Hands on: Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Review

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 (CC9 Pro in China) packs five cameras, a main 108-megapixel sensor and a generously sized battery. Is this Xiaomi's best yet?

First Impressions

The Mi Note 10 gives an early indication at some of the smartphone trends we’ll likely see in 2019, including five-camera arrays and super-high megapixel sensors. The potential of the hardware at play here is tempting, and I'm excited to see how well this camera performs in detail.

Key Specifications

  • 108-megapixel main camera
  • 5 cameras on the back, including a 2x and 5x
  • 6GB RAM, Snapdragon 730
  • 128GB storage
  • Headphone jack
  • 5260mAh battery
  • 6.47in OLED display, FHD+

Launched alongside the absolute bargain Redmi Note 8T, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is the European version of the Xiaomi CC9 Pro. It’s a seriously interesting phone thanks a 108-megapixel rear camera. 

Xiaomi has had an exceptional 2019. The Xiaomi Mi 9 bagged 5 stars, the Mi 9T Pro came close, and we’ve seen a real improvement and genuine innovation across the board with regards to this Chinese firm’s products. So it’s fitting that the company is ending the year with what looks like yet another impressive smartphone: the Xiaomi Mi Note 10.

The Mi Note 10 is the European release of the CC9 Pro, a phone Xiaomi unveiled alongside the Apple Watch 5-bating Mi Watch. Aside from having a name that’s very much in the vein of a Samsung flagship release, there don’t appear to be any significant differences between it and the CC9 Pro.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 camera – Five cameras to play with, including a 108-megapixel main sensor 

The highlight of the Mi Note 10 is the camera. Or, should I say the five vertically aligned cameras you’ll find running down the back of the phone. If you thought phones with three cameras were pushing things, wait until you see what’s going on here.

Heading the camera array is the main 108-megapixel sensor, which, by default, combines four pixels into one and produces 27-megapixel images. If that’s not enough, a quick swipe to the right in the camera app lets you capture full 108-megapixel images. One shot at this high resolution takes up roughly 18MB, so it’s good to see Xiaomi featuring 128GB storage as standard.

This main sensor also packs an f/1.65 aperture, which Xiaomi says it has developed by working in conjunction with Samsung.

Above the 108-megapixel sensor are two zoom cameras: a 12-megapixel sensor with a 2x zoom (15mm equivalent) that’s been designed especially for portrait shots, and a 5-megapixel version that can be pushed up to 50x digital zoom. This camera also has 5x “optical” zoom and a 10x hybrid zoom.

Related: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

The fourth camera is your 20-megapixel ultra-wide (117-degree field-of-view) option. Then, below that is a 2-megapixel sensor dedicated to snapping up-close macro shots. This lets you capture highly detailed shots from as close as 2cm away from a subject. Xiaomi reps revealed that you’ll get a prompt to switch to this mode when you get close to something.

That’s a seriously generous number of megapixels at play, which makes for a phone that offers a huge amount of versatility for a unit priced around the £500 mark.

Of course, it all comes down to quality; simply upping the megapixel count doesn’t equal a better photo. I’ve taken a few shots (lots more to come in the full review) during my 48-or-so hours with the Mi Note 10, and aside from a slight lag when you’re in the 108-megapixel mode, the resulting pictures appear pretty good. The level of detail is the most obvious upgrade, but colours and dynamic range impress as well.

There’s a new Night mode 2.0 onboard, too, which aims to reduce noise in  low-light shots by using full Raw shots and capturing multiple images over a short period of time.

A 32-megapixel sensor on the front caters for selfies. It incorporates a nifty, if gimmicky, “Vlog” mode for automatically cutting and jazzing up your footage.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 specs, performance and battery life – Potential to be a battery champion

Of course, the camera is the king here – but don’t write off this phone as a one-trick-pony. The huge 5260mAh battery should keep the FHD+ 6.47in screen running for extended periods, and I haven’t yet had to charge the device in my two days with it.

When it does run out of juice, you can use the included 30w charger to take the cell from 0-100% in – according to Xiaomi, anyway – 1hr 5mins. Wireless charging, included with other Xiaomi devices such as the Mi 9, isn’t available here. 

Powering the Mi Note 10 is the Snapdragon 730G chipset, which was chosen due to its power efficiency. It might not pack the pure power of the Snapdragon 855+, but it seems a perfectly capable chip; I haven’t run into any bottlenecks or speed bumps yet. The Mi Note 10 also comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of none-expandable storage.

In terms of software the Mi Note 10 runs Mi UI 11, which is built upon Android 9. However, recent Xiaomi phones have been updated, at least in beta form, to Android 10. So, hopefully, that upgrade shouldn’t be too far away.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 design and screen – A 3.5mm headphone jack in 2019?

With its curved screen melting into a metal rim and a glass back, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 looks similar to previous high-end phones from the likes of Huawei and Samsung. That’s far from a bad thing, though. The Mi Note 10 feels great to in the hand; it has a weighty, reassuring feel, but is noticeably smaller and narrower than an iPhone 11 Pro Max.

That curved OLED display is bright and colourful, and the FHD+ resolution offers up plenty of sharpness. There’s a fingerprint sensor inside the display, too, which Xiaomi says is faster than previous iterations; it’s a lot thinner, too, hence there’s plenty of room to fit in a bigger battery.

I’m still not completely sold on the current-gen of in-display sensors; however, the one here is fast and fairly responsive – just not as much as a physical fingerprint reader on the back.

There’s only a splash-resistant rating here – but there is a 3.5mm headphone jack sitting next to the USB-C port on the bottom.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 early verdict

The Mi Note 10 gives an early indication at some of the smartphone trends we’ll likely see in 2019, including five-camera arrays and super-high megapixel sensors. The potential of the hardware at play here is tempting and I’m excited to see how well this camera performs in detail.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

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