Xiaomi Mi 10i Review

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After launch of its flagship Mi 10, Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro smartphones in India last year, Xiaomi launched the Mi 10i, the company’s latest budget 5G smartphone in India a few weeks back. This has a new 108MP sensor, Snapdragon 750G SoC and 120Hz refresh rate adaptive LCD screen in a competitive price. The on-paper specifications look great. Are the features compelling for the price? Let us dive into the review to find out

Box Contents

  • Mi 10i 8GB + 128GB in Pacific Sunrise colour
  • 33W charger (5V-3A/9V-2A/9V-3A/12V-1.5A/12V-2.25A/20V-1.32A/11V-3A)
  • USB Type C Cable
  • SIM Ejector tool
  • Clear protective Case
  • Screen protector (Pre-installed)
  • User guide

Display, Hardware and Design

The first thing you notice about the phone is its large high refresh rate LCD screen. It packs a 6.67-inch Full HD+ flat DotDisplay with a pixel resolution of 2400 x 1080, 20:9 aspect ratio. Sunlight visibility is brilliant, thanks to 450 nits peak brightness, a contrast ratio of up to 1500:1 and 84% NTSC colour gamut offering vivid content. The screen is HDR10+ certified, which you can experience YouTube, but it doesn’t work for Netflix like the Mi 10T Pro. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

Under the display options there are different options to adjust colors and contrast based on your preference, option to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz. There is also reading mode that lets you reduce the display’s blue light emission, so it doesn’t cause eye strain when you are reading at night. The main highlight of the screen is the company’s self-developed AdaptiveSync technology offers a total of 6 stages (30/48/50/60/90/120Hz) of refresh rate adaptation, fully covering the frame rates of various content types. Xiaomi says that it offers accurate frame-to-frame matching, thus eliminating screen lags and display jittering.

Above the display there is an earpiece on the top edge, and the phone also has a tiny notification LED on the top bezel. The proximity and ambient light sensors are under the screen. The phone has 360° ambient light sensor built in, the screen can intelligently adjust brightness — even in backlit conditions.  It also has a gyroscope and a magnetic sensor, otherwise known as a magnetometer. There is also a tiny hole for the 16-megapixel camera on the front. Since it is small it is not intrusive when watching videos.

There is a small bezel below the display, but this has minimal compared to most other smartphones. The Mi 10i features Z-axis linear vibration motor that enables over 150 custom vibration patterns across the UI for the best haptic experience, and the different can be felt when using the phone.

Coming to the button placements, the volume rockers and the fingerprint sensor is present on the right side, which also doubles up as the power button. It is quick to unlock the phone. The Hybrid SIM slot is present on the left side. The secondary microphone and IR sensor are present on the top. On the bottom there is a 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C port, speaker grill, and primary microphone.

Even though the phone has a large screen, it is easy to hold since it is 76.8mm wide. It has about 85% screen-to-body ratio even though the company says it has 92.4%. The Pacific Sunrise colour we have has a gradient finish with blue colour on the top part and a pink colour finish on the bottom part, and comes with a matte finish so that it doesn’t attract fingerprints. This looks and feels premium and also comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Protection. It weighs 214.5 grams, which might be heavy for some, but the weight distribution is good. The phone is 9mm thick, which is fine for a phone with a huge battery.

The Mi 10i has IP53 ratings compared to P2i nano coating in most phones, including the Mi 10T series, but you still can’t immerse in water since it is not IP67 or IP68 rated.

Camera

This is the first phone in the price range to pack a 108-megapixel primary rear camera with Samsung HM2 1/1.52″ sensor, 0.7μm pixel size, f/1.75 aperture, EIS along with a secondary 8-megapixel 120° ultra-wide sensor with f/2.2 aperture, 2-megapixel depth and 2-megapixel macro sensors with 1.75μm pixel size and f/2.4 aperture. There is also a 16-megapixel front camera with 1μm pixel size and f/2.45 aperture.

The camera UI is familiar with other Xiaomi smartphones running MIUI 12 with flash, HDR, AI, Filters (Normal, Vivid, Gold Vibes, Lime, Gourmet, Film, Amour, Movie, Soda, Sky blue, Blush, Childhood, Lit, Travel, Rise, Cyberpunk, Black ice, B&W and Classic) and Google Lens on the top. Pressing the menu option shows camera frame, timer, Movie frame, gridlines, straighten, Super Macro, Title Shift, Pro colour and Timed burst. There is a front camera toggle on the bottom along with option to select modes such as Pro, Video, Photo, Portrait, and More option has Night, 108MP, Short Video, Panorama, Documents, VLOG, Slow motion, Time-lapse, Dual video, AI watermark, Long exposure (Moving crowd, Neon trials, oil painting,  Light painting, Starry sky and Star trails), but this needs a tripod. Pro mode lets you adjust white balance, focus, shutter speed (1/4000s to 30 seconds), ISO (50 to 6400) and option to select main, ultra-wide and macro lens. You can also shoot in RAW in Pro mode and enable focus peaking, exposure verification and more options. Beautify option for the front camera lets you adjust several features, in addition to smoothness. The 21:9 wide portrait feature which is called ‘movie frame’ mode works both rear camera front cameras and for video, but there is no separate portrait video mode. Xiaomi has enabled Cam2API by default, so you can side-load ported Google Camera APKs for advanced editing including RAW capture.

