Xiaomi stopped being a brand for masses. Mi 10 is a complete flagship and a reasonably priced one. It costs 749 euro – just as much as flagships from its competitors.
It was one of the most expected models, though it surprised its potential buyers with its price. It is not as attractive as in previous Xiaomi models. The version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of the internal memory is sold for 749 euro. There is a slightly more powerful version for 799 euro and the best version called Pro – this costs 999 euro. These are not prices that Xiaomi accustomed us to. The brand is mostly associated with affordability – until now, the manufacturer charged much less for smartphones, which competition sold as more expensive (if we take the specifications and the equipment into consideration). But, along with the Mi 10 series, this approach will have to change.
No matter how we will look at it, Xiaomi Mi 10 is a great phone, which I could use every day. It is stunningly fast, it takes amazing photos, it has stereo speakers, a specification that will last for years, as well as the support for the 5G network, which in the near future will be a standard. What is more, it offers a perfect display with a high refresh rate and a strong battery that supports quick charging. It will please those who are using the phone to work and those who prefer a more fun and multimedia aspect of using a smartphone. This is not a model without any flaws, but it is definitely a device worthy of recommending. Though personally, I would wait for the price to drop down.
- Housing and display
- System and applications
- Sound. Photos and video
- Communication. Voice calls. Efficiency (benchmarks)
- Battery. Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
Housing and display
It is rather heavy – it weighs 208 grams – but it is justified both in the size of the display and in materials used. It is covered with two glass panels connected with a metal frame. The whole is created in the highest level, everything is well-fitted and made out of the highest quality materials. The whole lies in hands comfortably, but do not think that you will manage to use it with one hand – it is simply too big. It can slip out of hands as well – there is a cover in the set, so it is best to put it on in order to protect the device and take care of aesthetics. Shiny, glass panels catch fingerprints easily. It is a pity that there are no standards of dust- and waterproofness.
The display in Mi 10 is not a trivial thing. This is a Super AMOLED 6.67-inch display. It offers the Full HD+ resolution (achieving 386 ppi), it supports HDR10+ and it is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. It has a high brightness (we can see the image even in the full sunlight), perfect, saturated colours (which parameters can be configured in settings additionally) and it has great viewability angles. In addition, the smartphone can be used in glasses with polarizing filters. We cannot forget about one more important element connected with the display – the possibility to select the refresh rate. We can select a typical frequency, a more battery friendly, which is 60 Hz. But we can select a mode with a better quality, which is 90 Hz. It only lacks an automatic system, which would switch the refreshments and would lower it while using apps, which cannot use the full potential of the display.
It is distinguished by a nicely crafted, curved display – this is an aesthetical solution, though it can be problematic, while holding the phone we can run some actions by accident. Fortunately, Xiaomi added the function Ignore accidental edge touch, thanks to which we have more control over the display. The curved edge has its fans, but I am not one of them. In my opinion, flat screens look better, they work better in an everyday usage and they do not increase the price of the phone. But those who like this solution will definitely be pleased with Mi 10.
Let us not forget that the display has a built-in fingerprint scanner. It is on the height on which we can comfortably press it with our thumb. In comparison with the scanner from Samsung, placed under the display in the Galaxy S20+ 5G model, the one in Mi 10 works much faster and accurately. It basically had no errors, I have no concerns towards the speed of work (though I would not call it an instant one). This is not the only biometrical security – the fingerprint scanner is supported by the facial recognition. The second element is the small hole, placed closer to the left corner, which hides the selfie camera. There is an option in the settings to hide it, but then a large bar appears in the upper part of the frame, which, in my opinion, is more invasive than the small hole.
The display is surrounded by extremely narrow bezels. The side ones are really small, they have around 2mm, but due to the curved edge we can barely even notice it. The upper frame has 2.5mm, while the lower one – 4mm. There is no notifications LED, but the Always-On-Display works great. There is a small cavity which hides the receiver as well.
The camera module that stands above the housing (at around 2mm) catches our eyes – this is basically a one module which has three cameras and a separate window with the wide-angle camera, which stands above it as well. We will notice the notifications LED slightly below it. It is strange that Xiaomi stick with the last year’s design and did not placed a more flat, square or a rectangular module. However, what I do not like the most is that the camera has sharp edges. The backs have shiny finish and a dark colour – and this mixture results in the phone showing all fingerprints and dirt. And the space around cameras attracts dust. In addition the smartphone is slick, so if there is a cover in the set it is worth using it.
The frame of the phone is well profiled, shiny, metal, painted in the colour corresponding with the colour of the housing. It is intersected with antennas’ bars. The power and volume control buttons are placed on the right side – both buttons are made out of metal, their height is appropriate, they are easy to feel and press. On the lower edge there is the hole of the main microphone, a USB-C (2.0) socket and the tray for a single SIM card in the nano size. At the top there is an infrared sensor and the additional microphone. And one more surprise – both at the top and the bottom edge we can see holes, which create the stereo system.
