The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro manages to stand out in a crowded budget smartphone field thanks to a stunning 120Hz AMOLED display and a capable 108MP camera. It’s not the prettiest sub-£300 handset on the market, and you’ll have to be prepared to make do without 5G connectivity. Even so, there aren’t many phones on the market today that give you more for your money.
- Best in class 120Hz AMOLED display
- 108MP camera capable of fine things
- Excellent stamina from 5020mAh
- Bargain price tag
- No 5G
- Camera disappoints in less-than-ideal lighting
- Review Price: £TBC
- Snapdragon 732G
- 108-megapixel main camera
- 5020mAh battery
- 6.67-inch 120Hz display
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is the latest ‘premium budget’ phone from this vibrant sub-brand. It’s a remarkably compelling package for the money.
For likely less than £300 then, you’re getting a couple of remarkable components in the shape of a 120Hz AMOLED display and a 108MP camera.
That’s flagship talk right there. And while Xiaomi has made some inevitable compromises to hit that spec, they’re not as consequential as you might think.
Price and Availability
Xiaomi hadn’t supplied us with any UK pricing at the time of writing this review.
What is known is that it has a global price of $279 and the Redmi Note 9 Pro was priced at £249 at its launch last year. The Indian pricing for the closely related Redmi Note 10 Pro Max would appear to be in line with that.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Design and Screen – Ordinary looks, an extraordinary display
- Plastic body is robust yet uninspiring
- Side-mounted fingerprint sensor accurate but awkward to locate
- Outstanding 120Hz AMOLED display for the money
If there’s one element of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro package I’m fairly ambivalent about, it’s the way it looks and feels. Xiaomi might have applied pressure to its bottom line with a couple of this phone’s components, but it’s clear to see where the release valve lies.
This isn’t an ugly phone by any means, but it is all but indistinguishable from a number of other phones around this price point. It certainly doesn’t look or feel as good as some of the best phones in the budget space.
While you get Gorilla Glass 5 to the front and glass to the rear, the body of the Redmi Note 10 Pro is pure plastic. If we’re being positive, this no doubt contributes to the phone being able to come in under the magic 200g mark (it weighs 193g), which is far from a given when you’re packing in a huge 5000mAh+ battery.
At 164mm x 76.5mm x 8.1mm, it’s in that just-so range that will neither stick out of nor disappear into a reasonably sized trouser pocket. Without even needing to glance at the respective measurements, I can tell that it’s got roughly the same dimensions as the OnePlus Nord N10 that’s sat on my desk, though the Redmi feels the more solid and classy bit of kit.
One little premium flourish here is the phone’s camera module, which apparently has an ‘Infinity-rainbow’ finish. If this means that there’s a nice shiny metal effect framing the main sensor, then sure. Combined with the two-tiered camera module mounting, it gives the camera a purposeful Pro look that distinguishes it from many cheaper efforts.
Another subtle but welcome flourish is the phone’s flattened out top and bottom edges, which also switch to a less glossy finish than the rounded sides. Not only is it a rare point of visual differentiation for the phone, but it also gives your supporting pinky finger a little extra purchase.
The right hand edge of the phone contains a fingerprint sensor integrated into the power key. While it’s both fast and accurate, I do take slight issue with its shape and positioning. It’s both smaller and less prominent than the volume rocker just above it, which means it’s harder to find by feel than the more common indented system of the Realme 7 5G and the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite. It also falls a little lower than the right thumb’s natural resting position, which adds to the awkwardness.
I’m glad to see a pair of stereo speakers here. It’s not exactly an unprecedented provision – the Poco X3 NFC does the same for around £200 – but nor is it normal. The presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a lot more common, but still welcome. One final surprise is the appearance of an IR blaster on the top edge, which opens up the possibility of controlling your TV and Hi-Fi set-up from your phone.
The front of the phone doesn’t have much in the way of premium design flourishes. You get that generic not-quite-edge-to-edge display that typifies phones at this end of the market, with slightly larger bezels and a proportionally weightier chin. There’s also a plastic frame between the phone’s sides and display, which is a sure sign that this was made to a strict budget.
