Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max review: Hard-to-beat phone in midrange segment

On several occasions, Xiaomi has set the precedent in India’s price-conscious smartphone market with its value-for-money offerings. And that legacy seems to continue in the recently-launched Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Though a midrange smartphone by pricing (Rs 18,999 onwards), it has the qualities to beat some of the premium flagships of the present time. This top-end model in the Redmi Note 10 series is packed to the brim with premium features, and that makes it a hard-to-beat smartphone in the midrange segment.

For many reasons, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max might be the next best thing from the stable of Xiaomi since the Poco F1 (review). Let’s see why:

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max: Design and display

Xiaomi is not known to be a master at designing smartphones, but that seems to have changed with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Unlike most other Xiaomi smartphones, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is neither thick (8.1mm) nor heavy in weight (192g) or bulky. Instead, the smartphone has fine ergonomics for comfortable use and a good in-hand feel. Accentuating the design is the new ‘Evol’-themed frosted glass on the back with a gradient texture on the ‘Vintage Bronze’ colour and a classic glossy profile on the ‘Dark Night’ colour variant. While Xiaomi has fixed most things in its new design language, there still remains a camera bump on the back that protrudes a bit from the frame, despite being placed in a cleverly implemented dual-slab module. That said, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is not the phone you can use without facing any discomfort while it rests flat on a surface like table top simply because it wobbles a lot.

As for the front profile, it is dominated by a 6.67-inch sAMOLED punch-hole display of a fullHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. The screen has Gorilla Glass 5 layered on top for protection against everyday mishandling. There are bezels around the display but not thick enough to distract your screen-viewing experience. Speaking of experience, the screen is super bright and stays legible even in bright outdoor conditions. It has a good contrast too, with deep blacks and finer whites – something that comes into notice especially while rendering HDR10 content. The display is quite responsive to touches, thanks to its 240Hz touch-sampling rate. Moreover, it refreshes at a frequency of 120Hz for a smooth user experience, be it while interacting with the apps, scrolling through feeds on social media, browsing content on the web, or even playing supported games. Important to note, however, that the screen is set to a 60Hz refresh rate out of the box and needs to be manually changed to 120Hz refresh rate from display settings. There is no adaptive or dynamic refresh rate feature here. Therefore, the screen works at either 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rate.

The screen is complemented by the phone’s stereo speakers, which are gradually becoming standard in midrange smartphones. The speakers are good but not the best. They lack detail, depth, loudness and stereo effect. Despite not being so good in terms of output, the stereo speakers elevate multimedia and gaming experience of the phone.

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max: Camera

There are only a handful of smartphones that boast 108-megapixel primary camera sensors, and most of them are from Xiaomi in its Mi smartphones line-up. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is the first under the Redmi brand to get the 108MP camera sensor. Besides, there are three other sensors to complement the imaging experience. The other sensors are an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle of 118-degree field-of-view, a 5MP macro sensor with auto-focus lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. On the front, the phone has a 16MP camera sensor of an f/2.45 aperture.

Optic details aside, the camera’s performance is good, considering the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s midrange tag. The primary sensor uses the 9-in-1 pixel-binning technology to capture frames in the 12MP resolution, and there is a dedicated mode to use the sensor’s native resolution to capture frames in the 108MP resolution. In the default mode, with pixel-binning enabled, the primary sensor captures detailed frames with good colours and a wide dynamic range, as long as there is some light. The details get even better in the 108MP mode, but it works best only in daylight conditions.

In a dark environment, the primary sensor artificially brightens the frame, resulting in visible noise and disoriented colours on the frames. There is a dedicated night mode for low-light imaging and it works fine in most cases, as long as you keep the phone steady. Unfortunately, the night mode is limited to the primary sensor. Therefore, night-time or low-light imaging using the ultra-wide-angle and macro sensors is possible only through the manual mode called ‘Pro’. Speaking of the ultra-wide-angle sensor, it captures detailed shots with a barely visible barrel effect. Surprisingly, the primary and the ultra-wide-angle sensors have a colour symmetry that most other midrange phones struggle to get right.

The macro sensor is one of the best you get in the midrange segment. The auto-focus lens here makes it easy to capture close-up shots, especially in good light conditions. The lack of megapixels, however, results in loss of detail. Nevertheless, it is a functional macro sensor and not the one put there just to increase the total sensor count.

The front camera is good, if not great. It works fine in bright outdoor conditions but softens the frame taken indoors. Though good for selfies, it is not suitable for group selfies because of its narrow field of view.

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max: Performance

Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 732 system-on-chip, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is a good smartphone for everyday use. It handles most day-to-day operations without breaking a sweat. It is also competent in handling processor-intensive tasks like multimedia editing, but expect some inconsistency in performance, especially if the workload stretches for hours. As for graphics, the phone is good to play graphic-intensive gaming titles with graphics set at medium levels.

Complementing the performance is the Android 11 operating system-based MIUI 12 user interface. Though the user interface is packed with pre-installed bloatware apps, most of them can be uninstalled. There are some core apps (about 8), however, that cannot be uninstalled. Among the core apps, there is Xiaomi’s GetApps app store that sends “recommendations” notifications on apps to install. While the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max UI does not show advertisements, pesky notifications from Xiaomi’s app store do hamper the experience at times.

Keeping the show running is a 5,020 mAh battery. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max sails though a day on a single charge with display set to 120Hz refresh rate when used for regular operations like attending calls, messaging, web browsing and scrolling social media feeds. The on-battery time reduces to about eight hours on heavy usage like streaming videos and music, recording videos, editing multimedia files, playing games, etc. The 33W charger, which ships with the phone, charges the completely drained battery to full in about an hour and a half.

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max Reviw: Verdict

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is as good in real life as it appears on paper. A midrange smartphone by pricing, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max packs so much with it that even premium midrange smartphones pale in comparison. That said, there is not a smartphone in the midrange segment yet to compete with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Performance is the only parameter where the phone does not really shine very brightly, but that may just be me nitpicking here because the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is a package deal, not just about performance.

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