System and applications
Xiaomi Mi 10 has the MIUI 11 interface, based on Android 10 – and we should not be worried about a future update to another version of the Google system. Security updates are from the 1st of March 2020.
MIUI is an add-on which interferes with the system a lot, it is an enhanced one, but it offers a number of functions connected with the usage and personalization. We can control the system using buttons on the display or through gestures. There is a dark mode, facial recognition, gestures support, AoD… Though you might not like the fact that the interface is based on all elements placed on main desktops instead of apps menu.
Enhanced options concerned with displayed image parameters deserve a commendation. There is a lot of them to be discovered in particular tabs. What is more, Mi 10 can boast with the Widevine L1 certificate, so we can watch Netflix in high resolution.
Xiaomi offers stereo speakers, but it did not use the common solution, used by other manufacturers, to incorporate the receiver into the stereo system. Instead, the manufacturer placed two speakers in Mi 10, one on the lower edge and the second on the upper, which cooperate to create the stereo sound. And the receiver is placed traditionally in the cavity above the display. And how does this set play? Loud, clear, most users should be pleased. Higher and middle tones are on the appropriate level, you can only feel the inadequate level of lower tones – but the whole works nice. The location might be bothersome – first of all, speakers can be easily muffled while holding the phone in our hands while gaming or watching series – we usually keep our fingers where the manufacturer placed speakers. And second of all, the sound is not directed towards the user, but to sides.
Many users might not like the fact that there is no universal minijack – it seems that according to most manufactures, it is passé. So if you would like to connect earphones, you can either do this through an adapter or by using the Bluetooth module. The second option worked perfectly – I tested it using JBL 220 TWS earphones and the wireless IKEA Eneby speaker.
Photos and video
The manufacturer placed a set of quad cameras, which consists of:
- 108 MP – main camera, one of the best that can be seen in flagships; f/1.7, OIS, PDAF;
- 13 MP – wide-angle, 123 degrees, f/2.4, FF;
- 2 MP – macro lens, f/2.4;
- 2 MP – depth measurement camera, f/2.4;
And out of this set, only one is worthy of our attention.
In practice, the main camera, which offers photos in the maximum resolution of 108 Mpx takes great photos – we can achieve this resolution, though a lower one is set by default. It uses the technology, in which four pixels are connected into one – it provides photos with the 5792x4344 pixels resolution, which provides around 25 megapixels. Photos with the full resolution have 12032x9024 pixels. But then, we cannot use neither HDR nor AI, which can enhance photos. And what is the quality? Photos taken in the daylight are perfect, they are sharp, full of details with a great tonal range. It is a pity that the focus field is rather small – you can clearly see it while taking photos of flowers and plants – the foreground object is perfectly focused on, but what is in the background is blurred too much. This natural bokeh effect is clearly visible in photos from Mi 10 and I would rather it was more toned down. What does not change the fact that photos taken with the portrait mode look great – the photographed object is perfectly separated from the background. I advise you to turn off AI – it sometimes helps, but its work is very often limited to enhancing colours and brightening the shot.
But, as we all know, only after we take photos in worse lighting and at night we can see the true potential of the camera. And Xiaomi Mi 10 works in this field decently. We receive a relatively bright and sharp photos and the night mode can extract out of them even more. While using the night mode we need to be patient – it takes a moment to process the photo. Basically, the camera achieves great results, though it sometimes tweaks photos and it overexposes light sources. Still, this is the flagship level, though it is still far from the quality which is present in Huawei flagships, which rock in this field.
I am slightly disappointed with the wide-angle camera – both when it comes to the details level, sharpness and colours, which are faded. It is best not to use it at all – photography results are just bad and the night mode is not available. The macro camera is not particularly useful as well – it is a useless addition, which is rather here to enhance the overall number of cameras, rather than to have any practical usage.
Here you can find photography results - many more can be found in the gallery:
The camera app is enhanced and it offers numerous work modes. There is the auto mode, which has HDR, there is a support for AI, tools for beautifying and filters. There is the possibility to force the maximum resolution of the camera, which is 108 megapixels, in addition there is the portrait mode, night mode, panorama and the Pro mode, in which we can save photos to the RAW format. When it comes to video recording we can find here, next to the standard video mode, Slow-Motion and Short video, Time lapse or the possibility to record video blogs. There are colour filters or the possibility to change the resolution (maximum 8K).
