Mi 10 Long-Term Review: Almost There!

Xiaomi Mi 10 Review

Xiaomi is better-known for its value-oriented Redmi and Poco brands. Despite this, they have also been launching the premium Mi series since its establishment. Remember the Mi 3 that was launched back in 2013? Yes, that was Xiaomi’s flagship phone of 2013. But since then, I haven’t seen Xiaomi launching its flagship Mi lineup here in South Asia, although they were quite active in their homeland China and a few European markets. This year, they announced the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro and have launched these phones in many parts of the world. And here, I’ll be discussing the Xiaomi Mi 10 in this long-term review.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Specifications:

  • Body: 6.40 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches; 208 gm
  • Display: 6.67-inches Super AMOLED panel; 386PPI; 90Hz Refresh Rate; 180Hz Touch Sampling Rate; Corning Gorilla Glass 5; 100% DCI-P3; HDR10+; 1120 nits peak brightness
  • Resolution: FHD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels); 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865; 7nm Mobile Platform
  • CPU: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 585)
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • RAM: 8/12GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: 128/256GB UFS 3.0 (non-expandable)
  • Software & UI: MIUI 12 on top of Android 10
  • Rear Camera: Quad-camera;
    – 108MP, f/1.7 primary shooter
    – 13MP, f/2.4 ultra-wide lens
    – 2MP, f/2.4 macro lens
    – 2MP, f/2.4 depth sensor
    – Dual-LED flash
  • Front Camera: 20MP, f/2.0 lens
  • Security: In-display Fingerprint Scanner (optical)
  • Audio: Stereo speakers; Hi-Res Audio; Dual microphones
  • Connectivity: Single Nano-SIM, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (Dual-band), Bluetooth 5.1, GPS/AGPS/GLONASS/Beidou, USB Type-C
  • Battery: 4780mAh with 30W fast charging; 30W Wireless Charging
  • Colors: Coral Green, Twilight Grey, Peach Gold
  • Price in Nepal: Rs. 89,999 (8/256GB)

Xiaomi Mi 10 Long-Term Review:

Unlike its previous iterations, this year’s Mi flagships are quite expensive and are no longer flagship killers. Maybe that’s reserved for its Redmi K30 Pro and Poco F2 Pro phones from now on. In Nepal, only the Mi 10 has been launched. And I have been using it for almost a month now and have been comparing it with my primary phone, the Galaxy S20+. So, let’s find out if this new Xiaomi flagship is actually worth choosing over the Galaxy flagships.

Also, a little disclaimer. Xiaomi actually messed up with Mi 10’s pricing in India which is why you will see its many bad reviews. Mi 10 is like $100 more expensive than the OnePlus 8 in the country. So, if you are living in India, this Xiaomi flagship phone doesn’t make any sense. With that out of the way, let’s get on with the review of Xiaomi Mi 10.

Design

  • Glass front, glass back, and metallic frame
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection all-around
  • Curved front and back delivers a comfortable grip

Xiaomi Mi 10 - Design [2]

Vivo V20 SE Ad

As you’d expect, Mi 10 is one premium-looking flagship smartphone. Both the front & the back of the phone are curved and made of glass while the frames are metallic, further adding to the premium-ness. Unfortunately, the glass front & back are protected by a generation older Gorilla Glass 5 which I feel is a compromise for a device of this stature.

I mean, Xiaomi provides it in its cheapest phones like the Redmi 8 as well. Furthermore, the Mi 10 lacks any sort of IP rating and the company has opted for a simpler P2i coating; which can also be found in much… much cheaper phones from Xiaomi.

In terms of weight, it is slightly heavier than the S20+ though the weight distribution is very good and the phone is ergonomically pleasing to hold. However, because of the camera bump at the back, I’d feel unsafe using it without a case. So, I slapped in the transparent case to the phone, that comes within the box itself.

What’s inside the box?

Talking about what’s inside the box, I was quite disappointed to see how Xiaomi didn’t include a pair of earphones. I don’t think I’m asking for a lot here since I paid flagship price for this, unlike other inexpensive Redmi phones. Even Apple includes a pair of wired earpods in its cheapest iPhone!

Additionally, the Mi 10 suffers from a slight flaw in design too. You see, the fourth lens from the top, in a separate module is a wide-angle lens. But its placement is so low that when you are shooting wide-angle images in portrait orientation, your fingers may get in the way.

Display

  • 6.67-inches FHD+ curved E3 AMOLED panel
  • 90Hz refresh rate; 180Hz touch sampling rate
  • Excellent colors & contrast, thanks to 100% DCI-P3, HDR10+

Getting to the display, Mi 10 features a stunning 6.6-inch FullHD+ Super AMOLED panel from TCL and has a tiny punch hole cutout on the top left side. Xiaomi has also pre-installed a thin film screen protector, which is nice. Talking more about the quality of the panel itself, it has excellent color reproduction, deep blacks, and an ample amount of brightness thus rooting out any concern for visibility even in sunny outdoors.