Coming to the image quality, daylight shots came out well with good dynamic range. After nine-pixel binning technology, you get 12MP output. HDR shots are better with improved dynamic range. 8MP wide-angle shots are decent, but the 13MP ultra-wide in the Mi 10T series and the POCO X3 were better. 108MP mode that offers a lot of details and can go up to 25MB in size. Even though there is no telephoto lens, it uses the software for offering up to 10x digital zoom. This is like taking an image and cropping up later. Even in the 2x zoom images start to lose details, so it is not recommended going beyond 2x if you don’t want to lose details. The dedicated 2MP macro sensor is average. The 2MP depth sensor helps in good edge detection in portrait shots.

Low-light shots are good, thanks to 9-in-1 Super Pixel technology that lets the camera’s sensor hardware combine 4 pixels into a single 2.1μm large pixel, and the night mode is even better making the images brighter offering more details. In pro mode it was even better. Images with flash are good and the flash is not overpowering. Daylight front camera shots from the 16-megapixel front camera is decent, but not the best even in daylight conditions due to the tiny sensor.  Output is 16MP in resolution, and the image size is around 5MB. Portrait shots have decent edge detection even though it is done using software, but these shots are close to 12MP in size.

Check out the camera samples (Click the image to view the full resolution sample.).

It can record videos at 4k resolution at 30 fps, 1080p at up to 60 fps, and it also has slow motion 720p resolution video recording at up to 960fps, but this should be 240fps converted into 960fps since the Snapdragon 750G officially supports only up to 240fps slow motion recording. You can also shoot 720p videos using the macro camera and 1080p 30 fps videos using the ultra-wide camera. The phone lacks OIS, but you get EIS which works only in 1080p 30fps mode. The front camera can record 1080p videos at 30fps.

Video quality is decent but could have been better. Check out the video samples below.

Software, UI and Apps

It runs Android 10 out of the box with MIUI 12 on top. It recently got Android security update for Decent, 2020, and should get Android 11 update in the coming months. MIUI 12 that was introduced earlier this year brings several features including improved animation, Dark mode 2.0, Privacy improvements and more.  This has all the usual set of features such as Dual Apps, Second Space, App Lock, Quick Ball and more.

It has option to disable notification light, Quick ball, One-handed mode, and more. Inside the special features option there is Game Turbo, Quick replies feature that shows notification in a pop-up box when you are watching YouTube videos or in other apps, video toolbox, floating window, second space and Lite mode.

Since the phone has an infrared sensor for remote function, it comes with Mi Remote that lets you control your home appliances easily. Out of 8GB LPDDR4x RAM, you get 7.3GB of usable RAM, and about 5GB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background. Out of 128GB, you get about 107GB of free storage. Since this has UFS 2.2 storage, we got sequential read speeds of about 962MB/s.

Apart from the usual set of utility apps, Google apps and Xiaomi’s own set of apps, it comes pre-loaded with Amazon Shopping, Facebook, WPS Office, LinkedIn, Booking.com and some games. You can easily uninstall these apps. Xiaomi is known for showing ads on its phones with MIUI, but this doesn’t show ads even when the recommendations are enabled on Music, Video, File Manager and others. However, some apps like Music, Video and Browser show notifications, so you need to disable notifications from the app settings.

Fingerprint sensor and Face unlock

The phone has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone quickly.  You can add up to 5 fingerprints. You can also use the fingerprint for app local and payments in apps. The phone also has face unlock, but it is not as secure as fingerprint, and also doesn’t work if you use sunglasses or hats.

Music Player, FM Radio and Multimedia

The Mi Music Player is the default music player with usual Xiaomi audio effects and equalizer. It also has FM Radio with recording. Audio through the speaker is loud. Since the phone has stereo speakers that includes, audio is pretty loud, but I felt the POCO X3 and Mi 10T Pro speakers were a bit louder. However, the back of the phone doesn’t vibrate in high volume that was found in the POCO X3. Audio through earphones is good as well.

This comes with Widevine L1 support out of the box so that you can enjoy HD content on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hotstar and other streaming apps, but it doesn’t have HDR support on Netflix and Prime Video.

