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Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max Review: Affordable Flagship-Grade Smartphone For Masses
Xiaomi's popular Redmi Note series has always impressed us with feature-packed smartphones with great value for your money. The latest to join the series are three new devices- the vanilla Redmi Note 10, Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the flagship of the lot- the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Priced at Rs. 18,999 for the base variant, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has been my daily driver for over a week now.
- Best-in-Class Display (120Hz Super AMOLED)
- Premium & Durable Design (IP53-Rated)
- Impressive Camera Performance For The Price
- Dedicated microSD Card & 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- Smooth Performance
- Long-Lasting Battery Life
- Good Stereo Speakers
- Android 11 Out-Of-The-Box
- Camera Processing Could Use Some Refinement
- Video Filters Only Work With 720p Resolution
- Mediocre Low-Light Camera Performance
- No 5G
It is the most powerful Redmi Note device ever launched in India and comes packed with features usually seen on high-end premium flagships. For instance, a 120Hz Super AMOLED display and a 108MP quad-camera surely seem like overkill at the sub-20K price-point, but that's how Xiaomi operates in the Indian market, by killing the competition with best-in-class hardware at the least possible price.
That said, does this impossible spec-sheet of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max translate to a real-life performer? Let's find out.
Design- Most Premium Looking Mid-Ranger
Xiaomi's design game is on point with the new devices. The Redmi Note 10-series introduces a new design philosophy- EVOL, which makes the Note 10-series devices look far premium and feel more ergonomic than the predecessors. The phone neither feels bulky nor heavier in hands. It flaunts glass on both sides and has a glossy plastic frame with a side-mounted biometric scanner. The glass layer at the back panel gets a frosted treatment but is a fingerprint magnet. Moving on, the two-step quad-camera module with chrome touch looks stunning and adds a premium feel to the minimally designed curved back panel.
Available in three color variants- Vintage Bronze, Glacial Blue, and Dark Night, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is our top pick for the best-designed mid-range smartphone in India. The Vintage Bronze color shade is much check-out if you prefer something stylish and unique in your handset.
IP53-Rated And Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Protection
I was pretty sure of Xiaomi bringing the first-ever officially IP-rated smartphone in the sub-20K price bracket. And, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max had to be that handset. The smartphone is IP53 certified and is resistant to water splashes and dust. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max also sports the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection and features rubberized ports to protect against dust and water ingress. The rubberized ports are touted to be corrosion-resistant to ensure all-weather usability. We will update the review with a long-term usage response of the claimed durability of the handset.
Basics Covered- Dedicated microSD Card Slot, 3.5mm Headphone Jack, And Stereo Speakers
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max does not compromise on basics. The phone has a triple-slot SIM card tray, making room for two SIM cards and one microSD card. You can also use your good old wired headphones as the phone features a highly useful 3.5mm headphone jack. Importantly, Xiaomi has also fitted a stereo speaker setup for better audio output. The speakers produce loud and clear sound for an immersive multimedia experience. Last but not the least; the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max also has Xiaomi's signature IR blaster to let you use the handset as a remote controller for Smart TVs, set-up boxes, and other household appliances.
Fluid 120Hz Super AMOLED Display
Xiaomi has changed the game in the mid-range price-bracket by offering a 120Hz Super AMOLED display. The 120Hz panel is extremely smooth and matches the fluidity of the most premium flagship handsets such as the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy S21, OnePlus 8 Pro, etc. Earlier, you had to compromise on the refresh rate or with the contrast and color vividness of the phone's display.
As for the display resolution and colors, the full HD+ AMOLED panel (395ppi) ensures deep blacks, good viewing angles, and adequate vividness. However, I must tell you that the Super AMOLED panel on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is a notch below the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy devices- the F62 in terms of color reproduction, deep blacks, and viewing angles. The Galaxy F62's panel feels more vivid and lively but loses in terms of fluidity as it has a dated 60Hz refresh rate.
