 10i and so far, things are looking impressive. While a full review is a while away, here is an account of my initial experience with the Mi 10i. Also Read - Redmi Note 10 series India launch plans for February 2021 leaked
A refreshing take on the same 2020 slab design
The Mi 10i doesn’t look much different from any of Xiaomi’s 2020 sub-Rs 20,000 smartphones. I mean, look at the rear of this phone. There’s a massive circular camera hump consisting of four camera sensors mounted together. The circular element has been added to differentiate the design but ideally, the basic design layout is similar to the square camera humps we saw on the Redmi Note 9 series.
To make it feel more special, Xiaomi has imprinted phrases such as “108MP AI Camera”, and “Built for 5G”. Personally, these inscriptions look gaudy, but design is a subjective parameter and there are chances that you may like it. Thankfully, on the Pacific Sunrise color variant that I had, the beautiful gradient takes away the attention from all the drama.
In fact, combined with the matte finish, the Pacific Sunrise Mi 10i is one of the most beautiful phones Xiaomi sold in over a year. That rear is made of glass, which only adds to the “premium feel”. Next to the plasticky the Moto G 5G, this feels more expensive.
The frame is constructed out of plastic but the fit and finish are top-notch. If I wasn’t a critic, I won’t be bothering myself with the materials of choice as the entire phone feels fancy to hold. The power key-mounted fingerprint sensor is within reach and has so far been eager for its duties as a biometric verification system. The buttons are tactile, which again throws light on the solid build quality of the phone.
The front of the Mi 10i is fairly modern but in 2021, I was expecting Xiaomi to trim the bezels further. The bottom chin is still substantial when compared to the rest of the bezels. The front camera sits in a small punch-hole cutout, like most of the midrange phones launching this year. The display, rear, and camera get Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Xiaomi is also putting on an anti-bacterial screen protector and a case as standard with the box. Nice of you, Xiaomi India.
These are quite some boastful specs
While the Mi 10i looks fancy, Xiaomi has also ensured it gets some bragging rights to you concerning the specifications. The phone gets a fairly large 6.67-inch 1080p IPS LCD display that supports up to 120Hz refresh rate. I say “up to” because the Mi 10i uses the same Adaptive Sync display from the Mi 10T series that automatically varies the refresh rate based on the type of content. So far, the display appears smooth and in my little time spent on this gaming as well as watching videos, I didn’t notice any screen tearing or jitters. The display itself looks bright and vibrant, although outdoor legibility under the sun isn’t as bright as I hoped.
Inside, the Mi 10i uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip that we saw earlier in the Moto G 5G. My review sample of the Mi 10i was on pre-release software build and hence, it would be unwise to deliver any judgement yet. However, despite the unfinished software, the phone feels fast while games don’t show any hesitation with loading times. There’s Xiaomi’s usual MIUI 12 on board and while it is similar to the one we already saw in most 2020 Xiaomi phones, there are some changes.
The Mi 10i, like most 2020 Xiaomi devices, replaces some its stock apps with Google stock apps such as Phone, Contacts, Messages, and more. The Control Center gets a new widget for quick access to smart home appliances, even though this one still runs on Android 10. I wish Xiaomi quickly upgrades this one to Android 11, given that 2021 has already begun.
I still can’t comment on the battery life as my usage is limited. However, over the last three days, the 4820mAh battery has held up pretty well. The 33W charging system takes less close to an hour to charge from under 10 percent – speeds that I am not bothered about.
One of the major draws for the Mi 10i is the camera system. The Mi 10i is the most affordable phone with a 108-megapixel camera. This is the Samsung HM2 sensor that uses the 9-in-1 binning trick for hogging more details. Xiaomi says you can expect similar levels of camera performance as the Mi 10T Pro. Frankly, I haven’t pushed the cameras on the phone yet but the camera performance seems fine at a quick glance. The 108MP mode is still fun to play with, given that I can keep zooming and still not lose the sharpness on a faraway subject.
I hoped to see new sensors for the other three cameras. The same old combination of the 8-megapixel ultra-wide, 2-megapixel macro, and 2-megapixel depth cameras is disappointing. I wonder what happened to the 5-megapixel macro shooter that impressed us on the Redmi Note 9 Pro phones? Was it axed due to cost cutting? Keep an eye for full insight into the performance of these cameras.
Initial impressions on Xiaomi Mi 10i
Based on the prices Xiaomi has revealed, the Mi 10i seems like a bargain at first glance. A 108-megapixel camera and the fast performance of the Snapdragon 750G at Rs 20,999 sounds too good to be true, especially for spec nerds. Most importantly, the Mi 10i feels expensive with its fancy design and solid build quality, which has got me interested. But is it a better phone when compared to the Motorola Moto G 5G, which also costs Rs 20,999 and is our current favorite in this segment? Keep an eye on BGR India for the full review as we are already busy putting the Mi 10i to test for the next few days.