Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro review: Exorbitant flagship

No longer a value for money phone



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:


Huawei Freebuds 3i review: A pleasant surprise

Huawei knows how to cancel noise



Taking these TWS earphones from smartphone manufacturers for a spin sometimes feels like a chore. Especially so when most of them look like the AirPods. Such is the case for me with the Huawei Freebuds 3i. However, using it for about a week, and I can say it’s such a pleasant surprise.

That stem design

Now, don’t get me wrong. While I have warmed up to it and it’s more common to see people with these earphones sticking out their ears, I still, personally, am not a fan of this look.

But if it’s there for a reason, then I can’t complain much. Such is the case for the last TWS pair I reviewed. That used the stem as the primary touch area for the controls. In the Freebuds 3i, it’s different.

The stem on the Freebuds 3i lets the mic be closer to the user’s mouth. This is perfect for picking up your voice when you’re in calls — be it voice or video.

Naturally, I tried it on a few calls and asked the people on the other line how I sounded. They said I came off loud and clear. The only problem was my speaking voice, but that had nothing to do with the Freebuds 3i and more with just me being me.

A truly active noise cancellation

This is the feature that truly surprised me the most. The moment I put the earphones on, I immediately felt the effects of the active noise cancellation.

I didn’t even know it had the feature when I first took it out of the box. I just knew it did right when I had both earphones on. That’s how good it is.

Huawei says they used a triple-microphone system to achieve noise cancellation of up to 32db. That along with the in-ear design helps drowning out the noise.

This is in contrast to its elder sibling the Freebuds 3 which handles noise cancellation using the Kirin A1 chip. The Freebuds 3 also uses an open-fit or open-ear design which is why its noise cancellation relies more on the chip.

Huawei also shared a review guide showing how the Freebuds 3i can cancel more noise than the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro in certain situations. Based on what I can recall from my time with the Sony WH-1000XM3, that thing is on a league of its own when it comes to noise cancellation. But the Freebuds 3i, I’m surprised to say, isn’t too far behind.

Neither the Freebuds 3 nor the Freebuds 3i is necessarily better than the other, although we might see the dual-mic plus in-ear approach in future TWS earphones from Huawei given that their partner TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) will no longer be allowed to source tech and equipment from the US.


Not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but the Freebuds 3i is now the second TWS earphone I’ve tested who’s tuning appears to be leaning more towards bass. Another common denominator is that they’re priced below PhP 7,000 (around US$ 143).

It’s great if you prefer bass but compared to the Freebuds 3, it just doesn’t feel like you’re getting the same sound quality. Which is understandable considering the price difference.

The Freebuds 3 sound clearer, brighter, and warmer and you can clearly hear all the sounds. This is in contrast to the Freebuds 3i which seem to favor low-tones more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Freebuds 3i sounds bad. They just don’t sound as good as higher tier TWS earphones, which is fine. The Freebuds 3i is perfectly enjoyable and is certainly better than its more affordable counterparts.

I listened to everything from the pop track “Fanfare” by TWICE to the heavy rock sound of “Mighty Long Fall” by One OK Rock and was very pleased with how these tracks sounded.

Easy to pair, easy to use

Like with many other first-party TWS earphones, the Freebuds 3i will be automatically detected by the phone nearest to it as soon as you flip the lid open. This means pairing is instant and easy.

Naturally, you’ll have to go the usual pairing route if you’re using this with a phone from another brand. This means long-pressing on the button next to the USB-C port to enter pairing mode, and then going into the connectivity settings of your phone to complete the pairing. Not as straightforward, but works just as well.

There are two ways to control the earbuds. First is to double tap on either earbud. Second, is to touch and hold. Touching and holding turn noise cancellation on and off for either earbud.

Double tapping the left bud is set to “Play/Pause” by default while the right bud is set to “Next Song.” You can change this on the Huawei AI Life app with the action options being as follows:

  • Play/Pause
  • Next Song
  • Previous Song
  • Wake Voice Assistant

Curiously, there’s no action set for a single tap. Adding that would have given users the option to set all actions above a set motion for control. Instead, you can only choose to at a time. It’s a puzzling choice.

Like any TWS earphone worth its salt, it also has wear detection. This means the music is automatically paused when you take them off and resumes when you put them back on.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 5,990 /SG$ 168 (US$ 123), the Huawei Freebuds 3i is a pleasant surprise. Price-wise, it’s in direct competition with the Galaxy Buds+, and those buds have absolutely nothing on the Freebuds 3i’s noise cancellation.

If you’re looking for TWS earphones with near top-tier noise cancellation but don’t want to spend north of PhP 7,000, then this is easily one of the better options. There’s room for improvement but you’re getting quality earbuds for what you’re shelling out.

It has a solid build, a bass-leaning tuning, and pretty darn good noise cancellation. It’s not bad. Not bad at all.

