Android 11 brings much-needed privacy and security features alongside exciting UI changes.
Android 11 continues to push Google’s vision of Android forward. With Android 11, Google is making a few tweaks to refine the platform instead of making wholesale changes. Privacy is a big focus with Android 11, with Google introducing one-time permissions and granular control over what sort of data you share.
There are new features to get excited about as well — the power button menu picked up a massive overhaul, the Conversations view does a great job highlighting your messages, and there are little tweaks throughout the interface that give it an added polish.
Android 11 is powering the best Android phones of 2021, and manufacturers are doing a better job rolling out the update to their 2020 phones. So here’s everything you need to know about all the new features in Android 11, and when your phone will receive the update. We also highlight what’s on the horizon with Android 12; Google just rolled out the first public beta, introducing a radical new UI and exciting new features.
Is Android 11 available for my phone?
Following months of Developer Previews and Betas, Google launched the final build of Android 11 on September 8, 2020. The update was available for Pixel phones on day one as per usual. This year, Android 11 was also available on the same day for select handsets from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme.
That’s a big step forward for Android updates as a whole, but there’s also still plenty of work that’s left to be done. Samsung is now rolling out One UI 3.0 based on Android 11 to its flagships and mid-range devices, but the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and others are yet to roll out the update.
While that’s certainly annoying, we’re making things as easy as possible for you by tracking any and all Android 11 updates as we learn more about them.
What’s going on with Android 11 on non-Pixel phones?
As noted above, this year’s Android update rollout was a bit different compared to past releases. Instead of Pixels being the only phones treated to the new software, handsets from other select manufacturers were also treated to Android 11 in some form.
Let’s first look at Samsung, which is marketing its Android 11 update as One UI 3.0/3.1. Most of the core design principles remain in place, but there is a lot that’s new to check out. Samsung’s touting things like an improved lock screen, a more customizable always-on display, new accessibility tools, and more.
Samsung has already delivered the Android 11 update to most of its 2020 phones, and is now working its way down the list to its 2019 phones. It shifted to the One UI 3.1 build in recent months that debuted on the Galaxy S21 series.
We should also mention OxygenOS 11, which is the Android 11 update for OnePlus phones. OxygenOS 11 introduced a major design shift for OnePlus, with the company moving away from its stock Android aesthetic and embracing design elements found in Samsung’s One UI interface. OnePlus rolled out the OxygenOS 11 stable build with the 8T, and the Android 11 update is now available for the OnePlus 8 series, 7 series, and set to make its way to the 6/6T. The stable build is also making its way to the Nord shortly.
Nokia has also kicked off its Android 11 update rollout, with the Nokia 8.3 5G picking up the stable update starting February 8. HMD has lagged behind in this area over previous years, but with the Nokia 8.3 now on Android 11, we should see the update rolling out to other Nokia devices in the coming months.
Then there’s Xiaomi. The stable MIUI 12 update based on Android 11 is now rolling out to the Mi 10 series and Redmi Note 9 devices and should make its way to other Xiaomi phones very soon. We’ve rounded up Xiaomi’s Android 11 rollout timeline to make it easier for you to learn when your phone will get the update.
Motorola has kicked off the Android 11 update to the foldable Razr 5G starting April 15. LG has also started to roll out the Android 11 update, with the V60 and the Velvet receiving the stable build. Although LG will no longer make phones, it has stated that it will deliver the Android 12 and Android 13 updates to its current portfolio.
Lastly, we have ColorOS — the custom Android interface used on OPPO smartphones. ColorOS 11 is rolling out now to OPPO devices, and it offers a lot of exciting improvements. In addition to the usual Android 11 goodies, some other highlights include a customizable dark mode, a power-saver mode to extend battery life, and a new feature called OPPO Relax 2.0 that aims to help you unwind and fall asleep at night.
Where can I learn more about Android 11?
We’ll dive into some of Android 11’s biggest features below, but before we do any of that, we should address the elephant in the room — is Android 11 any good? The short answer, yes — it is very, very good, as per our Android 11 review.
Understandably, some people may find Android 11 boring or not very different from Android 10, but the fact of the matter is that Android no longer needs massive overhauls every year the way it used to. The core Android experience is darn good, and Android 11 elevates it even more. All of the conversation improvements are great for streamlining notifications, more powerful permissions are always something we’re happy to see, and the new power button menu adds a ton of extra functionality.
There are a couple of changes we aren’t completely in love with (namely the new multitasking window and Suggested Apps feature for the home screen), but those things are easy to overlook. The vast majority of what Google did with Android 11 was for the better, and the result is software that’s more functional and enjoyable to use.
How do Android 11 chat bubbles work?
As mentioned above, there isn’t one single overhaul or massive change found with Android 11. Instead, it’s a mix of many small tweaks here and there. A few of them focus on improving your messaging experience, with Google offering a lot in this department.
First on the list, we have chat bubbles. Similar to what Facebook’s offered for years with its Messenger app on Android, chat bubbles in Android 11 hide your ongoing conversations in little bubbles on the side of your screen. You can move the bubbles around, and tapping on them reveals that specific conversation. The Bubbles API is available for all messaging apps, with Google encouraging developers to adopt it.
In another effort to make sure you can get to your messages as quickly as possible, Android 11 introduces a dedicated conversation section in your notification shade that offers instant access to any ongoing conversations you have. It also makes it easier for your messaging notifications to stand out from others, ensuring you never miss an important text ever again.
Speaking of messages and notifications, Android 11 makes it possible to send images directly from the notification shade when replying to a message.
What’s new with permissions in Android 11?
Looking back on Android 10, one of its highlights was its improved handling of app permissions. Android 10 gave users more control over applications and what they could access, and Android 11 keeps this train rolling with a wonderful new addition.
Now, when an app asks for permission to use sensitive features like your location, microphone, or camera, you can choose to only grant it access on a one-time basis. The app will be able to use that permission during that instance of you using the app, but the permission is revoked as soon as you leave it. The next time you use the app, and it wants to use that permission, it needs to be granted access again.
Giving apps permission to these aspects of your phone should not be taken lightly, so we’re thrilled to see Google giving users more control over their data like this.
Does Android 11 have a built-in screen recorder?
For the past few Android releases, we’ve been patiently waiting for Google to add a built-in screen recorder. It’s not something you’ll use every day (if ever for some people), but the fact that such a basic function isn’t baked into Android at its core is getting annoying.
Thankfully, Android 11 finally changes that. This Android version does include the feature, accompanied by a clean UI and toggles for recording audio and showing touches with your recording.
There’s not much else to say about this, other than the fact that we’re glad we can finally put this feature request to bed.
Is Android 11 compatible with folding phones?
If there’s been a place of notable advancement in the Android space, it’s been with displays. Companies are doing what they can to offer the best and most exciting smartphone screen possible, and as great as this is, Android needs to catch up with better support for all of these advancements.
Folding phones are proving to be quite popular so far, and especially with devices like the Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola RAZR that have the “flip phone” folding design, Android 11 adds the “hinge angle sensor API” so apps can easily detect the hinge of these folding phones. With this information, developers can adapt their apps to work around the hinge and create unique experiences because of that (like how Google Duo changes its UI when you do a half-fold on the Z Flip).
The other big upgrade displays have seen has to do with faster refresh rates. It’s no longer uncommon for phones to ship with screens that refresh at 90Hz or 120Hz, and Android 11 allows developers to take better advantage of these powerful displays. Developers can select which refresh rate their services should run at, and if the developer determines their app looks best at 90Hz or 60Hz, they can make that decision and have the phone’s display change its refresh rate accordingly when using that app.
How does Android 11 work with 5G?
5G is finally starting to make its way to people, and more and more folks have started connecting to the next generation of wireless data. To ease the transition, Android 11 adds a very important “Dynamic Meterdness API.”
That may not sound very exciting on paper, but it essentially allows phones to take full advantage of all the power 5G brings.
If the API detects that you’re connected to an unlimited 5G signal, you’ll access the highest possible quality for videos and graphics. The potential for 5G is pretty darn cool, and this API ensures you take full advantage of the speeds available to you.
What phone should I get for the best Android 11 experience?
Whether you want to be among the first to get Android 11 or experience it the way Google intended, the Pixel 5 is the phone for you. It’s the newest flagship Pixel currently available, and if you prefer metal over plastic or glass, it’s a hard phone to ignore.
The Pixel 5 is all about delivering a flagship-quality Android experience for a relatively low price, and in these regards, it succeeds tremendously. Google crammed a lot into the Pixel 5, including phenomenal cameras, an OLED display, good performance, long battery life, and more. The design is a little plain, but the phone’s also a great size for one-handed use.
Best of all, the Pixel 5 and other Pixel devices get quarterly Feature Drops from Google, bringing new features to the Android 11 experience without requiring a full-scale platform update.
When is Android 12 coming?
The Android 12 public beta is now live, and the OS is the biggest visual change in Android’s history. Google is rolling out the new Material You design aesthetic, giving you much better customizability and new privacy features.
The key highlight is that you now have a color palette that lets you change system-wide colors to your liking, including the notification shade, volume controls, lock screen, and more. The notification shade has a cleaner design, and there’s a dedicated snooze button that lets you mute notifications with ease.
Android 12 is also set to add scrolling screenshots, but the feature isn’t quite live at this moment. And while the home screen UI itself is unchanged from Android 11, there’s now an option to set a 4×5 grid. You can also easily share Wi-Fi with Nearby Share, making it easier for others to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
The stable version of Android 11 was released a few months ago, and while it isn’t the most revolutionary update we’ve ever seen, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about it. Whether you’re looking forward to the new conversation notifications, chat bubbles for messaging apps, or the upgraded permission handling, it may be a while before you can actually start messing around with all of these software goodies.
The update is available for the Pixels and selects OnePlus phones, while the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 lineups have also received their One UI 3.0 update which is based on Android 11. We’ve rounded up all of the current info to help give you a better idea of when Android 11 will arrive on your device.
The timelines change based on manufacturer and region, but the list below should give you a broad overview of if and when you will get the Android 11 update on your phone.
The phrase “fast Android updates” is usually an oxymoron, but Google‘s lineup of Pixel phones is the exception to that rule. Whenever a new update or security patch is released, Pixels are the first-in-line for that software — making this one of the biggest benefits of owning a Pixel in the first place.
The Android 11 stable update is now available to download on all Pixels starting with the Pixel 2 series. Here’s the full list:
Samsung used to be one of those manufacturers that you couldn’t rely on for good software support, but within the last year, it’s improved significantly. Samsung announced that it’s now committed to three years of major OS updates for all of its flagship phones, starting with the Galaxy S10 series.
The company has been on a tear as of late, releasing the final version of One UI 3.0 (based on Android 11) to the likes of the Galaxy S20, Note 20, and even the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. A few other devices are seeing the update as well that weren’t exactly expected as soon as they have arrived.
We can look forward to all of the following phones to get an Android 11 update:
Galaxy S10 Lite
Galaxy S20 Ultra
Galaxy S20 FE
Galaxy S21 Ultra
Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Galaxy Note 10
Galaxy Note 10+
Galaxy Note 20
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Galaxy Z Fold 2
Galaxy Z Flip 5G
Galaxy A52 / A52 5G
Galaxy A72 / A72 5G
Galaxy A32 5G
Galaxy M31 / M31s
The Galaxy S9 series should be able to run Android 11, but Samsung revealed its roadmap for which devices would see the update. Sadly, the S9 was not on the list. However, the company did commit to bringing security updates to these devices for at least the next year.
As for the speed at which Samsung will roll out Android 11 to its phones, we’re anticipating the update to drop within a few months of the initial launch. Google introduced Android 10 on September 3, 2019. The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S9 got the update in December and January, and Samsung has been following the same trajectory with Android 11 for its enormous lineup of smartphones, with many devices being updated in late December 2020 or throughout January and into February 2021.
What started out as a small enthusiast brand has transformed itself into a mainstream player in the U.S. smartphone space. OnePlus kicks out some of the best Android phones, and thankfully, it’s quite good when it comes to updating them to new software builds.
OnePlus is rolling out the Android 11 stable update to the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. There’s a new visual layout in OxygenOS 11, along with a host of exciting features.
Despite seeing a few issues with the official OxygenOS 11 rollout for the OnePlus Nord, it seems that everything is back on track.
Here are the OnePlus devices that will make the switch to Android 11:
OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 8 Pro
OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition
OnePlus 7T Pro
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
OnePlus 7 Pro
OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition
With the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro making their arrival, that adds a couple of more devices that are running Android 11. Plus, both of those devices will see the update to Android 12 and at least Android 13. Which is more than we can say about the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and Nord N100 which are slated for only one major Android release. Meanwhile, those are still running Android 10, and the company has not given any indication as to when Android 11 will come to the budget-friendly handsets.
OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T owners who have been waiting patiently for the arrival of Android 11 will have to keep waiting a little bit longer. The company has confirmed that the Android 11 update won’t be arriving until after the release of Android 12, which is currently slated to launch this fall.
Xiaomi is one of the world’s largest phone manufacturers, and the brand has turned its attention to Western markets in the last two years. Xiaomi sells phones from $100 all the way to $1,200, and it has made a name for itself as the go-to player for value.
The company has already pushed the Android 11 update live for owners of the Xiaomi Mi 10 and has turned its focus onto the Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro. A new beta program has opened for these devices, as Xiaomi continues to bring the latest version of Android to its vast lineup of smartphones.
Based on a post that showed up on Xiaomi‘s MIUI community forums, the Android 11 update will be going out to 30 models across Xiaomi, POCO, and Redmi product lines. More phones will be added to the list, but for now, these are the Xiaomi phones that will be updated to Android 11:
OPPO is also turning its attention to Western markets. The Chinese manufacturer made a lot of changes to its ColorOS interface over the last 12 months, making it more palatable to a global audience.
