The last few months have seen new increased focus on the below Rs 25,000 segment of the smartphone market with the entry of new players like OnePlus. The aggressively priced Nord from the company pretty much changed the definition of what you’d expect from a phone up for purchase in the price segment.
Its entry inviograted rivals to launch similarly priced offerings of their own, with Xiaomi now launching its latest rival for the OnePlus Nord in the form of the Mi 10i — a lite variant of the Mi 10T flagship which was launched earlier last year.
The new smartphone from Xiaomi appears to be made from the same cloth as its more expensive sibling, however, there are some key changes, including a price tag that’s significantly more pleasing to the pocket.
In theory, the phone appears to be a good bargain as it offers an advanced 108-megapixel camera, powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor, and a good design all at an competitive starting price of Rs 20,999 for the entry-level variant.
But is the Mi 10i really the home run that Xiaomi and the phone’s spec sheet is making it to be? We spent a few days with the device to figure just that out.
Xiaomi Mi 10i review: Design and display
To be honest, the design of the Mi 10i is not really its strongest point, and interestingly this is not because the device looks dull or because it hasn’t been designed well.
Rather, this is because the phone follows a design scheme that’s very much in line with what we’ve seen with a lot of Xiaomi and even Redmi phones over the last few months.
While that may not be an issue for a lot of users, this issue will definitely stick out like a sore thumb for those that are upgrading from an existing Xiaomi device from last year, or for those that are not comfortable with what is now a unique design language for most phones Xioami these days.
However, if you’re not part of the club above, then there is a lot to like about the Mi 10i in terms of design and looks. The phone feels sturdy in the hand and has an understated appeal to it the moment you lay your eyes on it. The phone’s available in 3 different colours, Pacific Sunrise, Atlantic Blue and the more muted Midnight Black. Of the three, we were sent the first one for review, and I can safely say that the Mi 10i in this particular colour doesn’t look half as flashy as I had feared it to be.
While the colour may not be for everyone, the high-level of craftmanship involved in machining the device out of slabs of glass and plastic will definitely be appreciated by all. One of the defining features of the phone’s exteriors is its circular camera bump which is something that we’ve previously seen on Redmi Note 9 devices in 2021. However, this one cleverly shows off the phone’s key features by coming with inscriptions such as “108MP AI Camera” and “Built for 5G”.
The Min 10i does not feature an under-display fingerprint scanner so the device houses the mechanical reader on the frame of the device which is placed on the right of the phone and just below the device’s volume keys. The frame also houses a speaker grille, Type-C port and a 3.5mm jack, all of which are placed at the bottom of the device.
Moving on to the front of the device, the Mi 10T Pro offers a 6.67-inch full HD+ LCD panel which can work at a fixed resolution of 1080×2400 pixels. It offers a peak brightness of 450 nits which we found to be good enough for use even under direct sunlight.
However, where it impresses the most is in its ability to refresh frames at up to 120Hz. Interestingly, the phone also uses a variation of the AdaptiveSync feature found on the Mi 10T Pro and such automatically handles the refresh rate of the display — six steps between 30Hz and 120Hz — depending on the content being consumed by the user.
In our time with it, we found the phone’s panel to be quite good, and great for watching movies and playing games on it. Colour accuracy appeared to be on point, and its ability to refresh at high rates definitely proving to be a boon while playing supported games or just generally browsing the web.
The phone is also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 and comes with an IP53 rating. Overall, these elements come together to create a phone that despite being slightly heavy in the hand at 214.5 grams, still feels like a premium product.
Xiaomi Mi 10i Pros and Cons : Specifications, performance and battery
. At the core of the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chipset which brings with itself a lot of punch in terms of performance. The chipset is manufactured using Samsung’s 8nm process and because of its design promises similar performance than the Snapdragon 765G chipset. It uses a base configuration of two performance ARM Cortex-A77 cores clocked at 2.2Ghz sat next to six efficiency A55 cores which run at 1.8Ghz.
For graphics, we have the Adreno 619 GPU on the chipset, which again delivers pretty much the same kind of performance as the GPU on the Snapdragon 765G.
For smooth performance, Xiaomi has paired this with up to 8GB RAM on the top-end variant of the device, and as we found out during our time with the device, the phone performs as well as it is advertised.
While there is some amount of bloatware on the device, the MIUI 12-based phone still manages to handle pretty much all that you can throw at it. Be it gaming or light tasks such as social media apps, the Mi 10i does not disappoint as it smooths through it all — especially if you’ve set the refresh rate at 120Hz.
Given the competitive price of the device, it was quite impressive to see games such as Call of Duty Mobile run without any hitches and that too at high graphics and fast frame rate settings on the phone. However, we did note the device getting a little warm after 20-30 minutes of gaming on it.
As for the battery, the device comes with a big 4820mAh pack which supports for 33W fast charging. Xiaomi claims that the battery is actually split in two which allows for the phone to charge faster than a device with a similarly sized battery. The numbers claimed here are 68 per cent in 30 minutes and a full charge in about an hour. And as we found out these are claims that the phone does manage to meet.
But before we got to charging the phone, it has been found to last over a day on a single charge, which honestly is now becoming a norm for most Xiaomi and Redmi phones these days. While these devices do come with big battery packs, we believe a lot of the credit for the impressive battery life must go to Xiaomi’s highly optimised MIUI operating system.
Xiaomi Mi 10i review: Camera
Xiaomi has also gone big with the Mi 10i’s camera set-up. The phone comes with a quad-camera set-up on the back, built around a 108-megapixel ISOCELL HM2 sensor. Other cameras in the list are an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, a 2-megapixel macro shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
Of these, it’s definitely the 108-megapixel lens that’s of most interest. This is because this is the first time we are getting to use this snapper in India.
his new generation Samsung HM2 sensor comes with 9-in-1 pixel binning which on paper promises extremely impressive and detailed shots, especially in the 108-megapixel mode. In reality, however, the results we got were a little mixed.
While the lens manages to capture enough detail, we found the resultant images lacking at times when it came to colour accuracy and also post-processing.
Clicking shots on auto, the lens throws up images which appeared a bit grainy and little washed out for colours. While we aren’t sure what’s causing the issue, but I believe the culprit here is the camera code that Xiaomi will most likely fix with the next update. it does not means pictures aren’t good. That they definitely are. But, just not at the level that I was expecting the lens to capture.
Low light performance of the device is good, as the phone manages to salvage extremely dark scenes by producing usable shots with good details, colours and brightness.
The phone also clicks good bokeh shots, although, our preference was to click these through the 108-megapixel primary lens.
The other three lenses on the phone don’t match up anywhere close to the performance of the primary lens, however, the ultrawide lens is a convenient tool which can be used to capture more of the frame at simply the switch of a button. All the lenses on the device are quick to focus and offer a good level of stablisation.
Xiaomi has equipped the phone with a 16-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.45 aperture. The lens manages to capture accurate skin details and tones. We found its performance to be good for a phone under the Rs 25,000 mark.