Huawei Freebuds 3 review: Best value wireless earbuds
AirPods 2 vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Freebuds 3: A TWS earphones battle!
6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

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Huawei Nova 7 review: 5G is the icing, the phone is the cake

And it’s a damn good cake



The Huawei Nova 7 or Huawei Nova 7 5G as it’s being heavily marketed is undeniably a Nova phone. The purple variant screams the Nova design and the specs and features scream flagship-grade.

5G is the next frontier in terms of mobile connectivity, and companies are understandably ramping up adoption of the tech. But you shouldn’t buy the Nova 7 just because it’s 5G-ready. Will explain more as we go along.

The Nova brand

I have had quite an interesting exchange with my cousin over the last few months about Huawei phones. She’s a fan of the Nova series. Huawei has done a good job of packaging it as a phone for the youth and the barrage of marketing only amplifies that message.

The Nova 7 pretty much sticks to the same formula. It’s an overall capable phone with a flagship-grade chip that lets “the youth” express themselves and pretty much do everything you normally would on a phone.

Build is far for the course at this price range

In the Philippines it retails for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488) and makes the same compromises that other brands do at this price point.

The build, while it feels nice, doesn’t have the heft and that x-factor that you expect from the most expensive phones today. But the weight is a boon for those who don’t exactly like heavier phones but want a relatively large display.

It’s 6.53” OLED display is crispy. You get the standard 60Hz refresh rate but it makes up for it with its bright, deep, and vivid visuals. It doesn’t feel as smooth, but it’s a joy to look at.

Being a flat display, it also has a wide footprint, but manageable enough for one-hand use. I’m just guessing, but somewhere between 6.44” and 6.5” might be the sweet spot for one-hand use if you’re working with a flat display.

All the buttons — power and volume — are on the right hand side which should be the standard for any phone that’s at least 6”.

At the bottom you have the USB-C port, speaker grille, and SIM card tray. There’s no 3.5mm jack but in the box you do get wired headphones and a USB-C to 3.5mm port.

For security it also has Face Unlock, a fingerprint scanner, and your usual pin.

Alright, let’s talk 5G

Last week, against my better judgement, I stepped out equipped with a mask and a face shield with bottles of rubbing alcohol in my backpack to test some 5G areas.

This was done in partnership with a Philippine telecommunications company but I decided to do my own testing after the fact.

While it’s true that you can and will get those exorbitant 500+mbps speeds, the frequency by which you are able to access them in limited locations. Unless you live or are almost always in the areas designated with 5G, don’t buy the Nova 7 for that reason alone.

Other reasons to buy 

It’s a damn good phone.

I used Phone Clone to copy everything on my Huawei P40 Pro to the Huawei Nova 7 and I almost didn’t miss a beat. I run all the same apps and do almost all the same things without any major differences in performance.

This includes your regular social media browsing, playing music on Spotify, and for the sake of the review — a quick game of Naruto: Slugfest.

The obvious differences are of course, as I mentioned, the heft and the smoother feel of the 90Hz refresh rate. But you can certainly do without them and still feel like you got your money’s worth.

Battery life is also stellar. Since I happen to be juggling phones for review at the moment, I’ve gone an entire weekend without touching the phone.

On standby mode, for two days, the battery stayed at around 80% from a full charge. That’s impressive. That means the phone knows when it’s not in use and will regulate power accordingly.

When I did use it, I got through a regular day with about 30-40% left before bed time.

Huawei Share is also a godsend of a feature especially when you’re also using a Huawei laptop. Sharing files is fantastic but also having the access to your phone’s apps right on your laptop as you work is such an underrated feature — but it’s one that’s coming over to other Android phones via Microsoft.

Sad, No GMS 

It was the Huawei Mate 30 series that bore the brunt of the US government’s Huawei ban. This forced Google to withdraw their mobile service support from the company.

Nearly a year later, and Huawei has made significant strides. Their phones have gone from borderline unusable to pretty tolerable.

Do I miss the Google apps and the Google Mobile Services? Heck yeah. There’s no dancing around it.

Not being able to get the best mobile experience from YouTube and Google Photos suck. Not being able to use certain apps because they just won’t work also suck. But Huawei has come to the point where it’s no longer a deal breaker.

Everything else works perfectly fine. A combination of App Gallery and APKPure has mitigated the need for the Google Play Store. Plus, they have also introduced Petal Search. Essentially a search engine for apps.

Updates from apps downloaded from APKPure do not download and install automatically. While this may be inconvenient, it’s a stretch to say that it doesn’t work.

Pleasant performing cameras

The Huawei Nova 7 has a 32MP front-facing camera capable of taking beautiful selfies even at night.

On the rear, it has four cameras: A 64MP main camera, an 8MP Ultra Wide-angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and a practically useless 2MP macro camera.