OPPO has introduced ColorOS 11 based on Android 11 in closed beta for the Find X2 series and the Reno 3 Pro series, with a stable update slated to arrive before the end of the year.
We have a tentative timeline for when OPPO phones will get the ColorOS 11 beta based on Android 11. These are the OPPO devices that have already received the update to ColorOS 11:
A74 / A74 5G
Find X2 / X2 Pro
Find X3 Pro
Reno 2 F
Reno 4 5G
Reno 4 Pro 4G / Pro 5G
Reno 5 Lite
Reno 5 Pro+
Reno 5 Pro 5G
Reno 5 Z
Note that these are the expected timelines for the beta builds and not the stable update:
From October: Reno 4 Pro 5G
From November: Reno 4 5G, Reno 4 Pro 4G
From December: Reno 4 4G, F11, F11 Pro, F11 Pro Avengers Edition, A9, A92, A72, A52, Find X2 Pro Automobili Lamborghini Edition
From Q1 2021: Reno 10x Zoom, Reno 2, Reno 2F, Reno 2Z, Reno 3 Pro 5G, A91, F15
From Q2 2021: Reno, Reno Z, A5 2020, A9 2020
When will my Realme phone get Android 11?
Realme is also doing a closed Android 11 beta based on Realme UI 2.0 for the X50 Pro. Realme UI 2.0 comes with a host of new features, but at this moment, there’s no indication of when the stable build will be made available.
We don’t know how many Realme phones will be updated to Android 11, but most devices released in the last 18 months should qualify for the update. Here’s the list:
Although Huawei phones aren’t very common/popular in the United States, the manufacturer gets a lot of attention in other parts of the world.
Huawei‘s Android 11 update will take the form of EMUI 11, and the company has finally shared its roadmap for what devices will receive this update. The list is surprisingly long, with even some tablets getting in on the Android 11 action.
There are a lot of Huawei phones we expect to get Android 11/EMUI 11, including:
Huawei Mate 40 series
Huawei P40 series
Huawei P30 series
Huawei Mate 30 series
Huawei Mate 20 series
Huawei Mate X/Xs
Huawei Nova 5T
Regarding how fast those updates will be pushed out, you’ll likely have to wait a few months. The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro received Android 10 in mid-November, shortly followed by the Mate 20 series.
This past year has been an exciting one for Motorola. The company is still churning out high-quality budget devices, and alongside those, we’re seeing Moto‘s return to the flagship space. However, it’s still straggling behind in an area that’s been a pain point for years — software updates.
After staying mum for a little while, Motorola finally revealed which of its latest devices will be receiving an update to Android 11, and the list is as follows:
Motorola RAZR / RAZR 5G
Moto G Stylus
Moto G Power
Moto G Fast
Moto G 5G / 5G Plus
Moto G Pro
Motorola One Fusion / Fusion+
Motorola One Hyper
Motorola One Zoom
Motorola One Action
Motorola One Macro
Motorola One 5G
Moto G8 Plus
Moto G8 Power
Moto G40 Fusion
Moto G9 Play
Moto G9 Plus
Moto G9 Power
Lenovo K12 Note
That’s a solid list at first glance, but it comes with a big caveat. For every phone but the Edge+ and RAZR, Android 11 is the one and only software update they’ll receive. There’s also the fact that Motorola took its time with the Android 10 update, with the platform version not coming to the Moto G7 until May 11, 2020.
Keeping with the theme of manufacturers that often drop the ball for software updates, we have LG. With no update roadmap in place, here are the devices we think will get Android 11:
Android 10 was made available for the LG G8 in December 2019, with the LG V50 starting its Android 10 update in February 2020. We don’t consider that to be a fast turnaround time, but it is better than what we usually see from LG.
Our fingers are crossed that LG gets even faster with rolling out Android 11, but we’ll have to wait and see if that pans out.
Nokia has announced its Android 11 update schedule, with the first slate of devices set to receive the update by the end of 2020. While Nokia’s devices fall under the Android One initiative, phones like the Nokia 7.2 and Nokia 9 PureView won’t get the Android 11 update until Q2 2021.
After officially rolling out Android 11 to the Nokia 8.3 5G, the company’s Chief Product Officer took to Twitter, suggesting that the rollout would be coming much quicker than expected for the rest of Nokia’s devices. Only time will tell if that’s to be believed, but Nokia seems to be sticking to its timeline that was laid out late in 2020.
Global technology leader Xiaomi today introduced a brand new form of charging – Mi Air Charge Technology. Revolutionizing the current wireless charging methods, Mi Air Charge Technology enables users to remotely charge electronic devices without any cables or wireless charging stands. Today, we enter a true wireless charging era.
Mi Air Charge Technology – 5W remote charging
The core technology of Xiaomi’s remote charging lies in space positioning and energy transmission. Xiaomi’s self-developed isolated charging pile has five phase interference antennas built in, which can accurately detect the location of the smartphone. A phase control array composed of 144 antennas transmits millimeter-wide waves directly to the phone through beamforming.
On the smartphone side, Xiaomi has also developed a miniaturized antenna array with built-in “beacon antenna” and “receiving antenna array”. Beacon antenna broadcasts position information with low power consumption. The receiving antenna array composed of 14 antennas converts the millimeter wave signal emitted by the charging pile into electric energy through the rectifier circuit, to turn the sci-fi charging experience into reality.
Currently, Xiaomi remote charging technology is capable of 5-watt remote charging for a single device within a radius of several meters. Apart from that, multiple devices can also be charged at the same time (each device supports 5 watts), and even physical obstacles do not reduce the charging efficiency.
Future living rooms will be fully wireless
In the near future, Xiaomi’s self-developed space isolation charging technology will also be able to work with smart watches, bracelets and other wearable devices. Soon our living room devices, including speakers, desk lamps and other small smart home products, will all be built upon a wireless power supply design, completely free of wires, making our living rooms truly wireless.
This is a revolutionary innovation of wireless charging.
This is also a bold attempt to turn the whole house wireless.
It’s not science fiction, it’s technology.
This is Xiaomi’s self-developed remote charging technology.
Remember when people made fun of the original Samsung Galaxy Note and its “humongous” 5.3-inch display? Oh, how the times have changed. Still, have we really come to a point where a 6.9-inch diagonal behemoth is able to avoid the “tablet” category and stretch the already confusing phablet category even further?
Well, we definitely don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here. Plus, we’re all for a positive body image. So, power to Xiaomi and the Mi Max 3! Obviously, the company has decided it’s got a wide enough user base for such a device. And truth be told, they’ve achieved a pretty sleek and compact design thanks to the impossibly slim bezels and the trendy 18:9 tall aspect ratio.
Xiaomi Mi Max 3 specs
Body: Metal unibody, glass front; 176.2×87.4x8mm, 221g.
Memory: 4GB/6GB of RAM; 64GB/128GB storage; hybrid microSD slot.
Battery: 5,500mAh Li-Po (sealed); QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging.
Connectivity:Dual-SIM (Nano-SIM); LTE; Dual VoLTE; USB-C; Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS; Bluetooth 5.0, IR blaster, FM radio.
Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; single down-firing speaker; 3.5mm jack.
Combine the beastly display with some budget internals and a price tag to match and you basically have the Mi Max 3‘s calling card. That being said, simply looking at the Mi Max 3 in the same way as a budget big-screen TV isn’t really fair or productive in any way.
If you are going to commit to lugging the hefty Mi Max 3 around, that Snapdragon 636 better deliver a well-rounded, modern Android experience. And coupled with a 5,500 mAh battery, we expect nothing short of a marathon in doing so, from the chip, as well.
So, join us on the following pages, as we peel away the layers of the Mi Max 3 to see just how well Xiaomi managed to fill the hefty figure, at hand, with substance.
As expected, the Mi Max 3 ships in an impressively sized box. That’s kind of a necessity. Other than that, however, there is nothing really special about the packaging – it is the standard Xiaomi affair. That is – thick cardboard and a two-piece design.
As far as the included accessories go, you get a USB cable and a wall charger – both in matching white. No bonus plastic case, which the Chinese OEM does often throw in the box. Do, however, check with your seller of choice on that point, since a case might be present on some markets.
Case nitpicking aside, we were delighted to see the included wall charger is a Quick Charge 3 unit. So, you won’t have to buy a fast charger separately.
As we mentioned earlier, picking out proper competitors for the Mi Max 3 is a rather tough task. Mainly, since there’s practically nothing out on the mainstream market that can come close to the 6.9-inch panel and the pure real estate it offers.
As far as performance and value go, the Snapdragon 636-based internals of the Mi Max 3 do represent quite decent value, at a price point of EUR 260, or so. Our first, go to, is, understandably, the Redmi Note 5 family. To be more specific – the Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera, since that one features the updated camera, with a brighter f/1.9 aperture. The rest of the internals are pretty much identical to the Mi Max 3. Of course, a 5.99 inches, you will be giving up quite a bit of screen. But, that’s just something you’ll have to deal with, given the Mi Max 3‘s unique position in this regard.
For a notable performance and all-around experience boost, may we suggest the Mi 8 SE, complete with an excellent, even if smaller, 5.88-inch, Super AMOLED display, and the new Snapdragon 710 chipset. On the flip side, if you really need as much screen as you can get and are willing to forgo certain modern treats, the Mi Max 2 might be right up your alley. You might even save a few bucks in the process.
Looking past team Xiaomi, Huawei and Honor seem to be hitting the big-display, budget segment pretty hard. Frankly, not surprising, seeing how the pair is pretty much playing on all fronts and filling every niche in 2018. The Honor Play springs instantly to mind. A spacious 6.3-inch display and a flagship Kirin 970 chipset make up, what Huawei is positioning as a great mobile gaming platform, on a budget.
For a more official, work setting, there are the Honor View 10, Mate 10 Lite and the P20 Lite, all positioned under the EUR 300 mark, on most markets. Choosing between the trio is mostly going to depend on personal preference and you opinion and the value you put in things like a more powerful chipset, bigger screen, a home button, zoom functionality and a notch, to name a few. If we had to choose, for us, the Honor View 10 stands out as the best value deal, with its notch-free, 5.99-inch display, excellent camera setup and flagship Kirin 970 chipset.
Some other notable competitors to the Mi Max 3 include the Lenovo Z5, with its quite large 6.2-inch display and pretty similar internals. Then there is the Motorola Moto G6 Plus and the Nokia 6.1 Plus. Both, also, quite similar to the Xiaomi phablet.
Truth be told, however, if the screen real estate is your main draw towards the Mi Max 3, you might be better off exploring LTE tablet options. It all depends on your intended use case. Finding something quite as compact will be a challenge, though.
Playing a particular angle in any product, especially tech is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you could limit your goals to a particular niche requirement alone and cruse though everything else, cutting corners as you please. Chances are that with a unique enough offering, you can still make the bottom line work.
Then there is another, a perhaps even bigger danger of overreaching and trying to crank every aspect of your device to 11, while also offering a unique feature, or two. This increases price, expectations and in many ways the chance of failure (we’re looking at you Razer Phone).
Solid build quality.
Huge 6.9-inch, 18:9, FullHD+ display; Surprisingly color accurate.
Great battery life, although it could potentially be better; Quick Charge 3 support.
Dual SIM LTE standby
Great audio output quality and fairly loud stereo speaker setup
Flexible and feature-rich MIUI 9.1; Based on a current Android Oreo core.
Solid, mid-range performance. It is powerful enough for most everyday tasks.
Good all-round camera experience with plenty of shooting modes.
Fast and accurate fingerprint reader, IR blaster, FM radio
No official mention of Gorilla Glass.
Still no MIUI 10 update; Mi AI assistant and a few other features are still only available in Chinese.
AI scene detection seems to be missing from camera UI.
EIS does not work at 4K resolution with the Mi camera app.
Limited camera Manual controls (only ISO and white balance).
Decent edge detection on Portrait mode, but we expected more from the dual camera setup.
Xiaomi seems to have hit a nice middle ground with the Mi Max 3. The unique feature is obvious and executed masterfully. All the while, the rest of the device offers a solid experience, a good middle-ground in practically every respect, building and borrowing from the success of the Redmi line of devices. This is a great way to keep costs down, as well.
To put it in simple terms, after spending some time with the Mi Max 3, we can vouch that it won’t disappoint in any way as a daily driver for most average users out there. As for the unique offer of a huge display, it is one of those things you either instantly love or hate. If you’re up to the task of handling the beastly Xiaomi, it’s one to easily recommend.
Last October 19, 2020 on Beijing, Xiaomi introduce its latest achievement in the field of next generation fast charging – the pioneering 80W Mi Wireless Charging Technology. A major leap forward from Xiaomi’s 30W Wireless Charging Technology introduced last year, the new iteration of the cutting edge technology is an order of magnitude ahead of similar solutions offered by other smartphone brands.
80W Mi Wireless Charging Technology is capable of filling a 4,000 mAh battery to 10% in 1 minute, 50% in 8 minutes and 100% in just 19 minutes. For comparison, 30W Mi Wireless Charging Technology from 2019 was capable of charging a similar battery to 50% in about 25 minutes, and 100% in 69 minutes1.
The introduction of 80W Mi Wireless Charging Technology is expected to set a new benchmark not only in the area of wireless charging but in charging as a whole. Xiaomi has been spearheading this trend by recognizing the importance of battery life and faster charging for the future development of smartphones.
