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The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 (Check on Amazon.com) has five cameras, a stylized design, a very large battery, and thin bezels, but also a small detail that disappointed me.
Xiaomi always impresses us with cheaper than average phones and with excellent features for their price, and the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is no exception. This phone has five rear cameras and although it does not rival the Galaxy S10+ (Check on Amazon.com) or the Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) since it has a weaker processor, it is cheaper than both and with very good features.
If you’re looking for a cell phone that looks like a flagship phone, but it costs less, keep reading, because the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 has good features — including a great battery — but there’s a small detail that didn’t quite convince me, and you should know before making the decision to buy it.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Design
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 has a very stylish design and is available in three colors: black, white and green. Its surface is rather slippery, although fortunately, it comes with a case inside the box. On the back, we find the five camera sensors.
Integrating so many cameras without ruining the phone’s aesthetics has become increasingly challenging. We have seen the drastic changes in phone design in Samsung’s, Apple’s and Google’s latest smartphones with the square module on the Galaxy S20 (Check on Amazon.com), Pixel 4 (Check on Amazon.com) and iPhone 11 (Check on Amazon.com). According to us, the best solution was the one in the Nokia 9 Pureview (Check on Amazon.com) with its circular rear cameras integrated into the rear panel. The Xiaomi Mi Note 10, on the other hand, opted for a mixed solution: the first three cameras sit inside a protruding module while the last two are flush with the body.
This way the back panel maintains some sort of harmony. Both panels are curved which is aesthetically pleasing and favors ergonomics in terms of grip.
The finish reminds us a lot of of the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Check on Amazon.com). It will also attract a lot of fingerprints and it is quite slippery, although the included case makes up for all these shortcomings and also protects the rear module from getting scratched.
On the front, we see thin bezels and a drop notch. Despite being made of a plastic alloy covered with Gorilla Glass, the cell phone also sports an aluminum frame which makes it rather robust. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type C port and a single speaker at the bottom.
The phone features a 6.47-inch screen and feels slightly large in the hand. Luckily the fingerprint sensor is under the display, which makes it very easy and quick to use.
All things considered, this is a comfortable device, very solid and quite elegant. It doesn’t use a rare combination of materials but the matte finish combined with the metal frame is somewhat less common and makes the device stand out from the competition.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Display
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 uses a super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2,340×1,080 pixels. This sets it apart from most mid-range devices and supports its claim of flagship killer, although Xiaomi missed the opportunity to further boost that claim by using a higher resolution or faster refresh rate panel.
Despite this fact, the user experience is quite excellent. The AMOLED panel looks amazing and is visible even under direct sunlight.
The same goes for contrast and tactile sensitivity, although the curved panel does sometimes register an accidental touch. Actually our only complaint with the screen is the “shadow” being cast by the curvature of the panel, but this is something we also encountered in Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ flagship device.
We also agreed that the colors were somewhat cold, but you can easily adjust the contrast and temperature to your liking.
Xiaomi further developed the Ambient mode making it much more aesthetically pleasing. For the rest, the latest version of MIUI includes a Dark mode and Gesture navigation.
Apropos, the gestures work great, however, certain cases mess with the curved display and thus the gestures that start from the chin are less responsive.
The other important option here is whether or not you want to see or cover the notch. It is a personal choice but this is a small drop notch positioned at the center of the display and thus it looks way cooler without the black bar covering it.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Performance
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 sports a Snapdragon 730G processor and 6GB of RAM. We’ve already seen this chip on phones like the Oppo Reno 2 (Check on Amazon.com) and the Galaxy A80 (Check on Amazon.com). In our tests, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 was very snappy, in general. Its MIUI 11 interface, based on Android 9 Pie, was a breeze to navigate.
There was no noticeable lag in loading heavy apps or multitasking, watching or editing videos, or any other clue that the hardware is insufficient to perform moderately demanding tasks. On the other hand, we did experience the sudden shutdown of certain apps, but these crashes seem more software-related.
What does seem to have some connection with the hardware is the behavior of the camera app and this is my greatest problem with this otherwise almost excellent device. When you try to take a picture in full 108-megapixel mode, the device needs a few seconds to elaborate it before it lets you shoot again, and the same goes for when you capture a portrait photo.
The temperature will also rise slightly when you play, but it is only barely noticeable and in no way hinders the gaming experience. It can also happen while recharging the phone but then again it dissipates very fast. And if you use a case (which you should), you won’t be able to tell.
In addition to the fingerprint sensor, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 offers the fastest face unlock I have ever tried on a phone; sadly it is not a secure option, so we do not recommend it, but it is present.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Software
The Mi Note 10 is the first Xiaomi device that uses the new MIUI 11 based on Android 9 Pie. The appearance changed ever so slightly on some icons and is more noticeable in the settings. It comes with a lot of bloatware in the form of preinstalled third-party apps but luckily we can delete all of them with the exception of Xiaomi’s own app store (GetApps).
The new Digital Wellness gives us an idea of the time we spend in each app (and in total use). From here we can also manage all notifications in a much clearer and more complete way.
The maintenance suite includes a wizard that can free up memory, manage installed applications and improve performance. It can also display information concerning energy consumption and battery life.