To be fair, you do get a much smaller hole punch camera notch than you’d ordinarily find on such a cheap phone, mounted right in the middle of the top edge, but Xiaomi somewhat undermines any efforts to make it less obtrusive by giving it a distractingly shiny border.
All that fades away when you consider what’s going on within that somewhat generic frame. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro’s display is an absolute peach.
There’s nothing particularly remarkable about its 6.67-inch size, or its 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) resolution, though both are fine. What really catches the eye is the combination of AMOLED panel technology and a 120Hz refresh rate.
We’ve seen AMOLED screens in cheaper phones before, but the likes of the Vivo Y70 don’t come with 120Hz refresh rates. And we’ve also seen 120Hz refresh rates in affordable phones before, but the likes of the Realme 7 5G and the Xiaomi 10T Lite don’t have vibrant AMOLED panels.
Such a combination was formerly the preserve of flagship models, so the fact that the Redmi Note 10 Pro gives you the whole package for less than £300 is quite a feat. This is a decent quality AMOLED display too, with punchy colours that stay just the right side of gaudy. With a typical brightness of 450 nits and 1200 nits at its peak, it’s plenty bright enough too with episodes of TV on Netflix or Prime Video looking punchy.
The use of AMOLED also enables little flourishes like a subtle edge notification effect when you receive messages, and the inclusion of always-on display options. None of this would be possible with an LCD.
I’m always cautious about praising a cheap phone for packing in a 120Hz refresh rate. Limitations elsewhere – such as less capable processors and inferior optimisation – tend to act as bottlenecks, inhibiting the super-smooth effect. The Redmi Note 10 Pro doesn’t escape these issues, and using it doesn’t compare to flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21. There are levels of 120Hz, just as not every 60Hz phone feels equally smooth.
Still, activating the elevated refresh rate does make general navigation a touch more pleasant. It’s a welcome dash of opulence, and a 240Hz touch sampling rate ensures that this display feels as responsive as it looks.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Camera – 108MP shots look good for the price
- 108MP sensor works great in good light
- Moderate lighting can trouble it
- Night Mode one of the best for the price
Google’s Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a aside, we rarely encounter affordable phones with genuinely decent cameras. This is where a significant portion of a flagship phone’s development budget will tend to go, after all. Just take a look at the best camera phones around for proof of that.
While it isn’t quite as impressive as it initially sounds, the Redmi Note 10 Pro’s 108-megapixel main camera is quite possibly the best you’ll find for less than £300. It utilises the 108MP 1/1.52″ Samsung ISOCELL HM2 sensor, which we’ve previously seen in the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 and the Redmi Note 9 Pro 5G.
This huge sensor utilises 9-to-1 pixel binning techniques to produce 12-megapixel snaps using chunky 2.1 μm ‘super pixels’. Essentially, the Redmi Note 10 Pro is capable of capturing more light and way more detail than other affordable phone cameras.
The results can be pretty darned great in good lighting, where all that extra sucked-in detail manifests in sharp, balanced snaps. Colours are extremely vibrant, occasionally verging on the slightly too in-your-face (especially reds), but generally pleasing to the eye. Dynamic range is pretty strong too.
It also has a Night Mode that’s better than most of its rivals, if still not at flagship levels (OIS is the big miss here). I took the Redmi Note 10 Pro out for a night time stroll along with the OnePlus Nord N10, the Realme 7 5G and the Poco X3 NFC, and took a bunch of identical Night Mode shots with them. The Redmi consistently pulled out the most detail and featured brighter, cleaner shots overall.
Where the Redmi Note 10 Pro camera seems to suffer most is those in-between lighting situations, where you’re past perfect daylight conditions yet Night Mode isn’t appropriate. I was quite surprised by the amount of noisy, grainy artefacts present in many of my daytime indoors shots, even whilst the colours were popping off and the thumbnails seemed to be on point. I was even more surprised to find that the camera struggled to lock on to my subjects in artificially lit dinner time conditions. You can see a bit of both in the teapot shot included in the image below.