In March 2020, Xiaomi introduced to the world 40W wireless charging, in August that record was broken by Xiaomi’s first mass-produced 50W wireless charging technology, only to be broken again with 80W Mi Wireless Charging Technology. In less than a year, three technological breakthroughs and three new records.
Xiaomi recently introduced Mi 10 Ultra, the world’s first smartphone equipped with 120W wired charging and 50W wireless, to global acclaim.
Data acquired from Xiaomi Labs
Xiaomi claims the new 80W Mi Wireless Charging Technology will set a new benchmark in the area of charging as a whole. If you don’t know, the smartphone brand already has wireless charging tech on a shipping phone. It introduced 50W wireless charging tech in its Mi 10 Ultra smartphone that can fully charge its 4,500mAh battery in just 40 minutes. Recently, OnePlus also launched OnePlus 8T 5G with a higher 65W warp charge support. However, this fast charging technology is not shipped in any commercial device yet.
In this very year, Xiaomi introduced a wireless charging solution three times, one powerful than the other. It first launched 40W wireless charging in March, then broke its record by mass-producing 50W wireless charging in August. Now, it has again broken its own record with this 80W charging solution.
The company, however, hasn’t yet announced when a phone with 80W Mi Wireless Charging tech will actually ship. Xiaomi displayed the 80W charging miracle in a modified Mi 10 Pro device. We hope to get to see the Xiaomi devices equipped with this new tech shortly. Till then, watch the video of the new 80W Mi Wireless Charging Technology in action on a modified Mi 10 Pro.
While the Mi series may be the flagship series of Xiaomi‘s product line, it’s the Redmi series that’s the company’s bread and butter. And within the Redmi series, it’s the Redmi Note series that has everyone’s attention as it encapsulates Xiaomi‘s ethos of offering more bang for your buck.
Continuing the tradition this year is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro, the flagship within the company’s Redmi lineup. Like the previous phones in the series, the Redmi Note 7 Pro pushes the budget smartphone category further than it has ever been, cramming in as many flagship features as it possibly can without breaking the bank.
The crown jewel this year is the presence of the Sony IMX 586, a 48MP behemoth that is found in nearly every flagship Android smartphone this year but Xiaomi was one of the first few companies to implement it, that too in a budget phone.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro specs
Body: Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, polycarbonate frame
Display: 6.3-inch, 2340×1080 IPS LCD, 409 PPI
Rear camera: 48MP f1.79 PDAF primary, 5MP secondary, 4K30 video
The rest of the kit isn’t bad either. You have a polycarbonate and glass body with a teardrop notch display, a Snapdragon 675 chipset with 4GB or 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB storage and a big 4000mAh battery.
When you remind yourself all of this is in what is still essentially a budget smartphone, it seems very impressive indeed. Of course, running on top of all this is Xiaomi‘s MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie, which, for now at least, is the latest version of Android available.
The front of the device has a display going nearly edge to edge. There is a small chin on the bottom and on top is the familiar notch, but neither are particularly distracting.
The sides of the phone are made out of glossy polycarbonate, which can feel slippery at times. On the right are the power and volume buttons, placed appropriately and having a decent tactile feedback.
On the top of the phone are two things that are very hard to spot these days, a headphone jack and an IR blaster. The latter is quite common on Xiaomi phones but the former is starting to disappear, even from budget offerings like the Mi A2 so this may just be the last Redmi Note phone with a headphone jack.
On the left side of the phone is a SIM tray with a hybrid design that can hold either two SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD. The tray has a rubber gasket around the rim, which should prevent water or dust from entering.
On the bottom of the phone is a USB-C port flanked by the microphone on the left and a loudspeaker on the right. This phone does not have stereo speakers, so that’s the only loudspeaker on this device.
The back of the phone is also finished in Corning Gorilla Glass 5 like the front and has a beautiful 2.5D gradient reflective surface that changes color from bottom to top. This finish is found on the blue and red variants but not on the black.
On the back is also a fingerprint sensor, which is easy to reach and the camera module, which sticks out a fair bit from the back.
The design of the Redmi Note 7 Pro is really nice, especially in the blue or red variants. It also feels quite premium in hand, something that’s not the case for a lot of budget phones, even ones that do have a glass body. This phone is heavier than most in the segment, which actually helps make it feel more substantial and opulent in hand.
However, the phone still isn’t rated for dust or water resistance, which is to be expected in this price range and other than the gasket around the SIM tray we saw no other evidence of this phone being able to ward off the elements, so it’s best to keep it away from water.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has a 6.3-inch display with a resolution of 2340×1080. It’s an IPS LCD panel with a notch and a 19:9 aspect ratio.
The display has three color modes. The default Automatic contrast makes the colors more saturated with higher contrast and bluer whites. It also changes the display contrast based on ambient lighting and has manual white balance wheel. The Increased contrast option looks similar to Automatic contrast but lacks the automatic adjustment of contrast and white balance. Lastly, there’s the Standard mode, which is based on the sRGB color standard, and it’s what we used for our testing.
The image quality in the Standard mode is decent. The colors look reasonably accurate but the display has a greenish yellow cast. However, you do tend to get used to it and after a while it’s not that noticeable.
In our color checker tests, the display produced mediocre results in the grayscale patterns due to the greenish tint to the whites. However, the rest of the color performance wasn’t too shabby for a budget device.
Overall, the display quality is pretty good for the price but we would have liked to see better color accuracy.
As with all Redmi phones, the Redmi Note 7 Pro runs on MIUI. Our review unit is using the latest MIUI 10 on top of Android 9 Pie.
As we have mentioned in our previous Xiaomi reviews, MIUI is a major departure from stock Android. This is a complete redesign of the user interface and outside of a couple of specific menus you will never see stock Android UI elements here.
This includes a lot of custom items, such as the launcher, the notifications, the app switcher and all of the stock apps. All of these have gone through several changes over the years, with MIUI 10 easily being the best version so far.
The launcher is as we have seen before, lacking a traditional app drawer and instead of placing all the apps and widgets on the homescreen like on iOS. Xiaomi has a different launcher for the Pocophone that does have an app drawer and also some other features and while that launcher can be installed on any Xiaomi phone, for some reason Xiaomi chooses not to integrate the two.
The notifications also sport a custom design. The grid of icons is customizable but for some reason you cannot have fewer than twelve icons. The notifications themselves have seen several improvements over the years and do work more or less in line with stock Android and other Android phones.
Another thing that was improved recently was the app switcher. Instead of the horizontal card layout of previous versions, we now get a tiled view that shows four apps at the same time. This is definitely the most functional layout of any app switcher and there isn’t another phone that lets you jump straight to the fourth last app that you had opened.
Also updated are the volume controls, which now features a much more attractive and easier to use interface. You can also expand it to show all the volume levels for different functions.
The Settings app has gone through some changes as well and the About phone section has now been moved to the top of the list. This is convenient if you like to constantly check for new OS updates or updates for the stock apps that come pre-installed. The rest of it, however, is more or less the same and a lot of it is still a bit convoluted and many of the things aren’t placed where you’d expect to find them on any other Android phone.
Xiaomi has also added dark mode in the latest version of the OS. This works system-wide across all the stock apps as well as every other part of the UI. Well, almost every app as the File Manager app and the Security app for some reason aren’t affected by the dark mode.
As before, there is gesture support built-in. Xiaomi‘s gesture implementation is perhaps the best on Android, possibly because it’s identical to iOS. You swipe up to go home, swipe up and hold for app switcher and swipe from left or right edge of the screen to go back. It works as you’d expect and the animations are done well.
There are tons of other features in the OS that we don’t have time to discuss today. There’s also a lot of customization options built-in. It’s one of the reasons why people like MIUI so much and even prefer it over stock Android.
But while there’s definitely a lot to like here, it can also be quite a nuisance at times. Many of the stock apps that come with the phone will bombard you with notifications throughout the day. If you know how to block these, that’s fine but a lot of people don’t and it’s common to see someone’s phone going off and it’s the Themes app telling you of a new theme. The phone is littered with such apps and even apps you don’t expect to send you notifications will do so at some point or other.
There are also far too many duplicate apps on the device. In the same vein as Samsung, Xiaomi loves to have a version of its own app for every Google app, so the phone comes with two of everything. There are two browsers, two music players, two image galleries, and two app stores. The app store is particularly annoying, as it merely exists so Xiaomi can shove promotional content at you and offers nothing extra over the Play Store. As you can guess, none of these duplicate apps can be removed entirely.
The other nuisance is ads. Xiaomi has gone on record saying it can afford to sell these phones at such low prices because it’s found another revenue model – by pushing ads through its apps. Unfortunately, practically every app that comes built into the OS now has ads built-in. The good thing is these can be disabled but you have to do that on a per-app basis and the option to do it isn’t always easily accessible.
It is possible to spend an hour or so going through every app and setting to disable all the notifications, unwanted apps, and ads. We’d also recommend switching the launcher to something more practical and sensible with a better-looking set of icons. Unfortunately, a lot of this requires knowledge that most people don’t have. Most people just use their phones as they come out of the box and the out-of-the-box user experience for MIUI phones isn’t great.
Unfortunately, there’s no point expecting Xiaomi to fix any of this considering these annoyances are now part of the company’s revenue model. However, it’s good to note that this is not the case on all markets that Xiaomi phones are available on. Users in most Western countries seem to be spared the barrage of ads. For now.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro comes with a fairly respectable Snapdragon 675 chipset with a choice of either 4GB or 6GB RAM with 64GB or 128GB storage, respectively. The regular Redmi Note 7 (or Redmi Note 7s as it’s known in India) has a Snapdragon 660 chipset instead.
For the price, the performance of both Pro and non-Pro models is really good. Xiaomi generally has very good performance optimization so the phone never feels sluggish or out of breath. Even doing things like switching apps or taking pictures in the camera app feel very quick. You only really notice the difference in performance if you use a much more powerful smartphone side by side but for most users, the performance on offer here is perfectly satisfactory.
Gaming is another area where the Redmi Note 7 Pro does reasonably well. We played a few rounds of PUBG Mobile and even at ‘HD’ setting and ‘High’ frame rate option, the game was perfectly playable and we didn’t have any issues with it.
The single loudspeaker on the bottom of the sounds good but it doesn’t get particularly loud and just having it on one side makes it sound unbalanced when you’re watching a video or playing a game. Fortunately, the phone does come with a headphone jack although there aren’t headphones provided with the phone and you will have to buy those separately.
Lastly, the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone also works quite well and was generally quite reliable.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has the Sony IMX 586 sensor on the back with 48MP resolution in a Quad-Bayer array. If you don’t know how a Quad-Bayer array works, you can check out our explainer here.
The camera has an aperture of f/1.8 along with phase detection autofocus and a dual LED flash. Complementing it is a secondary 5MP depth sensor used for taking portrait images.
The camera application is similar to what we have seen on Xiaomi phones in the last couple of years. The UI is inspired by the iOS Camera app, so on the bottom, you have all the various camera modes and you can tap or swipe to move between them. On the top are toggles for the flash, HDR, AI mode, beauty and color filters.
There’s also an additional menu housing the options for tilt-shift mode, aspect ratio adjustments, countdown timer, and Google Lens. There’s also the Straighten option, which uses the phone’s accelerometer to automatically straighten the image even if you don’t hold the camera perfectly level.
Among the various modes we have the standard Photo mode, a dedicated 48MP mode, Portrait mode, Night mode, Panorama and lastly Pro mode. For video there’s the standard Video mode and also a short video mode that takes quick 15 seconds videos suitable for Instagram.
The Pro mode on the Redmi phones isn’t as elaborate as on the Mi phones, which is a shame considering the sensor on this device. Here we find white balance adjustments, manual focus but without focus peaking, shutter speed and ISO. There’s no option to capture images in RAW.
Image quality in the default photo mode during daylight is largely excellent. The camera has excellent color reproduction that even surpasses some of the more expensive phones on the market, along with really good contrast and exposure. Images captured in daylight have rich details with very little noise or over-sharpening. The only area where it struggles is in capturing bright highlights in moderately lit situations but apart from that there’s not much else to complain about.
Low light is a different ballgame, however. The images in low light come out way too soft at times. The noise reduction algorithm wipes out a lot of the detail and texture in the images. The lack of optical image stabilization also doesn’t help, as the images can also tend to be shaky and the camera has to bump up the ISO instead of the shutter speed to compensate.
There’s also a night mode, but it doesn’t really do much and is basically useless.
The HDR mode works quite well. Images shot in HDR mode have improved shadow and highlight detail without looking too over processed.
You can also choose to shoot images in 48MP mode; however, we didn’t see much reason to. While in bright sunlight you do get some extra detail, it’s not enough to justify the 2 seconds or so where the camera app freezes while it saves the image, nor is it worth the 2-3x increase in file size.
Also, the camera will only actually capture true 48MP images in bright light. In any other situation, it will simply upscale 12MP images, which as you’d expect, don’t look any better than the default 12MP images.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro can also record 4K video. Unfortunately, there is no OIS on this phone and the electronic stabilization is also disabled in 4K mode. This results in a detailed but very shaky video and the camera shake, even when standing still, makes the video unwatchable.
The same is true for the 1080p60 mode, which also does not have any stabilization. On top of that, this mode also suffers from a very soft image as it’s being captured at a fairly low internal resolution and then upscaled to 1080p.
The best mode in our opinion is 1080p30, where you get good image quality, at least in daylight, but also electronic stabilization.
You can also record 120fps slow-motion video in 1080p but the video is soft and there’s no stabilization.
