Xiaomi Mi 10i review

The ‘i’ stands for impressive

Xiaomi Mi 10i
(Image: © Srivatsa Ramesh)

TechRadar Verdict

Xiaomi is back with a bang to the mid-range segment with the Mi 10i. The device shines with its camera, performance, and battery life. While there is some room for improvement with respect to the software, the Xiaomi Mi 10i is easily the best mid-range device in India right now and gets our strong recommendation.

Pros

  • +

    Capable cameras

  • +

    Snappy performance

  • +

    Stereo speakers

  • +

    Useful camera modes

Cons

  • -

    Still runs on Android 10

  • -

    Software experience could be better

  • -

    Bulky

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Two-minute review

Xiaomi usually starts the year with the launch of a Redmi Note budget device. But, this time changing its game plan, the company made its comeback to the sub Rs 30,000 segment. The last device from Xiaomi was the Redmi K20 Pro launched back in 2019. The Xiaomi Mi 10i is also India’s first phone to launch in 2021. It also completes the Mi 10 family of devices in India. 

The Xiaomi Mi 10i is basically a rebadged Redmi Note 9 Pro 5G from China, which in turn is the Mi 10T Lite but with an upgraded primary camera and made for India requirements. The 'i' in the moniker stands for India. This is also India’s cheapest smartphone with 108MP camera beating its elder sibling, the Mi 10T Pro. 

The Samsung HM2 sensor makes its India debut with the Mi 10i. The primary sensor performance beats the competition from OnePlus and Samsung by a fair margin. While Xiaomi claims this as the world’s most advanced smartphone camera, we explored the camera for over three weeks and the results were impressive and for the asking price, there isn’t much to complain about especially with respect to the primary camera. However, we can’t say the same thing for the selfie camera as the competition performs better than the Mi 10i. 

The Xiaomi Mi 10i is also India’s second device to sport the new Snapdragon 750G chipset. It is a capable mid-range chipset with lag-free experience. The UFS 2.2 storage helps the device open apps quicker and makes things smooth. Talking about smoothness, you get a 6.67-inch Full HD+ LCD screen with 120Hz smooth refresh rate. Though the display is not the best we’ve seen in the segment, it does get the job done. 

The battery is good enough for one full day while the 33W fast charging makes sure the device is fueled up within an hour. While the battery capacity is not the largest we’ve seen, it can easily last a day even with heavy usage. While the device is heavy and big, the design of the phone is one thing that stands out from the crowd. 

Apart from all these major inclusions which are impressive, Xiaomi has also added a bunch of other features such as an IR blaster, 3.5mm headphone jack, dual stereo speakers, LED notification light, and IP53 rating. And, lastly, for security, it brings in the blazing fast side-mounted fingerprint scanner. 

All of these bundled in for just under Rs 25,000, Xiaomi almost bridges the gap between a flagship and a mid-range device. While this is still the first device from the company, I am pumped to see what Xiaomi has in the house for 2021. 

Xiaomi Mi 10i Price in India and availability

Check out on Amazon
Xiaomi Mi 10

Check out on Amazon

6+64GB: Rs 20,999 (coming soon)

6GB + 128GB: Rs 21,999

8GB + 128GB: Rs 23,999

The Xiaomi Mi 10i is available in three configurations. The 6GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 21,999 while the 8GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 23,999. The company also announced a 6+64GB variant which will be sold for Rs 20,999 later. Colour options include Pacific Sunrise, Atlantic Blue and Midnight Black. Amazon is the online sale partner. 

Currently, you can also avail Rs 2,000 instant discount with ICICI bank credit/debit cards which makes it even more affordable. Xiaomi also includes an anti-bacterial case and pre-installed screen protector with all the devices. 

Design

  • Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both sides
  • Weight: 214.5 grams
  • Thickness: 9mm

In terms of design, the Xiaomi Mi 10i sits in between the flagship Mi 10 devices and the budget Redmi Note 9 series. We get a new design language here, especially the rear. There is a circular camera module which resembles the recently launched Poco X3 and OnePlus 7T, especially in the Pacific Sunrise colour option. The front and back of the device are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The rear panel is also surprisingly averse to fingerprints which means the back stays as it is without any smudges or fingerprint impressions. The back of the device is smooth and I really enjoyed holding the phone in hand. Xiaomi has done an excellent job with the material choice on Mi 10i, especially the back panel. 

The quad rear camera is packed inside a circular module with a decent amount of protrusion. The dual LED flash sits next to the camera module and is flushed to the phone’s body. Apart from that you get Mi and 5G branding on the rear. It is hard not to like the Pacific Sunrise colour variant of the Mi 10i. The top of the phone on the back looks like a regular Blue while the booth half brings in the orange hue which blends and offers an excellent gradient finish. This is one of the best gradient back we’ve seen. This is also my personal favourite colour option currently. Apart from this, you also get the Mi 10i in Atlantic Blue and Midnight Black colour options. 

The sides of the device are made up of plastic. On the right side of the device, you get volume rockers which have nice clicky feedback and right below that you get a power button which comes with an integrated fingerprint scanner. It is an active fingerprint scanner with blazing fast unlock speed and top notch accuracy. To the left, there is a hybrid slot which can take in two nano SIM or one nano SIM and a microSD card. On the top you get an IR blaster, secondary mic, while on the bottom there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is a bonus in 2021, Type-C port, mic, and the loudspeaker.  