At other times neither of these problems manifested, which leads me to think it’s an issue with Xiaomi’s algorithms, or maybe its typically-strong AI assistant. Hopefully the experience can be made more consistent with a future software update.
Xiaomi has obviously placed all its photographic eggs in one 108MP basket here. That’s perfectly understandable, but it does mean that elsewhere you have a mediocre 8MP ultrawide camera that shoots slightly murky landscape shots. As we’ve come to expect, the tone doesn’t quite match the main sensor, dynamic range isn’t great, and detail levels fall off towards the edges.
There’s no telephoto camera provision here. Instead, Xiaomi uses the main sensor’s surfeit of pixels to crop in. On the plus side, this means that the colour tone and dynamic range are always on point in a way that they aren’t for those ultrawide snaps. On the negative side, the detail level degrades exponentially beyond 2X.
Replacing that telephoto sensor is a fairly pointless 5MP macro camera. In its defence, this sensor isn’t totally useless at capturing close-up shots, which is the case with most sub-2MP affordable macro cameras. I was able to take some pleasingly alien-looking close-ups of some succulents, but how many freaky plant close-ups do you take in your average week?
Video capture extends to 4K 30fps, which is fairly typical for such a phone. Elsewhere, selfie duty is handled by a 16MP front camera, which yields pretty respectable results for a budget phone.
All in all, the Redmi Note 10 Pro’s camera setup is uncommonly good for its price. It’s not the night and day improvement over its closest rivals that its specs might lead you to expect, and it still falls well short of flagship levels but progress is progress, and this cheap camera phone is capable of great things under the right conditions.
Performance – Snappy Snapdragon 732G, busy MIUI
- Snapdragon 732G is a capable budget chip
- A choice of 6GB or 8GB RAM
- MUI12 is ugly but customisable
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10Pro runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 732G, which is the same capable lower-mid-range chip that powers the Poco X3 NFC.
I was pleased with this punchy chip’s performance in that late-2020 budget champ, and it continues to do the business here in early 2021. It’s capable of running a 120Hz display with only the occasional halt and stutter, and these instances will be barely perceptible to someone who doesn’t use a lot of high-end phones day to day.
You might experience the occasional pause when navigating through the Note 10 Pro’s menus, or when initiating an update of multiple apps in the Google Play store. Browsing through a media-rich web page isn’t as slick a process as with a more expensive phone, either. But again, that’s not something most customers will really notice.
Performance doesn’t quite live up to the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite with its Snapdragon 750G, however. It would have been nice to have that slightly faster chip to call on here, but the Redmi’s superior display and camera comfortably make up for a minor performance shortfall.
Besides, the Snapdragon 732G is a similarly capable gaming performer, with a GPU that far outstrips lesser chips attributed to the Snapdragon 665 and the Helio G95. You can expect PUBG Mobile to default to High Frame Rate and HD graphics – something that’s no doubt aided by a decent 6GB or 8GB of RAM.
I’d usually provide Geekbench 5 results at this point, but for whatever reason the benchmark test would consistently crash on my Redmi Note 10 Pro model. Rest assured that it feels every inch as capable as the Poco X3 NFC.
Storage options are decent, if not best in class. You have the option of 64GB or 128GB, with the added bonus of a microSD slot.
The one glaring spec omission here is 5G. We’ve all grown accustomed to seeing cutting edge mobile connectivity present at this end of the market by now, to the point where I feel duty bound to cite this in the ‘Cons’ field of the review. But in truth, I really don’t think it’s a big deal beyond a missed box-ticking opportunity.
Does achieving 5G connection speeds feel magical? You’re damned right it does, but part of that feeling is down to the fact that achieving a full and sustained 5G connection is so vanishingly rare for most people, even within major cities.
By taking the brave decision to cut 5G from the package and place its resources elsewhere, Xiaomi has merely demonstrated that it’s got its priorities straight. If 5G is that important to you, there are plenty of 5G-ready phones available at a similar price – several of which are mentioned in this review. But know that you won’t get as good a display or as capable a camera with any of them.
