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Xiaomi Mi 10i review: Master of the midrange

A near-perfect phone, designed for everyone

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For years Xiaomi has tried to get a foothold in the premium segment, but it just couldn’t hit the right spot. Despite engineering marvels like the Mi MIX series, it didn’t work. The company has also tried releasing a polished midrange phone under the Redmi branding but couldn’t meet inflated market expectations. Will the Mi 10i solidify its push?

The Chinese smartphone giant got its portfolio sorted at the beginning of 2020 by dividing the three brands — Mi for premium, Redmi for budget, and spun-off POCO into a completely independent brand. Now, Xiaomi has set its priorities straight and aims for the lucrative premium segment, one that’s gobbled by players like Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and to a certain degree, OnePlus, OPPO, and vivo.

The Mi 10i is surely a midrange phone, but it has a lot of expectations to meet. And it’s an important product for Xiaomi since it’s again trying to test the INR 20,000+ range. There’s also tough competition from the OnePlus Nord, Galaxy A51, as well as the realme X3. So, how does Xiaomi’s new offering fare? Let’s see!

How’s the design? Is it comfortable to hold for gaming or streaming?

I’ve got the Pacific Sunrise color option, and it looks phenomenal. The phone has a unique color palette and a premium touch that makes it look much more expensive than it really is. The front and back of the device are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, but it has a very satisfying opaque finish that gives it a very translucent look. It may be glass, but it’ll never attract fingerprints, and that’s one of my favorite things about the phone.

The back has a gradient of cyan or light blue and a mix of orange and pink. While colors or gradients are usually personal preferences and range from person to person, everyone I showed the phone to loved it.

You’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right, the USB-C port at the bottom, and the IR blaster at the top. Like the Mi 10T series, Xiaomi has added a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that’s baked into the power button, and it’s speedy.

The rear has a circular camera module that may remind you of the OnePlus 7T, but the Mi 10i has a slightly different design which actually looks quite good. Due to the bigger 108 megapixel primary sensor, the camera module bulges a lot. But it isn’t annoying because the phone is pretty stable on a flat surface and doesn’t wobble like the Mi 10T series.

Xiaomi has added an IP53 rating for water resistance, so you don’t have to worry about splashes or even light rain. Lastly, the phone retains my beloved 3.5mm headphone jack. I hope Xiaomi continues to add it in future phones.

Lastly, the phone weighs more than 210gms. The weight is easily noticeable, and it does get annoying after extended usage. I prefer a lighter phone because it helps with ergonomics and can withstand falls slightly better.

Is the LCD panel immersive? Does the high refresh rate drain battery?

Looks so good, yeah looks so sweet

The Mi 10i has a 6.7-inch LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and Full HD+ resolution. There’s not much to say about the screen because it’s like you’d expect it to be. Xiaomi has a lot of experience with these panels now, and the color reproduction is accurate and vibrant, blacks are deep enough, and the viewing angle is top-notch. However, I feel that it could’ve been brighter. Under direct sunlight, it sometimes becomes difficult to view texts and emails on the go.

Yes, an AMOLED display will have deeper blacks, and that’s where the OnePlus Nord gets a lead. But considering the price difference between the two, Xiaomi smartly opted for an LCD panel and added 120Hz support. Day-to-day tasks are smoothly done, and the overall experience of having a smooth user experience pays off in the longer run. Although, you can adjust the refresh rate according to your preference.

The screen doesn’t suck too much power because it has an automatic variable refresh rate that adjusts according to your usage. So, if you’re watching a YouTube video, don’t worry. The panel knows the playback is at a lower refresh rate and makes the appropriate changes. In the end, you’re with a dynamic display that uses resources only when required. And, if you’re desperate to save power, there’s an option to downgrade to 30Hz as well!

How hard can you game on the Mi 10i? Is MIUI optimized?

The Mi 10i is one of the first phones to be powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 750G chipset. It is an octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz and built on an 8nm fabrication while the graphics are taken care of by the Adreno 619 GPU. This is also a 5G enabled chipset which comes with Qualcomm’s X52 5G modem for 5G connectivity. My unit has 8GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

As for the real-life usage and performance, as expected, the device shines at everything you throw at it. Be it a light task or a heavy task; the device is capable of handling it all. Xiaomi has mastered MIUI’s integration with a range of hardware, and the results are visible across all its phones. The Xiaomi Mi 10i runs MIUI 12, which is still Android 10-based (we’d expect Android 11 by now). If you’ve used MIUI before, you know what you’re getting into.

