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Hands on: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T review

A very minor upgrade on a phone you haven't used

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T feels like any other mid-range device, but for its price, that's actually a marvel: it has a design and specs you'd typically pay much more for, and feels relatively snappy too.

For

  • Glass body
  • Decent camera

Against

  • Too big to hold easily
  • Chunky chin

Xiaomi smartphones are typically great affordable handsets, but it’s easy to get confused by the names - suffixes like T, SE, S and Pro are thrown around left, right and center, so with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T, from sub-brand Redmi, it can be hard to know what that name really means.

Redmi’s Note line consists of handsets with slight spec increases from the non-Note device, and the Note 8T is the first of the 8 line to come out in the west. The T suffix indicates this is a modified version of the Note 8, which came out in some countries earlier in 2019.

In fact, the Note 8T’s only real difference from the Note 8 is the presence of NFC, but since the Note 8 didn’t come out in the west, this is probably your first chance to try it. 

So the name is pretty confusing, especially given all the modifiers that differentiate it from phones you probably never saw. But that aside, is the Redmi Note 8T a decent device you should consider buying, or is it just as confused as its name?

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T price and release date

(Image credit: Future)

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T price is set to be £169.99 (roughly $220, AU$320), which is pretty fantastically affordable given some of the features you're getting here. That price puts it in competition with the likes of the Motorola One Macro, with similar cameras, which is just a touch more pricey.

We don't know whether it'll come to the US or Australia, but it's set to launch in the UK on November 22 through phone network Three. Given there's already a confirmed price for it, we don't expect it to take long to find out where else it'll be available.

Design and display

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T consists of a Gorilla Glass front and back, providing a comfortable and, more importantly, durable, shell. Since most smartphones at this price have plastic backs, and are therefore a little less protected, this is an impressive aspect of the phone.

The handset is quite big, and we actually had trouble reaching the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, as well as the power button and volume rocker mounted on the right. There's also a USB-C port, which is again not a certainty at this price point, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Maybe the most telling indicator of the budget nature of the handset is the sizeable bezel around the whole phone, most apparent in the chin at the bottom which is big enough to house the 'Redmi' name. Because of this the device is quite a bit bigger than its screen size would suggest, which leads to the 'hard-to-hold' problem.

(Image credit: Future)

The screen is a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display. It's LCD, so quality isn't incredible with colors looking a little pastel, but that's to be expected from a phone at this price. Something that we noticed from our brief hands-on time is that max brightness felt a little limited.

There's a relatively small notch at the top of the screen, which houses the front-facing camera. It's not huge, and doesn't ruin your viewing experience in any way.

Camera

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T has a four-camera rear setup, lead by a 48MP main snapper and joined by an 8MP ultra-wide, a 2MP macro and a 2MP depth camera.

To have a 48MP camera in a phone at this price is a treat, and because of this pictures are pretty vibrant, at least compared to other phones in this bracket.

We found the ultra-wide snapper pretty dependable, with barely any distortion at the sides of pictures. The macro camera also seemed easy to use, although since its sensor is only 2MP the pictures weren't breath-taking.

(Image credit: Future)

The camera app felt snappy to use, which pictures not taking too long to process, and it was quick to change modes. 

Something you'll find in the Redmi Note 8T that you won't find in many other devices at this price tag is the sheer number of modes available – there's a dedicated night mode as well as 'short video', '48M' (for 48MP shots, instead of 12MP shots with 4-in-1 pixel tech like default pictures are), and more, each with individual options and modes.

This gives the Redmi Note 8T camera a feeling of versatility and functionality that you might not find in competing devices.

Battery life

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T has a 4,000mAh battery, which is pretty decent considering the low price. Since the screen is LCD, and the processor isn't particularly intensive, this big power pack could possibly see you through two days, although we'll need to verify that in our full review process.

In terms of charging, the device supports 18W fast charging, which isn't exactly high-end but it's decent at this price tag. That should power up the Redmi Note 8T fairly quickly, but this is something we'll need to test further.

(Image credit: Future)

Features and specs

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T has NFC, which is its improvement over the non-T variant. This allows you to use your phone for wireless payments, although there are several other perks to NFC too like easy pairing to certain Bluetooth devices.

The chipset here is a Snapdragon 655, from Qualcomm. That's a decent mid-range processor, and it's unsurprising in a budget device like this, and this is one of the most affordable smartphones packing such a chipset.

A chipset dictates how snappy a device is to use, particularly for tasks like gaming or processing pictures, and we didn't have any problems with the speed of the device for these tasks during our brief testing.

The 3GB RAM of our review unit may be a little sub-par for some, but this version of the device isn't actually going on sale in the UK (the base device there has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage).

(Image credit: Future)

The Redmi Note 8T runs Android 9 Pie, and will likely be eligible for an upgrade to Android 10 at some point soon. Then there's Xiaomi's MIUI interface laid over the top, which is mainly an aesthetic change, making the UI colors a little pale, and icons a little blocky.

There is quite a bit of bloatware in MIUI, with some games and unnecessary apps you may opt to delete as soon as you turn on your device.

Early verdict

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T has such an impressively low price that's it's very easy to forget most, if not all, of its shortcomings.

And sure, it does have these shortcomings, like the presence of bloatware, a less-than-premium design, and a 2MP depth sensor that we're not convinced by. 

But in general the device has enough high-end features, like its glass body and decent chipset, to leave us impressed. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.