MIUI 11 also incorporates a game accelerator, which restricts some background activities in order to improve gaming performance.
There is also Xiaomi’s proprietary file manager, which adopts the new more minimalist design and Dark mode (unlike the maintenance suite, which insists with a white background).
We still weren’t able to organize the apps in the app drawer as we liked, and there were no signs of the upcoming Mi Go app or Mi Word suite.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Camera
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 has five rear cameras, however, the most surprising fact is that the main sensor measures 108 megapixels! Photos taken in full 108-megapixel mode measure 12,032×9,024 pixels, which is bonkers, more than double the size of a regular photo.
The other cameras are a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with f/2.0 aperture and 2X optical zoom; a 20-megapixel wide-angle lens with a 117° field of view and f/2.2; a 5-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture, 10x hybrid zoom, 50x digital and OIS; and a 2-megapixel macro camera.
The macro camera hasn’t got a fixed focus, which is great; on the other hand, it doesn’t manage to capture every last detail and according to our tests this lens is highly dependable upon the right lighting.
Add to all this the ability to record in slow motion at 960 frames per second at 720p (or up to 4K at 30 fps in normal mode), the aid of artificial intelligence and the various shooting modes like Night and Portrait. The Portrait mode is particularly neat, and the Mi Note 10 also allows for extensive editing of images.
In general, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 performs well in well illuminated and outdoor environments. It shows a slightly cold white balance but does a good job of eliminating noise. Its dynamic range isn’t that great, but the results are acceptable.
The ultra-wide-angle is somewhat below expectations. Although it correctly manages exposure (compensating for the difference that usually occurs with a wide-angle) and corrects the lens deformation at the edges, the sharpness is quite low especially in low light conditions and in farther and wider scenes.
On the other hand, both telephoto lenses perform pretty well. Even when the illumination isn’t that good.
Macro mode is new and although it lacks some degree of detail, it manages to handle the most demanding shots in terms of minimum focus distance.
The Night mode doesn’t seem to have changed compared to previous versions. It is better to use it only when a scene is very dark, otherwise, there will be a slight overexposure.
The same goes for Portrait mode, which produces relatively great results, although not as sharp as other flagships.
The front camera has a 23-megapixel sensor and performs very similar to the one we saw in the Xiaomi Mi 9, despite having a different configuration. It captures good colors and has a better white balance, even in more demanding situations such as indoors or at night.
HDR does a great job here and there are no excessive contrasts or overstated edges in the pictures’ contours.
The portrait mode is less demanding to set up (than with the rear camera) and therefore much more straightforward. The bokeh effect is not as pronounced but it will satisfy most users.
Beauty mode ranges from eye size to eye shine, virtual makeup and face thinning. Everything is activated by default as soon as we activate the front camera, thus you will have to reset everything if you are not interested in the effect (which is very artificial).
Video footage is more than acceptable with a lot of detail when shooting in 4K (30 fps) and good stabilization. The sound capture is also good. Video shot with the front camera (1080p) also produces decent results both in detail and in white balance, although the contours are somewhat exaggerated.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 has a single speaker on the bottom and an audio jack on the other side of the USB Type C port. The speaker is quite powerful measuring an output of 114 decibels. However, at max volume the sound results distorted, thus the best performance sits around 75-80%.
The audio quality is OK, the sounds are poor in nuance and dynamic range. Nevertheless, with podcasts and movies, this is less noticeable, and the voices sound really good.
The equalizer is activated only if you connect the headphones and you can choose between one of the proposed presets.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Battery
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 has a huge 5,260mAh battery and 30 watts fast charging. Contrary to what many of you would expect, the autonomy isn’t that great. It will last you for a full day, easily, but nothing more. The “culprit”, according to us is the power-hungry AMOLED display and the SoC that isn’t optimized for this kind of taxing use.
On the other hand, we have fast charging, with which we achieved a full charge of 0 to 100% in just 1 hour and 36 minutes. Considering the size of the battery this is an outstanding result!
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 – Verdict
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 (Check on Amazon.com) is a phone with good value for money, and its penta camera module is a good buying argument. While it is true that it fails here and there: the macro mode isn’t that great and the 108-megapixel mode is more of a publicity stunt and less of an impactful camera, the truth is that it lets you take beautiful photos in almost any situation and that it gives you most of the premium features of the flagship phones.
Its Achilles’ heel is the weaker processor, that can slow down or even crash some apps. Also, there is no water resistance and no microSD card, which is a disappointment for a wannabe “flagship killer”.
Nevertheless, its overall design is beautiful and modern. The panel looks great and its secret weapon is the battery that will easily last for a full day and recharge in no time.
So, this is a phone with pros and cons, although the camera performance combined with the price makes us lean towards “recommended”.
For a similar price, I recommend looking at the ZTE Axon 10 Pro (Check on Amazon.com), which has pure Android, a solid camera, wireless charging and water resistance.
If you are looking for a mobile phone with a solid set of features and an even cheaper price, take a look at last year’s flagship killers: The Pixel 3a (Check on Amazon.com) and Pixel 3a XL (Check on Amazon.com) and the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Check on Amazon.com).
Last but not least the Galaxy S10 (Check on Amazon.com) keeps falling in price and it’s the only true flagship of the bunch!