Reviews

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro review: Exorbitant flagship

No longer a value for money phone

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Xiaomi’s new flagship is here. The company has made its name for making smartphones that offer great performance for much less. Is the Mi 10 Pro still a flagship killer?

As the Mi 10 Pro rolls out to more markets in the world, we take a look at what Xiaomi’s best smartphone of 2020 has to offer.

Familiar, forgettable design

If the Mi 10 Pro looks familiar, that’s because its looks resemble that of the Mi Note 10, which we reviewed back in November.

In case you need a refresher, the Mi Note 10 was the very first smartphone to debut with a 108MP camera — months ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. The new Mi 10 Pro also has a 108MP camera, although the similarities with the Mi Note 10 ends there.

The backbone of the Mi 10 Pro is Qualcomm’s new flagship processor the Snapdragon 865 while the Mi Note 10 is powered by the midrange Snapdragon 730G. This is important because this chipset enables some of the Mi 10 Pro’s best features including 5G and WiFi 6 support, as well as 8K video recording.

The Mi 10 Pro comes in two colors, Alpine White and Solstice Grey. They have a matte metallic finish.

It’s a good size although it’s slightly bigger than last year’s Mi 9 or Mi Note 10, as well as the Huawei P40 Pro and Galaxy S20+ which we think have the perfect size. All that said it doesn’t feel too big or hefty.

All the buttons are found on the right side — power and volume buttons. Where you really should look is up top, where you’d find speaker grilles. There’s another set on the bottom where you’d usually find them. We’ve seen stereo speakers on smartphones before but we don’t remember seeing this kind of implementation.

Also on the bottom are another set of microphones, USB-C port, and the nanoSIM card tray. The global version of the Mi 10 Pro only has one slot for a nanoSIM card, while the Chinese version has two.

Superb audio

Xiaomi says the Mi 10 Pro has one of the best speakers on a smartphone today. This is thanks to its dual super-linear speaker and and 7-magnet speaker design. It comes with 15 volume levels that you can crank all the way up without worrying about sound distortion or turn it all the way down and still experience a rich and deep sound.

DxOMark says it’s got the highest score of any smartphone audio they’ve tested. Audio isn’t our specialty but for what we use it for, it does sound loud, full, and clear. It’s perfect for watching Netflix or following recipes on YouTube while in the kitchen.

DxOMark also says that the Mi 10 Pro is the best phone they’ve tested when it comes to audio recording. Watch our review video and skip to 4:42 to listen to a sample recording.

Xiaomi’s best display

The display on the Mi 10 Pro is the best you can find on a Xiaomi phone to date. Like a lot of phones we’ve reviewed lately, it’s got an AMOLED display that curves on both sides.

Palm rejection on the Mi 10 Pro is also pretty good — we haven’t had issues of accidentally triggering anything on the edges while browsing.

The Mi 10 Pro display also has better sensitivity than ever. It sports a 90Hz refresh rate and a 180Hz sampling rate. The screen feels smoother when reading articles, scrolling through Instagram, or playing games.

It’s a great display overall, and definitely the best from Xiaomi, but not the best we’ve seen thus far.

Another gaming beast from Xiaomi

The Mi 10 Pro’s top of the line processor comes with a good helping of RAM and storage that starts at 8GB and 256GB respectively. But with great power comes great responsibility — and great cooling needs.

The Mi 10 Pro’s a large vapor chamber, 6-stack graphite layer, and heat-transmitting gel reduces CPU temperature by up to 10.5 degrees Celsius. So when you’re playing graphics intensive games the phone stays cool to the touch.

Impressive battery life and charging speeds

With a huge 4500 mAh battery, the Mi 10 Pro lasts more than a full day of heavy use. It comes bundled with a 65W charger but the phone itself maxes out at 50W. True to Xiaomi’s claim, it only takes around 45 minutes to fully charge its large battery.

The 65W adapter is power delivery compatible, which means it can be used to charge other devices like the Nintendo Switch, the iPad Pro, and the MacBook Air.

The Mi 10 Pro also supports 30W wireless charging, and 5W reverse wireless charging for when you want to top up another phone, a Qi-compatible smartwatch, or your wireless earbuds.

Cameras that can compete

Now, onto the main event. Gone were the days when Xiaomi flagships offered the best bang for your buck, but not delivering where it matters most — camera performance.

