A student's take on the budget-friendly Redmi Note 10

Nicole Oo finds out if the affordably-priced Redmi Note 10 is up to scratch.

Share this Post:
Cover Image

When Chinese entrepreneur Lei Jun founded Xiaomi slightly over a decade ago, he set a mission statement that would mould the company into the giant monolith it is today – Innovation For Everyone.

From cheap models like the POCO M2 Reloaded to pricey ones like the Mi 11 Ultra, Xiaomi’s mobile phones cover a large price range to further its quest to create quality technology that’s accessible to the masses – an ideal embodied by the Redmi Note 10.

Like its predecessors over the years, the Redmi Note 10 touts a well-rounded performance at an affordable price. It is offered in 3 colours: Onyx Gray, Pebble White, and Lake Green.

A couple of years ago, my father bought me a Redmi Note 8 Pro which I am still using today. As an average Redmi Note user, I was thrilled to write this review as it would allow me to have a deeper understanding of the technology which has been a part of my daily life for so long.

Overall Design and Feel

The Redmi Note 10 sports a 6.43” AMOLED DotDisplay protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The colours on the screen are lively and sharp with its DCI-P3 colour gamut (this rating specifies the range and amount of colours that are displayed on the screen). The display is large enough so you don’t strain your eyes while reading, and yet the phone feels comfortably compact. The hole-punch front camera is unobtrusive and minimises the amount of real estate it occupies on the screen. Though the back of the phone is made of plastic (polycarbonate), it still manages to pull off a premium look due to its classy matte finish.

With its lightweight body (178.8g), short width (74.5mm) and smooth, curved edges that frame the sides of the phone, the Redmi Note 10 fits snugly into the palm of your hand and is convenient for single-handed use.

Unique Features

One of the things I find quirky about the Redmi Note 10 is its IR blaster. An IR blaster, short for “infrared blaster”, is a piece of hardware that sends infrared signals to communicate with other devices like televisions and entertainment systems. A feature once prominent in higher-end brands like Samsung, the IR blaster is more common in mid-range ones like Xiaomi and OnePlus today. I tried using the Mi Remote controller application with a Panasonic fan, Daikin AC, and Samsung television at home and it worked flawlessly with all of them.

Another thing I love about the Redmi Note 10 is the UI skins users can pick to customise their phone. From cute themes like Greedy Cat to nature-based ones like Nature Neo, there is a huge variety of UI themes users can choose from; every user will surely be able to find something which appeals to them.

Audio

With dual stereo loudspeakers that pack a mighty punch, the Redmi Note 10’s sound is great for watching movies and playing video games. With a Hi-Res audio certification – which means that the phone’s hardware meets stringent specifications – the projected audio is clear and sounds great. However, you might have to adjust the way you grip the phone in order to avoid muffling the speakers with your hands.

Battery Life and Charging Speed

I find the Redmi Note 10’s long-lasting battery and fast charging speeds to be among its best features.

For moderate, day-to-day use (only using productivity, messaging, and casual gaming applications), the Redmi Note 10 managed to last almost 2 days without any charging.

True to what marketers say, the Redmi Note 10’s charging speed is extremely fast. Using the charger in the packaging, it took only 32 minutes for the battery to hit 50% charge, and 84 minutes to reach 100% charge. It is possible that my charging times were slightly slower than the official numbers as I had used an extension cord and left my phone switched on. Regardless, the Redmi Note 10 charges quickly and this feature is very useful if you need to get your phone ready for use in a short period of time.

Performance

The Redmi Note 10 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 678. A decent processor found in many mid-range mobile phones today, the Snapdragon 678 provides performance that is more than sufficient for the average user. Messaging and productivity applications like Whatsapp, Google Docs, and Easy Notes run smoothly and switching between them is seamless.

Casual games like Candy Crush, Subway Surfers and Stack run equally smoothly.

More resource-intensive games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty run acceptably; the graphics and audio generally render without interruption, but there is occasional lagging and frame-drops.

Camera

Here is a summary of the cameras mounted on the Redmi Note 10, according to data on Xiaomi’s official website:

Rear Camera

  • 48MP wide-angle camera: 1/2" sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, f/1.79
  • 2MP macro camera: f/2.4
  • 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera: f/2.4, f/2.22MP depth sensor, FOV 118°

Front Camera

  • 13MP front camera: f/2.45

I find that the Redmi Note 10’s 48MP wide-angle camera performs outstandingly under bright light conditions, with an almost negligible amount of noise and a high level of detail. However, if you are short on storage space, you might want to forgo this feature as 48MP pictures occupy about twice the amount of storage taken up by a picture taken with the main camera.

