Xiaomi has a long-standing talent for turning off solid hardware, and the Mi 10 Pro sees the company doubling in size on its sturdy design language. The smartphone isn’t just a glass beauty; it’s a powerhouse. The Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Pro goes head-to-head with some of the best smartphones in the world, including entries from Oppo, Huawei, and Samsung. Did Xiaomi choose the right mix of bravura, skill, and pricing? Find out in our Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review: Design
Xiaomi doesn’t break any new ground in design, and yet the Mi 10 Pro is attractive. It’s as sophisticated a product as I’ve seen from Xiaomi. The glass sandwich shape should be familiar to those buying a flagship in 2020. A slim metal-frame is the filling between two Gorilla Glass 5 panels that bend around the edges to match the aluminum. The glass is flawless and ensures a completely seamless transition from glass to metal to glass as you move your finger over the edge. The fit and finish are unsurpassed.
The phone comes in two colors: Alpine White or Solstice Grey. Xiaomi lent us the grey model, which resembles the sky at dusk just before an unholy blizzard. It has a satin finish instead of gloss, which gives it an elegant, gentlemanly quality. The metal frame is shiny, yet painted to match the dark, cloudy mood of the phone. In addition to the color, the camera module is the most eye-catching design element on the back panel of the phone.
Instead of using a large rectangle, Xiaomi set up the Mi 10 Pro cameras in a vertical column. While three lenses are included in the same raised module, the fourth lens is inexplicably an island in itself. The effect? It looks like an exclamation point. A reflecting chrome ring encircles the top lens and evokes the phone’s high pixel count. The module, which has shifted to the left, means that the phone wobbles when you tap the screen while sitting on a hard surface.
The controls are about what we are used to from flagships. That means USB-C but no 3.5mm jack, a SIM card drawer, but no microSD, stereo speakers, and side buttons. The screen lock button and the volume control, both on the right side, maybe too thin. The action is good. It’s not stupid big. The Mi 10 Pro is about the same size as a Pixel 4 XL and noticeably shorter and narrower than the LG’s V60. In other words, it is gentle to hold and use than some flagships. It is still significant and can be too big for some people.
Xiaomi says it has “splash protection,” but not a full IP rating. Almost all competitors of the Mi 10 Pro (S20, V60, P40, Pixel 4, OnePlus 8 Pro) have an IP68 rating. All in all, although the Mi 10 Pro is safe and straightforward, it has been properly polished.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review: Display
Xiaomi has made a conservative choice regarding the display. Whether it is sufficient is up to you. It’s a massive 6.67-inch AMOLED that can be set to 90Hz if you want a smoother experience. The refresh rate is not as high as the 120Hz displays of the Samsung Galaxy S20 series or the OnePlus 8 Pro; however, it matches the speed of the Huawei P40 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL. The Full HD+ resolution is close enough for the panel, but I would have preferred Quad HD+ as an option.
Brightness slopes are as high as 1,200nits under certain conditions. There is no notch, but you’ll find a small punch hole camera in the top left corner of the screen. The Dot Display is Xiaomi’s version of Samsung’s Infinity-O branding. All this translates into an excellent display. It is pixel rich, bright, and colorful. Everybody should be happy to surf the web, scroll through social media, or punch out some emails on this screen. I enjoyed the look and felt when it’s set to 90Hz, scrolling, and other animated movements are smooth, fluent, flowing.
If you love Netflix on the go, the HDR10+ certification means you get the best possible view of the streaming service. The device also has TUV Rheinland certification and a contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1. Ozark’s most recent season looked great on screen. Finally, the phone has an under-the-screen fingerprint reader. It is positioned over where you expect it to be. Although I still prefer rear or side-mounted readers, the Mi 10 Pro’s reader was acceptable in terms of speed and accuracy.