On its 10 year anniversary, the Mi 10 Pro’s quad-camera is here to compete with what other brands have to offer. It’s got a 108MP wide angle lens with OIS , an 8MP 10x hybrid zoom lens with OIS, a 12MP portrait lens, and a 20MP ultra wide angle lens.

“The Mi 10 Pro’s camera is finally able to truly go head to head with the best of the best.”

It topped DxOMark’s charts for a few months with an overall score of 124, and was only recently bumped down by the Huawei P40 Pro at 128.

As you know these are different times and we need to practice self-isolation, so we don’t have the usual travel photos to share as sample photos, but here are some snaps we took at home, on the roof deck, and on a trip to the supermarket.

These photos speak for themselves. The Mi 10 Pro took excellent photos both during the day and at night. But how does it fare vs other top flagships?

 

If you take a look at these side by side photos, you’ll notice the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and Huawei P40 Pro all took great photos. Which one is better really depends on your personal preference. The photos from the S20 for example tend to be more saturated.

For the sake of comparing here are 108 megapixel photos taken with the S20 Ultra and Mi 10 Pro. When zoomed in, you can see that the latter actually does a better job in capturing details.

In low light, all three phones did equally good as well.

It wasn’t until all the lights were off where the Huawei P40 Pro showed that it’s still the best out there.

When a tiny light source from another phone was added in a completely dark room, both the Mi 10 Pro and P40 Pro produced decent shots. The S20 Ultra, however, struggled to focus.

One of the cameras on the Mi 10 Pro is a 12MP portrait lens, which is also used when you select 2X zoom. It’s supposedly comparable to a 50mm portrait lens — one of our favorites, actually. It’s a great focal length when taking photos from the waist up as it’s very flattering for the face and the results kinda agree. Sans any beauty effect it’s the lens that gives the skin its naturally soft look without going overboard.

What Xiaomi is most proud of with the Mi 10 Pro however, is its video capture capabilities. The Snapdragon 865 chipset found in the phone enables 8K video capture with the new Spectra 480.

Video also now comes with pro mode, so if you’re the type who likes to vlog or experiment with cinematic video on your phone, this phone is perfect for that. It comes with 8 classic movie filters and can shoot in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Since we don’t have any travel videos to show this time around, here’s an attempt at a cinematic handwashing video shot with the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.

Is the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro your GadgetMatch?

Xiaomi used to represent the best value for money phones in the market, at least in countries where it is sold. For many years the company made its name by selling great phones with top of the line specs for several hundred dollars less than its competitors.

That’s just not the case in 2020.

In China, The Mi 10 Pro starts at CNY 4,999 (US$ 715). Last year’s Mi 9 cost nearly half that price at CNY 2,999 (US$445).

When it launches in Europe this month, it’s going to be just as expensive as every other flagship smartphone. In Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium it will retail for EUR 999 (US$ 1,096).

The question is, is it worth it?

By merit alone, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro has earned its stripes. It’s good enough to be compared to the Huawei P40 Pro and the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

But part of what you pay for is the prestige that’s associated with a particular brand name. That’s where Xiaomi falls short — it just isn’t there yet. It should have undercut its competition and sold it at EUR 849, that way we could wholeheartedly recommend that you buy it.

The Mi 10 Pro’s camera is finally able to truly go head to head with the best of the best. It’s the first time that its impressive resume matches real world experience.

If you’re a die hard Xiaomi fan looking to upgrade from the Mi 8 or Mi 9, this phone is worth it. But considering how much you paid for your old phone, you need to ask yourself — does your brand loyalty mean enough for you to dig deeper into your pockets?

If you were willing to pay $1,000 for a phone would you still get a Xiaomi phone or would you consider a more prestigious brand that might at the very least up your street cred, if not have higher resale value?

For everyone else looking for an alternative to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which by reputation is the world’s best Android phone, this is definitely a contender — an equal maybe, in some respects maybe even better. It’s got top of the line specs, good battery life, super fast charging, great audio and camera performance.

The biggest differentiator is Xiaomi’s feature-rich MIUI 11. You either love it or hate it. If you’re on the side that loves it, then it’s worth it.

Watch our Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Unboxing and Review video here:

Reviews

Apple Watch Series 6 Review

Is it worth every penny?