Dual SIM and Connectivity

It supports 4G VoLTE for Reliance Jio, Airtel and other networks and support Dual 4G VoLTE that offers 4G in both the SIM cards at a time. There is Snapdragon X52 5G modem with support for 2 global 5G network bands that includes N77/N78, which is less compared to moto g 5G that supports 11 bands and also supports Carrier Aggregation on 4G, so you can see LTE+ symbol when it’s enabled. Other connectivity options include Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 802.11 ac (2.4 + 5GHz) 2 x 2 MIMO, Wi-Fi calling / VoWiFi support, Bluetooth 5.1 LE and GPS (L1+L5), USB Type-C. The Indian version doesn’t have NFC support, however it has USB OTG support that lets you connect USB drives. Moving on, the call quality is good, and we did not face any call drops and the earpiece volume was loud.

The Mi 10i’s  body SAR is 0.825W/Kg (Distance:15mm) and head SAR is at 08.67W/Kg which is almost same as the Mi 10T Pro, but it is slightly more than the POCO X3.

Performance and Benchmarks

Coming to the performance, this is powered by an Octa-Core Snapdragon 750G 8nm Mobile Platform, which has 2 x Kryo 570 Performance CPUs (A77-based) at up to 2.2GHz, 6x Kryo 570 Efficiency CPUs (A55-based) at up to 1.8GHz. It has Adreno 619 GPU with support for Open GL ES 3.2, Open CL 2.0 FP, as well as Vulkan 1.1 graphics and up to 8GB LPDDR4X RAM.

Thanks to the larger Kryo 570 cores based on new Cortex A77, this is faster than the Snapdragon 765, promising a 20% performance uplift compared to Snapdragon 730G. The Adreno 619 GPU promises up to 10% better graphics rendering compared to Adreno 618 GPU used in Snapdragon 730, and it also has Snapdragon Elite Gaming features.

We did not face any issues or frame drops in the graphic-intensive games. It gets a bit warm on intensive gaming and 4G data use, but it doesn’t get too hot to handle. That said, check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.

As you can see from the benchmarks, the values are better than the 730G and almost the same as Snapdragon 765G, and even the real-life performance is similar.

Battery life

Coming to the battery life, the 4820mAh (typical) built-in battery lasts for a day even with heavy use, and with average use it lasts for more than 2 days, thanks to optimization in the MIUI 12 and AdaptiveSync Display. I got over  6 hours of screen on time with 2 days of use in 120Hz refresh rate that automatically switches to lower refresh rate to optimize the battery life. The phone has support for 33W fast charging and Middle Middle Tab (MMT) technology in which the battery receives the electric current from the middle and spreads it simultaneously to the top and bottom of the module, so it just takes about 1 hour to charge from 0 to 100%, and 0 to 50% takes 22 minutes using the bundled 33W charger.

It achieved One Charge Rating of 19 hours and 7 minutes in our battery test which is good for a phone with a 4820mAh battery. We tested it in 120Hz, which is default, so it should be better in 60Hz. Battery life is based on different factors such as software optimization and the processing power that requires to power the phone, so if the phone lasts for a day with heavy use, it is good.

Conclusion

At a starting price of Rs. 20999, the Mi 10i is an excellent all-rounder smartphone from Xiaomi. The 6.67-inch FHD+ 120Hz LCD adaptive refresh rate screen is good, the 108MP main camera stands out compared to competitors, the Snapdragon 750G offers smooth performance, glass body offers a premium look and it has good battery life with support for fast charging. Some might miss an AMOLED screen, but you have to compromise this for the 120Hz refresh rate that is rarely available in phones in the price range.

Competition

At a cheaper rate the POCO X3 offers a bigger battery and better speakers, if you can compromise on the camera, build and 5G support. The moto g 5G is a good option if you need stock Android experience without any bloatware and more 5G bands, but can compromise on the high refresh rate screen and a premium look. The Galaxy M51 offers an AMOLED screen and a huge 7000mAh battery even though it is a 4G phone.

Availability

Priced at Rs. 20,999 for the 6GB RAM with 64GB storage version, Rs. 21,999 for the 6GB RAM with 128GB storage version and Rs. 23,999 for 8GB RAM with 128GB storage version, it is available from  Amazon.in, Mi.com, Mi Homes, Amazon.in, Mi Homes and Mi Studios. With the current bank offers, ICICI Bank users get Rs. 2,000 discount.

Pros

  • Large 120Hz HDR adaptive display is good
  • 108MP main camera
  • Smooth performance
  • Premium glass body
  • Good battery life with 33W fast charging

Cons

  • Might be huge and bulky for some
  • ultra-wide and macro cameras are average
  • Lacks dedicated microSD slot


Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram





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