Maybe I’m experiencing a kind of smartphone Stockholm syndrome having been held captive by using Xiaomi’s software so much over the past few months, but I think I’m warming to Xiaomi’s distinct approach to Android. This is MIUI 12 layered over Android 11, and it’s as colourful and customisable as it was when I used it on the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite and the Poco X3 NFC.
You still get the option of gestures or virtual buttons. I also appreciate the option of a split notification pane, enabling you to pull down notifications by dragging down from the left and settings toggles by pulling down from the right.
You also have Xiaomi’s own custom apps and tools, many of which I stashed away in a makeshift junk folder early on in my time with the phone. Gallery, Music, Mi Video, Weather, Notes, and Mi Browser are functionally fine, but there are way better and more popular options out there. Some of them are even preinstalled right alongside them in the case of Google Photos, YouTube Music, and Chrome.
There’s also a smattering of third party apps preinstalled like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and TikTok. I’m never in favour of such presumptuousness on the part of developers, but it’s a common enough practice by now to be greeted with a shrug rather than any great annoyance.
One thing that is most definitely worthy of a stern tut is Xiaomi’s ugly full-page ads, which rudely insert themselves every time you install a new app in the Google Play Store. I still find it worryingly easy to get lost within Xiaomi’s Settings menu, too – something that the company itself seems to acknowledge with the provision of redirecting help links at the bottom of each section.
Ultimately, Xiaomi’s software continues to be way behind that of OnePlus and Motorola (let alone Google’s and Apple’s software) in terms of tastefulness and layout, but it’s stable and inviting, quick to lend a hand – often to a fault – and eminently customisable.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Battery Life – Two day potential
- 5020mAh battery is ample
- Two day potential for light users, comfortable all-day for everyone else
- 33w charger for speedy top-ups
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is a star when it comes to stamina. With a large 5020mAh battery and no power-hogging 5G to worry about, it’s a phone with genuine two-day potential should you be light or occasional user.
Of course, with a 120Hz display and a budget processor, it’s not without its power-hungry components. But even so, I never felt like I was going to come up short with this phone.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to go to bed after a particularly easy day of usage (just 2-3 hours of screen on time) with 50 to 60% left in the tank. More intensive use would bring it down below that magic two-day mark, but I was never sweating come the end of a busy day.
An hour of Amazon Prime Video streaming with the screen cranked up to full brightness sapped 8% of a charge, which is good for a budget phone. The Poco X3 NFC sapped 11 to 13% under the same conditions, while the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite drained 12 to 14%.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro charges nice and quickly for a budget phone too, with a bundled in 33W charger that’s supposedly capable of going 0 to 59% in half an hour. I never ran it down to absolute zero to test that claim, but I did observe that it was able to go from 17 to 30% in 15 minutes, and 50% to 90% in 30 minutes.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Conclusion
It’s not the prettiest sub-£300 handset on the market, and you’ll have to be prepared to make do without 5G connectivity, but there’s so much here for the money that it’s hard to resist.
You should buy the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro if…
- You want the best screen for the price
You don’t usually see phones this cheap with displays like this. The large 6.67-inch 120Hz panel is excellent and the true star of the show.
- You want a good camera but can’t stretch to the Pixel 4a
The 108MP sensor used here allows for strong snaps if the light is good. It’s not quite as good, or as reliable as the Pixel 4a, but it isn’t too far off. The Night Mode is excellent too.
You shouldn’t buy the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro if…
- Classy design is key
Picking fault with a phone that offers value this good is tough, but the Note 10 Pro isn’t quite perfect. Some sacrifices have been made in terms of design and this is a bit plastic fantastic.
- You like a clean Android experience
If you’ve read any of our other reviews for Xiaomi phones, then you’ll know the overly intrusive software is a constant niggle. It’s no better here.
- You want 5G
The obvious missing feature here is 5G. For me, this isn’t a big deal yet. For you, that might make this a miss.