Furthermore, under the “Color Scheme” option inside the settings, you can change the color profile from warm to cool and even choose the RGB color space. There’s a dark mode as well, which works flawlessly on this Super AMOLED screen.

Xiaomi Mi 10 - Display [1]

Mi 10 also comes with a customizable Always-on-Display function, although it’s a bit limited. On the contrary, Samsung’s Galaxy Store boasts a much wider array of options. For this, the company can always reach out to the developers’ community; which is abundant, especially in India.

A well-implemented curved display

Like I said earlier, Mi 10’s display has curved edges that are comparatively excessive to the ones found in Samsung’s Galaxy S20 lineup. With this, you’d think there would be a lot of accidental touches but I hardly experienced any. And like Mi Note 10 Lite which we reviewed a while back, there’s also a setting to block the registry of touch around the edges.

All in all, I really like the display on the Mi 10. Having said that, it’s most definitely is not an A+ panel compared to some other premium phones like Galaxy S20, OPPO Find X2 Pro, etc. as it lacks a smoother 120Hz refresh rate and a sharper QHD+ resolution.

Instead, Xiaomi has settled with a regular FHD+ display, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a 180Hz touch sampling rate. Though that’s smooth enough to some extent, I feel like it’s a valid argument against the phone’s premium price.

Performance

  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC (7nm)
  • 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 3.0 storage (non-expandable)

However, where the company hasn’t left any room for complaints is performance. Powered by the latest Snapdragon 865 which has been paired with 8GB of DDR5 RAM and UFS 3.0 storage, this is one of the fastest phones you can buy right now in Nepal.

Xiaomi Mi 10 - Design [1]

To reiterate, shifting from my Exynos 990 powered S20+ to the Mi 10 was a wild experience as I could instantly notice a marginal improvement in performance. So, yeah; installing and opening apps, or multitasking between the heaviest of them is buttery smooth on this phone. I also have praise for MIUI’s memory optimization.

But, in terms of core UI/UX experience, it is just about average as we’ve discovered time and again. There are plenty of bloatware apps and you can’t even uninstall some of them. Thankfully, unlike Xiaomi’s inexpensive phones, the Mi 10 is completely ad-free.

Gaming

In terms of gaming, the Mi 10 has a major upper hand over the S20. For instance, you can play PUBG at HDR graphics with Extreme frame rates without any lags or stutters. On the other hand, the max you can go with the S20+ is HDR graphics and Ultra frame rates. As a result, the gameplay is significantly better on the Mi 10. Other FPS games like CoD: Mobile run fantastic as well.

However, I was bummed to find out that some of the games like Fruit Ninja and Fortnite still run at 30fps in Xiaomi Mi 10 during my review. And I think the company should partner with developers and optimize all the popular games to run at 90fps. On the contrary, OnePlus 8 has fully utilized its faster display as it can now run Fortnite at 90fps.

Xiaomi Mi 10 - Gaming

The company has also given attention to detail on some minor things like the vibration motor by which you get great haptic feedback when you unlock the phone using the fingerprint sensor, use navigation buttons, type something, etc. Now, briefly getting into the optical fingerprint scanner, in my experience, it is noticeably faster and more accurate than the one found on Galaxy S20+.

What about the audio?

Even the audio performance from its stereo speaker is great with decent dynamic range and low distortion even at high volumes. Despite this, it’s not quite on par with the iPhone 11 or S20+.

Talking more on the audio, Mi 10 lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack and neither does it come with Dolby Atmos support. Therefore, I noticed a lack of depth and immersive-ness when listening to music using a pair of wireless earbuds as compared to my S20+. You can tweak the sound optimization but it must’ve had Dolby Atmos for a phone of this price.

Cameras

  • Quad-cameras at the back
  • (108MP primary, 13MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth)
  • 20MP front-facing camera inside a punch-hole cutout

Okay, now let’s talk about cameras. And frankly, I’m a little disappointed with it. First off, its camera arrangement is not versatile enough for a flagship phone as its depth sensor and macro lens are plain stupid. These days, you see a telephoto zoom lens even in phones 1/3rd the price of Mi 10.

The primary lens here is a 108MP Samsung Bright ISOCELL HMX sensor which is slightly different from S20 Ultra’s HM1 sensor. Yet, the Mi 10 is the first phone in Nepal with a 108MP sensor. With this, the phone does quad-pixel binning with 4 pixels instead of nona-binning with 9 pixels to one in the S20 Ultra. Besides this, there’s a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2MP depth sensor, and finally a 2MP macro lens.

Macro Images

Let’s start with the macro lens and I’ll be blunt here.

For a lack of a better word, it’s pretty useless and unnecessary.

Normal Images

But that’s obviously not the case with the primary 108MP sensor. I compared it with the S20+ and S20 Ultra, and the results are quite competitive. The images have excellent colors, contrast, and details.