Overall, the camera on the Redmi Note 7 Pro is rather good for the price range. As with the other phones with this sensor, the 48MP description is a bit of a misnomer but even in 12MP mode the phone captures some good-looking images, provided there’s enough light.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has a 4000mAh battery. We didn’t do our usual battery life test, but in actual usage, the phone easily went through an entire day on a single charge. The battery life has always been a highlight of the Redmi Note series, and the Redmi Note 7 Pro is no exception.
The phone does support Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0, but the phone does not ship with a fast charger. The bundled charger does charge the phone in under three hours but if you want faster charging you will have to spend extra for a compatible charger.
The Redmi Note series has pretty much dominated the budget Android smartphone segment ever since it was released. In markets like India and China that are remarkably price- and value-conscious, the combination of affordable price and robust feature set of the Redmi Note series made it the absolute favorite of the masses and pushed Xiaomi to the top of the sales charts.
With the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Xiaomi is injecting even more of the flagship smartphones into the budget market. The glass body feels premium, as does the large, nearly edge to edge display. The performance is best in class, and the 48MP camera takes some terrific photos. And finally, the battery life is as good as it has ever been.
As a complete package, few phones can compete with the Redmi Note 7 Pro on the market, which is why it has been so challenging to get one since it was released. We would like to see Xiaomi improve its software experience further and make it less of an annoyance with the abundance of ads, notifications, and duplicate apps but apart from that there’s not much to complain about here.
Good design and build quality
Good display quality
Good performance for the price
Good daylight camera performance
Good battery life
Well priced for the hardware and performance
Software loaded with bloatware, ads and disruptive notifications
It’s been almost nine months since the Redmi Note 5 series premiered, and it’s already time for an upgrade. The Redmi Note 6 Pro is now official, shaking up the lineup with one of the most recognizable and controversial features on the market – a frame-to-frame display with a notch.
Yes, the Redmi Notes have reached that inevitable moment, where the notched screen would become the default one until something better comes to replace it. Even the cheapest of smartphones have already jumped on the notched bandwagon, so it’s no surprising to see the Redmi Note 6 Pro being the forerunner of change for the Notes to come.
Xiaomi has pretty much thrown logic out of the window for the Redmi Note names. The Redmi Note 5 is widely available as Redmi 5 Plus, the Redmi Note 5A had little to do to with the Note series at all, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro got an enhanced version called Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera. So, the Redmi Note 6 Pro is the Note 6 series opener, but please, don’t ask what happened with the Redmi Note 6. Nobody knows.
Anyway, the Redmi Note 6 Pro isn’t a massive upgrade over the Note 5 Pro, but that’s to be expected given the short development cycle. The Note 6 Pro does bring a larger display fitted in the same body, but keeps the same Snapdragon 636 chipset, beefy battery, and plastic/metal design. It borrows the main camera from the Note 5 Pro AI Dual Camera edition, but the selfie photography got a boost with a new dual-camera at the front.
Connectivity: Hybrid dual SIM (4G+3G), 4G VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou, Wi-Fi Direct, FM Radio, IR blaster, microUSB, headphone jack
Misc: Fingerprint sensor
We can’t think of anything that’s missing on the Redmi Note 6 Pro and it’s shaping to be one very thoughtful smartphone with great bang for the buck ratio. And now it’s time to pop this thing out of the box.
Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
Xiaomi has bundled the Redmi Note 6 Pro with the usual accessories – a 10W charger, a microUSB cable, and a soft silicone case.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro ticks all the right boxes for a best-seller in its class and price segment. But it’s not the only one. There are plenty of smartphones with big notched screens, Snapdragon 636 chips, dual-cams, and large batteries.
The first market to officially get the Redmi Note 6 Pro is Thailand, but the Indian premiere should be just around the corner, too. And there are quite a few phones to consider before making a decision.
Oppo Realme 2 Pro • Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) • Asus Zenfone Max Pro (M1) ZB601KL • Motorola One Power (P30 Note)
The Realme 2 Pro is the first device worth mentioning. It’s cheaper, more powerful (S660), and it has a much better take on how a notch should look like. The Realme 2 Pro also does 4K video recording out of the box, and its base model has more storage and RAM. Oh, and the SIM slot is not a hybrid one!
If you aren’t a notch person, then the Xiaomi Mi A2 might suit you better. All-metal design, more powerful chipset, better dual-camera, and Android One enrolment for a clean OS with regular updates. Worth the extra bucks, if you can live without an audio jack and a microSD slot.
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro (M1) ZB601KL is very cheap, doesn’t have a notch, but has the same Snapdragon 636 chip, and a good enough dual-camera on the back. It boasts a massive 5,000 mAh battery underneath the 6″ screen, which combined with the low price may tip the odds in its favor.
The Motorola One Power is a very good match for the Redmi Note 6 Pro. It packs identical screen and chipset, similar main camera, but is powered by an impressive 5,000 mAh battery. Android One is in charge of One Power, which means Android Pie is coming very soon. The Motorola is more expensive though and can’t beat the Note 6’s bang-for-buck ratio.
It’s the new Redmi Note and for the fans, this is enough of a reason for an upgrade even though the novelties aren’t that many since the Redmi 5 Pro. But the Redmis, and the Notes particularly, are becoming more attractive by the hour for users that are either disappointed by the major companies in the industry, or just tired of the high prices they are charging lately.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro has it all – great display, snappy performance, no-nonsense features, excellent battery life, and very good and hassle-free camera experience. And all this is available at an amazingly low price.
Big screen with superb contrast and tiny bezels. And a notch.
The Redmi Note is a well-established series and each new phone follows the same book – a large screen, a snappy chipset, a good camera, and a 4,000 mAh battery. All these should be wrapped in a striking body, ran by the latest MIUI, and everything ends with an affordable price tag. Well, the Redmi Note 8 follows the recipe and has just the right ingredients so that makes it yet another excellent addition to the series.
Indeed, the Redmi Note 8 comes with a large 6.3″ IPS LCD screen of 1080p resolution and waterdrop-shaped notch. We would forgive you if thought this is the same panels as on the Note 7. But the Note 8’s screen supports HDR10, so something has definitely changed since the last year model.
The chipset got an upgrade, too. The Snapdragon 665 is now in charge, up from the Snapdragon 660 on the Note 8. We don’t believe it will deliver a significant boost, or if any at all, but it’s still a newer model, and a more power-efficient one at least.
The camera got a boost, though. Now the 48MP primary is joined by an 8MP ultrawide shooter, a 2MP macro snapper, and last is the 2MP depth sensor. Oh, and 4K video capturing is now an option!
Quite expectedly, the Note 8 boasts a 4,000 mAh battery, just like any other Note before it. And it’s no surprise this Note boots MIUI 10, though MIUI 11 should be seeding any moment now.
Finally, all these goodies come wrapped within one very good-looking body made of Gorilla Glass 5 panels and you may want to enjoy the view before proceeding to the full specs sheet.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 specs
Body: Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, plastic frame, splash-resistant nano-coating, 190g.
Memory: 3/4/6GB of RAM; 32/64/128GB storage; dedicated microSD slot.
Battery: 4,000mAh; 18W fast charging.
Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE-A, 4-Band carrier aggregation, LTE Cat-12/ Cat-13; USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; dual-band GPS; Bluetooth 4.2; FM radio; NFC (8T model only);
Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; 3.5mm jack; single down-firing speaker.
It’s not like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is the perfect midranger, but it ticks so many boxes that it may as well be one of them. There is nothing missing on the Note 8, if we don’t count proper ingress protection, but c’mon! So, we can’t wait to put the Note 8 through our tests and see what happens. Here we go!
Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
The Redmi Note 8 is the typical Xiaomi you can get these days – the box contains a 10W charger, a USB-C cable, and a transparent silicone case.
Depending on your region, some Redmi Note 8 units will come with a factory-applied screen protector. And while it may not be the most premium piece of shielding, it’s still very much appreciated.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 may be the cheaper of the Note 8 duo, but its build quality is what many would consider premium. The Note 8 is a glass smartphone like the Note 8 Pro, though it has no fancy curves and instead relies on a more traditional shape.
Redmi Note 8 and Note 8 Pro
The Redmi Note 8 has two flat pieces of Gorilla Glass 5 serving as panels. The front one is guarding the screen, while the rear one is painted in one of four hues – Neptune Blue, Moonlight White, Space Black, Nebula Purple. We have the Neptune Blue here, and it’s as mesmerizing in person as it looks on these photos.
The Neptune Blue version is based on the somewhat pearly blue color that goes gently to purple towards the bottom of the phone. The Moonlight White goes from light blue to light purple; the Nebula Purple is playing entirely with purple gradients, while the Space Black is simply black. Whatever you choose, the looks will always stay as brilliant.
So, the Redmi Note 8 has a 6.3″ IPS LCD panel taking most of the front. It has a droplet-shaped notch for its 13MP selfie camera. There are some hidden components on the top bezels – a white notification LED light is on the left, the thin earpiece grille is at the center, and some sensors are pretty invisible on the right.
Speaking about the bezels, the Redmi Note 8 may not be shining as a bezel-less device, but it sure has one of the most beautiful display frames we’ve encountered lately. There is a very subtle blue accent on the left and right bezel, which intensifies around the bottom just below the Redmi logo. It is not over the top and makes for a cool and unique look.
The frame is painted in the same blue hue as the bezels, and it adds even more points to Redmi Note 8‘s looks. It is made of plastic, though it took us a while to figure that out as it doesn’t feel cheap at all. So, we definitely won’t hold the choice of material against this Note.
Some interesting bits around the said frame are the triple card slot on the left with an independent microSD tray. Then there is an IR blaster at the top, while the bottom has the audio jack and speaker grille flanking the USB-C port.
The back is a stunning view, and we’d understand if you take a moment and enjoy it. The gradients are gorgeous, there is an awesome S-shape under different light conditions, and the pearl-like color is one of a kind.
There is a huge camera hump on the left that houses four cameras – the 8MP ultrawide, the 48MP primary, the 2MP macro, and the 2MP depth sensors. There is a single LED flash outside this mountain.
Indeed, with such a huge hump, the Redmi Note 8 would wobble a lot on a flat surface! If you leave it lying on a desk and try typing on the keyboard – you won’t like the experience. Then again, the bundled silicone case and this issue will go in a flash.
We also like the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The touch-sensitive area is rather small, but it’s always-on and pretty accurate. It’s a bit higher than usual, and it may require some adjustment period.
The Redmi Note 8 measures 158.3 x 75.3 x 8.4 mm – 3mm shorter and 1mm narrower than the Redmi Note 8 Pro with its larger 6.53″ screen. The Note 8 weighs 190g, 10g lighter than the Pro.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is a good-looking smartphone with exquisite paint job and sturdy build. It is a slippery thing considering all this glossiness, but most of the phones today are. That’s why it has a bundled case within the retail box – it keeps it safe and provides a much-needed grip. On a positive note, even without the case – it feels more secure than the Pro models as both of its glass panels have no curves.
The Redmi Note 8 has a bit smaller display than the Redmi Note 8 Pro‘s but gets to keep the same notch, resolution, and protection. Indeed, the Note 8 packs a 6.3″ IPS LCD panel of 1080p resolution behind a Gorilla Glass 5.
Because of the smaller panel size the Note 8 has a higher pixel density than the Note 8 Pro – 409ppi vs. 395ppi. One exciting bit is the support for HDR10 – a rarity among the mobile LCD screens.
Some units, probably not the global models, may come with pre-applied screen protectors, but we can’t be sure as ours lacked such thing.
Xiaomi promises 1500:1 contrast ratio for the Note 8 screen, and we can confirm this. We measured a maximum brightness of 473 nits and combined with the deep blacks we got 1521:1 contrast.
The screen can be brighter though if you leave it on Automatic Brightness – it can light up as high as 630 nits in bright ambient light.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 (Max Auto)
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro (Max Auto)
Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
Realme 5 Pro
Samsung Galaxy A30
Samsung Galaxy A30 (Max Auto)
Samsung Galaxy M30
Samsung Galaxy M30 (Max Auto)
Xiaomi Mi A3
Xiaomi offers three different Contrast settings. With the Automatic contrast set to on, the screen output seems to be tuned for accuracy in the sRGB color space, and we measured an average deltaE of 5.4. Only in this mode, you can choose the color saturation (default, warm, cool) and the Delta E of 3.8 was measured with the Default preset. Choosing warm will diminish the noticeable blue tint but won’t improve the overall accuracy by much.
The Standard Contrast setting is accurately tuned to the sRGB color space, and we recorded an average deltaE of 1.9 for color accuracy, meaning it’s an excellent one.
Finally, the Increased Contrast makes the colors pop at the expense of reproduction accuracy.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is powered by a 4,000mAh Li-ion battery. It supports Qualcomm’s 18W Quick Charge, but the provided charger is only 10W. It fills 30% of the entirely depleted battery in 30 mins, while a full charge requires about 2 hours and 15 mins.
The Redmi Note 8 posted an excellent endurance rating of 108 hours and great scores across the board. The screen-on times are excellent – we measured 16 hours runtime in our web browsing test and north of 14 hours in our video playback test. The standby performance was on par with the Redmi Note 7 and overall – a great one.
It scored an Excellent mark in our loudness test, and you can easily tell the speaker is among the loudest today. As far as the output quality is concerned – it is good but not great. There is enough bass, and the mid-tones are fine, but we found the speaker lacking in the high tones big time.
Pink noise/ Music, dB
Ringing phone, dB
Samsung Galaxy A30
Samsung Galaxy M30
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
Realme 5 Pro
Huawei P30 Lite
Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
Xiaomi Mi A3
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
When it comes to testing the audio output quality as delivered via the jack, the Redmi Note 8 is a tale of two parts. It did splendidly when connected to an active external amplifier, reproducing our test track perfectly and at high volume.
