Redmi Note 10 Pro review: insanely affordable with flagship chops

You get 80% of the Xiaomi Mi 11’s experience for about one third of the price

Redmi Note 10 Pro review

Bottom line

The Redmi Note 10 Pro is a large, affordable 4G phone that delivers solid performance and a flagship-like experience for just $280.

Overall
4.5

Pros

  • Unbeatable value
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Best-in-class shooters
  • Excellent speakers
  • Solid performance
  • Top notch battery life

Cons

  • Middling ultrawide camera
  • Limited US LTE support
  • Heavy-handed MIUI 12 skin

How is it?

Other than the fancy camera pod, the Redmi Note 10 Pro’s design is pretty familiar. It basically looks and feels like any phone costing 2-3 times more. Some details stand out (flat top and bottom edges with a matte finish), but others are odd (punch hole with a silver ring around the front shooter). The bronze and blue colors are fun, but my gray review unit — while elegant and well made — is rather generic. It’s also a fingerprint magnet.

The 120Hz AMOLED display really stands out, especially for $280. It’s gorgeous — with vibrant colors, deep blacks, and excellent viewing angles — and it gets super bright (up to 1200 nits), making it a cinch to read in direct sunlight. Bezels are small, and while there’s a chin, it’s minimal. My only niggle is with the aggressive auto-brightness, which often makes the screen too dim, especially in low light. This is a common issue with Xiaomi handsets.

When it comes to imaging, the Note 10 Pro is no slouch. The main shooter’s 108MP sensor isn’t just a marketing exercise. It’s the real deal — a Samsung Isocell GM2 that bins (combines) groups of 9 (3×3) 0.7-micron pixels into 2.1 micron “superpixels”, resulting in 12MP images with improved low-light performance. That’s the same trick Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra flagship uses with its 108MP main camera.

By contrast, Xiaomi’s Mi 11 relies on 4-to-1 pixel binning (which is more common) to capture 27MP photos with its 108MP sensor. The Note 10 Pro’s 5MP macro with AF is also similar to the Mi 11’s, but with less magnification. As for the 8MP ultrawide, it’s a downgrade over the Mi 11’s 13MP shooter, primarily because it lacks night mode, making it less versatile. The Note 10 Pro also includes a 2MP depth sensor for portraits.

In front, the 16MP selfie camera supports night mode and captures video at up to 1080p 30fps. Speaking of video recording, the main shooter maxes out at 4k 30fps (not stabilized) and 1080p 60/30fps, while the ultrawide tops off at 1080p 30fps — with stereo audio. Photo modes echo the Mi 11, with pro (rear cameras only), portrait, night, 108MP, panorama, super macro, tilt shift, document scanner, long exposure, and clone.

One thing to note is that the front shooter doesn’t support HDR in portrait mode, which is a bummer. Video modes are also familiar, with steady (1080p 30fps), slow motion (720p 120/240/960fps and 1080p 120fps), time lapse (up to 4k 30fps), super macro (1080p 30fps), dual video (main plus selfie), short video, and vlog. The camera app is standard Xiaomi, easy to use and well laid out — I have zero complaints here.

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Redmi Note 10 Pro camera pod

How does all this add up, then? Overall, the Note 10 Pro takes lovely pictures. Zoomed shots are noticeably crisper at 3-4x than the 48 and 64MP competition — especially in daylight  — thanks to that large 108MP sensor. Low-light performance is pretty decent, but the lack of OIS results in softer night photos than the Mi 11. Ultrawide images and selfies are fine, matching other phones at this price point.

Macro shots are pretty nice too — and match the Mi 11 — thanks to that AF lens. The Note 10 Pro also does a good job recording clear and stable video. If anything, this handset further illustrates how much Xiaomi’s imaging expertise has improved in the past couple years. Ultimately, I think most folks will be very satisfied with these shooters. You’d be hard pressed to find a better camera system for $280.

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I used the Note 10 Pro on both AT&T and T-Mobile’s 4G LTE networks in and around San Francisco and didn’t run into any problems with call quality or data speeds. That being said, there’s no Verizon support, and this phone lacks several LTE bands popular with US and Canadian carriers, so coverage may be limited in some areas. Keep this in mind if you live in North America and plan to import this handset.

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Redmi Note 10 Pro display – note the silver accent around the selfie camera

Xiaomi’s done a great job with audio on its devices lately. It even teamed up with Harman Kardon to tune the speakers on its flagships. While the Note 10 Pro doesn’t have HK’s blessing, it features stereo speakers that sound pleasantly loud and clear. In addition, the headphone jack delivers stellar audio thanks to a quality 24-bit 192KHz DAC and amp, and there’s LDAC and aptX HD support for lossless audio over Bluetooth.

When it comes to performance, the Note 10 Pro doesn’t disappoint. That 120Hz display and Snapdragon 732G keep things delightfully smooth and responsive, no matter what you’re up to. While this phone isn’t Mi 11 quick, it juggled my standard collection of apps without breaking a sweat. It also handles gaming just fine, thanks to Snapdragon Elite Gaming. That’s quite impressive, considering the price point.

A big battery paired with an efficient 4G chipset means long battery life. And here again, the Note 10 Pro shines. The 5020mAh battery just keeps on ticking. I repeatedly got two days of normal use from a full charge, so I expect power users will have no trouble with busy days. When it’s time for a refill, this handset supports 33W fast charging (0-55% in 30 minutes), and Xiaomi provides a 33W charger in the box.

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Redmi Note 10 Pro backside – note the tiered camera pod

On the software front, the Note 10 Pro runs Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 skin on top of Android 11. While MIUI is still a bit too heavy-handed for my tastes, it has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Version 12 feels nice and fast, and looks more stock than ever. Also, the launcher now includes the Google Discover feed. Still, the settings menu remains difficult to navigate, and you can only dismiss notifications by swiping right.

The good news is that bloatware is kept to a minimum. Besides Xiaomi and Google’s apps, the Note 10 Pro only comes with Amazon Shopping, LinkedIn, and Netflix pre-installed. Wrapping things up, haptics are decent, and the side-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner is quick and reliable. Ditto face unlock. Xiaomi presumably skipped using an optical in-display fingerprint sensor for cost reasons. And honestly, that’s okay.

Bottom line

Xiaomi’s created something truly special with the Redmi Note 10 Pro. There’s no competition here — at $280, this phone delivers unbeatable value. It really offers 80% of the Mi 11’s experience for about one-third the price. The display is beautiful, the shooters are best-in-class, the speakers are excellent, performance is solid, and battery life is top-notch. It even looks premium. And while MIUI 12 is kind of a mixed bag, it gets the job done.

What’s missing, then? Not much — OIS on the main camera, a better ultrawide, 5G, better US LTE support, wireless charging, and a more stock-like Android experience. Considering OIS and wireless charging aren’t even standard on handsets that cost twice as much, that’s just unrealistic. As for 5G, it’s not essential (yet). Basically, if you’re shopping for an affordable handset with flagship chops, it’s a no-brainer. The Note 10 Pro’s got you covered.