Overall, I would rank the Redmi Note 10 Pro higher as it offers a good balance of fluidity and vividness. It is also worth mentioning that the 120Hz Super AMOLED panel is any day a better choice than the competition devices offering higher refresh rate LCDs.
HDR10 Enabled And Widevine L1 Certified
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max offers an immersive video playback experience, thanks to the Widevine L1 DRM and HDR10 support. The display offers three color modes- Auto, Standard, and Saturated. The standard mode offers realistic colors (sRGB) and the saturated mode adds extra punch to the colors to make videos and games look more vivid.
Last but not the least, the Super AMOLED panel has adequate brightness to offer a comfortable viewing experience under harsh lighting. I could comfortably read the text and even watch videos in well-lit environments Xiaomi claims 1200 nits of peak brightness but that's just for a small portion of the panel while displaying HDR content.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max features a familiar mid-range quad-lens camera arrangement featuring a higher-resolution sensor accompanied by three discrete sensors for macro, wide-angle, and portrait photography. The main camera uses the tried and tested 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2 1/1.52" sensor with f/1.9 aperture. The 6P PDAF (no OIS support) lens combines 9 smaller pixels to deliver a 12MP picture but can also produce 108MP high-resolution photographs. The 8MP Sony IMX355 f/2.2 wide-angle lens offers up to 118 degrees field of view. The big improvement is the 5MP f/2.4 macro sensor. For selfies, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has a 16MP fixed-focus Sony IMX471 1/3" sensor working on a narrow f/2.4 aperture.
Crisp And Vivid Daylight Results
The 12MP pixel-binned shots come out crisp and vivid. The contrast looks good, colors look natural, and images also show a low level of noise. However, the camera software processing could go soft on sharpness as some shots show excessive sharpness. Also, the AI and Pro color mode can go overboard with colors and produce highly saturated pictures. These are some issues that could be resolved with software updates. I would recommend you disable the Pro color mode and shoot in the default mode for natural colors. Also, the 108MP shots have balanced sharpness but details somehow take a hit.
Pleasing Bokeh Results And Good Wide-Angle Daylight Shots
The primary sensor captures a wide dynamic range in daylight and creates a good portrait effect (for close-up shots) even when you aren't taking help from the dedicated depth-sensor. Resultant, even the normal close-up shots display pleasing bokeh, something only a bigger sensor like a 108MP sensor can achieve. The 2MP depth sensor also does a good job. It works with the primary sensor to deliver impressive 12MP portraits. The 2x zoom mode comes in handy as it takes you closer to the subject but it mostly produces soft results. As far as wide-angle shots are concerned, the images show decent dynamic range, controlled noise levels, and very low distortion. These are some of the best wide-angle results in this price-point.
Low-Light Results Could Have Been Better
The 108MP is also the only sensor that supports the night mode but since it lacks OIS, the night photography isn't quite impressive. I would recommend you to use a tripod or shoot mostly with the dedicated night mode to avoid blurry pictures. The night mode improves the overall image quality by clearing up noise and restoring details but I am still not blown away by the night time photography on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.
Must-Try Out Camera Modes
The MIUI's camera app on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max brings an array of interesting camera modes. You can create some great results from the clone photo/video mode and the newly added 'Long Exposure' mode which offers some interesting modes such as Moving crowd, Neon trails, Oil painting, Starry sky, etc. Besides, the Vlog mode, Dual video, and Short video mode come in handy for content creation via smartphones.
Last but not the least, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max captures crisp 4k 30fps and 1080p 60fps videos with its 108MP primary sensor. The videos have plenty of details, good contrast, and a wide dynamic range. The wide-angle lens and the macro sensor max out at 1080 30fps and do a good job of adding that different perspective to your videos. I wish Xiaomi could let us apply filters in 1080p and 4k videos. The given video filters only work with 720 resolution.
Overall, despite some issues, primarily due to software processing, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is an excellent camera smartphone. It delivers flagship-grade camera results at one-fourth of the price of high-end premium smartphones.
Hardware And Software Performance
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G SoC, the chipset that supplied power to the Poco X3. The 4G-only 8nm chipset is paired with 6GB + 64GB, 6GB + 128GB and 8GB + 128GB configurations. The phone offers a dedicated microSD card slot to expand the storage, which is always a great feature to have on a mid-range device. The RAM and storage type is LPDDR4 RAM and UFS 2.2 respectively.
We tested the 6GB + 128GB variant and did not come across any lags or performance issues during the testing period. The smartphone seamlessly sails throughout the day with moderate to heavy tasks. You can seamlessly multitask, edit a video/photo on the device, and can have more than 15 tabs in Chrome open at the same time without any lags or slowdown.
The phone can also run the heaviest apps and most graphics demanding games like the Call of Duty Mobile, Asphalt 9, etc. without breaking up a sweat. The fluid display also smoothly runs the higher refresh rate games. Importantly, the stereo speaker setup combined with the vivid 1080p AMOLED display makes for an immersive multimedia viewing experience. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is an excellent device to enjoy video playback and gameplay even when you don't have earphones/headphones handy. The stereo speaker setup produces clean and immersive audio. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is snappy and accurate. The face unlock is also very fast but it's not very accurate.
Android 11 Out-Of-The-Box (MIUI 12.0.3)
As far as the software is concerned, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is among the few smartphones to run Android 11 out-of-the-box. The competition devices from Realme, OPPO, Vivo, and even Samsung are still stuck with the old Android 10. The phone comes running the MIUI 12.0.3 stable version and the software feels intuitive and snappy. Most importantly, Xiaomi has plans to offer more control in your hands with the upcoming software update. The company mentioned during the launch that the upcoming MIUI 12.5 software update will offer a more refined mobile user-experience by offering an ads-free and bloatware-free software experience. Soon you will be able to remove bloatware from the Redmi Note 10-series line-up for a more personalized software experience.
Battery Life And Connectivity
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max draws power from a 5,020mAh battery cell which impressed us with its endurance capabilities. The phone can easily last a day with moderate to heavy usage. If you don't stream videos on a loop and are not much into mobile gaming, the Redmi Note 10 Po Max will easily last you a day and a half and even two days in some cases. The phone ships with a 33W fast-charger in the box that takes around 80 minutes to refuel the battery from flat to 100%.
For connectivity, the phone has two SIM card slots, a dedicated microSD card slot, Type-C charging port, an IR blaster, and the beloved 3.5mm headphone jack. It is worth mentioning that the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has a 4G-only chipset. The company ditched a 5G-SoC to keep the price low. The lack of a 5G chipset should only concern you if you plan to keep the device for at least two to three years. If you are someone who frequently changes a smartphone, or within a year or so, the 4G-only setup shouldn't be a huge concern.
If you are in the market for a sub-20K smartphone, you cannot find a better deal than the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. The smartphone introduces flagship-grade features to the masses and delivers on performance on most fronts. You get a 120Hz Fluid AMOLED screen, a durable and premium-looking design, and a camera setup that performs brilliantly in most conditions.
Top it up with stereo speakers, basic features like a dedicated microSD card, long-lasting battery, and a 3.5mm headphone jack and you have a complete mid-range smartphone for most of your needs. If Xiaomi manages to fulfill its promise of creating a bloatware-free refined software experience in the upcoming update, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max will be 'The Best Sub-20K Smartphone' in India without a shadow of a doubt.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max goes on sale today in India in three storage variants, and three color variants. The 6GB + 64GB variant is priced aggressively at Rs. 18,999. The one we tested, i.e. 6GB + 128GB is priced at Rs. 19,999 while the top-end variant with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage is priced at Rs. 21,999. You can purchase the handset from Mi.com, Amazon, Mi Home stores, and offline retailers in India.