Yet, when headphones came into play, stereo separation suffered quite a lot, and a fair amount of intermodulation distortion crept in, and frequency response got slightly shaky, making the overall clarity rather mediocre. Loudness dropped a bit too, but remained nicely high.
IMD + Noise
Redmi Note 8
Redmi Note 8 (headphones)
Redmi Note 8 Pro
Redmi Note 8 Pro (headphones)
Xiaomi Mi Note 10
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 (headphones)
Realme X2 (headphones)
Realme X2 Pro
Realme X2 Pro (headphones)
OnePlus 7T (headphones)
Sony Xperia 5
Sony Xperia 5 (headphones)
Boots MIUI 10, but not for long
The Redmi Note 8 boots the MIUI 10 ROM based on Android 9 Pie but allegedly, Xiaomi has already started seeding the MIUI 11 update.
While lightweight and intuitive, MIUI is no vanilla Android, so it will take a couple of hours for the purists to get the handle of it.
Redmi Note 8 and Note 8 Pro
You can unlock the screen via the snappy rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The reader is easy to set up and is always on, so it works fast. The accuracy is very good, too, a notch under the most accurate we’ve encountered but still great for your daily unlocking.
You can also set up face unlock in addition to it – it’s even faster as the Note 8 wakes up the moment you pick it up. Note that the face unlock option may not be available in all regions and is far less secure than the fingerprint scanner.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 has a Dark mode – it will switch all system colors from white to black, and this way, you can save some battery juice by darkening most of the screen. Note that not all apps support the dark mode, but the majority do.
There is no app drawer in MIUI, so all your apps are just sitting there on your homescreen, but you can still add them to folders. Of course, you can always install a third-party launcher if you miss the app drawer.
Here are the default home screens on Redmi Note 8. There’s a weather widget in the upper right corner across from a large clock widget. There is a Quick Card pane, the leftmost one. It contains different cards with relevant information – recent apps, step counter, notes, calendar events, the weather, and favorites, among others. You can configure what shows up here, or you can disable this altogether.
The task switcher felt a bit awkward at first, but we’ve grown to like it. It shows all of your recent apps in two columns. Tap and hold on a card for the split-screen shortcut, or just swipe it left or right to close it.
Themes are supported on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8, but the app appears only when the phone is set to a supported region, say India.
MIUI also offers a Security app. It can scan your phone for malware, manage your blacklist, manage or restrict your data usage, configure battery behavior, and free up some RAM. It can also manage the permissions of your installed apps and allows you to define the battery behavior of selected apps and applies restrictions only to the apps you choose.
MIUI also offers proprietary Gallery, Music, and Video player. In some regions, the music and video apps include paid streaming options. An FM radio app is available, too.
The Redmi Note 8 has an IR blaster on its top, and you can install the Mi Remote app from the Play Store and configure your phone as the one remote to rule them all.
In some markets, the pre-installed applications by Xiaomi will show ads, which is how Xiaomi is compensating for the relatively low prices of its devices. We’re reviewing a global version of the Redmi Note 8, and we noticed a couple of ads in some apps (like File Manager), but not as aggressive as if you were running on an Indian or Chinese version of MIUI.
Finally, we want to mention our disappointment in the Auto Rotate option. The phone seems very sensitive and even slight variations in the orientation make it switch to Landscape. What’s worse is that when lying on a flat surface, the wobbling because of the big camera hump is enough to trigger Landscape Rotation when you are typing on the keyboard. We had quite a few of these unwanted Landscape switches and then we had to pick up the phone shake it and then put it back.
Performance and benchmarks
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is powered by the Snapdragon 665 chipset. It’s a relatively new chip from mid-2019, and it’s available in few smartphones, one of which is the Xiaomi Mi A3. This chipset represents a minor upgrade over the Redmi Note 7’s Snapdragon 660 chip, but we’ll discuss the raw performance in a bit.
So, the Snapdragon 665 chip is based on the more efficient 11nm manufacturing process compared to the 14nm Snapdragon 660. It has the same processor as the SD660 – an octa-core Kryo 260 CPU with 4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold (Cortex-A73 derivative) & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver (Cortex-A53 derivative). Well, almost the same – the high-performance Kryo cores are actually clocked 200MHz lower than the same on the Note 7’s SD660.
There is a new Adreno 610 GPU, which, unfortunately, isn’t more powerful than the Adreno 512 inside the old 660 chip. It should supposedly deliver similar performance for 20% less battery though.
The Snapdragon 665 has a new DSP and a new ISP for 48MP camera support. Its modem is the same as on the S660, though.
The raw CPU multi-core performance is excellent – the phone did better than most of its competitors and is bested only by the Realme 5 Pro’s Snapdragon 712 CPU.
The Redmi Note 8 is fast, but not the fastest around. Its processor is snappy and a very dependable performer across various CPU-intensive tasks, but the GPU behavior is a mixed bag. Hiccups do happen in games, even when scrolling through MIUI, and while not that disturbing, they are still noticeable.
What we didn’t observe, however, is the phone getting hot – not even when running those benchmarks for longer durations. There is no noticeable performance throttling after longer runs either. Overall, the Redmi Note 8 offers an acceptable level of performance for the class, but you will be able to tell that you have a budget phone in your hands if you do some gaming.
From dual to quad camera
Just like Realme, Redmi skipped the triple camera and jumped straight to quad-camera setups. The arrangement is quite familiar – first (top to bottom) is the ultrawide snapper, then the primary one, the depth camera is next, and last is the macro shooter.
The main camera uses the 48 MP ISOCELL Bright GM2 sensor by Samsung. It’s a large 1/2.25″ sensor with 0.8µm pixels, and the lens has f/1.8 aperture. Native pixel-binning is at play here, so the image output is 12MP.
The 119-degree ultrawide-angle camera has an 8MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture. There is automatic distortion correction applied when necessary, but you can opt-out of it.
Then there’s the 2MP macro camera (the pixels on the sensor are quite large, 1.75µm). Its lens can focus from as close as 4cm away so that you can get really close to your subjects.
The last snapper is the 2MP depth sensor.
Switching between modes is like in every other camera app – swiping left and right will take you through all modes, while tapping in the upper right corner of the screen where the “hamburger menu” resides will expand the options. The real settings menu is in there as well, and it doesn’t offer anything out of the ordinary.
There’s also a dedicated 48MP mode as opposed to before when you had to go to Pro mode and tap on the 48MP icon to shoot 48MP resolution stills. Speaking of Pro, this one offers pretty much all the settings you’d need – white balance, focus, ISO, and shutter speed. The Pro mode works with the normal camera, the ultra-wide, and the macro. Manual 48MP pictures are also an option.
Now, let’s talk about image quality. The 48MP camera naturally saves by default 12MP images, and the ones we shot turned out very good. The resolved detail is plenty, the noise levels are quite low, and the colors stayed mostly true to life. The dynamic range is wide, and even though it’s not the best we’ve encountered – we never used the HDR option.
The foliage presentation looks like an oil-painting as the algorithm smears fine detail, but it is nothing we’d hold against the Note 8 given the class and its price tag. Moire fringes can be noticed too in some busy scenes, but once again these are just minor defects, which can’t put a dent in the positive impressions we had.
There is a dedicated 48MP mode if you want to shoot in 48MP, but what you’d get is not a real 48MP image. Instead of the usual 48MP photo created with the debayering process, the Redmi Note 8 saves a simple upscaled image, and you can tell. There are no benefits whatsoever when shooting in 48MP, and we don’t recommend it.
There is one benefit of having such a big sensor – even though there isn’t a telephoto camera, you can still shoot good 2x zoomed photos. They are digitally zoomed, alright, but they still look better than any zoom done on a standard 12MP camera.
The 8MP ultrawide cam snaps okay photos with good enough level of detail for the segment. The contrast is good but the dynamic range is rather limited. The per-pixel quality is no match to the main snapper, and the images are noisier, and they are definitely at the bottom end of what is offered by competing smartphones.
You can opt-out of the automatic lens correction, and you will get more distorted edges of the frame but with sharper output.
We took a couple of macro samples from the dedicated 2MP macro camera. Unfortunately, those are far from impressive. The detail isn’t that great, the corners are soft, and the center isn’t that sharp either.
The Redmi Note 8 can be a great shooter at nighttime. The 12MP photos from the main camera are excellent for this class – the noise reduction is not that aggressive, and while it leaves some noise visible on the photos, it also keeps the fine detail intact.
The Night Mode on the Redmi Note 8 is just as conservative as on previous Xiaomi cameras. It acts more like HDR rather than full-on Night mode,, and shooting takes about 2 seconds. It cancels some of the noise and restores most clipped highlights, but you will rarely get a brighter image.
The low-light images from the ultrawide-angle camera are far from impressive as expected, but oddly – we’ve seen way worse even from flagships. The photos came out surprisingly detailed, probably due to the gentle noise reduction. The exposure turned out not as dark as on other ultrawide snappers, and while still uninspiring, those are some entirely usable photos.
The quality of the portraits taken with the rear camera of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is highly dependent on the light conditions as the resolved detail would drastically drop when the light is not good. So, when the right conditions are met – you will be rewarded with some very nice portrait shots – detailed, with good subject separation and convincing faux blur.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 has a 13MP f/2.0 selfie camera, and the focus is fixed as usual. On the software side, there three beatification enhancement options – skin smoothing, eye enlargement, and face slimming.
The 13MP selfies we shot are excellent – there is abundant detail, the colors and contrast are excellent, and the dynamic range is good even without HDR mode.
You can use portrait mode for selfies, too, and those turned out quite good. The phone does a nice job with subject separation, and we didn’t get (many) clipped ears or the like.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 captures videos up to 4K @ 30fps and 1080@30fps is available. The 1080p@60fps option is coming via a firmware update, and at the time of publishing it was still unavailable.
It seems at first that you can capture in these resolutions with all cameras, but you can’t. The ultrawide-angle snapper records only 1080p clips at 30fps, while the macro cam is limited to 720p@30fps no matter what resolution you’ve picked up from the selector.
Slow-mo video is available in 1080p @120fps.
Let’s talk about the main camera. The video bitrate is 40-42Mbps in 4K and about 20Mbps in 1080p at 30fps. Audio is recorded in stereo with a 96Kbps bitrate.
Despite the high bitrate, the 4K videos are poor in detail and with mediocre dynamic range. The noise is almost non-existent, and maybe an overly aggressive noise reduction is to blame for the loss in detail. The contrast and colors are pretty good, though.
The 1080p clips aren’t detailed either and we’ve seen many phones do better.
The videos from the ultrawide snapper have a bit cooler color rendition, and the detail quite poor, too.
The 2X toggle is also available in video recording, but digital zoom is what you’d be getting if you use it.
EIS is available only when shooting in 1080p at 30fps. The digital stabilization does a great job smoothing the camera shake at the expense of minor loss of FoV.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 doesn’t have the greatest chipset or the best of cameras, but it’s not pretending to be the best phone ever either. It is one very balanced mid-ranger that’s priced as low as an entry-level smartphone and yet delivers outstanding quality across the board.
The Redmi Note 8 has an impressively bright and large screen, can handle demanding games well, and shoots good pictures day and night. Note 8 lasts very long on a single charge, just like the old Notes.
Finally, the Redmi Note 8 is beautiful, yes, but what also makes it attractive is that it is among the first Xiaomi phones to get MIUI 11. And that’s something many are looking forward to.
At the end of the day we would have preferred a more potent chipset for the Note 8, but even as is, the handset offers a lot more than its price suggests. And that’s always has been the unwritten moto of the series, and it lives on with the Note 8.
The Realme 5s was just announced, and it’s already making it hard for the Note 8 as it costs the same. The new 5s model has a larger 6.5″ screen of 720p resolution, which makes the same Snapdragon 665 chip perform much faster. The cameras are the same on both ends, and the Realme can equally impress with its design. But what’s also brilliant is the 5,000 mAh battery within the Realme!
Realme 5 Pro is about INR 3,000 more expensive in India, and while it offers the same screen, camera arrangement, and battery capacity, it just excels in gaming with the Snapdragon 712 chipset with 4GB of RAM in the base model.
The Mi A3 by Xiaomi costs about INR 1,500 on top of the Redmi Note 8, but it offers a Super AMOLED screen of 720p resolution, which also makes it easier for the same Snapdragon 665 SoC to do better. The camera experience is similar, as is the battery autonomy. The Mi A3 is an Android One phone though, so if vanilla Android is your cup of tea – you should check it out.
Samsung Galaxy M30 is quite cheaper already and you can buy a high-res Super AMOLED and a larger battery at the same price, at least in India. The camera isn’t as versatile, but the proper OLED screen with HDR10 may easily make you forget about this.
Finally, the Redmi Note 8 Pro costs INR 5,000 more, but if you can afford it – you should get it. It is the super midranger we expected from Xiaomi, and the Pro version deserves its moniker. It has a much faster chip – the MediaTek Helio G90T, there is also a better main camera (64MP), faster storage (UFS 2.1), and a larger 4,500 mAh battery. Oh, and MIUI 11 is already available on the Note 8 Pro.
If you live in Europe though, the Redmi Note 8T (Note 8 with NFC) costs €180 – about the same as the Realme 5 Pro and the Mi A3, while the Redmi Note 8 Pro is about €230. And this makes for a really tough choice.
Realme 5s • Realme 5 Pro • Xiaomi Mi A3 • Samsung Galaxy M30 • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
There were times when the new Redmi Note was the best in its niche, but that time’s gone now. With Realme going all-in, and Samsung trying hard to snag a piece of that pie, Xiaomi needs to step up its game. The Redmi Note 8 is a great smartphone, sure, but we somehow expected just a little bit more.