Overall, the Redmi Note 10’s camera performance is quite average. It has features common to most mid to high-end models like AI face recognition, basic photo editing, and filters. I find that the quality of its photographs is quite inconsistent and extremely sensitive to changes in environmental conditions.

All pictures below have been edited with the in-built picture editor, with the exception of the first two pictures. I had considered not doing so at first, but I later opted to do so as in my opinion, editing the pictures with the default editor would allow me to show the potential of the phone’s camera more effectively.

48MP VS Without

The 48MP wide-angle camera on the Redmi Note 10 is supposed to be used for taking photographs with high production quality, which is only possible with adequate light. Hence, I will only be comparing 48MP shots which were taken in such conditions as pictures taken in dim light, even with 48MP, will be of poor quality due to the camera’s limitations.

Normal photo mode: 48M, f/1.79, 1/115, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
Normal photo mode: 48M, f/1.79, 1/115, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

48M: f/1.79, 1/116, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
48M: f/1.79, 1/116, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

At first glance, both pictures look identical. However, if you zoom in, you can see that the difference in the amount of detail and grain is actually very significant.

Normal photo mode
Normal photo mode

48M mode
48M mode

I’m not sure how visible the difference is on a small mobile screen; if you are using a laptop you should be able to see that despite the 48M picture being more cropped, the one on the left still has an equal or greater amount of noise than the former. Even though the 48M picture has been magnified greatly by cropping, the details remain very sharp and the picture has little noise.

Here are more comparisons.

Normal photo mode: f/1.79, 1/349, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
Normal photo mode: f/1.79, 1/349, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

Normal photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/349, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
Normal photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/349, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

48MP photo mode: f/1.79, 1/358, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
48MP photo mode: f/1.79, 1/358, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

48MP photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/358, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
48MP photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/358, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

Normal photo mode: f/1.79, 1/846, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
Normal photo mode: f/1.79, 1/846, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

Normal photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/846, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
Normal photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/846, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

48MP photo mode: f/1.79, 1/945, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
48MP photo mode: f/1.79, 1/945, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

48MP photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/945, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
48MP photo mode (cropped): f/1.79, 1/945, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

Lens Types

With Pro mode, there are three shooting lenses you can choose from: Macro, Wide, and Ultra-Wide. Macro is used to shoot close-ups, while Wide and Ultra-Wide can be used more flexibly. Here are some pictures to demonstrate the difference between the three, which have been edited with the in-built image editor.

Macro: f/1.79, 1/33, ISO 279, 4.74mm, No flash
Macro: f/1.79, 1/33, ISO 279, 4.74mm, No flash

Wide: f/1.79, 1/15, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash
Wide: f/1.79, 1/15, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash

Ultra-wide: f/2.2, 1/15, ISO 100, 1.65mm, No flash
Ultra-wide: f/2.2, 1/15, ISO 100, 1.65mm, No flash

Day Time: Outside

f/1.79, 1/1708, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash (Taken with 48MP lens)
f/1.79, 1/1708, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash (Taken with 48MP lens)

f/1.79, 1/145, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash (taken with main camera)
f/1.79, 1/145, ISO 100, 4.74mm, No flash (taken with main camera)

Indoors

All of the photographs in this section were shot at home with the main camera. The lighting is much dimmer than outdoors. In general, I find that these pictures are quite average in quality in terms of graininess and the level of detail.

f/2.4, 1/25, ISO 413, 1.915mm, No flash
f/2.4, 1/25, ISO 413, 1.915mm, No flash

f/1.79, 1/25, ISO 840, 4.74mm, No flash
f/1.79, 1/25, ISO 840, 4.74mm, No flash

f/2.4, 1/25, ISO 100, 1.915mm, No flash
f/2.4, 1/25, ISO 100, 1.915mm, No flash

Nighttime: Outside

When using Night Mode, the photographs are often not very good. I feel that you can obtain better photographs by using Pro mode and tweaking the camera settings manually. Nonetheless, with or without Night Mode, the pictures taken at night are grainy, with the phone’s camera needing high ISO values to keep photograph subjects visible without an extremely slow shutter speed. In general, increasing the brightness of a picture with longer shutter speeds is better than increasing the ISO values to minimise grain.

