When we talk about Xiaomi, we immediately think of budget. Heck, Oxford Dictionary should add Xiaomi into their list of synonym words for budget.
So how ‘budget’ is budget when Xiaomi leaves the safe waters of ₹20K and below to venture a bit closer into OnePlus’ territory? Is it still budget? The short answer is, hell yeah!
The Redmi K20 Pro is planning to beat OnePlus at its own game. More for less has been the mantra for their smartphones all along but this time there’s a tighter focus on delivering a flagship experience with best of the best Android processor sandwiched between an AMOLED screen and a triple camera setup. Oh and the spec bump went up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for number nerds.
Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro: body and design
The glass back with curved edges sits so nicely on the hand that it's hard to complain about the body and where the POCO phone skimped out a little, the K20 Pro offers in spades. It’s got a very nice body for the price but if you’re comparing it to the OnePlus 7 then we would choose the OnePlus 7 for the build quality but this comes close. Albeit there’s a headphone jack here, something that the OnePlus 7 is lacking.
We got the Glacier Blue colour on our review unit and the Aura design shows Xiaomi tried something different but the patterned design along the edges feels different for the sake of being different, it doesn’t have the same panache as the Huaweis and OnePlus’.
The rear camera module isn’t too big so no matter how you grip it, the phone feels very comfortable in hand.
Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro: Screen and Audio
This is touted as Xiaomi’s first AMOLED screen on a smartphone and we absolutely have no complaints here. The blacks are great and the contrast and saturation are well balanced without ever feeling ‘ew so dull’ or ‘oh so Samsung’.
Surprisingly, our favourite part about the smartphone (aside from the competition-crushing pricing) is the screen. It’s sandwiched between Gorilla Glass 5 (front and back) and that FullHD+ goodness is spread across the 6.39in without any notches or punch holes. Needless to say, Sacred Games Season 2 will be worth watching on this one. Oh, yes, Netflix works in proper FullHD with with HDR this time.The K20 Pro might not be the best smartphone for playing Kaam 25 while watching Sacred Games but it’s not half bad. The speakers are loud and don’t feel the overall quality was axed to save money. Albeit, the audio pumping out is thin and no stereo means that Xiaomi did cut a few corners to keep this under ₹30k.
Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro: Performance
Remember when OnePlus started dancing around the term ‘Flagship killer’? Well, the K20 Pro does similar moves to the same music. It’s a great daily driver. Snapdragon 855 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is no joke.
Apps open and run smoothly and everyday work is just seamless. It’s got UFS 2.0 storage which in theory is slightly slower than OnePlus 7’s UFS 3.0 but that marginal difference is not going to leave you wanting for more. Even PUBG ran smoothly on the highest setting and the phone didn’t heat up a lot. There’s double-sided heat dissipation plate inside and to be honest it’s more than just marketing gimmick. It keeps the phone from throttling in performance when using intensive applications like PUBG. So gaming is taken care of but don’t spend the entire day running after chicken dinners, even the 4000mAh battery won’t last you that long.
It lasted us well enough for the entire day with 5 hours of screen time with our usage which consisted of social media rabble, two hours of music streaming, an episode or two of Brooklyn Nine Nine and daily tech news. You get an 18W charger in the box but if you splurge ₹999 more, the 27W Xiaomi SonicCharger will cut the charging time short.
Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro: Software and OS
Here’s where the OnePlus 7 edges the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro. The MIUI is the same but without ads this time. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a load of unnecessary apps and notifications pinging you right from the time you unbox it.
We took one good hour to sit and delete the unnecessary apps and successfully disable the one we couldn’t uninstall. It’s either that or you pay a slight premium for the OnePlus 7 and its extremely well-designed OS. It’s optimized for a hassle-free Android experience and that doesn’t seem to be the case with the K20 Pro. Apps like Browser from Xiaomi kept pinging us of irrelevant news and updates we didn’t want. We disabled Browser, Mi Video, Music, Mi Pay and GetApps from the settings menu and disabled any notification ping from them as well. Xiaomi tries to get you to use its apps and that’s primarily how Xiaomi makes money.
Here’s one example of it: The search bar at the end of the app tray is a brilliant place to put it but when you search for apps or information on it, it will by default search for it on Xiaomi’s own GetApps store app or Browser. It’s frustrating not being able to use Google’s app as default or be able to change that. So we had to put a Google search bar on the Home screen and make use of that. No point of using Xiaomi’s excellently placed but useless search bar.
That said, this version of MIUI is very stable and responsive. It’s fast, offers a lot of customization and has great features when its not trying to force its own apps on you. The initial setting up is a hassle but once you get your smartphone tweaked according to your comfort, it’s smooth sailing from there.
Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro: Camera
There’s triple lens party at the back with a 48MP primary Sony sensor, an 8MP Telephoto lens and a 13MP super wide lens. So the flexibility of getting different types of shots is insanely fun to use.
The picture quality is great but differs greatly from lens to lens. The 48MP uses quad pixel smarts to shrink down the image file size and in daylight the camera is great. Even in low-light the camera maintains good exposure and colour balance. The details and sharpness is better here than the other two rear cameras. There’s a wee bit of noise in the darker portions of the image but HDR mode takes care of that. Just make sure your subjects ain’t drunk. And when you absolutely need Night Mode, the Xiaomi K20 Pro doesn’t disappoint either.
The 13MP super-wide camera is just a lot of fun to use. It makes for some really amazing shots and has a pleasing overall quality. The exposure and contrasts are bang on but it loses out on detail. Especially around the edges but that’s fine as long as you play around with its wide-angle distortion. Not into that? You can turn on the wide-angle distortion correction in the camera settings.
Telephoto does a decent job of taking portrait shots. The edge detection isn’t as great as the competition but it isn’t far behind.
The 20MP pop-up selfie camera performs very well in well-lit environments. The selfies come out well saturated but highly oversharpened. It has good detail, sometimes better than its rear wide angle camera but like all selfie cameras, this one too suffers from overexposing the background a bit too much.
There’s an LED in the pop-up camera which Xiaomi says is for grabbing attention when taking a selfie, so everyone looks into the camera… ya, marketing jargon. Moving on. There’s a tiny ring on the top surface of pop-up camera which is supposed to act as an LED notification indicator when the camera is kept retracted. It’s a very odd place so we don’t think it serves the purpose.
Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro: Verdict
To be honest, this is the first Xiaomi smartphone in ages that has tempted me to keep my SIM card in, even with the plethora of high-end smartphones lying in the office.
The K20 Pro is by far the best smartphone we’ve seen from Xiaomi and it very well deserves a space in your pocket. The build quality, the camera flexibility, the sheer performance and that price, it really seals the deal for being a great product.
If you’re torn between OnePlus 7 and the K20 Pro, then it’s a matter of cleaning the MIUI OS and saving a few extra bucks in the process. But if you want a smoother Android experience, OnePlus 7 is still our favourite.