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Xiaomi MI 10 Full Hands on Review Is it The Best Xiaomi Smartphone Yet?

Xiaomi mi 10 Front view

So the trend in 2020 has become, let's have a flagship phone, let's have a pro flagship phone and then let's have an ultra flagship phone.
Essentially to get people who would have previously spent a thousand dollars to now spend fourteen hundred dollars!
We've had one from Huawei we've had two from Samsung and now we have Xiaomi's the MI 10 ultra.


I usually use the way that a phone is presented as a rough gauge on how much the company cares about it so in this case it seems quite a lot which makes sense because this MI 10 ultra.
Its also Xiaomi's way of celebrating their 10th anniversary. Yes Xiaomi is only 10 years old
So the first thing inside the box is just a card with what i believe is simplified Chinese on it
you've got the smartphone this is clean packaging, a SIM ejector tool and below that is a hard case and it's not just plain it is lightly textured which is definitely an improvement.

Xiaomi mi 10 Full Review Wireless pad

There's a headphone jack adapter, a USB C cable for charging and the most powerful charger you can possibly get on a commercial smartphone.
And then t here's the MI 10 ultra, oh also alongside the phone they've dropped some pretty high grade accessories with it.
There's the official case which feels like a nice quality carbon fiber material, there's a car charger which i wouldn't normally care about but this tiny thing can deliver a total of 100 watts power and then the wireless charger to take advantage of the frankly ludicrous wireless charging speed of this phone it's not cheap but this feels super premium and then finally in a slightly different direction a wireless charging pad which actually just has one charging coil but here's the kicker.
It moves to locate right underneath your phone wherever you put it on the pad very cool concept in practice it's kind of loud and a little bit rattly.

So to really deserve the title of ultra i feel like a phone needs to have a spec sheet that makes you gorp and this has that in fact in some ways this is the most impressive spec sheet on a phone ever
  • A 6.67 inch 120 hertz 10-bit coloured display
  • A quad camera setup with dual 8K video and 120 times zoom and to make this a little sweeter this camera system has been ranked by DXO mark as the best in the world
  • A 4500 mAH battery paired with Qualcomm's new quick charge five tech which gives it 120 watt charging it has 50 watt wireless charging and for some perspective on the figure that is twice as powerful as the galaxy Note 20 ultra's wired charging
  • And finally a snapdragon 865 chip up to 16 GB of the fastest LPDDR5 RAM
  • 512 GB of the fastest UFS 3.1 storage
  • All cooled with liquid calling six stacks of graphite and graphene
It also happens to be the highest scoring phone on antutu benchmark in the world with 660,000 points


So this is an ultra impressive spec sheet, it's an ultra expensive phone but wait a second it starts at 760 dollars!! Excuse me!
I had to double check, I had to triple check and yeah sure enough the converted Chinese price of this phone is 760 dollars so even if for argument's sake we say 800 it has basically flipped the entire convention of an ultra phone on its head it costs less than Samsung's base normal Galaxy S20!
So what's the catch? well it doesn't look like they've cheaped out on the design although it has taken a very different direction to Samsung and Huawei's offerings.

Xiaomi mi 10 compared to Samsung Galaxy S20

It does look just as excessive and ultra and the camera module while i don't think it's the prettiest does look badass, it does look like it means business.
But i will say this i didn't quite realize how big the cameras would be until i actually picked the phone up for myself.
You know like the Galaxy Note 20 ultra, that phone has a huge camera bump but even that sits in the top third of the phone this comes down almost halfway!
Which means that whatever hand i'm holding it in fingers touch it a lot, especially if you're gaming it's kind of a shame because the shape of the phone is super comfortable it would have really benefited from a matte finish and cameras that perhaps go horizontally across although using a case does help quite a lot with both of these issues
Actually just using this day-to-day just trying to find the hidden catch that must be there somewhere i really struggled.
It loads games and apps quicker than i think any android i've ever used and i've been using this as my COD mobile machine. Because it can play the game at 60 frames per second on the highest possible settings the haptics when you're typing are pretty good, it's dual speaker setup is very good.

User Interface

The one thing that i've been marveling at which i wasn't expecting to be marveling at is the software.
It's running Xiaomi's MIUI 12 and I think the best way to describe, it would be with the word ARTISTIC.
It's gone down a very different path to Google stock pixel software but i was surprised how much i liked it!
I like the new fonts, the organization of the settings menu and how almost every action you do has a corresponding animation and haptic feedback.

Xiaomi mi 10 Interface Review

You leave an app you, see its icon change
You uninstall something and watch it explode
Sending a shock wave through the rest of your apps
They've got these new wallpapers they call them super wallpapers and even though they do take up something ridiculous like 90 megabytes of file they really are quite special for starters.
Flicking between your screens you'll see the background rotate
Okay but then pop your phone into standby and it'll zoom all the way out of this rocky planet face to show you a global view and without you even realizing what's happened in that process it has seamlessly transitioned to its power saving always on display and the whole thing even follows day and night cycles.
Plus i think Xiaomi have been really clever with the fingerprint scanner that sits just under.
It's not the fastest but when you place your finger on it you feel like a soft vibration that then ramps up in intensity when you first put your finger on there's like a gentle whir and then that slowly builds until it pops when you unlock the phone
In a weird kind of way it feels like you're powering up your very own supercar and because of the way they've done it you don't notice the time taken as much
The main obvious downside is that there's just heaps of Bloatware here but you can remove almost all of it.


