The Android smartphone market, without saying it so clearly now, still has the pricey flagship smartphones and then there are the comparatively more affordable flagships. Earlier known as flagship killers, because they weren’t the norm. Now they are. Look around the Rs 40,000 price point at this time, and there are choices aplenty. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, the Xiaomi Mi 10 and the OnePlus 8T. All this, if you look at the brighter side of things, means more choice when it comes to buying powerful Android phones with lots of megapixels in the cameras and higher refresh rate displays (in most cases), without having to possibly break the bank. We can now add the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro to that list. And in some style. With the 144Hz refresh rate display, it gets the attention it deserves.
The Mi 10T Pro comes to India in just one variant, albeit with two colour options. That of course means you do not have a bunch of RAM and storage combinations to wrap your head around. It is the simple 8GB RAM and 128GB storage that you can buy in Cosmic Black or Lunar Silver colours. With a price tag of Rs 39,999 for this spec, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro most definitely is in battle with the recently launched OnePlus 8T and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.
The thing is, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro has everything that you would have on a checklist for a more affordable Android flagship smartphone. And even a bit more. This is a 6.67-inch display with the 144Hz refresh rate. Runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, a 108-megapixel camera leading the photography troika sitting on the back of the phone, fast UFS 3.1 storage and a large battery that lasts long. Really long. Many would say that the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is very close to the Redmi K30S in terms of specs, but there are fine differences. Particularly with the camera, which is a not the 64-megapixel snapper and instead the aforementioned 108-megapixel one.
One look at the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro and everything about looks premium. As it should. The must have mix of glass and metal, complete with the Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and the back along with the aluminum frame. You could complain that it should have had Gorilla Glass 6, but one has to remember the price tag that the Mi 10T Pro sports. The phone feels great to hold, though I did observe the phone feels a bit top-heavy occasionally, but not all the time. There is also a pretty profound camera bump, most noticeable when you place the phone on a flat surface. You want more cameras and bigger sensors in a phone, don’t you? At 218 grams, this isn’t the lightest phone. But you also have to consider the hardware and the big battery the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro packs in.
The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro has very good in-hand feel because of the slightly rounded glass back. The back itself is very smooth and if you have moist hands, doesn’t really offer much grip. But the spines offer that extra traction for your fingers, which more than compensates. If not immediately, you would soon enough notice the power key and the fact that it sits flat with the side spine. That is because the fingerprint sensor is integrated within the power key. Placement is good, and within reach of most fingers, no matter which hand the phone is in. It is fast too, and its often a race between that and the face recognition to find out who is faster. And that’s great news for you as a user, because that means you get to the unlocked phone’s home screen in the blink of an eye and can get down to whatever it is that you intended to do.
It must be noted that there is no water and dust resistance rating for the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, but remember, neither have OnePlus phones had any for years. What Xiaomi will bundle with the phone is a silver ion antibacterial case and an antibacterial screen protector, which all said and done, will play its part in eliminating at least some of the unwanted and harmful bacteria, if not all.
This 6.67-inch display is an IPS LCD. The native resolution is 2400 x 1080. And before you scoff saying “it is just an LCD” or “it is not OLED” or something like that, I have to say that this is one of the best smartphone LCD displays I have ever used. And it does pretty much everything very well. It is bright, it is crisp and colours are very nicely tamed without anything being overdone to make it look richer. If at all, the display tends to look a bit on the “cool” side as far as the colours go, in the default settings. Head into Settings -> Display and not only do you have the different modes (auto, saturated, advanced, original) but also the colour temperature settings—warm, cool, default and custom. And all that is before you factor in that this is a 144Hz refresh rate display. In the display settings, you have the options of 60Hz, 90Hz and 144Hz. Mind you, that doesn’t mean the phone will be stuck at that refresh rate even when it doesn’t need to and drain the battery. With adaptive sync, the phone understands the content on the screen at the time and can reduce the refresh rate to as low as 30Hz. What you choose between 60Hz, 90Hz and 144Hz is essentially the maximum this display will be able to go up to with the refresh rate.
There are advantages of the higher refresh rates, no doubt about it. Most things look smoother on the screen, particularly as you scroll the web pages, your Instagram feed or the app drawer, for instance. You’ll realize everything just strains the eyes a tad lesser. That being said, a lot of apps that you may use every day may still not be able to take advantage of the higher refresh rate still. And they in turn will look a tad more jittery while scrolling through. The typical suspects would include utility apps, banking apps and even some shopping apps. This reminds me of a rather intriguing example—it has been years since Apple switched to a different screen ratio and notch style, starting with the Apple iPhone X—the HDFC Bank app still does not scale properly on the iPhone X, iPhone 11 series and the iPhone 12 series. Imagine that! It is not the fault of the hardware and the capabilities that are available, just that the developers need to be a bit more proactive.