Xiaomi does not need to worry about losing its fans – they are not going anywhere. And the Redmi Note 8 is an excellent choice as it is a worthy sequel and also a proper phone to own and carry around. It’s the newcomers that have more options now, and they won’t be as impressed with the Note 8 as those once were with the older models.
Striking design, dual Gorilla Glass 5
Large screen, bright and with excellent contrast
Impressive battery life
MIUI 11 comes in a matter of days
Good all-round camera
Standalone microSD, 3.5mm jack, FM radio, IR blaster
Shady HDR10 support, seems non-existent
The performance is actually a downgrade since the Note 7
With the Mi 8 Lite, Xiaomi marked the completion of the Mi 8 lineup, or so it seems. The company now has two premium flagship models in the Mi 8 family – the Mi 8 and the Mi 8 Explorer Edition along with two mid-rangers – the Mi 8 SE and the Mi 8 Lite, with the last one being the subject of this review.
But releasing yet another Mi 8 smartphone, one could not help but think that Xiaomi is just confusing its customers and luring them into buying a Mi 8-branded handset with lackluster specs. After all, we’ve come across quite a few underwhelming Lite models in recent years.
Luckily, this is not the case. Unlike most direct Lite rivals out there, the Mi 8 Lite comes at a reasonable price, while packing capable hardware and it doesn’t try to imitate its more expensive siblings, spec-wise, that is. In fact, Xiaomi could have easily released the phone under a different name or as part of a different lineup and still score good sales numbers.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite specs:
Body: 156.4 x 75.8 x 7.5mm, 169 grams, glass front and back panel with aluminum side frame.
Screen:6.26″ IPS LCD, 1080 x 2280px resolution (19:9); ~403 ppi.
Memory: 4/64GB LPDDR4X RAM, 64/128GB EMMC 5.1 built-in storage, microSD slot support (takes the second SIM slot).
OS: Android 8.1 Oreo; MIUI 9.6.
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.9 1/2.55″, 1.4µm dual pixel PDAF + 5MP f/2.0, 1.12µm, depth sensor, LED flash; 1080p@60fps, 2160p@30fps, 1080p/720p@120fps video recording with stereo sound.
Front camera: 24MP, f/2.0; 1.8µm, 1080p@30fps video recording.
Battery: 3,350mAh; QuickCharge 3.0 support (proper charger not included).
Connectivity: LTE Cat.12 download/ Cat.13 upload, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band MIMO, 2×2 antennas, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C.
Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.
Of course, in order to bring the price that low, Xiaomi had to cut some corners while giving you a few reasons to opt for the Mi 8 Lite instead of Mi 8 SE. For one, the display is bigger and taller. And when you consider the smaller notch, the screen real estate should be taken into account as well. And besides, if you are aiming for a powerful mid-range SoC and you are a fan of Xiaomi’s MIUI, it’s your only option with Snapdragon 660 chipset aside from the Android One-powered Mi A2.
The phone comes in a box with pretty much everything you’d expect at this price, meaning there are no headphones. But if you already own a pair of cans or buds, Xiaomi has included a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter since the phone, unfortunately, doesn’t have an audio jack.
Just like the rest of the Mi 8s, this one also supports Quick Charge 3.0 but the included brick and USB-A to USB-C cable support 5V/2A charging speeds or in other words 10W. This means that you will have to look for a QC 3.0-compliant charger to get the most out of the battery.
From a design standpoint, the Mi 8 Lite is almost indistinguishable from the Mi 8 SE, unless you take a peek at the back camera arrangement and the notch – the Lite has horizontally-stacked camera sensors and a considerably smaller notch. Overall, the impression is nothing short of premium.
Mi 8 Lite front side
The Mi 8 Lite is another glass sandwich handset so the design is quite ordinary. It’s got a chrome-colored aluminum side frame and 2.5D-curved back glass that connects seamlessly to the sides. In contrast, the front panel isn’t curved and instead looks like it’s slapped on top of the body. You might feel its protruding edge along the sides though it’s doesn’t cause any discomfort.
Speaking of the front panel, the screen offers slim side bezels while the upper and bottom ones are kind of wide. Still, the screen-to-body ratio according to our specs sheet is 82.5%, which is a really nice number for a smartphone in this class. It even beats the Mi 8 SE in this regard.
Going around the sides, we find the SIM/microSD card tray on the left, the volume rocker and the power button on the right, the second microphone used for noise canceling on the top and the bottom-firing speaker grills. Right between them is the USB-C connector. We do have to note that the buttons are delightfully clicky and feel quite firm without any noticeable wobble.
Mi 8 Lite from the side
But it’s not all roses. The rather flat back design and the tall aspect ratio might steer away some people with small hands. One-handed use is difficult and it’s hard to reach the other side or the top of the display with your thumb. The good news is that the rear-mounted fingerprint reader and the power key are ideally positioned within reach. The fingerprint works flawlessly, too. It’s blazing fast and it’s consistent enough on a day-to-day basis.
As you’d expect from a glass back phone, it’s not only prone to scratches and cracks, it’s also easy to smudge. The black version of the phone that we have with us appears to attract fingerprints, but the gradient color makes them less prominent – they can be seen at an angle. We assume that the Aurora Blue version of the phone will be a better fingerprint magnet.
Mi 8 Lite back side
The biggest drawback, however, is the lack of IPxx certification against water and dust but to be honest, at this price point, it’s really hard to be mad at Xiaomi for not including it.
As we’ve already said, it’s hard to notice the difference between the Mi 8 Lite and the Mi 8 SE – both weigh just about the same with the Lite version being just 5 grams heavier at 169g and almost a centimeter taller than the SE. After all, the Mi 8 Lite‘s screen is approximately 0.4″ bigger. Luckily, the screen size hasn’t resulted in noticeable width increase.
All in all, the Mi 8 Lite is a well-built device with little to no complaints regarding the build quality. Only ergonomics could be improved to make the grip more comfortable, natural and less slippery.
The Mi 8 Lite comes with a 6.26-inch IPS display with a tall 19:9 aspect ratio and 1080 x 2280 pixels resolution achieving 403 ppi. Or in other words – nothing too fancy except for the notch. Like it or not, it’s there, but we didn’t find it overly distracting because it’s quite narrow. It just houses the earpiece, the front-facing camera, the usual sensors, and the subtle LED notification light. The only issue we had with the notch is the poor uniformity of the backlight around it and the top bezel.
The small light bleed is most noticeable with a white or gray background and since the majority of the menus and apps use bright color palettes, the issue will be more prominent. Good thing you can visually hide the notch with a black strip across the top of the screen.
Keep in mind that this is a mid-range device we are talking about here. Yet, it was able to surpass the 400 cd/m2 mark, which appears to be the median for today’s affordable LCDs. It got 468 cd/m2 with the slider cranked up to maximum – it’s not the best result out there, but it’s just enough to make the content on the screen readable outdoors. Just avoid direct sunlight as legibility is far from stellar in this scenario.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
Xiaomi Mi A2
Motorola One (P30 Play)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (Max Auto)
Huawei P20 Lite
Nokia 7 plus
And as far as color reproduction goes, we suggest switching over to the “Standard” mode in the display calibration menu as it renders colors way more accurately. The “Automatic” mode spilled an average deltaE of 5 and maximum 10.1 while the “Standard” screen mode brought those digits down to an average of 0.9 with a maximum of 2, which is a stellar score. Note that deviations under deltaE=2 can’t be seen with a naked eye, only with lab equipment. The trade-off here is that the maximum brightness will go down to 415 cd/m2.
In the end, you will have to choose between accurate colors and slightly dimmer display or blue-ish whites and almost 470 nits of maximum brightness.
With the default mode the sunlight legibility is satisfactory and our sunlight contrast ratio score puts it right behind the Huawei P20 Lite and the Motorola One. Again, we’ve seen better, but it’s good enough to make the content readable under the sun – sort of.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite battery life
The handset boasts a generous 3,350 mAh built-in battery, but given that it powers up a powerful Snapdragon 660, we assume the battery life won’t be all that impressive.
After all, the Snapdragon 660 features eight Kryo 260 cores (4x running at 2.2 GHz and 4x running at 1.8 GHz) so there are no dedicated energy-efficient cores there. With Snapdragon 660, you sacrifice power efficiency for performance. Still, the 3G talk and standby times are respectable, to say the least. Only the web browsing runtimes keep the phone from getting a better overall score.
The main takeaway from this test is that the IPS panel and the Snapdragon 660 chipset bring down the screen-on-time of the handset, so keep that in mind.
Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.
Compared to most of its competitors, the Mi 8 Lite drags behind, but it’s important to note that only a few feature a powerful chipset like the Snapdragon 660. So there’s that. Also, the results are almost identical to the Mi A2. Perhaps due to the largely similar hardware.
The phone charged from 0 to 36% with the included charger, which isn’t fast by any means but since the unit supports Quick Charge 3.0 standard, you can get yourself a third-party QC 3.0-compliant charger for speedier top-ups. For comparison, we used a QC 3.0 brick in the office and we got significantly better results – the cell replenished from 0 to 52% in 30 minutes. Not too shabby.
The phone has a bottom-firing single speaker that gets pretty loud and according to our score sheet, it’s assessed as “Very good.” It will surely come in handy when you want to hear the phone ringing in loud environments.
Pink noise/ Music, dB
Ringing phone, dB
Motorola Moto G6 Play
Nokia 7 plus
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Huawei P20 Lite
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
Motorola One (P30 Play)
Xiaomi Mi A2
The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite did splendidly with an active external amplifier, delivering very loud output with perfect accuracy. In fact, it was among the loudest smartphones we have tested lately, earning our approval.
Headphones dropped the volume, but it still remained high. The degradation caused was slightly above average with a noticeable spike in stereo crosstalk, some intermodulation distortion and some frequency response shakiness all part of the picture now. It’s still a very capable performer starting as high as it did, but the Mi 8 Lite is no longer top of the class here.
IMD + Noise
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite (headphones)
Honor 8X (headphones)
Honor Play (headphones)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (headphones)
Nokia 7.1 (headphones)
Huawei Mate 20 lite
Huawei Mate 20 lite (headphones)
Pocophone F1 (headphones)
The Mi 8 Lite runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box with Xiaomi’s MIUI 9.6 software on top that adds a few extra features to the basic Android ones. And if you are a fan of the MIUI, you surely find your way around it. But if you are coming from another skin or pure Android, you may sometimes find yourself lost in the settings menu.
Once you get past the lock screen, you will be greeted with the home screen and in typical MIUI fashion, all of the installed and system apps are in there. And unfortunately, you don’t have the option of bringing the app drawer so you might want to spend a little time sorting apps if you like a tidy home screen. Swiping to the right will bring you to the so-called App vault, which is basically a pane with the frequently used apps along with the usual organization apps like Mi Notes, Calendar, etc. This panel can only be disabled on the Chinese version of the ROM for now.
Swiping down from the home screen brings down the notification shade with the quick toggle icons. Of course, you can re-arrange them to your liking, but the overall looks have remained the same for quite some time now. You get four toggle icons per row, shortcut to the settings menu and a screen brightness slider. Good thinking on Xiaomi’s behalf for including the swiping gesture – you can swipe down from wherever and the notification shade will drop. It makes one-handed operations easier, which helps a lot in the case of the tall 19:9 screen.
Face unlock is not available, so you are stuck with the fingerprint reader as your only option. That’s a missed opportunity because in the display menu you can find the lift-to-wake option, which would have worked perfectly with the screen unlock. Hopefully, Xiaomi will offer the lock screen option with the MIUI 10 update, which is just around the corner.
Speaking of security, the MIUI comes with a Security app pre-installed that lets you scan the phone for malware, which ironically, is the least useful feature it offers because Google Play already does that for you perfectly fine. But the Security app has other useful applications – it can limit your data usage, free up some RAM, manage permissions of already installed apps and also analyze battery behaviour of certain apps.
Which brings us to the battery section in the settings menu. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in there – you can track the battery usage of each app, activate power saving mode and see your overall battery usage since your last full charge. The “Smart scenes” menu is what caught our attention. The only option in there is the “Non-interactive mode” – whenever MIUI detects that you are not using the phone for a long time, it will turn off Bluetooth, GPS and other connections along with background apps and even disables notifications.
Second space is another cool feature to have that lets you create a second account for your work, for example. You can lock it off with a password or a fingerprint. The dual apps option is practically the same but it’s for selected apps only, not system-wide.
We assume the “Full screen” menu will be of interest to most users because it offers you to hide the notch and more importantly, choose between standard button navigation and gesture-based navigation. The latter is particularly interesting because so far, aside from the stock Android 9.0 Pie gesture navigation system with the pill, Xiaomi seems to be doing it much better than others. In fact, we can go ahead and say that it’s almost as good as Apple’s iOS gestures.
A quick tutorial in the menu helps you get acquainted with the gestures. Swiping from the bottom bezel of the screen takes you back to the home screen, swipe up and hold for the recent apps menu and swiping from the left or right edge of the panel works as a back button. Xiaomi even went further and included the option of turning off the back gesture animation. It could potentially shave off a few milliseconds off but we didn’t find any measurable improvement in reality.
Keep in mind that the back gesture gets in the way sometimes when swiping to the right for the so-called “hamburger” menu, which many apps still use.
Other notable but still familiar features are the split-screen function that can be found in the recent apps menu, the off-screen shortcuts and the pre-installed apps like Xiaomi’s own Gallery, Weather, Mi Drop, File Manager, Cleaner, Notes Mi Video and other software found in the “Tools” folder.