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The Apple Watch Series 6 offers more than just being a “luxurious timepiece”. Over the years, they’ve pioneered in what a true smartwatch can offer. From the ability to track your runs, cycles, and swims, as far as reading heart rate and even ECG. This year, the Watch Series 6 has a new SpO2 sensor that can read blood oxygen levels within the reach of your wrists.

But does all of that make up for a fancy price tag? Why is the Apple Watch a worthy investment for your health?

You can head on to our Apple Watch Series 6 review by clicking the link here.

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Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind

Hopefully not

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Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.

This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.

With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?

You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Infinix Note 7: Best underrated budget phone?

Does size matter?

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The underrated brand, Infinix, is coming in with a perfect phone for when you’re strapped for cash. Infinix has consistently released great phones that deliver every bang for your buck and their recent release is no exception. What’s the latest addition to their great line-up? The Infinix Note 7

Show us what its got

The Infinix Note 7 is a dual-sim budget smartphone with a 6.95-inch HD+ and Corning Gorilla Glass display. It’s decked out in three different colors: Forest Green, Aether Black, and Bolivia Blue. Despite being encased in plastic, the Infinix Note 7 looks and feels premium. Just be more forgiving when the phone looks heavily smeared with your fingerprints — most phones tend to do so.

The phone features and specifications aren’t necessarily what people would view as technologically new or revolutionary. But, with phones on the same price range, this one delivers on all fronts of functionality, affordability, and durability. The phone has loud dual speakers, a great battery life, and reliable performance that makes it a stand-out in with its price tag.

Bang for your buck

The Infinix Note 7 is powered by a Helio G70 Processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. If you’re worried about storage, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot. But, note that the phone has more than enough space to run apps on the Google Play Store without much of a hitch.

The Infinix Note 7 doesn’t falter on features when tested. The phone didn’t stutter or struggle when putting it through the stress test of scrolling, unlocking, and opening and closing multiple apps. On top of that, the Infinix Note7 has a 5000mAh battery that makes your daily grind of work and play look easy.

For gaming, the phone didn’t seem at all bothered with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Genshin Impact, and Among Us. And, with the amount of storage the phone had, I’d downloaded all the games I wanted with reckless abandon. The phone held up to its dependable battery life too, despite a full day of work and play.

Does size really matter?

The Infinix Note 7 is big for a phone. Facts. If anything, it’s a love child of a phone and a tablet. With its 6.95-inch HD+ display and dual speakers, the phone makes watching Netflix or playing games an overall immersive experience. Despite Infinix sticking to HD+ on a bigger display, it doesn’t really impose on all the great features the phone has.

Remember: the Infinix Note 7 has a good price tag of PhP 7,990. If you’re asking it to feature 2k or 4k resolution, that good price tag isn’t even remotely ideal on top of the other features the phone comes with.

Is the cake a lie?

No, just misunderstood. Hear me out here: The Infinix Note 7 features a quad-camera set-up with a 48MP primary shooter, a 2MP macro lens, 2MP depth lens, and a 2MP dedicated video camera. On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera. These specs can sometimes come misunderstood since Infinix does say the phone features a quad rear camera set-up. The phone technically features three with the fourth as its dedicated video recording camera.

Sunset view

Boop the snoot

The Inifinix Note 7 performed really well even with little lighting. I tried to photograph a dim sunset and most phones would often scrap some details in photos to compensate with the lack of lighting. That wasn’t the case for this phone. With a phone at its price point, it greatly outperforms phones in the same category quite easily. The phone delivers on detailed selfies with it 16MP in-display front camera and doesn’t struggle to focus using either rear or front cameras.

Strawberry and granola on yoghurt

it me

The phone doesn’t seem at all bothered with taking detailed photos. Sometimes the contrast can be a bit much but again, seeing a budget phone like the Infinix Note 7 perform well under tough circumstances that can just be from being nit-picky.

Is this your BudgetMatch?

If you need a phone to get you good shots and get you through a long day of non-stop work and play while delivering good photos overall, this is the phone for you. There’s nothing to complain about with this phone besides Infinix being utterly underrated for the quality of phones they put out. The Infinix Note 7 is a great phone for your daily grind if you’re looking for a phone that delivers on functionality, efficiency, and durability. It even delivers on good quality shots!

The Infinix Note 7 costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 165).

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