f/1.79, 1/250, ISO 1600, 4.74mm, No flash, Pro Mode
f/1.79, 1/250, ISO 1600, 4.74mm, No flash, Pro Mode

The light from a nearby lamp probably allowed this clear picture to be taken. Without it, I think it would be much grainier.

f/1.79, 1/10, ISO 14782, 4.74mm, No flash, Night mode
f/1.79, 1/10, ISO 14782, 4.74mm, No flash, Night mode

f/1.79, 1/5, ISO 2560, 4.74mm, No flash, Pro Mode
f/1.79, 1/5, ISO 2560, 4.74mm, No flash, Pro Mode

f/1.79, 1/3, ISO 14999, 4.74mm, No flash, settings automatically set by Night Mode
f/1.79, 1/3, ISO 14999, 4.74mm, No flash, settings automatically set by Night Mode

f/1.79, 1/14, ISO 25600, 4.74mm, No flash, Pro Mode
f/1.79, 1/14, ISO 25600, 4.74mm, No flash, Pro Mode

Document Scanner

The document scanner is a relatively new feature that can be accessed via the camera application.

For $0, the scanner performs on par with document scanners you can find in Google Play, without adding any watermarks to the scans. Here are some sample pictures from the scanner:

B&W scanner

Regular photograph taken with Redmi Note 10’s rear camera
Regular photograph taken with Redmi Note 10’s rear camera

Scan by Redmi Note 10’s in-built document scanner
Scan by Redmi Note 10’s in-built document scanner

Scan by CamScanner
Scan by CamScanner

Coloured scanner

Regular photograph taken with Redmi Note 10’s rear camera
Regular photograph taken with Redmi Note 10’s rear camera

Scan by Redmi Note 10’s in-built document scanner
Scan by Redmi Note 10’s in-built document scanner

Scan by CamScanner
Scan by CamScanner

Pricing

In Singapore, you can get your hands on a Redmi Note 10 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage for $249. If you want one with slightly more storage and a faster processing speed, you can get one with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage for $20 more. Alternatively, you can insert a microSD card into the dedicated slot for additional storage. You can purchase this model from authorised Mi Stores and official Xiaomi retailers, or Lazada from the comfort of your home.

Summary

Here’s a brief overview of its most notable features and its potential drawbacks:

Operating System MIUI 12, based on Android 11

SIM cards Supports dual-SIM (4G, 3G, 2G)

Network bands:

  • 4G: LTE FDD B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28
  • 4G: LTE TDD B38/40/41(2535-2655MHz)
  • 3G: WCDMA B1/2/4/5/8
  • 2G: GSM 850 900 1800 1900 MHz

Wireless Networks 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0

Display 6.43” AMOLED DotDisplay

Audio Dual speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, Hi-res audio certification

Sensors IR blaster, Fingerprint sensor (on the power button), Compass/Magnetometer, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Gyroscope

Pros:

  • Unique and quirky UI
  • Premium-looking design and feel
  • Reliable and smooth CPU performance
  • Long battery life and fast charging speed
  • Clear, loud audio with dual speakers
  • IR blaster not commonly found in higher-range models
  • Ability to use additional storage with microSD slot
  • Good 48M/regular camera, but only in bright light. Otherwise average performance under dimmer conditions

Cons:

  • Lack of NFC, hence inability to facilitate contactless payment and TraceTogether NFC functions
  • Photographs shot in dim light are very grainy

Conclusion

With its long battery life, decent RAM and internal storage, and good water and dust resistance (it is rated IP53 - meaning it can take some splashes and some dust entering the phone will not compromise its functionality), the Redmi Note 10 is a sturdy, reliable phone that provides excellent performance considering its price for everyday use.

Unfortunately, the Redmi Note 10 has an Achilles Heel – it lacks NFC capabilities – meaning no contactless payments and having to check in with the TraceTogether app using the camera (an app used for Covid-related contact-tracing in Singapore). It’s something you need to think about given the pervasiveness of both. In addition, it has poor camera quality under even mildly suboptimal conditions.

Nonetheless, if these factors are not an issue for you, I would highly recommend the Redmi Note 10 for the average mobile phone user as it provides good performance overall at an affordable, honest price.

Share this Post: