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Redmi Note 10S Review: Keeps The Redmi Note Tradition Alive
Redmi Note smartphone series from Xiaomi India has always been known for offering the best possible features and specifications around Rs. 15,000 price mark. The brand launched the Redmi Note 10, Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max in early 2021. Now, the company has added another device to the lineup -- the Redmi Note 10S.
- FHD+ AMOLED display
- Stereo speaker setup
- IP53 rating
- Plastic back panel
- 60Hz display
Most Redmi Note smartphones are powered by a Qualcomm processor, while the Redmi Note 10S takes a different route, packing the MediaTek Helio P95 SoC. With a starting price of Rs. 14,999, how does it fare against the competition? Should you buy the Redmi Note 10S over the Redmi Note 10 or even the Redmi Note 10 Pro? Having tested the Redmi Note 10S for a week, here is the full review.
Redmi Note 10S Design: Light-Weight And Stylish Looks
Redmi Note smartphones always flaunt good design, which makes them some of the best-looking smartphones at that price mark, and the Redmi Note 10S is no different. In fact, the Redmi Note 10S looks a lot like the Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max with EVOL design.
However, when it comes to build quality, the Redmi Note 10S resembles the Redmi Note 10 rather than the Redmi Note 10 Pro, as the phone has a plastic back panel and frame. We can look at a phone with a plastic back panel in two ways. One, it is a cheap device. Two, it is less susceptible to damage when compared to a phone with a glass back panel.
Though the Redmi Note 10S has a plastic back panel, it is one of those good plastic finishes with a glossy finish, which almost mimics glass. Not just that, the Redmi Note 10S is also light in weight, as it just weighs 178.8 grams. The phone comes bundled with a plastic case in the box, in case you want to protect the phone from scratches.
I have been using the Redmi Note 10S without a case and it hasn't picked up any permanent scratches that I could notice. And the dual-tone finish is also one of the best that have seen on a phone of this price range. I also liked the fact that the top and bottom portion of the frames have been flattened out, which means, the Redmi Note 10S can stand vertically without any support.
When compared to the Redmi Note 9 series, the Redmi Note 10S has a smaller fingerprint sensor. Despite a smaller sensor, I didn't face any issues when it comes to fingerprint recognition. The SIM tray is on the top right side, which can house two nano SIMs and a microSD card at the same time.
Stereo Speaker Setup, IP53 Rating Makes It A Special Device
As per the Redmi Note tradition, there is an IR blaster, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB Type-C port. This phone also has a true stereo speaker setup, although, the secondary speaker isn't that loud. However, do note that most phones at this price range don't offer a stereo speaker setup, and the Redmi Note 10S is offering.
The phone is also IP53 certified for water and dust resistance. Though you might not be able to take this phone to a beach or a pool, the Redmi Note 10S should survive an accidental water splash or a beverage spill. Do note that, if the device attains liquid damage, the phone will not be covered in warranty like every other smartphone.
If you have seen the Redmi Note 10 Pro or the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, then, the Redmi Note 10S looks almost identical with a slightly compact form factor. Overall, this is a phone that has gone with a practical design choice, which makes it a good-looking phone.
Redmi Note 10S Display: Colorful AMOLED Display
Just a few years back, you had to spend a fortune to get a phone with an AMOLED display and it has surely changed with the Redmi Note 10. Though it does not have a 120Hz AMOLED display like the Redmi Note 10 Pro/Pro Max, the 60Hz FHD+ resolution AMOLED display on the Redmi Note 10S is bright and vivid.
With over 400 pixels per inch, the screen on the Redmi Note 10S is sharp and is protected by a 2.5D curved tempered glass. The phone comes with a pre-installed screen protector for an added peace of mind. With a peak brightness of 1100 nits and a sustainable HBM 700nits, this 8-bit panel is one of the brightest screens at this price range.
The Redmi Note 10S also offers various color modes, including auto, vivid, and, standard. The standard color mode looks a bit dull in my opinion, while the auto mode offers a balance of saturation while being true to life. If you like slightly saturated colors, then choose the vivid mode, which makes colors pop, and this is the setting that I personally use.
At this price range, you can actually get a 120Hz AMOLED display on devices like the Redmi Note 10 Pro. However, most phones that cost similar to Redmi Note 10S either come with a 60Hz AMOLED display or a 90Hz IPS LCD screen and I would pick an AMOLED display with 60Hz on any day, as even the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with a 60Hz AMOLED display.
At this price range, there are a lot of options in the market, and The Redmi Note 10S's offering does make a lot of sense, considering most games are limited to 60Hz, giving the capability of the processor. Overall, the Redmi Note 10S definitely has an above-average display and is a good option for those, who watch a lot of videos and movies on platforms like YouTube, Prime Video, Hotstar, or any other OTT platform.
Redmi Note 10S Cameras: Above Average Performance
Just like the other members of the Redmi Note 10 family, the Redmi Note 10S also has a quad-camera setup, which is similar to the Redmi Note 10 Pro with a 64MP primary sensor. The Redmi Note 10S has a 64MP primary camera with f/1.79 aperture and 1/1.97-inch sensor size, while the Redmi Note 10 Pro has a 64MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture. Hence, at least on paper, the Redmi Note 10S should offer better low-light performance when compared to the Redmi Note 10 Pro.
The Redmi Note 10S also has an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. In comparison, the Redmi Note 10 Pro has a 5MP macro camera and a 2MP depth sensor. Lastly, there is a 13MP selfie camera with an f/2.45 aperture.
The main 64MP camera takes some good shots in normal daylight conditions. By default, the phone shoots 16MP photos using pixel binning technology, and there is also a dedicated 64MP mode, which shoots high-resolution photos.
The primary also camera shoots some great photos, especially in close-up conditions, where, you get a natural bokeh-like effect, which helps to highlight the subject. This photo of the flower was taken in normal mode, and there is clear edge detection and the flower also looks vivid.
In this photo, the camera has captured a good amount of details even at the regular 16MP resolution. In fact, even after zooming in, I could read the text written on the DTH antenna. I also felt that the primary camera performance of the Redmi Note 10S is a lot better than the devices like the Realme 8 5G, which also costs similar to the Redmi Note 10S.
When it comes to ultra-wide angle lenses, there is a noticeable difference between the color science when compared to the primary 64MP sensor. The 8MP ultra wide-angle lens has a slightly warmer tone and it lacks details, due to the lower resolution.
What really surprised me is the 2MP macro lens. The Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has slightly higher resolution (5MP) macro lenses, while the 2MP macro lens on the Redmi Note 10S is one of the best 2MP macro lenses that I have ever tested.
The macro lens on the Redmi Note 10S has a lower focus distance, and in good lighting conditions, it takes some excellent macro shots, which gives a new perspective to the subject. This is a photo of old cloth, where, the Redmi Note 10S captured individual threads of the fabric.
Another picture that I have captured on the Redmi Note 10S is the bud of a plant. In this picture, there is a clear separation between the subject and the background, which highlights the bud of the plant, making the subject the highlight of the photo.
Lastly, when it comes to the selfie camera, the 13MP sensor takes good photos in almost every situation. Make sure that you have turned off the beauty mode to get photos that look life-like, as the beauty mode is turned off by default. Overall, the camera performance of the Redmi Note 10S is above average.
Redmi Note 10S Performance: Outperforms Redmi Note 10 Pro
The Redmi Note 10S is powered by the MediaTek Helio G95 SoC, which offers similar CPU performance to the Helio G90 but comes with a much better graphics chip, offering improved graphics and gaming performance. The base model of the Redmi Note 10S comes with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, while the high-end model offers 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.
On Geekbench 5, the Redmi Note 10S scored 199 points on single-core and 924 on multi-core CPU performance. On AnTuTu V9, the Redmi Note 10S posted 323640 points. The phone was at 35.2 degrees centigrade while launching the AnTuTu benchmark, and it reached a peak temperature of 40.2 degrees centigrade and the temperature came down to 38.6 at the end.
There is a four percent power consumption to run this benchmark. This should give an insight into the performance of the Redmi Note 10S. And while playing COD: Mobile, I noticed that the phone got warned around the camera area with just 10 minutes of gameplay. However, the phone did come back to room temperature within a few minutes.
Redmi Note 10S is capable of playing games like COD: Mobile with high graphics and high frame-rate settings (by default), where the phone can offer a steady frame rate of 60 even with continuous gameplay. The phone can easily handle games like Battlegrounds mobile India and COD: Mobile without any issue.
When it comes to normal day-to-day usage I didn't notice any major issues with the performance. However, every once in a while, I did notice a frame drops, especially while opening an app/game or while switching between different apps.
Redmi Note 10S Software Experience: MIUI 12.5 Based on Android 11
The Redmi Note 10S is the first smartphone in India to ship with MIUI 12.5 based on Android 11 OS. It claims to offer a better user experience when compared to the MIUI 12, as it allows users to uninstall most first-party apps. In my testing, the Redmi Note 10S is running on MIUI 12.5.2. However, we weren't able to uninstall most first-party apps.
Though the Redmi Note 10S runs on MIUI 12.5.2, it almost felt like a Redmi/Xiaomi phone with MIUI 12. One positive note is that I didn't see any ads across the UI. However, the phone still has a lot of bloatware, and the company claims that a future software update should fix the same. We hope, the company rolls out the update before the phone goes on sale.
Redmi Note 10S Battery Life: Fast Charging With All-Day Backup
The Redmi Note 10S comes with a 5000 mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging and the fast charger is included with the phone. For an average user, who makes an hour of voice calls, a few hours of video consumption, an hour of gaming, and a bit of social media usage, the Redmi Note 10S should last all day long, as it can easily offer around 6 to 7 hours of screen-on-time without any issue.
Not just that, the 33W fast charger also helps the smartphone to quickly refill the battery in less than one and a half hours. Do note that, the phone can from 0 to 54 percent in less than just 30 minutes using the 33W fast charger. If you are looking for a phone that can deliver all-day battery life, the Redmi Note 10S is definitely one of those devices. However, if you need a phone that lasts a little longer, you might have to look at devices with at least a 6000 mAh battery.
The Redmi Note 10S costs almost similar to the Redmi Note 10 Pro (a little affordable). However, I think for the price of the Redmi Note 10 Pro, it has a larger and better display, better camera setup, premium build quality, and a better selfie camera. If we look at the lower end of the spectrum, the Redmi Note 10, which is Rs. 2500 cheaper than the Redmi Note 10S has an identical display, same-sized battery, and a similar design.
The Redmi Note 10S is in a middle ground, where the Redmi Note 10 and the Redmi Note 10 Pro have a much clear value proposition. Yes, on benchmarks, the Redmi Note 10S outperforms the Redmi Note 10 Pro. However, when it comes to real-world usage, both phones offer similar performance.
The Redmi Note 10 series of smartphones are known to offer a great day-to-day experience, and the Redmi Note 10S also one such device. However, when it comes to pricing, the Redmi Note 10S isn't that aggressive, especially when compared to the other Redmi Note smartphones. That doesn't mean the phone is expensive or overpriced, as there are only a few devices in the market that can match up the performance of the Redmi Note 10S.
If you want a phone that's slightly more powerful than the Redmi Note 10 Pro, then, go with the Redmi Note 10S. Else, at a price of Rs. 15,999, the Redmi Note 10 Pro makes a lot of sense. I feel, the Redmi Note 10S needed one unique factor, just like the Realme 8 5G or the Redmi Note 10 Pro, that would have made it a more compelling smartphone.