At the front, in the small hole close to the left corner of the display, we can find the selfies camera. It has a 20-megapixel lens with the f/2.3 brightness. It provides great photos, with great colours and good sharpness. The portrait mode works nice as well. However, those who like to record videos with the front camera might be disappointed – there is no stabilization and the maximum resolution is Full HD with 30 frames per second.
The maximum resolution, in which we can record videos, is 8K (limited to six minutes). However, until there are more devices capable of supporting this resolution, it is best to stick with the more popular Full HD resolution or with 4K (with 30 or 60 frames per second). I like the quality of recording after changing the field, I like the colours representation, the work of the image stabilization (OIS along with EIS) and the way the sound is captured. The biggest flaw is the fact that we cannot change the lens while recording, for example to a wider angle. Here are video recording results:
When it comes to the communication, Xiaomi Mi 10 has everything. It supports 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks, it uses NFC, there is an infrared sensor as well. In addition, there is a quick module for wireless connection (Wi-Fi 6, 2,4 and 5 GHz), a fast and a precise navigation module, which worked both while driving a card and while walking. In addition, it has Bluetooth 5.1 and a wide set of sensors. From physical sockets there is only USB-C – unfortunately, there is no minijack. But we need to admit that when it comes to communication modules, Xiaomi Mi 10 is fully equipped, well prepared for all future standards – including the fifth generation network and Wi-Fi 6.
Xiaomi Mi 10 supports one SIM card in the nano size. The quality of calls is on the flagship level and I have no concerns neither towards the loudness nor to the quality of the sound. Reducing noises from the surrounding works great as well.
Memory and efficiency
After running the phone for the first time, the user is left with around 110,50GB from the declared 128GB for data and apps. Unfortunately, there is no possibility to enhance the memory with microSD cards.
The top CPU from Qualcomm is responsible for the efficiency, which is Snapdragon 865 with Adreno 650. We can expect that it will perform perfectly in all tasks – and it is so indeed. It will handle any app in the Google store and in every game (in the highest settings), which we will install. There are completely no lags or slowdowns while running apps or when switching between them – to put it shortly, this is a top specification, which we can see, hear and feel.
Thanks to the 4780 mAh battery, Xiaomi Mi 10 is a two-day phone – it offers great lifespans on a single charge in a typical, mildly intensive work mode. Using 90 Hz or the AoD function will of course deplete the battery much fast. AoD translates into 1% increase in the battery usage in one hour, while battery benchmarks clearly show that lifespans or shorter by 1 hour when we are using the 90 Hz frequency instead of 60 Hz. Without accessories from the set I am not able to say how quickly will the battery charge and what are parameters of the charger. It is worth adding that Mi 10 supports wireless 30 W charging and inductive 5W revers charging.
- PC Mark battery test result – 15 hours and 45 minutes (90 Hz), 16 hours and 25 minutes (60 Hz);
- Geekbench score (full discharge) - 8890 points, discharge after 14 hours and 49 minutes (90 Hz); 9590 points, discharge after 15 hours and 59 minutes (60 Hz);
- an hour of video streaming (Chrome, 1 SIM card, active Wi-Fi module, 50% screen brightness) - 7% of the battery lost;
- an hour of playing videos from the phone’s memory (airplane mode, 50% screen brightness) - 6%;
- half an hour of using online navigation - 10%;
- half an hour of playing Real Racing 3 - 5-6%;
- 8 hours in the standby mode - 6%.
Previously, we could recommend flagships from Xiaomi blindly – with a strong specification and a low price they handled with the competition without any problems. But now it might end, and Xiaomi will have to work really hard if they want users to choose models from the Mi 10 series instead of iPhone 11, models from the Galaxy S20 family, Huawei P40, which is slightly cheaper (but it does not have Google services) or OnePlus 8.
But let us take a look at it from another perspective – is this really a smartphone that can be ashamed of its price? Times with extremely cheap Xiaomi models, which forced us to think if the manufacturer even made any money on them, are definitely gone with Mi 10. Not that we would be happy with the increased price, but you need to know your value.
Advantages and disadvantages
- great, AMOLED screen
- 90 Hz screen frequency
- powerful CPU and fast memory modules (DDR5, UFS 3)
- ably working fingerprint scanner
- AoD function
- infrared sensor
- great lifespans on a single charge
- stereo speakers
- 30 W wireless charging
- support for 5G networks
- quality of photos and videos, mostly from the main camera
- large dimensions and weight, which is why we cannot use it with one hand
- slick housing, which catches dirt and fingerprints instantly
- curved edges, which sometimes result in accidental actions on the screen
- the camera module has sharp edges and it stands above the housing
- the camera does not have an optical zoom
- lack of a notifications LED
- lack of support for memory cards
- quality of photos from the wide-angle camera
- lack of a 3.5mm minijack
- lack of dust- and waterproofness