Face unlock, which doesn’t rely on fancy tech, is consistent but not as secure as 3D-based solutions. In essence, the Mi 10 Pro corresponds in no small part of the competition when it comes to screen technology and performance.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review: Software
The Xiaomi MI 10 Pro comes with Android 10, the March 2020 security update, and MIUI 11. The most notable aspect of the UI is the lack of an app tray. Xiaomi has offered an app tray on older phones, but unfortunately, the option is missing on the Mi 10 Pro. This is undoubtedly my biggest gripe with the phone. I hate using the start screens to house all apps. Is this the end of the world? No, it’s not. Does it make me angry? And does it piss you off?) Yeah. You can use the Nova launcher or something and stop it. But that shouldn’t be necessary.
Besides the applause, the phone offers just about everything a modern Android user would want. You have multiple themes, customizable fonts, variable app grids, and the like. Unlike Huawei’s P40 Pro, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro has a full slate of Google apps, including the Google Play Store. This makes it an excellent alternative to the Huawei if you are in a market where both phones are available.
The only real unknown here is how quickly and consistently Xiaomi will update the security patches for the phone. Xiaomi does provide frequent software updates but tends to disconnect the MIUI releases from the dominant Android versions. In other words, MIUI could get a significant update that does not include Android 11. Otherwise, the software suite has everything it needs – except an app tray.
Hardware and Performance
The Mi 10 Pro has the conventional silicon under the bonnet. That means Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor, with sufficiently fast RAM, storage, and cooling to keep most users satisfied. The Mi 10 Pro tore benchmarks such as Geekbench and 3DMark a new one, taking over 99% of the other phones in the database. It is easy to compare with the numbers of other Snapdragon 865 flagships, such as the S20 Ultra and Oppo Find X2 Pro. I mention the 3D Benchmark for one reason: it shows the refresh rate. One test, the phone managed 88 frames per second, and the other ran in the full 90. This indicates that the refresh rate is real.
In daily use, the phone was a smooth operator. Nothing on the Mi 10 Pro ever felt slow or sluggish. Thanks to Google’s free offer of Stadia, I have checked out several games on the Mi 10 Pro, including Destiny 2. The game ran perfectly. I didn’t see a single dropped frame during gameplay. The Mi 10 Pro has no specific game features – but it still delivers all the punch it needs. Suffice it to say the phone is more than satisfactory when it comes to power.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review: Camera
The flagship phones are expected to have multi-camera arrays adorning the back panel, and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is no different. This is one of the more complicated arrangements I’ve seen, so let’s go through it step by step. The upper lens is marked and stenciled with “108MP”, but there is one problem: it is not the 108MP camera. Instead, it is an 8MP hybrid zoom lens. This is the lens that gives you telephoto effects of 2x and more.
The next lens in the stack is a 12MP shooter taking portrait photos. This “beauty” camera has a 50mm lens and is the primary shooter for bokeh shots. The third lens in the stack is the 108MP primary camera. The fourth lens, which stands alone, does double work as the 20MP ultra-wide-angle and macro shooter. The shots taken with the primary lens are fixed at 25.2MP. Most of the shots are successful. You see sharp sharpness everywhere, with substantial exposure and color.
My only complaint would be the adverse HDR effect and the noise that is visible in dark places. Switching to the full 108MP resolution gives results comparable to (and, in fact, almost indistinguishable from) the default setting. You will see that the color is identical, the focus is spot on, and there is very little noise. The real reason for such a sensor is that you can zoom in this way, and if you do, you will see some digital artifacts and other flaws.
The zoom lens does an impressive job. The shots I took with 1x, 3x, and 5x looked almost identical in sharpness and brightness. You can shift the zoom all the way to want 50x, but those results are as bad as you would expect—soft, grainy, and just not worth much. However, every level of zoom to about 10x is pretty good. I wasn’t delighted with the ultra-wide/macro camera. It certainly had some exposure problems, as you can see in the dark spots in some of the river scenes.
I’m not sure how useful the macro camera is, and taking shots wasn’t exactly easy. The mid-range portrait lens might be the best of the bunch. It provides an optical zoom of up to 2x, and the brightness is merely excellent. You can see this in the waterfall close-up. This result far surpasses what I was able to capture with the S20 Ultra and V60. On the front, you have a 20MP selfie shooter. I was not wholly impressed by the self-portraits. The edge detection is a bit uneven, and the background is so blurry that it makes me dizzy. Selfies taken without portrait mode are cleaner.
