"This fierce machine which you have built, upon which we stand, will bring an end to the Senate! To their cherished fleet! All remaining systems will bow to the First Order! And will remember this… as the last day of the Republic!"
Kabooom! Just when we thought that Xiaomi had fizzled out in the budget segment, with brands like Realme and Samsung closing in with their budget smartphones, Xiaomi reveals its own technological terror — the Redmi Note 8 Pro.
Which is why I wanted to quote General Armitage Hux (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) out here. Xiaomi’s StarKiller base-like weapon has been built from scratch and comes with one too many features that have yet to make their way into the smartphone market, ready to obliterate the competition that stands in its way.
There’s a 64MP camera, a powerful MediaTek HelioG90T chipset and up to 8GB of RAM, all of which not only catapults it past the ranks of budget smartphones, but also gets it gaming grade power. If you have been holding on to an older Note, it’s time to upgrade, it’s time to give in to the dark side!
Redmi Note 8 Pro Design
The front still features a notch and that’s not a bad thing, considering that it barely interferes with that massive 6.53-inch LCD FHD+ display. It’s plenty sharp and plenty big, which works well whether your want to stream your favourite movies or play the latest games.
Flipping it over, you will fall in love with that classy green finish, which Xiaomi calls Gamma Green (that also reminded me of the Green Lantern). Despite the polycarbonate frame, the Note 8 Pro looks and feels premium, and that gradient emerald green 3D back will fool your mates into believing that it is a premium smartphone. There’s really no give away that it isn’t. And all of this comes at budget pricing. The smartphone’s also available in Shadow Black and Halo White.
It also comes with a P2i nano coating, which will save the phone from water splashes. Just don’t take it for a swim. And there’s also a 2+1 SIM card slot, meaning you can pop in a high-capacity SD Card (up to 512GB) and forget about storage problems.
Catering to gamers, there’s also an improved WiFi X antenna design to keep you connected no matter how you hold the smartphone and LiquidCool to keep it running cool.
Redmi Note 8 Pro UI and Performance
And all that horsepower under the hood holds up while gaming. I played PUBG: Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile on ‘Very High’ settings for an hour and found no heating problems whatsoever. The chipset, thanks to all the hardware optimisations, delivered and I saw no slow down or lag in day to day use.
MIUI 10 is still bloated with unnecessary apps, but things ran smoothly on the 8GB RAM variant that we tested, without any hiccups. And with the bloat comes last year’s Android 9, even though the security patches are in place.
Keeping the PUBG audience in mind, there’s also a gaming mode called Game Turbo, and it gets the job done by prepping the phone (clearing the RAM and more) the minute you fire a game up. Even while gaming, I liked how I did not need to turn DND mode on to avoid pesky callers. All notifications will peak out from the top edge of the display without alarming you or diverting your attention from the game.
As for the hardware, the numbers really stack up here. There are three variants in all. A 6GB RAM+64GB storage base variant that starts at ₹14,999, a 6GB RAM+128GB storage variant (at ₹15,999) for those who crave more space, and the top-of-the-line 8GB RAM+128GB storage variant for those who are looking for the best hardware possible in this segment at ₹17,999.
Redmi Note 8 Pro Camera
Yes, the Redmi Note 8 Pro packs 4 cameras, all of which are quite capable, given the product’s price tag.
There’s a 64MP primary camera that shoots binned 16MP images with plenty of detail. A capable 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera for shooting those scenic landscapes on your next vacation. A 2MP macro lens with 2cm focus to capture the details up close and dedicated depth sensor to get those bokelicious portraits right.
With most cameras that use massive sensors, it is usually the binned 10MP or 12MP samples that get the best shots. With the new 64MP sensor on the Note 8 Pro, you can pinch to zoom in and shoot using the 64MP mode itself. The images come out quite detailed, and for those who love to pixel peep, there’s plenty of zooming to do as there's a lot of details in those images. And while they are not as sharp as the 16MP samples (shot in Auto mode), they look more natural. But at 17MB per image, you will be filling up the internal storage in no time. So it’s wise to use it only when needed.
The 8MP ultra-wide camera did fall short on details, but it gives you a different perspective at the same shot. The 2MP macro delivers in brightly lit situations, but you will need really steady hands to get the details and prevent blur. Since these are 2MP samples, there isn’t much to zoom into either, you get what you see. The quad-camera array holds up well in low light conditions as well, with brighter images using the night mode. Just don’t expect Pixel-like clarity in dimly lit settings.
Redmi Note 8 Pro Battery
I would go out on a limb and say that Redmi Note 8 Pro delivers 2-day battery life. But this is provided you don’t game on the smartphone at all. You see, with such a capable chipset powering this death star, it feels normal to be greedy and give into its power by ramping up the graphics settings on any game. The downside is that unlike the Asus ROG 2, this one does not sport a gigantic 6,000mAh battery to live up those gaming ambitions. Still, you can get past a day by gaming with medium settings and doing the usual things you do on a smartphone, like WhatsApp, email and the lot. Even if it does run out of juice, there’s always the 18W fast charger.
Redmi Note 8 Pro Verdict
The Note 8 Pro isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill product refresh from Xiaomi. The brand seems to have reclaimed its top spot in the budget segment once again. And more importantly, it plans to keep things this way for a while by being futureproof. It may not have been the first to introduce a 64MP camera (Realme did that), but does a really good job while it’s at it.
The Realme XT is its only competition. It offers something more with an AMOLED display, an in-display fingerprint reader and slightly faster 20W charging. With a Snapdragon 700 series chipset, it puts on quite a performance as well. And it’s available in a variety of configurations.
On the stock Android side of things, it’s the Nokia 7.2. What it loses in terms of horsepower with a Snapdragon 660 chipset, it makes up for with vanilla Android One inside. And where there’s Android One, there’s also faster updates. So if that's your thing, you are better off with Nokia 7.2.
Xiaomi’s Death Star isn’t just out to make a statement, it’s out to obliterate the competition. And once it’s done making them bite the dust, it spoils you with its price tag. At ₹14,999 for the 6GB RAM variant, it’s really hard to recommend anything else. So much power and so much capability at this price is literally drawing us to the dark side.