There really is no other way of putting this. Xiaomi’s relentless pursuit of brilliance in the smartphone space continues to give us one gem after another. No longer does a phone around the Rs 15,000 price point come across as a compromise, either in terms of the experience or the performance. There is more power under the hood, there are more cameras than ever before and there is more attention to detail in every single way. At present, Xiaomi is selling three variants of the Redmi Note 8 Pro in India. There is the entry spec version with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage priced at Rs 14,999. A step up is the 6GB RAM with 128GB storage option priced at Rs 15,999. And at the very top of the pile sits the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant which costs Rs 17,999. A lot has changed, and that is a great thing.
For starters, the design is significantly better than its predecessor. Not that the Redmi Note 7 Pro was bad in any way, but the Redmi Note 8 Pro just comes with ergonomic improvements. First up, the slight curves on the back allow it to sit better in the hand, in comparison with the flat slab back of the predecessor. It remains incredibly pocketable and the power key as well as the volume rockers fall to hand quite easily. The bezels feel thinner, the chin is narrower, and the notch takes up less space too. At the back is the quad camera setup, centrally aligned. The Redmi Note 8 Pro is 8.8mm thick and genuinely feels thinner than that. It also tips the scales at 200 grams, but you won’t really notice the weight of this rather well-balanced phone. At the back is the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and Xiaomi says that the edges have been re-enforced to prevent chips or cracks in case the phone falls. I have a feeling that might come in handy at some stage, because when used without a case, the Redmi Note 8 Pro does feel like it wants to escape from your grip. The P2i coating makes this resistant to splashes and accidental spills.
And then there are three colours to choose from. There is the very attractive Gamma Green, the sophisticated Halo White and the conventional Shadow Black.
You will, it is most likely, appreciate that the Redmi Note 8 Pro has 2 SIM card slots and one for a micro SD card. No more swapping out the second SIM card for a memory card and vice versa. That being said, it is important to note that this can support additional memory up to 512GB.
This runs the MediaTek Helio G90T octa core processor, and you will get 6GB RAM or 8GB RAM depending on which variant you pick. In either state of tune, the performance is quite slick and efficient. Be it the daily tasks with a variety of apps or even gaming at the highest settings, the Helio G90T doesn’t really complain at all. Absolutely no stutters, app crashes, slowdowns or and eccentricities that may have otherwise spoiled the user experience. I did notice the back getting slightly warm when using the camera for an extended period of time, or when using Maps for navigation, but nothing that would cause any alarm. In fact, a spot of F1 Mobile Racing did make the phone feel a tad warm after about half an hour of trying to get Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari any closer to the F1 Drivers’ World Championship—but do note this was at the highest visual and graphics settings. Clearly, the LiquidCool technology is doing its work, and keeping the Redmi Note 8 Pro cooler than what most rivals would manage. Usually, one would associate such a deployment with a gaming phone, but it is incredibly cool that the Redmi Note 8 Pro has it. Whichever way you look at it, this sort of performance cannot be categorized as anything short of splendid.
Add to that the large 4,500mAh battery which lasts almost two days on a single charge. And then there is the 18-watt fast charger which is bundled with the phone. Basically, you’ll never run out of battery, and there goes that excuse for skipping on a conversation.
The Helio G90T also has another trick up its sleeve. This chip supports dual voice assistants. Which is why, while one slot is taken up by Google Assistant, Xiaomi has been able to bake in Amazon Alexa into the Redmi Note 8 Pro, making it the first phone in India to do so. The MediaTek Helio G90 is actively listening for more than one trigger word that one would usually associate with virtual assistants. In this case, it is Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Everything is integrated in the chip itself, with no need for any additional software to enable this smooth trick.
At the time of writing this, the Redmi Note 8 Pro is running MIUI 10.4.4 version (the update is not yet available on this). The only thing that perhaps has a slightly inconvenient hue in the midst of everything about the Redmi Note 8 Pro are the advertisements. Yes, you can turn these off in settings, but the very fact that they are there in the first place still remains something we are not able to come to terms with. Then there are a whole bunch of preloaded apps that are sitting in the phone, but between the two, we’d rather deal with the latter.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro is Xiaomi’s first phone with a quad camera setup. A 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 2-megapixel macro lens camera and a depth sensor work together to give you the sort of details and accuracy that is surely a couple of notches above anything the rivals have managed thus far. There are tricks though to get the best image possible. By default, the Redmi Note 8 Pro will click 16-megapixel images using the pixel binning method—this does allow it to have a lot of data since the data of 4 pixels combines for the final image, and you can do detailed edits on that image. However, the image processing on the Redmi Note 8 Pro tends to boost the colours a bit more than perhaps ideal—but then again, that is subjective, because a lot of users love colours that pop-out. If however, you select the 64-megapixel HD photo mode, the colours aren’t only closer to the actual frame that you have just shot, but the detailing is excellent and even the slightest tweaks can make your photos really stand out. There are still some struggles with low and inconsistent light, as some amount of noise creeps in. At times, the processing does overcompensate in an attempt to smoothen out the image, which results in photos that are a tad too soft. All said and done though, the ultra-wide shots are incredible fun, though there might be limited scenarios when these will be relevant.
Last but not least is the small matter of the 6.53-inch display. This is not some fancy AMOLED, but instead a simpler LED screen. But that isn’t a drawback. The native resolution is 2,340 x 1,080 and the brightness levels are great and inconsiderate ambient lighting never really gets in the way. At the same time, it ticks off the sharpness box as well which makes it easy to read text. Colours look vivid enough too. There are even three settings for contrast—automatic, increased and standard with three options for colour as well—default, cool and warm. Not to forget, this is an HDR capable display, which means all your Netflix and Amazon Video binge-watching sessions will be visually more appealing, as long as the content supports it.
It is quite amazing how Xiaomi manages to tick off most of the boxes on the checklist when they roll out a new phone and gently point us in its direction. Apart from the invasive advertisements (which can be turned off), the display, design and performance bits are pretty much spot on. More cameras do mean better photos too, at least in this case. It is impossible to find a reason to not recommend the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro to anyone who wants to buy a new phone in the Rs 15,000 price range. My personal favorite is the Gamma Green.