Video recording runs up to 8K at 30fps. Without an 8K TV or monitor, we can’t judge the quality of the 8K video, but the results look good on the screen of the phone. The 4K @ 60fps images look great, just like the 1080p and 720p stuff. I can’t say that that AI mode did something noticeable, but OIS is excellent for reducing shake and shimmy. Xiaomi’s camera application is robust. It covers the basics and then some. In addition to a multitude of shooting modes, the Pro option allows you to control each function individually.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review: Battery Life
This also applies to battery life. When it comes to battery measurements, Xiaomi bats 1,000: it lasts longer than most phones and, once the battery is depleted, charges faster than most phones. That’s the story every phone maker should want to sell to consumers. Screen-on time is often stretched over seven hours. That was with a solid mix of uses, such as YouTube and benchmarking, but also checking email and taking pictures.
Many of the most current flagships see screen-on time in the six-hour range. The Mi 10 Pro usually pushed for at least a day and a half and sometimes delivered a little more. Xiaomi’s power-consumption tuning is pretty good. It is not quite the two days Xiaomi promises, but it is still the best in the competition. Although many phones are rechargeable for one day, no phone charges as fast as the Mi Note 10, the included 65W charger can pump the battery from 0% to 100% in 45 minutes, Xiaomi says.
Our observation was 47 minutes, but that still records time. It is rare to see a battery above 80% mark in such a short time, let alone fully charged. If you leave the phone plugged in for 15 minutes, that gives a 40% boost. When it comes to wireless charging, the phone supports a fast 30W power supply. We don’t have a wireless charger with that capacity. However, the phone will fully charge in about 80 minutes. You don’t need to charge the phone that often, and if you do, you’ll be done charging before you know it.
Price and Configuration Options
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is currently available in certain parts of the world, including Australia and several European countries. Still, although we know that a British launch is imminent, and possibly an American one as well, we have no idea when that will be. If you want to buy the phone, the official price of the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is AU$1,999 (roughly $1,290, £1,030), so if you assume that those conversions are even close to the accuracy, then this is an undeniably premium phone. As we noted at the beginning of this review, it seems that Xiaomi is making the ‘mid-range’ or ‘affordable’ coats of his previous Mi-telephones superfluous.
By comparison, the Xiaomi Mi 9 cost £549 (about $680, AU$1,120) and the Mi Note 10 released six months before the Mi 10 cost £459 (about $570, AU$940), so unless the above conversions are far away, the Mi 10 Pro is set to become a significantly more expensive phone. Especially the walk on the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is dramatic because that phone has a lot in common with the Mi 10 Pro, from its camera array to its curved screen and more – and it means that the Mi 10 Pro will have to work hard to justify its high price tag.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Review: Conclusion
Xiaomi has serious competition all over the world. Phones such as the recently announced OnePlus 8 Pro, but also recent flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S20, LG V60, Huawei P40 Pro, Oppo Find X2, and others are legitimate contenders with the Mi 10 Pro. Currently, the Mi 10 Pro sells for about $1,099 (€999, £879) to online retailers. That brings it directly in line with the costs of its direct competitors. So which one do you choose?
If you want something more mainstream, stay with the Samsung or the LG. These are available at the carrier stores and the chain stores and are the safe purchase. The Oppo Find X2 and OnePlus 8 Pro are incredibly similar and are perhaps the best devices to put head-to-head against the Xiaomi. For those who live in China, the Xiaomi is probably on par with the Huawei P40 Pro. Most of these phones go spec-for-spec, and often all that separates them is perhaps the quality of the camera and battery life.
You can’t go wrong with any of these devices. Xiaomi’s flagship doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but maybe for the first time, Xiaomi deserves a place among these titans.
Xiaomi kept it's design chops in check with the Mi 10 Pro, a modest, stealthy flagship that is under-promise and delivers. The 90Hz display, fast battery, and quad-camera setup make the Mi 10 Pro a serious contender in the top class.
- Excellent battery life
- Good cameras
- Rapid charging
- Great stereo speakers
- Very pricey
- Slow fingerprint scanner
- Lots of bloatware