The dynamic range is quite good as well. All in all, the primary camera is well-deserving of the flagship title.

Wideangle Images

However, the 16MP wide-angle images are not flagship-grade, to put it nicely. Under lighting, it produces nice images but comparatively, the S20+ has way better details and dynamic range.

Also, wide-angle shots in night mode are equally bad and you don’t get a dedicated night mode feature under this lens as well.

Nighttime Images

Moving to the nighttime images, the physically big 108MP sensor captures great images. But one thing that didn’t sit nicely with me is how when clicking photos is low-light in normal mode, it takes about 4 to 5 seconds to optimize the shot.

Isn’t this why night mode exists? As a result, if you compare the low light shots in normal and night time mode, there isn’t much of a difference.

Also, the software optimization for night time images is much better on the S20+ as you see in these sample shots; which goes on to show Xiaomi’s lack of a better image processing algorithm.

Portrait Images

Getting to the portrait images, Mi 10 uses its 2MP depth sensor for producing those bokeh effects. Resulting images are good, though it smoothens the subject’s skin by quite a bit and the background isn’t as lively as you’d expect.

Comparing it to the one taken from the telephoto lens on the S20+, you can see a more natural blur and better edge detection.

Selfie Images

In the selfie department, Xiaomi has done a commendable job. The details are excellent with good sharpness and an accurate color tone.

The software-based portrait shots from the front-facing camera are nice as well, although edge detection could use some work.

Videography

Jumping to the videos, the 108MP sensor combined with Snapdragon 865 can process 8K videos. But at this point, it’s almost entirely a gimmick as you get no stabilization at all. However, for still-shooting purposes, the recordings are admirable.

You’ll get the best stabilization with OIS under 4K/30fps or 1080p/30fps recordings, with nice color reproduction as well. Weirdly enough, it doesn’t work well when bumping the frame rate to 60fps. In comparison, the S20 series gives way better stabilization even in 60fps videos at both 4K and 1080p resolution.

You can also shoot up to 4K/30fps videos using the wide-angle lens, with stabilization. But its result is quite mediocre with subpar colors and dynamic range. Here, the S20+ shoots better videos from its wide-angle sensor.

Xiaomi Mi 10 - Display [2]

The front-facing camera is capable of shooting 1080p/30fps videos though this one too is lacking in stabilization, with worse color reproduction; thus, making it a not-so-optimal option for vlogging purposes. Here too, the S20+ outperforms the Mi 10.

Decent microphones

Surprisingly, its microphone is great with decent cancellation of background noise. But overall, I believe Xiaomi should’ve worked better in the video department. After all, Mi 10 is a flagship phone and as the evidence has it, its competing devices are way ahead.

All in all, the 108MP sensor on the phone is a great start. But to able to compete against the best, the Xiaomi still has a lot to do.

Battery

  • 4780mAh battery with 30W fast wired charging
  • Plus 30W wireless charging

Now, let’s get into the battery. You get a decent 4780mAh cell which gives off a better endurance than the S20+. Even with turning on the 90Hz refresh rate and Always on Display, the phone lasted me a full day with around 15-20% charge still remaining.

Xiaomi Mi 10 - Charging Brick

Mi 10’s charging is equally fantastic as the phone supports 30W wired as well as wireless charging. During my review period, the Xiaomi Mi 10 went from 0 to 100% in a little over 1 hour using the wired charger and slightly longer using a wireless one. However, Xiaomi could’ve gone with a more versatile & faster 65W PD/PPS charger, using which you can even charge your laptop.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Xiaomi’s flagships have come a long way which is a good thing; not just in Xiaomi’s account but from the perspective of the entire smartphone industry. For years, there have been very few players in the premium market but the Mi 10 challenges that norm. Yet, as I said in the beginning, Xiaomi should’ve come with much more aggressive pricing in big markets like India to compete against its direct rival OnePlus.

Having said that, in a market like Nepal, I strongly believe the Xiaomi Mi 10’s pricing is to some extent justified, making it a good option in the flagship market. The phone does have its limitations though; it is not IP certified, you don’t get a telephoto lens, and a few more. Provided that the phone had these features as well, the new Xiaomi Mi 10 would’ve almost been a perfect flagship.

  • Watch our video review of the Xiaomi Mi 10!

Xiaomi Mi 10 Long-Term Review: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Fantastic design with curves all-around for a better grip
  • Excellent & fluid AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate
  • 108MP camera is an absolute show-stealer
  • Top-notch performance thanks to the flagship Snapdragon 865 SoC
  • Terrific battery endurance & a fast wired or wireless charging support

Cons:

  • Leaving the primary sensor, the rest of the cameras are mediocre
  • No IP rating of any sort in a flagship phone is a bummer
  • Falls behind to other flagship phones in areas like higher refresh rate, sharper resolution, and a decent audio system
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Build
9
Display
9
Performance
9.5
Back Camera
8.5
Front camera
9
Software & UI
7.5
Battery
9
Value for Money
8.5