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  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Review

    Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Review
    The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is one of those exotic phones with specs and price that sound too good to be real. Here's a shortlist: 6.5-inch AMOLED display, 5230mAh battery with fast charging, 128GB of storage, and a total of 5 cameras at the back including one with the jaw-dropping 108 megapixels – all for 550 euro (the equivalent of about $600). After several weeks with the phone, I'd say that it's a solid offering for the price – though it does have a few flaws you absolutely must know about.

    Design and display quality


    Let's start with the good stuff. The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 looks and feels well made. The phone feels solid in the hand, and its glass surfaces blend seamlessly with the metal frame. The only disturbing bit is the humongous array of cameras sticking out, but slapping the free silicone case bundled with the phone makes it look much less distracting.

    The Mi Note 10 pro doesn't have fancy features like wireless charging or an IP rating for water resistance, but it does offer a headphone jack and an IR blaster for controlling appliances like TVs and air conditioners. It worked well with one of the AC units at the office but not with another from a less-popular brand.


    On the front is a gorgeous 6.5-inch OLED screen with a tiny teardrop notch for the 32MP selfie camera. Colors are great and the resolution of 1080 by 2340 pixels is more than sufficient. An acceptably fast and reliable optical fingerprint scanner is built into the display.

    The only annoyance with the screen are its curved edges. I know many people like how they look, but I find them hugely impractical. The letters Q, A, P, and L on the keyboard are positioned exactly on the curve, and taps don't always register because of this. I installed a narrower third-party keyboard to take care of this issue.


    The notification situation


    The software, based on Android 9 Pie, is quick and responsive. At first I thought that the phone had a Snapdragon 855 inside because of the way it handled any task or game with ease, but then it turned out that a mid-range Snapdragon 730G chip was ticking inside, paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

    Xiaomi's custom interface comes with helpful features like a screen recorder, a virus scanner for the apps you install, and a gaming mode which can hide all notifications and record your gameplay. But certain peculiarities are more confusing than useful. For example, there are two web browsers for some reason, and a placebo app pops up from time to time to "optimize" the phone by clearing app cache and RAM. Glitches are still present on my review unit – for example, the screen sometimes fails to turn off while I'm on a call – but I believe Xiaomi's working on those, as I've received several updates over the past 10 days I've spent with the phone.


    The most frustrating part of the user experience is the way notifications are managed, and things can be quite confusing for someone who's never used a Xiaomi phone before. Basically, the software allows certain notifications on the lockscreen – but restricts others. The ones that are not shown appear only in the pull-down notification panel, so you'll likely miss them unless you actively check for new ones. Additionally, unlocking the phone clears ALL pending notifications from the lock screen, and absolutely no icons appear in the status bar at the top.

    I believe that all this sophisticated notification management has been implemented to clear clutter and prevent distractions, but personally, I missed more than a few new texts and emails over the past week because of it. That the phone's vibration motor is weak doesn't help in any way. Thankfully, options in the notification settings menu let you bring back notification icons and whitelist certain apps so that their notifications appear on the lockscreen.

    AnTuTu is a multi-layered, comprehensive mobile benchmark app that assesses various aspects of a device, including CPU, GPU, RAM, I/O, and UX performance. A higher score means an overall faster device.

    Higher is better
    Xiaomi Mi Note 10
    266785
    Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    456786
    OnePlus 7T
    378797
    Samsung Galaxy S10+
    331252

    108 megapixels of disappointment


    A key selling point for the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is the 108-megapixel main camera which I already covered in a dedicated article. Long story short, it's not great, despite the record-breaking number of megapixels it boasts. It does capture a lot of detail in certain situations, but pictures taken at close distance can look awful. Click below for a more expansive article on the 108MP camera's performance:


    But the phone also comes with two telephoto cameras, one with 2x and another with 5x zoom. The former is great for portraits and the latter excels at zooming in on stuff. Those two I can appreciate. The super wide-angle camera is also useful and even has auto-focus for close-ups. And speaking of close-ups, there's a fifth, 2MP camera with a macro lens that can focus on objects as close as 2 centimeters from the camera. In practice, it is the camera you're less likely to need, and photos won't really wow you with their quality. Still, it's fun to try it out.



    Battery life


    No complaints here. The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 lasts me two days on average, without me trying to conserve power in any way. This should come as no surprise given the 5230mAh capacity of its battery. To give you an idea of how the phone compares against rivals, we loaded a YouTube video playlist and put it on repeat. The phone lasted exactly 11 hours at a fixed brightness of 200 nits. Phones like the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Galaxy Note 10 lasted 9 and 8 hours respectively on the exact same test. Charging is reasonably fast, given the large capacity of the battery. A full charge using the stock, 30W charger takes about an hour and a half.


    Conclusion


    All things considered, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is not a bad phone. It's just underwhelming to see that the otherwise awesome-sounding 108MP camera isn't as great as you'd expect it to be looking at the number. The entire kit of 5 cameras gives you lots of creative flexibility, but when you just want to point and shoot a normal picture, it might just be the thing holding you back.

    Other than that, you get a zippy phone with a solid battery life and a large, beautiful screen at a very reasonable price. If you're coming from another phone, Xiaomi's software will not behave quite as you'd expect it to, but it's one of the things you learn to live with when you're buying a phone at a bargain price.

    The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is not available officially in the US, but frankly, I don't think you're missing out on much. For just a few bucks more you can get a recent OnePlus phone. Sure, it might not have as big of a battery, but it will likely deliver the kind of hassle-free experience you'd expect from a contemporary phone.