And if you haven’t, don’t worry. The skin is heavily customizable and has a lot of nifty features that are very utilitarian. The RAM management and multitasking was also excellent. Apps stayed longer than I’d expected in the background, and switching between apps did not force reload the content.

All modern games run smoothly on the phone, and there’s barely any lag or stuttering. Though, I did notice some frame drops when playing Call of Duty: Mobile for more than an hour. If you’re expecting any considerable raw performance improvement against the Snapdragon 765G, don’t. The difference is negligible, and you won’t realize it in real-life unless you start mining Bitcoins on your phone.

Most importantly, how’s the 108MP camera? Is it as good as the Mi 10T series?

Just like the Mi 10T Pro series, the Mi 10i gets a 108 megapixel sensor, but it isn’t the same one as the Mi 10T Pro. It comes with a 1/1.52-inch sensor, and Xiaomi claims it’s more compact than the HM1 sensor, which reduces the camera bump. Pictures are usually taken in 12-megapixels via binning technology, retaining details, natural color, and accurate contrast.

One of my favorite things about the sensor is its capability to capture excellent pictures with HDR. The algorithm can cleverly process the image to ensure there’s no excessive noise correction. The sensor can detect colors precisely and adjust exposure even under direct sunlight. The 108-megapixel mode can be accessed in the camera app with more options. The amount of detail captured by the camera in 108MP mode is truly incredible.

Low-light pictures are slightly disappointing because they often over-sharpen details, and the result looks quite artificial. The night mode compensates for this, but it mostly makes the image brighter and doesn’t necessarily optimize it.

Accompanying the primary sensor is an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens that isn’t that wide and struggles to capture detail. The quality degradation is easily visible, and this is definitely a cost-cutting measure for the company. There’s also a 2-megapixel macro and portrait sensor, which are now commonly found on almost all Xiaomi phones. It’s worth noting that the phone doesn’t have optical image stabilization, so if you’re into video, this definitely isn’t for you.

Despite the criticism, I’d say the phone has the best cameras you’d find in this price range. The competition is far away, and the 108 megapixel becomes a deal-breaker for many. Most of the issues I’ve encountered are software-based, and Xiaomi can fix them via OTA updates.

How long can it last? Should I invest in a 5G phone right now?

The Mi 10i 5G has a 4800mAh battery with 33W fast charging, and Xiaomi includes a 33W charging brick in the box. It took me an hour to charge it from 0 to 100, and that’s definitely a good deal. Thanks to Adaptive Sync (variable refresh rate of the screen), the phone can deliver a screen-on-time of more than seven hours in one go. Sometimes, it’ll even go up to eight hours under comfortable situations.

India is yet to roll-out 5G on a commercial scale, and the expected launch timeline from telcos currently stands at 2022. The government is yet to hold a spectrum auction, so there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved before we get to experience it. In my opinion, practical coverage of 5G is still two years away. 5G should be no reason for you to buy this phone.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a phone that excels at everything, then this phone is for you. The design honestly feels flagship grade and reeks premium, the processor is brand new and packs a punch, the cameras are above average and can go the extra mile if you’re a photography enthusiast, and lastly, the battery backup is optimum.

Gamers won’t be disappointed because the chipset is capable enough, and the phone barely heats up. This phone is made for everyone and does not stick to any particular niche. Considering the starting price of INR 21,999 (US$ 303), the Mi 10i is an easy recommendation. And even though we can’t enjoy 5G this year, it’s great to see the market get flooded with options. After all, the trickle-down effect will soon give us affordable 5G phones.

India

Moto G60 and G40 Fusion launch with 120Hz screen, Snapdragon 732G

The price is genuinely surprising

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Moto has always followed a laid-back approach to new launches and doesn’t get into aggressive marketing like Xiaomi or realme. It also doesn’t maintain a very attractive price point, often getting sidelined. Though, things are starting to change with the recently launched Moto G60 and the G40 Fusion.

The Moto G60 will go directly against the Redmi Note 10 Pro, the POCO X3 Pro, realme 7 Pro, and the Galaxy M31. It’s a very competitive market and Moto has a unique selling point — stock Android interface.

