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 <a href="https://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ashx?tsid=8428&GR_URL=https%3A%2F%2Famazon.in%2Fdp%2FB089MTFHZQ%2F%3Ftag%3Dtech0e7-21%26ascsubtag%3Dhawk-custom-tracking-21" data-link-merchant="Amazon IN"" target="_blank">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

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

The first major disappointment comes in terms of software. For starters, the Xiaomi Mi 10i still runs on MIUI 12 based on Android 10. It’s been over four months since Android 11 was made official and it is extremely disappointing to see a smartphone launching in 2021 with Android 11. There’s also no word on when the device will get the Android 11 and give the recent Android update track record from Xiaomi, we’d say it’s still a few weeks away. 

Any phone launching in 2021 with Android 10 is unacceptable.

The MIUI 12 on Mi 10i is no different from what we have seen on other Xiaomi devices. Let me first address the elephant in the room, during my usage for over two weeks, I did not receive any spammy ads or push notifications on the phone. However, it is not completely ad or bloat-free. The device comes with a bunch of pre-installed apps. These apps can be uninstalled easily. There is an app called ‘GetApps’ which is a Play Store alternative which pushes notifications to update apps frequently - this gets annoying after a while and it can’t be disabled or even uninstalled. To make it even even worse, there is a dedicated section called ‘System apps updater’ which asks you to update apps through the GetApps store. I did not like this approach from Xiaomi and would like to see disable option for the same. 

Apart from that MIUI 12 feels smooth for the most part. You also get dedicated Privacy protection which will show you what permissions are being used by different apps. There’s also special permissions, other permissions, and high-risk permissions options which gives you a detailed insight of the permissions. Xiaomi has done a great job here with privacy features. 

Furthermore, you can opt for an iOS-like control centre which will take away the regular notification shade and the quick setting options. Instead, you get the all-new Control centre. This can be accessed by swiping down from the right side. Swiping on the left will give you the notifications at a glance. These can also be customized. Getting adapted to the new control centre will take some time but, you always have an option to go back. The MIUI 12 also brings complete dark mode which adds a dark theme to apps without native dark mode. For navigation, you get buttons or full-screen gestures - the new gestures work well and probably are one of the best navigation gestures on any Android skin. You also get double-tap to turn off the screen and an app drawer with default launcher on MIUI 12 bringing in multiple customization options such as transaction effects, icon size, layout, and more. You can also now set Google Assistant in the -1 screen. However, Xiaomi has not included Super wallpapers on the Mi 10i yet. 

To take advantage of the big display, Xiaomi’s floating window option and split screen multiple tasking comes in very handy at times. You can create a floating window by long-pressing any supported application in the recent screen. Once you enable it, you can also resize the window as per your requirement. There’s also a one handed mode to make it easy for people to reach all corners of the screen easily. During my usage, a couple of times the YouTube app crashed. 

The MIUI skin has come a long way and now feels much matured and gives you a lot of customization options. However, it is still one of the heavy skin out there and sometimes even the powerful Snapdragon 750G struggles. This was evident when I was switching from apps and the AdaptiveSync feature took a couple of seconds to adapt the application. For the most part, the software on Mi 10i does a good job. However, there is still some room for improvement and hope Xiaomi can address them in the future with OTA updates. 

Camera

  • 108MP Samsung HM2 primary camera
  • Quad rear camera | 16MP selfie camera
  • Lots of camera modes

This is where Xiaomi brings the game-changing feature. The Mi 10i is packed with a 108MP camera which makes it the cheapest phone with 108MP camera setup. Thereby, it dethrones its elder sibling, the Mi 10T Pro. The Samsung HM2 sensor also makes its debut in India with the Mi 10i. The primary 108MP camera is followed by an 8MP ultra-wide shooter with a 120-degree field-of-view, a 2MP macro shooter and a 2MP depth sensor.

Xiaomi claims the device as the world’s most advanced 108MP camera. The Samsung HM2 is 15% smaller than the predecessor and is optimized for 0.7μm pixel size. It has a larger 1/1.52-inch pixel size which is better than Sony’s IMX 586 and IMX 686 sensors. It uses a 9-1-in pixel binning method which creates a 2.1μm large pixel size which offers better detail and dynamic range. The ISOCELL Plus features avoids light leakage while the Smart ISO feature smartly adjusts the ISO to give the best output. By default, the images are captured in 12MP.