    Pros

    • Long battery life
    • Very good display quality
    • A versatile set of cameras
    • Fast and responsive
    • 108MP camera does capture more detail – sometimes

    Cons

    • 108MP Camera is slow and flawed
    • Confusing notifications
    • Weak vibration motor
    • Curved screen makes typing uncomfortable

    PhoneArena Rating:

    7.0

    User Rating:

    8.0
    1 Reviews

    FEATURED VIDEO

    19 Comments

    1. User123456789

    Posts: 1303; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

    No SD slot No android 10 (phone announced in mid november) No usb 3 Screen is not Samsung, nor LG Low bitrate of sound recording during videos

    3. lallolu

    Posts: 734; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

    I never had any high expectation for the 108MP camera with tiny sensors. IMO, the best camera sensors were the ones that was popular in 2018, i.e. 12 MP, 1/2.55", 1.4μm. That is all I need.

    11. Zrtsg

    Posts: 38; Member since: May 09, 2019

    I think you meant 2016

    15. Sam1ne

    Posts: 59; Member since: Apr 07, 2019

    1. This review is an absolute BS. 2. This camera is the best phone camera in the world right now. Just go read some actual reviews, as well as DxOMark. 3. The sensor is the BIGGEST on the market right now (1/1.33"). And it works is quad bayer principle, combining four pixels into one, resulting in 27Mp photos with relative pixel size greater than the 12Mp 1/2.55" sensor

    4. maherk

    Posts: 7049; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

    Their biggest mistake is stuffing a midrange cpu with a camera sensor that needs lots of processing. And 128gb might be enough when coupled with a 12mp sensor, not a friggin 108mp one.

    16. Marcwand3l

    Posts: 462; Member since: May 08, 2017

    The phone takes 27MP photos by default not 108MP. 128gb is enough for a mid-range phones.

    5. basher

    Posts: 116; Member since: Sep 20, 2015

    Makes me laugh saying that the camera is trash on PA when those on Dxomark and many other sites said the contrary. And still no post on PA on how bad the latest iPhones scored on Dxomark. LOL

    6. ijuanp03

    Posts: 676; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

    I don't find iPhone cameras as trash but using the term "disappointing" in regards to the Mi Note 10 is an exaggeration. They are trying way too hard to convince people not to buy this phone.

    8. maherk

    Posts: 7049; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

    You obviously haven't read DXomark's review and simply basing your comment on the final score. DXomark gives extra points for being versatile, but that doesn't mean it's better. And they never said the camera on the Mi Note 10 is trash, they simply said that it is disappointing, which it is, and almost all tech reviews have said that.

    12. meanestgenius

    Posts: 22714; Member since: May 28, 2014

    I read the Dxomark review. They did have a lot of praise for the camera overall. Rated it’s photo capabilities just two points below the Mate 30 Pro, and it’s video capabilities were the highest ever rated.

    9. Mikele

    Posts: 192; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

    This is most useless review I have ever seen. Few days ago the PA urged Samsung not to adopt the 108mp camera on their S11 iteration. This is stupid PR wn other Tech sites commended their galant strides in their 108mp camera adoption.

    17. Marcwand3l

    Posts: 462; Member since: May 08, 2017

    Well phonearena's review is clearly biased. They don't state that they were talking about the 108MP Mode so they try to make it seem like it's worse than it actually is. In the default 27MP mode the phone takes great pictures with good dynamic range, detail and low noise. And it's also reasonably quick. I would only use the 1080MP mode for landscapes with a tripod. The detailed landscape pictures I took with my Nokia 808 were always incredible.

    7. ShadowHammer

    Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

    Hm, no discussion on call quality, speakers, audio output, or the UI (besides notifications). This review feels rushed. Bummer.

    10. Zrtsg

    Posts: 38; Member since: May 09, 2019

    This is the first review i see that says that mi note 10's camera is not good. Well done.

    13. meanestgenius

    Posts: 22714; Member since: May 28, 2014

    I’ve seen other reviews online, and most praise the camera, but a lot do admit that a more powerful SoC would have been better for handling such a large camera sensor due to it having more powerful processing power. I do agree with that assessment as well. I think it’s a pretty good phone overall, but the letdown for the powerful, feature rich camera is the midrange SoC. I’m almost certain we will see Xiaomi release a a flagship level smartphone, SoC and all, with this camera sensor. Better processing results will follow. For now though, I am tempted to buy a Mi Note 10 and give the cameras a whirl myself.

    14. Fastmar17

    Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 25, 2013

    I don't understand how this phone gets a 7.0 rating but the LG G8x gets a 6.0. The LG is way better please revise the LG rating since its from the same reviewer.

    18. maestrotelefono

    Posts: 14; Member since: Sep 30, 2019

    Is this the phone that received abnormal high score at DXOmark?

    19. jacky899

    Posts: 434; Member since: May 16, 2017

    Ive seen so many comparisons of the Mi Note Camera with full size photos, which PA dont provide these days, and the camera captures WAAAYYYY more detail than any other phone on the market. It is praised by everyone whoever used it but PA says it is disappointing. The bias is real.

    21. Sarkirssian

    Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 01, 2019

    Remember PhoneArena, most of us, dont live in the US of A.
    Mi Note 10
    • Display 6.5" 1080 x 2340 pixels
    • Camera / 32 MP front
    • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, Octa-core, 2200 MHz
    • Storage 128 GB
    • Battery 5260 mAh

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