You're probably wondering, this is the highest rated camera in the world so how good is it actually?
So we've got four cameras
starting with the Ultrawide  (fun fact this is the widest camera i've ever used with a 128 degree field of view compared to 120 on Samsung's and as well as being more dramatic it's also more detailed)
The only caveat being that 20 of the time when i take it out and was ready to shoot something i would find out that it's super blurry because i had accidentally covered it in fingerprints.
We've then got the main camera which is actually a custom engineered 48 megapixel sensor.

Xiaomi mi 10 compared to Samsung Galaxy S20 Camera Lens comparison

Credit where do, that number isn't doing it much justice we actually see a lot of phones even mid-range phones with 48 megapixel sensors but the important takeaway is that most of those are very small whereas the one on this phone is actually larger than the 108 megapixel main camera of the Note 20 ultra!
It shows! Photos are exceptional. Actually very reminiscent of the Huawei p40 pro camera aka my favorite phone camera of the year so far.
The colors are spot on more natural than Sammy and the photos are just very detailed with almost zero noise
Oh yeah and the dynamic range is crazy good even more noticeable if you drop it side by side with the galaxy S20 Ultra

Xiaomi mi 10 compared to Samsung Galaxy S20 Camera Lens comparison outdoor

Now the one Achilles heel of this camera is that just as Samsung fixes its year-long focusing issues by introducing laser autofocus on its Note
Xiaomi starts the trend again, it's sometimes completely fine with people and big objects but try to focus on anything fine like small flowers and it just can't do it
No matter how many times i tap the screen to try and make it.
It's so frustrating not because it makes it a bad camera at all but because this was so close to being the perfect 2020 smartphone camera.
Even its night time performance is put simply about as good as phones get at any price
But okay we've got to talk about the most ridiculous spec on the entire ridiculous spec sheet the fact that this camera can zoom in 120 times, which of course implies that it's even better than the already very impressive 100 time zoom on the S20 ultra.
See, that phone is using a high resolution four times optical zoom camera and because it's high resolution even once you reach its four-time zoom level you can still zoom in a fair bit further without ruining the image
But this phone by the looks of it has just taken the same image sensor and dialed up the magnification from four times optical zoom to five times optical zoom
If i'm being really honest though in practice it's about the same.

Don't get me wrong the zoom is phenomenal you can zoom 30 times into a sign and very clearly read it but i'm just saying compared to the Galaxy s20 ultra, you probably won't tell much of a difference.
So don't pay too much attention to that 120 times number although do bear in mind from what I remember the galaxy S20 ultra zoom was not as good at launch as it is now.
So it's very possible that because this is so new it will improve over time
Oh also Xiaomi's created quite a cool spin-off feature from this zoom
It's called front and back and it allows you to pick basically any combination of two different cameras on this phone including the front camera and record them at the same time.

Xiaomi mi 10 front camera

That leaves us with the final camera which is just a two times optical zoom and this has two purposes a to keep your image sharp throughout the entire zoom range (not just sharp at one time and then sharp again when you get really far in)
But also to take portraits because portraits taken at two times zoom just generally have less distortion than using the one times camera and going right up to your subject and they're actually really good portraits on the face of it
They're just not as detailed as the main camera
Oh yeah and it's got 8k video recording on both the main camera and the five times telephoto
I don't think any other phone can do this although you will need a very well-lit environment for this to be any good so in a lot of ways i agree with DXO mark.
I can't believe i'm saying this but as an overall package this is probably the best set of cameras on a phone


I had so much fun testing the camera out that I completely killed my battery
So i whacked it on charge and at this point i wasn't really thinking about its charging speed i'd kind of forgotten about it so i went downstairs i started making some tea.
I came back up and i was fully ready to just work on something else while I waited but then i realized it's on 50 charge after literally six minutes!

Now i've never been the biggest advocate of fast charging just because i'm someone who charges my phone overnight and if you do that it doesn't really matter but i mean this is so fast that you can't help
But just want to give them a little round of applause
Practically speaking i think to make it work they've had to split their one battery into two separate cells which probably means that you are trading some potential capacity for this ridiculous charging speed but the battery is good enough.
I did spend a full day using it hard and it survived.

How is the Xiaomi MI 10 so cheap considering all the specs it offer ?

So at this point you're kind of looking at this phone thinking have Xiaomi cheated?
Did Xiaomi just rob a bank and they're now subsidizing the price of their own phones?
Because i'll tell you now as much as I tried, i didn't find one huge gap here.
One big caveat that would explain how it's so much more affordable!
But there are a few things that you should bear in mind while it does go up to 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, the base model sits at a pretty uninspiring 8 GB plus 128 which is about par for the course for a 700$-800$ phone.

Xiaomi mi 10 Full Review Back Image

There's also the fact that if we say the Galaxy Note 20 ultra's display is an A plus then this would be an A minus
It still has a 120 hertz refresh rate which is brilliant but it isn't adaptive which means it can't adjust its refresh rate to match the application you're in like the Note can
Plus this is only a full HD plus panel versus quad HD plus
It's not an issue for me, i've been using my Note on full HD anyways but it is a noticeable missing feature
And on paper its brightness should be lower too but in practice i couldn't really tell the difference.


I guess the biggest pain point is “availability” because this is a China-only phone!
So if you wanted it you've got to import it you've got to do a little bit of fiddling to get Google play services working and if you want to get rid of Xiaomi's Bloatware, you might have to start switching to a third-party launcher but to be fair once you've done all that. It works perfectly.

Xiaomi mi 10 miui icons

I've been using this all day i'm getting 4G plus and it's a brilliant phone unlike most ultra phones which we knew were going to be announced like literally months before they were
I didn't know about this phone until I had an email asking if i wanted to test one
But as low-key as the launch was it doesn't change the fact that this is the first luxury phone that i would genuinely class as brilliant value for money.
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Thank You for reading.

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