On the front, there is a huge 6.67-inch display, which I will talk about in a bit. Above that sits the speaker grill which also acts as the secondary stereo speaker. Xiaomi has once again done a fabulous job by including all possible options like a headphone jack, an IR blaster, dual speakers, and side-mounted fingerprint scanner. 

With all these features built-in, the Mi 10i weighs 214.5 grams which is more than what Samsung Galaxy M51 weighs(213g). While it is understandable that the Galaxy M51 packs in a massive battery, Xiaomi packs in a relatively smaller battery. It is also thick at 9mm and adds the large 6.67-inch display to the mix, you have a really big and heavy phone in your hand. In a nutshell, the Mi 10i is a big and heavy phone that will take some time getting used to and once you get used to it, you will not even notice. The weight distribution is also done pretty well here and there’s also a smooth curved back which offers better grip, which makes things slightly better.  

And, lastly the device is also IP53 rated which is a rarity in this segment. The device also has packed in a LED notification inside the top speaker grill.  

Overall, the brand has done an excellent job with regards to the design on the Mi 10i. While the device is bulky and huge to hold in hand, I’d suggest you to get ready to carry a huge phone in your pocket or in your hands before purchasing. 

Display

  • 6.67” Full HD+ LCD screen
  • 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Widevine L1 and HDR10 certification

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Xiaomi has retained the display from the Mi 10T Pro, however the quality of the panel used here seems to be slightly inferior compared to the flagship phone. Don’t get me wrong, the display is good on the Mi 10i but it’s not as good as the LCD panel we’ve seen with the Mi 10T Pro. You are looking at a 6.67-inch Full HD+ (2400 x 1080p) LCD screen with 120Hz refresh rate. The AdaptiveSync feature switches between 30Hz, 48Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz to match with the content. It can go up to 450 nits. Apart from that, the display is also TÜV Rheinland certified for low blue content consumption, supports HDR10+ content as well as HD streaming. And lastly, it is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. 

The display is pretty smooth and anyone who's coming from a 60Hz phone, will find it enjoyable as I did. The adaptive sync feature works really well and also helps in getting better battery life. You can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz adaptive sync refresh rate and there is no way to turn off AdaptiveSync.

The display quality itself is good for the price - it has good contrast, viewing angles are also good and I did not have any colour shift issues. While 450 nits brightness isn’t impressive on paper, the usage in real life was actually good. Even on a day when the sun was out, I could text without having to use my other hand for shade. The colours aren’t as vibrant and the blacks aren’t as deep as we’ve seen on the OnePlus Nord or the Galaxy M51 in the segment, but, it comes pretty close. You can also play with colour temperature setting and set the colour profile as per your liking. Although the display is not the best in the segment, it still does a great job as per LCD standards. 

There is support for HDR10 and HDR10+ content. However, we could not play any HDR content from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. I could play HDR YouTube videos though. The Widevine L1 certification allows you to stream in High definition which was possible on both Prime video and Netflix. 

The big display paired with stereo speakers and high refresh rate will serve you well for all use cases such as heavy usage, multitasking, gaming, or watching movies. Unless you really want an AMOLED panel, this one will suffice you. 

Performance

  • Snapdragon 750G
  • 5G Ready
  • UFS 2.2 storage

Mi 10i

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Xiaomi devices often provide one of the best performing devices especially in the sub Rs 20,000 segment. With the Mi 10i, the same trend is carried forward. The Xiaomi Mi 10i is powered by the new Snapdragon 750G, making it the only second device in India to do so (the Moto G 5G is the first). It is an octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz and built on an 8nm fabrication while the graphics are taken care of by the Adreno 619 GPU. This is also a 5G enabled chipset which comes with Qualcomm’s X52 5G modem for 5G connectivity. The device is available in three configurations - 6+64GB, 6+128GB, and 8+128GB. 

The Snapdragon 750G is better than 732G and sits right below the Snapdragon 765G. As for the real life usage and performance as expected, the device shines at everything you throw at it. Be it a light task or a heavy task, the device is capable of handling it all. With the 120Hz smooth display turned on, the performance like scrolling feels better than usual. The RAM management and multitasking was also excellent. Apps stayed longer than I’d expected in the background and switching between apps did not force reload the content. Apps opening are also quick, thanks to the UFS 2.2 storage type. 

However, there are a couple issues with the performance. Firstly, while switching between apps I noticed a small jitter or lag for a second. This usually happened when I was switching from a 120Hz supported app to a 60Hz app and vice-versa. It might be because of the fact that MIUI 12 skin is too heavy for the Snapdragon 750G. For now, the issue exists and while it is not necessarily a deal breaker, this should be fixed via an OTA update. 

Also, in the camera app, moving from multiple modes and clicking a picture takes half a second extra when compared to Xiaomi Mi 10. But since the Mi 10i costs less than half of what Mi 10 is, it is not a big deal. It’d also be a stupidity to expect everything to perform like a flagship. As for the gaming, the device again handled the games very well. Games like CoD mobile were played in very high graphic settings and other casual racing games were also played smoothly. 

As for the connectivity, the device supports Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi. Xiaomi’s Global VP, Manu Kumar Jain also tweeted recently claiming that the Mi 10i also supports the NavIC satellite navigation system. However, currently we couldn’t find it. Xiaomi might bring it via software update in the near future. 

Software

  • Still runs on Android 10
  • Lots of pre-installed apps
  • No spammy Ads