Redmi Note 8 unboxing and first impressions: raising the bar in the budget segment

Xiaomi launched its latest Note series smartphones – the Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 8 Pro in India today. These phones come in as a successor to the popular Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro, and bring several major upgrades to the table. While the Redmi Note 8 Pro (first impressions) brings a 64-megapixel quad-camera setup under Rs 15,000, the Redmi Note 8 features a 48-megapixel quad-camera module with starting price set at Rs 9,999. We have the more affordable of the two in our labs, and here’s my first impressions.

Speaking of the packaging, Xiaomi has kept things unchanged, so you get the same white box with the phone’s picture on top, branding on the sides and core specs listed on the bottom. As you lift the lid, you will find the cardboard sheath containing a black protective TPU case, SIM ejector tool and documentation on top of the Redmi Note 8. Below the phone, there’s another compartment housing the USB-C cable and an 18W fast charger, which is a first for Note series. Sadly no earphones are provided with the phone as expected.

Design-wise, the Redmi Note 8 looks completely different from its pricier sibling save for the glossy back panel, which gets smudged very easily. The Note 8 has a more slab-like form factor, unlike the curvier edges on the Pro variant. The lenses in the quad-camera setup are all arranged in a vertical file, and the entire module is situated in the top left corner with the dual-LED flash. The camera module juts out quite a bit and as such, the phone wobbles on a flat surface. There is a circular fingerprint scanner towards the center of the back panel. While the sensor was pretty accurate, its smaller size and almost flat profile made it difficult to locate it during my initial usage. There is an in-built face unlock as well, which is pretty fast and accurate.

As for the other elements, you will find the dual nano-SIM card tray with a dedicated microSD card slot on the left, physical buttons on the right, IR blaster with a noise-cancelling mic on top, and the trio of 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C port and speaker grille at the bottom.

The display on the Redmi Note 8 retains the dewdrop notch, with the panel measuring 6.3-inches. The 19.5:9 screen offers an FHD+ screen resolution. While the colour vibrancy and sharpness are commendable, I found the brightness to be slightly on the lower side. You get the standard set of display features like dark mode, reading mode, contrast and colour adjustment, among others. The bezels surrounding the display are considerably thick for a 19.5:9 panel, and there’s Redmi branding on the chin just like the Redmi 8.

In the performance department, the Redmi Note 8 is one of the few smartphones under Rs 10,000 to offer the 11nm Snapdragon 665 SoC, which is a 64-bit 2GHz octa-core processor. The CPU is further mated to 4GB or 6GB RAM depending on the variant. The former comes with 64GB storage and the latter features 128GB of onboard storage. I received the top-end variant, and out of the box, the phone offers around 110GB of free storage. On the software front, the Redmi Note 8 features MIUI 10.3 based on Android 9 Pie. So far, the smartphone has been performing well, but I will put it through more rigorous usage for better understanding.

Powering the phone is a 4,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging support and as I mentioned before, the brand is providing the 18W fast charger with the Redmi Note 8, which is a huge plus in my book.

The smartphone is the first phone to bring a quad-camera setup with a 48MP primary camera under Rs 10,000 in India. There is Redmi Note 7s (review), but it only offers 48MP + 5MP dual rear camera setup. The Note 8, on the other hand, ships with a 48MP f/1.75 primary camera accompanied by an 8MP ultra-wide camera, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor. There is a 13-megapixel camera on the front for those who love to click selfies. You get usual set of modes like HDR, AI scene recognition, 48MP mode, portrait, night mode and more. I was impressed with the initial shots I took from the phone but will go more in-depth in my detailed review, which should be up soon.

From the looks of it, the Redmi Note 8 is among the best smartphones you can buy under Rs 10,000. It packs in a powerful 11nm processor, 48MP quad cameras, large battery with fast charging, and more at a price that won’t make a dent in your wallet. The closest competitor to the Redmi Note 8 is the Realme 5 (review), which misses out on the 48MP sensor and FHD+ screen, but is also Rs 1,000 cheaper.

Pratik Vyas

Pratik has over 8 years’ experience in the field of tech. Passionate about technology, you’ll usually find him running rigorous gaming tests on the latest smartphones. When he’s not at his desk, he’s usually demolishing opponents in a game of table tennis.