The two phones have a lot in common like a 6.8-inch LCD screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and punch-hole cut-out for the front camera. Powering them is a Snapdragon 732G processor with Adreno 618 GPU and up to 6GB RAM. There’s a microSD card slow for storage expansion.

On the rear is a triple camera setup and the G60 get a 108-megapixel sensor while the G40 Fusion has a 64-megapixel unit. The other two cameras are same for both the phones and consist of an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. The G60 gets a 32-megapixel front camera while the G40 sports a 16-megapixel one.

The duo ships with Android 11 out-of-the-box and runs on a 6000mAh battery. There’s support for 20W fast charging via Quick Charge 4. A fingerprint scanner is located on the back for authentication and Motorola has also retained the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Only one storage configuration is available on the G60 and the 6GB+128GB model costs INR 17,999 (US$ 240). Sale starts from April 27 and ICICI Bank cardholders can avail a INR 1,500 discount as launch offer.

The G40 Fusion is priced at INR 13,999 (US$ 185) for the 4GB+64GB option and INR 15,999 (US$ 211) for the 6GB+128GB. It’ll go on sale from May 1 and ICICI Bank cardholders get a INR 1,000 discount. Both the phones are available in Dynamic Gray and Frosted Champagne color options.

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India

The LG Wing gets a huge price cut, now available for $400

Offer available till stocks last

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Last week, LG announced it’ll entirely shut down its mobile division due to rising losses. It’ll stop making new phones, but existing inventory is up for grabs. It seems like the company is earnest about leaving the past behind and has announced a massive discount on the recently launched LG Wing.

The LG Wing has received a massive price cut of almost INR 40,000 (US$ 532). It was launched for INR 69,990 (US$ 931) in October 2020 but will now sell for INR 29,999 (US$ 400) via Flipkart. Only the 8GB+128GB option was launched in India.

While this may be surprising for readers from other markets, LG has previously introduced such radical discounts in India. Even the LG G8X, which launched for INR 70,000 (US$ 931), was soon available for INR 25,990 (US$ 345). It’s still in stock and available for a discounted price. In fact, you can exchange your old phone in return for further discounts of up to INR 16,500 (US$ 220).

LG Mobile intends to close down by July 31 completely. So, the time span available to grab existing inventory is short. Thankfully, a one-year warranty and five-year service for the LG Wing are mentioned, meaning LG intends to keep the spare and service supply chain active for a long time.

It has also confirmed that these recent phones shall receive active software updates for up to three years. So, if you’re thinking of grabbing a niche phone that looks unique, this is your chance.

If it helps, this writer purchased the LG G8X three months ago for a discounted price and it has turned out to be an extremely solid phone. The Dual Screen setup comes in very handy for Zoom calls, reading, and researching. We’re unlikely to see such radical or experimental ideas anytime soon since most companies are now focused on scaling, in turn, moving away from a niche market.

Read Also: The LG Wing 5G offers a new smartphone experience

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India

Samsung launches Galaxy S20 FE 5G variant with Snapdragon 865

Don’t prefer Exynos? This one’s for you!

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The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE made its debut in the US last year in both, 4G and 5G capable options. The phone was launched in India after a few months and played a critical role in grabbing the premium market, albeit with a slightly pocket-friendly price.

The 5G option of the phone sports a Snapdragon 865 processor, while the 4G one has an Exynos processor. All other specifications of the phone remain the same. While this is true on-paper, many have been disappointed with the Exynos option and the new phone helps bridge the gap.

Its got a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and Gorilla Glass protection. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 865 processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.

On the rear is a triple-camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens. The Galaxy S20 FE 5G is capable of zooming up to 30x and multi-frame night mode. The front has a 32-megapixel selfie camera for selfies.

Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with 25W fast charging. It’s worth noting that the 4G variant comes with 15W fast charging, instead. It runs on OneUI 2.0 out-of-the-box and features an in-display fingerprint scanner for authentication.

The phone is priced at INR 55,999, but you can grab it for just INR 47,999 as an introductory price. It’ll go on sale via Amazon.in, Samsung.com, and other partner stores. Color options include Cloud Navy, Cloud Mint, and Cloud Lavender.

Read Also: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Unboxing and Review: Not What You Think!

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