The 64MP main camera is *chef’s kiss. The detail on the photo below is fantastic. Turning AI on also produced this generally color accurate and very pleasing photo of the plants.

Here’s the usual photo of a flower to further illustrate that point.

It captures urban concrete pretty well too.

Here’s an indoor low light shot. Typically, these never come out well, but the Nova 7 still manages to capture good detail even while there is some grain on the image.

Also a fan of the wide angle lens — just not a fan of not being able to travel so we can actually use it on a nice scenery.

The zoom is… okay. It maxes out to 20x and produces this kind of shot.

Halfway at 10x is fairly decent. Again, color is accurate, but there’s some noticeable detail loss which is understandable. Also reminder to not be creepy with your zoom.

Huawei’s portrait mode is also pretty good. Here’s a shot of Acrylic Stand, “What is Love” Chaeyoung that’s against the light. The background separation is good and it still managed to capture enough light so Chaeyoung doesn’t end up looking like just a silhouette.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The very first few minutes that I used the Huawei Nova 7, I already had an inkling as to how much it will be and how it will perform. The build and the overall snapiness of the performance were almost dead giveaways.

I have zero complaints over its performance and cameras. And for the most part, these two are what people primarily consider when buying a phone. Battery life is above average, the display is pleasant to the eyes, and app access is annoying but tolerable.

The future-proofing that is 5G that comes with this phone is icing. The cake that is the rest of the phone, that’s what you should really be looking at.

SEE ALSO: The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

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LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Comes with key features for your first gaming PC build



I’ve seen a ton of people purchase full gaming PC setups since the pandemic took center stage in our lives. I’m pretty sure a lot of these people spent the past few months saving every peso they could for it. Of course, I also did it with all the money I saved up and planned every purchase very carefully.

In getting your gaming PC build, one of the more important peripherals to consider is your monitor. Most people will tell you that any monitor is okay, but experts will say that you shouldn’t just get any monitor. Apart from color accurate and bright displays, your monitor should have a high enough refresh rate to keep up.

It’s exactly what the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor brings to the table, at least on paper. But is this worth checking out, especially for first time PC setup builders? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

It has a 23.6-inch TN FHD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate

It comes with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort

The design, on its own, is nothing spectacular

The LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor comes in a package you normally expect from most lightweight gaming monitors. A hardened-plastic enclosure covers the display, and the monitor even comes with a metal stand in gray and red accents. Upon unboxing, I found it relatively easy to set up and position alongside my PC setup.

Immediately, the first and only thing I noticed was the thick bezel surrounding the display. To be honest, it’s a relatively minor issue for me ever since other brands started reducing theirs. Although I would have appreciated a little more screen space, especially while playing games.

A display that meets expectations for the most part

Most gaming monitors come with high refresh rates to keep up during pressure situations. Fortunately, the LG UltraGear Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz panel which is more than enough. Also, it even sports a 1ms response rate so you’re able to stay at the top of your game. 

Most games I tried with this monitor performed with relative ease and no visible sign of image tearing. FPS games like CS:GO and Valorant, in my opinion, work best with this setup given that you can run these games on low-end setups.

Also, it’s quite bright and color accurate which is great for content creators. Although, in some cases, I felt that it didn’t handle dark color areas well. I tried to compensate by simply adjusting the brightness, but it didn’t do anything significantly different. At least it’s an anti-glare TN panel, so you don’t have to worry about the sun.

Comes with features that works depending on the other hardware

This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync technology which further improves gameplay experience. Honestly, I felt this should be a standard for most gaming monitors — including those that support NVIDIA GSync. Also, there are other optimizations like Dynamic Action Sync (DAS) and motion blur reduction.

However, this monitor actually benefits you only if you’re currently rocking an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ideally, it would still work pretty well when you plug it to an NVIDIA card but expect some image tearing. It wasn’t a big issue for me since I could still apply the reduced motion blur and DAS.

Port selection for this monitor is more than enough for a normal PC setup. Two HDMI ports are available at your disposal, which is great if you want to use it for your consoles. The added DisplayPort provides more connectivity, especially since most graphics cards support it. Keep in mind though: if you plan to plug your console, don’t expect the 144Hz refresh rate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 12,599 (US$ 257), the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor ticks all the necessary boxes. What you have is a high refresh rate monitor with good color accuracy, and fully optimized for gaming. Combined with a great selection of ports, this monitor is a great option for your first PC build.

However, if you have strict preferences for your monitor, this might not be what you’re looking for. If you’re not a fan of thick bezels or you’re more conservative with your money, I wouldn’t practically recommend this. Also, you wouldn’t be able to fully maximize its potential if you don’t own an AMD graphics card.

All things considered, it’s enough to get you started on your gaming PC setup. Even with cheaper alternatives out there, I still recommend you give this a shot.

SEE ALSO: This 34” LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

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