The Mi 8 Lite takes things down a notch compared to the Mi 8 SE in terms of performance and efficiency since it uses a slightly older Snapdragon 660 chipset. The SD660 uses an octa-core CPU with 4x Kryo 260 cores clocked at 2.2 GHz and 4x Kryo 260 cores ticking at 1.8 GHz.
The Snapdragon 660 is known for its great performance compared to other SoCs in its class but lacks the energy efficiency of the Snapdragon 636, for example or even the Snapdragon 710, which is built on the 10nm node.
During our testing, we didn’t notice any thermal throttling or overheating even after a few consecutive benchmark tests. It performs just as you’d expect from a Snapdragon 660-powered smartphone.
A regular dual-camera setup with a depth sensor
There are no fancy cameras on the back so don’t expect telephoto, ultra-wide angle or B&W – the Mi 8 Lite carries a standard primary 12MP unit with a f/1.9 aperture and 1.4µm pixel size with dual pixel phase detection autofocus. It’s aided by a 5MP camera used only for depth sensing.
And if all of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s the same camera setup on the Mi 8 SE. Which in turn means that we expect almost identical camera performance unless there’s some software trickery going around here. Optical image stabilization is still lacking, unfortunately.
The good thing is that you have plenty of options in the camera menu to play with. And it’s fairly simple to use too. Swiping left and right will change the camera modes while the top bar brings out some additional settings like turning the HDR on and off, AI camera mode, beautify effect for the portrait shots and also the option to apply filters. Moreover, the pro mode will give you more control over the camera if that’s your thing.
Clicking on the settings menu brings you even more options. For example, you can use the fingerprint or the volume rocker for the shutter button and also adjust the video quality.
As already mentioned, the Mi 8 Lite sports the same camera hardware as its more expensive sibling, the Mi 8 SE. As in, we can’t really hope for any mind-blowing results but should do just fine for the average Joe when posting stills on social media. As long as there’s enough lighting in the scene, you should expect fairly consistent performance..
The lack of dynamic range is the first thing we’ve noticed, so the HDR function does help with that quite a bit. However, the HDR’s Auto mode would result in inconsistent performance as most of the scenes where the HDR should have kicked in didn’t and we had to force it manually.
And if it’s too much of hassle, why not ask the AI for some help. In our experience, the AI algorithm is capable of doing a great deal in this situation. It worked wonders with the HDR and adjusted it accordingly. Still, don’t rely on the AI too much as some of the scenes remained un-HDR’d.
And while we are on the AI subject, it’s not as capable as some flagships are, but it does cover the very basics like recognizing clouds, flowers, grass, trees and buildings. The only issue we had with this mode was the over-saturation of colors although, most people will find it suitable for social media.
Regarding night-time performance – it captures stills just like every other mid-range device – it struggles to produce good shots under low-light. The noise becomes more prominent and the lack of OIS makes matters worse, so you better have a steady hand. Once again, we suggest leaving the AI turned on as it does help with the noise suppression to some extent.
Along with the real-life sample shots, we got some in our lab in a controlled environment so here’s how it stacks against some of its competitors.
The portrait shots were a mixed bag. Some of them turned out to be pretty good where the background didn’t pose any challenge, but others looked plain broken. Also, we didn’t find any significant difference between turning on and off the beautification filter and the AI. It’s as if the beautification mode was constantly turned on.
While the Mi 8 Lite borrows the Mi 8 SE’s camera setup on the back, the front-facing shooter is different. It has higher resolution (24MP vs 20MP) and Xiaomi says it’s Sony IMX 576 with large 1.8µm pixels. So we expect better overall performance in this regard. However, this module is still with fixed focus so some of your selfies may not come up as sharp as they should be. To achieve optimal sharpness, you will have to bring the phone pretty close to your face – much closer than a normal arm’s length.
This is less pronounced in the Portrait mode.
The Mi8 SE captures 4K@30fps video, but it also gives you the option of choosing between 30 or 60fps in 1080p mode. There’s also a 720p@120fps and 720@240fps slow-motion mode as well but we can’t say it produces the best results with those.
Another great addition to the set of video features is the EIS, which works in 4K and 1080p but don’t expect too much from it when recording in 4K. We’ve definitely seen better. The main issues we had with the video quality is the lack of contrast and noticeable noise in some areas of the scene. Sharpness and fluidity, on the other hand, are pretty good.
In an over-saturated market like the mid-range segment, there are quite a few offerings around €250, but only a few of them can challenge the Mi 8 Lite‘s performance. Most of the handsets at this price come with inferior Snapdragon 636 or even 625 chipsets.
The first few alternatives that spring to mind are the Mi 8 Lite‘s close relatives – the Mi 8 SE and the Mi A2. Of course, the Mi 8 SE is a tad more expensive, but it does offer a considerably more powerful and future-proof Snapdragon 710 chipset, a crisp Super AMOLED display beating the LCDs by a huge margin in almost every aspect and longer battery life. And you get pretty much the same camera experience. The downside is the sensibly smaller screen diagonal.
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE • Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) • Motorola One (P30 Play)
The Mi A2, on the other hand, is pretty easy to recommend over the Mi 8 Lite due to its slightly lower price tag and clean Android experience (Android Go ensures faster updates and extended software support) and almost identical hardware. The screen’s image quality is on par with the Lite, and it offers similar battery life and the same Snapdragon 660 chipset.
Looking further than the Xiaomi’s catalog, Samsung’s recent triple-camera phone, the Galaxy A7 (2018) comes to mind. It’s negligibly more expensive but offers great battery life and a gorgeous, notch-less Super AMOLED screen. And a big one too. You will have to settle with the lackluster camera experience and generally worse performance from the Exynos 7885 Octa, though.
Huawei Honor 8X • Nokia 7 plus • Huawei Honor Play
Next one down the list is the all new Motorola One – it has great battery life, clean Android experience but struggles to keep up with the pixel count and performance with its 720 x 1520 display and Snapdragon 625 chip.
But if the big screen is what you are after, why not check out the Honor 8X? It has a massive 6.5-inch display and passed our battery tests with flying colors although, the Kirin 710 SoC didn’t leave a lasting impression when it comes to performance.
The Nokia 7 Plus appears to be a good alternative too, and for the extra cash, you get a considerably brighter screen, longer battery life, the same Snapdragon 660 chipset, and a good 2x telephoto camera. The overall photo quality is rather good too. The fast updates on the vanilla Android are also something to consider here.
The Honor Play, however, might be just enough to push you over the fence. It’s in the same price range as the Nokia 7 but sports Huawei’s previous generation flagship SoC – Kirin 970. And it’s not just that. It produces serviceable photos, it has a big screen, and it squeezes every last bit of its 3,750 mAh in terms of battery life.
Have you noticed the trend here? There aren’t many devices around this price point that could match the performance of the Mi 8 Lite and those that do, usually have a slightly higher asking price.
Sure, it’s not a perfect product. Some aspects still need improving such as battery life, but we do appreciate the great build and generally solid camera experience. Most of the issues with the latter can be easily overlooked by the general user or even solved with a bit more tinkering with the camera options. The full-featured manual mode will surely come in handy in those situations. Portrait shots, however, can’t be fixed with anything other than a future Xiaomi update. Still, it’s a solid all-around experience.
The lack of 3.5mm jack is another thing that might steer away some customers, especially since most of the direct rivals haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet. And if you are a fan of MIUI, the feature-rich software would be greatly appreciated. There are plenty of options to play around with, and Xiaomi has a good track record of updating its phones – old and new – to the latest MIUI software version. MIUI 10 is just around the corner.
Solid build with glass back and aluminum side frames.
Generally fine display with slightly above average brightness and excellent color reproduction in “Standard mode”.
Good all-round camera experience with small inconsistencies.
Great performance with the Snapdragon 660 chipset.
Loud speaker and good audio output quality.
Plenty of features provided by Xiaomi’s MIUI software, expect swift updates to the latest version.
Ergonomics might be an issue for users with small hands.
No 3.5mm jack.
Battery life could be better.
EIS in 4K video isn’t good, Auto HDR mode needs improvement, portrait shots are largely inconsistent.
So is it worth buying? Definitely yes. But we’d still recommend going for the Mi 8 SE or the Nokia 7 Plus. It seems like you will get more in return for the extra cash.
Redmi Note 7 lineup is the first one branded only as “Redmi,” and the sub-brand company wants to come in strong. It advertises flagship-worthy build quality, great 48MP main camera on the back and powerful enough SoC no matter which Redmi 7 device you choose – the vanilla Redmi 7, the bigger Note 7 or the Pro. The one we have with us is the Redmi Note 7 – perhaps the most sought after model due to its low price and big screen.
The Redmi Note 7 is an embodiment of Xiaomi‘s philosophy when it comes to smartphones, and the Redmi phones have become the benchmark for mid-range devices. And one would argue that the mid-range segment has seen the biggest improvement over the years with the ever declining prices of components and tech. It will be interesting to see whether the Redmi Note 7 was able to benefit from that and whether it will match the success of its predecessors.
Xiaomi Redmi Note7 specs
Body:159.2 x 75.2 x 8.1 mm, 186 grams, Gorilla Glass 5 back, polycarbonate side frame.
Screen:6.3″ IPS LCD, 1080 x 2340px resolution (19.5:9); ~409 ppi.
Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader, FM radio support.
We would also like to investigate the differences and similarities between the Redmi Note 7 and the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. They both have the same chipset, screen size and are closely priced. However, the Redmi Note 7 has a bigger battery and perhaps, a better camera. But we can’t judge only by the specs sheet, right? Let’s dig in.
Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
The unit comes in a standard white box with Redmi’s branding on top – it doesn’t say Xiaomi anywhere, but it does advertise the extended 18-month warranty in China. Redmi is confident in its product’s quality and extends the warranty of the handset with six additional months.
Anyway, the box also contains the usual user manuals, the USB-A to USB-C cable for file transfer and charging, a charging brick and a semi-transparent silicone case. But keep in mind that the smartphone supports Quick Charge 4.0 speeds while the included adapter maxes out at 5V/2A so you will have to look for a QC 3 or QC 4-capable brick to enjoy faster charging.
Redmi is really proud of the Redmi Note 7‘s design and build quality. To be frank, the design isn’t anything special, and it looks a lot like your regular 2018 midranger, but there’s more than it meets the eye.
The company says the Redmi Note 7 has gone through the same quality control as Xiaomi‘s top-shelf smartphones. Redmi is so confident in the build quality that it even offers the handset in China with 18-month warranty as opposed to the standard 12-month period. The front and the back are fitted with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 with an additional 0.8mm-thick layer for extra durability.
We didn’t test it ourselves, but the phone does feel quite sturdy in hand. Also, to our surprise, it doesn’t feel like an exceptionally slippery phone although, the flat back makes it a bit hard to hold on.
First things, first. Let’s start with the front panel where the 6.3-inch LCD IPS panel resides. It features fairly thin side bezels but compensates with a thick-looking chin and upper bezel, which was to be expected given the price point of the handset. The notch is quite small and isn’t as obtrusive.
One cool thing we’ve noticed – the LED notification light sits comfortably on the chin. It can only be seen when it lights up, it’s really subtle.
Flipping the phone over, we see a flat glass back that seamlessly transitions into the side frame. The front glass, on the other hand, sticks out and you can feel the edge of it. Anyway, the back houses the fingerprint reader in the middle and the dual camera setup along with the LED flash in the upper-left corner.
The sides of the phone are made of glossy plastic and thus feel less slippery than metal and glass while mimicking the feel of metal quite well. The top houses the 3.5mm audio jack, the secondary noise-canceling microphone and the IR blaster.
The power button and the volume rocker are on the right side, which leaves the SIM card tray on the left. The bottom is where the speaker grilles and the USB-C connector reside.
As we said earlier, the phone isn’t easy to hold due to its ergonomics, but it’s nowhere near your usual slippery glass sandwich phones. We don’t know how they’ve done it, but the result is impressive. Our only small complaint would be the weight. At 186g, the phone does feel a bit heavy, but on the other hand, it gives the Redmi Note 7 a more sturdy and solid feel in hand.
Here’s a 360-degree view of the device so you can to take a better look at it from all sides.
Standard IPS LCD display with a teardrop notch
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 is an affordable device, there’s no doubt in that, but the IPS panel exceeded our expectations in some aspects like brightness. However, it’s still a budget LCD screen and it comes with the expected drawbacks. The first thing we’ve noticed is the slight light bleed around the notch and the upper bezel but it’s not as prominent as other budget phones we’ve tested. You can see it only on a light/white background.
Anyway, the panel has a standard FHD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels and a pixel density of around 409 ppi. The display offers an extra tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio in a 6.3-inch diagonal. It’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5.
When it comes to picture quality, the display isn’t the best around but it offers high maximum brightness of 479 nits and a decent contrast ratio of 1338:1 in the default color mode. Unfortunately, the color accuracy keeps us from giving it a good score. The average dE2000 is 6.2 with blue-ish whites. Choosing the warm color preset doesn’t improve the white balance all that much but it does bring the dE2000 down to 5.4 – it’s okay, but not color accurate.
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (Max Auto)
Oppo Realme 2 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
Motorola One (P30 Play)
Huawei Honor 10 Lite
Huawei P Smart 2019
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
The Redmi Note 7‘s battery is undoubtedly one of the centerpiece features. It’s rated at 4,000 mAh and paired with the fairly efficient Snapdragon 660 SoC, the exceptionally high battery rating was expected.
The 3G talk time and standby tests bumped up the rating to 108h while the web browsing and video playback runtimes are good but not great by any means. It easily overtakes some upper-mid-range and high-end smartphones when it comes to endurance.
Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.
However, due to the low price of the handset, Xiaomi didn’t include a Quick Charge 4.0-capable charger in the box so you have to settle for the standard 5V/2A 10W brick. Or look for a fast charger. The included brick charges the device from 0 to 30% in 30 minutes, which is pretty slow and somewhat expected given the big 4,000 mAh capacity.
Despite having just a single bottom-firing loudspeaker, the handset impresses with a loud sound. And it sounds clean at high volumes as well.
Pink noise/ Music, dB
Ringing phone, dB
Huawei Y7 Prime (2018)
Nokia 7 plus
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
Realme 2 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
Huawei Honor 10 Lite
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
The Redmi Note 7 had impressively high volume with an active external amplifier and excellent scores across the board, making it a great driver for your home stereo or car audio.
Loudness remained just as impressive when headphones came into play – one of the highest in the market, let alone the price range. The clarity took some damage – the hike in stereo crosstalk was about average and some intermodulation distortion crept in – but, all in all, it remained very good. Solid showing for the Redmi Note 7 here as well.
IMD + Noise
Redmi Note 7
Redmi Note 7 (headphones)
Huawei P Smart 2019
Huawei P Smart 2019 (headphones)
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite (headphones)
Honor 8X (headphones)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (headphones)
Nokia 7.1 (headphones)
Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10 on top
Xiaomi‘s custom skin overlay, MIUI, has come a long way and the MIUI 10 takes a more simplistic and clean approach and to be honest, we like the changes introduced here. We’ve already reviewed the Mi Mix 3, which also runs on Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10 on top but we found some small differences with the Redmi Note 7‘s build.
In a typical MIUI fashion, there’s no app drawer and no option to enable it too. The task switcher and the notification shade have gone through a major revamp. The quick toggles are more in line with the stock Android 9.0 Pie design while the display brightness slider pops out more. Unfortunately, the shortcut to the settings menu is nowhere to be found, which is a considerable inconvenience if you are used to accessing the Settings menu from here like us.
Swiping right will bring you to the so-called App vault that gives you quick access to commonly used apps, a quick view of Notes, news, etc. And as for the recent app menu, it’s vertically stacked, but instead of displaying just one at a time, you can view four apps on the screen.
Pressing the volume rocker will bring out the volume control menu but in a pop-up window right next to the buttons. Instead of defaulting to the ring volume, the volume rocker now controls the media volume. Tapping on the three dots will display the ring and alarm controls along with the quick access to the silent and DND toggles. You can even make the DND mode active for a limited time.
The Settings menu is largely untouched. Here are all the settings menus.
The Display menu doesn’t give you any special options – you can only play with contrast, color temperature, and brightness settings.
The Full screen display sub-menu gives you the option of choosing between standard navigation buttons and navigation gestures. They are nothing new to the MIUI, but with the latest build, Xiaomi has refined the gestures even further.
Otherwise, as before, swiping from the left or right act as a back button, swipe from the bottom is the home key and swiping from the bottom and then pause will bring out the recent apps menu. The new addition is the option to directly jump to the previous app by swiping from the left or right and hold. However, we found that this gesture isn’t as fast a double tap on the task switching button and also the back gestures get in the way of some swiping gestures in some apps. Like bringing the hamburger menu from the left in the Google Play Store app.
The battery settings menu comes with the good old statistics about which apps have used the most battery since the last full charge and also a power saving mode called “Sleep mode” that turns off all radios and background processes if you haven’t touched your phone for a while. You can restrict background apps too to further improve standby battery life, not that you will need to.
Of course, not all features of the MIUI 10 are made available for the Redmi Note 7, but there are also plenty of proprietary Xiaomi apps pre-installed. Here are a couple of them including the Security app that gives you a general overview of the phone’s status like battery info, data used, apps locked, etc. But most of the apps are just general organization applications like File Manager, Mi Calculator, Mail, Compass, Screen Recorder, Downloads, QR Scanner, Mi Remote (since it has IR blaster).
Regarding the multiple complaints from our readers about not mentioning the ads which pop on their screens while using MIUI 10, we’ll have to say we didn’t get any ads on any of the Xiaomi devices we’ve reviewed so far so they must be strictly regional. And from the user feedback online, it seems you can turn them off easily by either toggling a setting in each of Xiaomi‘s preinstalled apps which have them or by switching your region to another country. This is by all means not a universal solution and it’s best that you research the steps that need to be performed on your own device.
Benchmarks and performance
The Snapdragon 660 is a well-known SoC, and it’s not the first time we’ve tested it. We know what to expect, and we found that it works flawlessly with the MIUI 10. We didn’t notice any lags, hiccups or hangs. The device runs smoothly without thermal throttling or performance drops.
The chipset itself incorporates an octa-core CPU with 4x Kryo 260 cores ticking at 2.2 GHz and 4x of the same cores but clocked at 1.8 GHz. This ensures sensibly better performance than the Snapdragon 636, for example, but at the cost of efficiency. The processor is built on the 14nm. Here’s how it performed in our benchmark selection and how it stacks against the competition.
A big 48MP main camera aided by a 5MP depth sensor
The huge 48MP sensor on the back of the Redmi Note 7 should take some sweet daylight and nighttime shots. The sensor is quite big at 1/2″, though the individual pixel size is not that large at 0.8µm pixels.
The sensor uses a Quad Bayer arrangement where four pixels are grouped in a square under a filter of the same color so a 12MP capture is almost like it’s been captured by 12 million big 1.6µm pixels. If you capture 48MP photos with this setup they wouldn’t match in quality 48MP photos produced by a sensor with a regular Bayer filter but we doubt we would ever see any of those in a compact device such as a phone. The direct benefit is that users here get sharper 12MP photos with less noise even at high ISO values compared to the regular 12MP sensors.
The secondary 5MP camera is used only for depth sensing when the depth effect is needed – in portrait mode, for example. And as for the selfie camera, it’s a 13MP and supports various functions like HDR, AI beauty, portraits, and mirror function. However, autofocus isn’t on the list of features.
The default camera app hasn’t changed a bit. At least at first glance. Swiping left and right will shuffle through the camera modes and you will find additional settings in the upper part of the app. It lets you adjust some settings like beautification, HDR, AI, video mode, picture quality, etc.
Also, there is a way to shoot in the sensor’s full 48MP resolution if you prefer that, but you’d have to go to the camera’s Pro mode for that.
We kick off with some daylight samples, which turned out to be quite good. When enough light reaches the sensor, you can expect pretty consistent performance – there’s plenty of detail, contrast is good, colors are punchy, although inaccurate, and the noise is virtually non-existent.
We do have some complaints about the exposure metering as the auto mode returns somewhat darker images than we would prefer. And the contrast is perhaps a bit to high making shadows appear even darker.
Also, there’s a somewhat noticeable magenta tint on some of the daylight photos as well as in our shots of the test posters suggesting an issue with the white balance in certain scenarios.
Luckily, the HDR can fix most of the stuff we mentioned. When turned on, images come out a noticeably brighter and you start to see some detail in the dark parts of the image. On the other hand, the highlights are clipped and become brighter than they should while losing some contrast along the way. Images look a bit washed out and noisy. We’ve also seen some oversharpening here and there.
The AI didn’t do anything for us features-wise, but it did prompt us with the correct scene when it recognized one. Still, we don’t see any significant changes to the colors, contrast, exposure, etc.
As we already said, the 48MP capability can only be enabled within the Pro mode. Be prepared for noisier images and you will lose some detail along the way too so we don’t really recommend shooting in 48MP. The 12MP in the standard Photo mode is good enough.
Low-light photos and Night mode
We were quite impressed by the image quality during nighttime shooting – there’s no prominent noise, details are good and light sources appear to be rather well-preserved. Thanks to its pixel binning technology, the phone would happily snap brighter exposures with higher ISO than previous Xiaomi phones such as the Mi Mix 3. And that’s without any penalty in increased noise meaning that the claims for better noise/ISO ratio by Xiaomi were well founded.
And Night mode really makes a difference by restoring the highlights and bringing out the shadows. The result is nicely balanced and subjects look more detailed.
Interestingly, the gain in the tonal range of the Night mode photos is not as big if you use HDR for your night time shots. We would totally recommend forcing HDR to On as the AutoHDR algorithm rarely engages on its own come night time – or at least not as frequently as we would like.
Portraits are surprisingly good, to be honest. In fact, we’ve seen worse portraits on way more expensive handsets. The detail is nice while the edge detection is stellar. The defocusing of the background is perhaps not as strong and colors are a bit over-saturated. In other words, you will have to do a few shots from different distances to achieve the desired effect and capture the real skin tone. Also, the phone appears to be doing pretty well under limited indoor lighting.
The selfies turned out to be quite nice as well. There’s enough detail from the 13MP snapper and its focus sweet spot is almost a full arm’s length so you don’t need to get really close to the phone to get the sharpest possible result. The portrait mode also seems to do quite well despite the hardware limitations of the front camera (no secondary unit for depth sensing).
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7‘s video options are quite limited – just 1080p@30fps and 1080@60fps, which is rather strange because the handset rocks a Snapdragon 660, which is perfectly capable of handling 2160p@30fps.
We did try shooting 4K with a third-party app like Open Camera and it worked without any issues, which means the feature was artificially disabled for market segmentation purposes.
Anyway, the phone can also shoot slow-motion videos in 1080p or 720p at 120fps. There’s an option to choose between H.264 and H.265 video encoders.
And as for the performance of the camera in video mode – it reminds us of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. There’s not enough dynamic range, but contrast is nice and videos appear to be a bit noisy even when there’s sufficient light. Sharpness is good in 30fps mode. Moreover, the EIS works well in 1080p@30fps while the 60fps videos lose some detail, exposure is better and can get quite shaky even though the EIS is still working to some extent.
You can download short untouched samples as well – 1080p/30fps (10s, 25.2MB) and 1080p/60fps (10s, 25MB).
And here’s the stabilization test in 30 and 60fps.
Everyone knows about the stiff competition in the mid-range segment and Xiaomi‘s Redmi phones have reigned successfully in numerous markets across the globe. We are happy to say that the Redmi Note 7 makes no exception to the rule and it does so without any fancy over-the-top features. It’s clean, simple, powerful and affordable handset that focuses on what’s important. But there are a few alternatives that still need to be considered.
Sure, the Redmi Note 7 is a great all-rounder, but we can’t just lightly ignore the offerings from Huawei, Honor, Samsung and even Realme.
Keep in mind that most of the smartphones we chose for Redmi Note 7‘s direct competitors are somewhat more expensive but only by a small, negligible, in most cases, margin.
Let’s start with Xiaomi‘s big competitor in India – the Realme 2 Pro. Both phones sport similar hardware but the Redmi Note 7 takes the lead with more premium glass build, better battery life and more capable camera. Performance-wise, however, you won’t find any significant difference so it depends on which skin overlay you prefer – MIUI or ColorOS.
Next down the list is from Xiaomi‘s camp – the Mi 8 Lite. Both phones are pretty similar to one another in almost every aspect but despite the Mi 8 Lite carrying a flagship name, the Redmi Note 7 blows it out of the water. It has measurably longer battery life, a 3.5mm audio jack and arguably, a better camera.
Huawei’s camp offers two very similar phones – the Huawei P Smart 2019 and the Honor 10 Lite. However, it’s really hard to recommend those two over the Redmi Note 7 as they can’t really compete with Xiaomi‘s mid-range champion in terms of battery life, build, camera quality and both don’t include fast charging in their specs sheets. The Redmi Note 7 doesn’t ship with a fast charger but you can get a faster third-party one easily as it supports Quick Charge 4.
The Motorola One (P30 Play) is an option with a similar price tag for the stock Android fans, however, it lacks the raw power of the Redmi Note 7. The Snapdragon 625 keeps it out of our recommendation list. Also, the display is smaller, which may steer away from some buyers.
For just about the same price, the Galaxy A6 (2018) might show up in your search but don’t led the well know brand mislead you, as the AMOLED display and the selfie camera are the only things it’s got going for it. Everything else makes it hard to recommend and Samsung really missed offering a strong midrange contender in 2018.
The Redmi Note 7 not only checks all the boxes for a great mid-range device but it also re-defines the budget meaning. We can even go ahead and say this is one of the few times we’ve been so excited about a midranger since the original Moto G. And to be frank, it’s really hard to complain about small shortcomings at this price point.
Nonetheless, we do need to point out some things you will have to consider before opening up your wallet. Firstly, the handset doesn’t come with a fast charger in the box, there’s no 4K video recording despite having a capable Snapdragon 660 chipset and the camera still needs some fine tuning to achieve better exposure and color accuracy in daylight photos. Hopefully, this one can be ironed out with a future software update.
Also, there is no NFC so mobile payments in many countries are a no-go. And while the glass back can be considered as an advantage over most competitors with plastic builds, it can also fall into the “cons” column. After all, glass is easier to break.
But as we already pointed out, those are just small complaints that can’t overshadow the good aspects of the Redmi Note 7 such as incredibly long battery life, powerful SoC for the asking price, great build quality, good camera experience and the presence of an awesome array of connectivity options (USB-C, 3.5mm jack and it even has an IR blaster, a microSD slot, and FM radio).
Solid build quality with Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back.
Awesome battery life.
Very good overall camera quality, especially in low light.
Well geared in terms of connectivity – USB-C, 3.5mm jack, IR, microSD, FM radio, Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac (but lacks NFC).
Supports Quick Charge 4 (however the quick charger not included).
Solid performance and great UI responsivness.
No 4K video recording even though the chipset supports it.
The camera exposure metering and color accuracy in daylight leave more to be desired.