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Xiaomi Mi 10i review: a worthy addition to the Mi 10 series

On: January 15, 2021

Xiaomi recently launched the Mi 10i smartphone in India and thus completed the Mi 10 series in India. The most affordable Mi 10 series offering joins the flagship Mi 10, and the mid-range Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro (review) in the country. However, the fact that it’s the most affordable of the lot doesn’t mean that it skimps on features.

Also read: Xiaomi Mi 10i vs OnePlus Nord vs Moto G 5G: price in India, specifications and features compared

The Xiaomi Mi 10i brings a lot to the table considering it costs just Rs 20,999 for the base variant. You get a 5G-enabled processor, a 108-megapixel camera, a 120Hz display, and a stunning design. I have been using the handset as my primary device for some time and personally feel that Xiaomi has certainly killed the competition in this segment. Let’s find out why I say so in this review.

Design and display

  • 165.38 x 76.8 x 9 mm, 214.5g
  • 6.67-inch IPS LCD, FHD+, 120Hz AdaptiveSync, 450nits brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, Reading mode certified by TÜV Rheinland

With the Xiaomi Mi 10i, the brand has hit it out of the park when it comes to design. The smartphone is clad in glass, which lends it a premium hand feel. The cherry on top is the layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front as well as back. Needless to say, the handset manages to avoid scratches and the matte finish ensures it’s not a smudge magnet.

I received the Pacific Sunrise colour of the device, which has a unique gradient design with blue, orange, and green colours reflecting when light hits the surface. The buttons and port placement is standard with a fingerprint scanner embedded in the power button. The fingerprint scanner was fast and accurate in my experience.

The Xiaomi Mi 10i features a 6.67-inch IPS LCD display with Full HD+ screen resolution. It might be the watered-down variant of its pricier sibling, but it retains the 120Hz AdaptiveSyng refresh rate. This means the refresh rate of the display adjusts according to the content onscreen to save battery. The screen also supports HDR playback and comes with Widevine L1 certification for high-resolution streaming. There’s very little to complain about the screen, as colours are punchy, text is sharp, and brightness is commendable.

Cameras

  • Rear: 108-megapixel Samsung HM2 primary lens, 8-megapixel ultra-wide, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel depth sensor
  • Front: 16-megapixel main camera

The Xiaomi Mi 10i is the world’s first smartphone to come with Samsung’s 108-megapixel HM2 sensor, which captures 12-megapixel, 9-to-1 pixel-binned images by default. The primary camera is accompanied by an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens, 2-megapixel macro shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. There’s a 16-megapixel camera up front for selfies. The camera app is loaded with modes like dedicated 108MP, night, vlog, clone, slow-motion, dual-video, AI scene recognition, and portrait, among others.

As I mentioned before, the primary camera clicks photos in 12-megapixel by default and the daylight pictures are rich in details, with realistic colours and balanced exposure. The dedicated 108MP mode clicks super-rich stills in daylight, though I did notice noise in darker areas. Coming to the ultra-wide lens, the pictures are usable but there’s a drop in clarity and noticeable edge-distortion. The depth sensor facilitates good edge-detection, but the macro sensor requires an extremely steady hand to get a decent shot.

As for low light imaging, the regular mode captures decent pictures after the sun goes down. However, the dedicated night mode enhances the overall quality. The night mode brings out details in the shadow areas and also improves the overall exposure of the shot. On the flip side, the mode bumps up the sharpness too much for my liking.

The 16-megapixel camera on the front captures good selfies and portrait images with accurate edge-detection. However, despite turning off all beautification features, the camera ends up beautifying the selfies, which might not sit well with many. There’s no night selfie mode, and low-light selfies are less than ideal. You do get the flash option where the display fills in light for flash and that improves selfies a bit.

Performance. software, and battery

  • Android 10 with MIUI 12
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
  • 6GB + 128GB, 8GB + 128GB
  • 4,820mAh battery, 33W fast charging

Coming to the performance, the Xiaomi Mi 10i is the second smartphone in India featuring the Snapdragon 750G, 5G-enabled chipset. The unit I received has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of faster UFS 2.2 storage. Xiaomi is also offering the handset in a 6GB + 128GB variant.

During my stint with the handset, I didn’t run into any lags or stutters. With over 15 apps open in the background including Forza Street, YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook among others, the Xiaomi Mi 10i multitasked seamlessly and switched between apps without breaking a sweat. As for gaming, I played Forza Street and Alto’s Odyssey on the phone regularly, and the Xiaomi Mi 10i handles both these games like a breeze without heating up even during long gaming sessions. In our PUBG Mobile gaming test, the smartphone did warm up a little and battery dropped from 92 percent to 84 percent during a 30-minute gameplay.

It was a little disappointing to see that the Xiaomi Mi 10i still boots the dated Android 10 out of the box, albeit with the latest MIUI 12. While MIUI 12 is a feature-rich interface, there are tons of bloatware as well as Xiaomi’s own stock apps like Cleaner, Mi Pay, Mi Credit, ShareMe, and GetApps, among others. On the bright side, there are useful features like Game Turbo, Video Toolbox,  Digital Wellbeing & parental controls, and navigational gestures, to name a few.

The Xiaomi Mi 10i has a 4,820mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging. On a full charge, the handset saw me through a full day, even with my heavy usage. The 33W fast charger provided in the box charges the handset from zero to 100 percent in just under 60 minutes, which is impressive.

Bottomline

The Xiaomi Mi 10i starts at Rs 20,999 for the 6GB variant and goes up to Rs 23,999 for the 8GB variant. For the price, I couldn’t fault anything in the device except maybe for the bloatware and the dated Android 10 OS. Having said that, the Xiaomi Mi 10i far exceeded my expectations with its stunning 120Hz display, future-proof 5G chipset, 108-megapixel camera, fast UFS 2.2 storage, and impressive battery life. In my opinion, the Xiaomi Mi 10i is the best value-for-money offering that you can get in the market in the Rs 20k price bracket.

The closest competitor to the Xiaomi Mi 10i is the Moto G 5G (review) priced identically at Rs 20,999, which also comes with Snapdragon 750G chipset and stock Android 10 for a cleaner interface. However, it loses out in everything else including a standard 60Hz refresh rate, 48-megapixel triple rear cameras, and slower 20W fast charging.

Another strong contender is the OnePlus Nord, which offers a sharper AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 765G chipset, up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, Android 10-based Oxygen OS, and 32MP dual selfie cameras. However, you get a smaller 4,115mAh battery and 48-megapixel quad-rear cameras. The handset is more expensive as well with the base variant starting at Rs 24,999.

Pricebaba’s rating: 9/ 10

What works:

  • 120Hz display
  • Good performance
  • Powerful cameras
  • Stunning design

What doesn’t:

  • Bloatware
  • Dated Android 10
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.