After seeing the display on the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro give us the full 144Hz glory, it is hard to side with the argument that an OLED display but with a lower 120Hz refresh rate might be a better bet. No, it isn’t.
You may also want to argue about the choice of the processor. Why not the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ instead of the Snapdragon 865. It all simply comes down to the cost of components. One chip is significantly more expensive than the other. Had Xiaomi plonked the SD865+ in the Mi 10T Pro, you would not have had been able to buy this at Rs 39,999. Look around, even the OnePlus 8T makes the same choice. What’s around the processor also matters. There is 8GB RAM which provides more than enough headroom for a seriously powerful smartphone experience. And the fast UFS 3.1 storage had a significant bearing on overall performance as well. You will not notice a time when an app or a game stutter on the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro. And even if you leave a dozen apps running carelessly, there is no sign of anything amiss. The phone just soldiers on without a care in the world and you’ll not even notice that you’ve absentmindedly left apps open in the background. No heating at all on any part of the back either.
There is a massive 5,000mAh battery. The first few days of usage were a bit inconsistent, but that is also because a phone does tend to do a lot of housekeeping tasks after a new setup. At the same time, a new MIUI update also landed which further improved battery stats once things settled. With the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro set at 144Hz refresh rate, this easily lasts a day with still 40% battery remaining when used extensively for web browsing, social media, some video recording and also emails syncing constantly. If you are to bump down the resolution to 90Hz, this battery performance will see a further improvement. Basically, you won’t be running to find the charger. Speaking of which, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro will come with a 33-watt charger for fast charging.
While the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is running Android 10 still, what matters more is the MIUI 12 (our test device is running MIUI 12.0.2 stable at this time), which incorporates a bunch of cool things. There is the new Control Center which separates the quick settings and the notifications—the former can be reached by swiping down from near the right side of the screen and the former can be seen by swiping down near the left. You don’t need to stretch your fingers to swipe down from near the top of the display—this works anywhere on the display, as long as you are on the home screen. There is also the choice of having an app drawer with the home screen separated and uncluttered. The app drawer can also categorize apps for you—communication, entertainment, photography and more.
At the back of the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro sits a triple camera setup, with a 108-megapixel ultra-high resolution main camera, a 13-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 5-megapixel macro camera. The 108-megapixel snapper is, as you would have suspected, a Samsung HMX sensor, with the 1.33-inch size and 0.8-micron pixel size which becomes 1.6 micron when the binning joins the data from four pixels into one for better detailing. The default image size is 25-megapixels, and you need to go into the Pro mode in the camera app to unlock the full 108-megapixel mode.
As for photos in the 25-megapixel mode, I was genuinely surprised by the amount of detailing this camera can pull through. Colours are natural and there isn’t any artificial boost to make them look richer, and the dynamic range is locked in quite well too. Detailing is well, so good actually that I had to wipe the surface of some of the test objects and frames because this camera was pulling in every speck of dust that was otherwise not really visible. The one thing I did notice time and again was that there is a bit of softness around the edges of the frame, but it is something you probably will crop out before sharing the photos on social media. The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro can do up to 30x zoom, but photos are largely usable up to 10x zoom—to be able to wring out any more at higher zoom levels will need the phone to be really stable. Which isn’t something most of us will bother with anyway.
My favorite has to be, as always, the 108-megapixel mode. Focus is quick, no lags and the detailing that emerges in the obviously larger file just has to be seen to be believed. Every single pattern and flow on a canvas was clearly visible as you zoom in. And you can zoom in on these photos, a lot. That being said, there could be some noise in these photos if the lighting isn’t consistent—that is where the pixel binning for the 25-megapixel mode comes in handy.
The Last Word: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro vs OnePlus 8T vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE; Place Your Bets
The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is quite serious about what is at stake and comes more than adequately prepared for the battles. It follows through from the Xiaomi Mi 10 5G by upgrading from a 90Hz to a 144Hz display, but also adding MIUI back into the mix instead of carrying on with the clean Android experience. At this time, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is competing against the OnePlus 8T and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. On its part, it has got one of the better LCDs in smartphones, very good cameras, robust battery life and consistent performance ticked off. This is as solid a smartphone as it comes around this price point.