Xiaomi Mi 10 review
Footloose and fancy - but certainly not free
Xiaomi was the first smartphone maker to drop a 108MP camera phone onto the scene when it launched the Mi Note 10. Since then, the same camera sensor’s been reprised in the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi 10-series – the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro.
Today, we’re taking a look at the vanilla Mi 10, and boy is it a beauty to look at. Shiny curved glass meets buffed metal – its reflective back can literally double up as a mirror – if you can’t get enough of yourself, this is the phone for you.
All style and no substance the Mi 10 is not; powered by a top-of-the-line chipset, it absolutely flies, and we’d expect nothing less – it costs €799, sitting pretty between the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro.
Design and screen: Curvy squared
Curved glass around the back combines with a curved screen for a rounded in-hand feel that definitely impresses.
The Mi 10 is a touch chunky, measuring 9mm thick. That means it out-girths the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, but the curves help keep things elegant and classy.
The phone’s glass front is scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 5, and you can pick the Mi 10 up in Coral Green, Peach Gold and Twilight Grey – the latter being the version we had. Buttons and ports are predictably placed – USB-C at the base, buttons all on the right. Meanwhile, the inclusion of very prominent stereo-speaker holes at the top and bottom of the phone are promising visual cues, suggesting it could well sound as good as it looks.
With a 6.67in Super AMOLED screen, the Mi 10 certainly isn’t a small phone, packing a comparable footprint to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but that big, bold screen makes for an immersive on-the-go pocket-cinema. Thanks to a hole-punch camera, Xiaomi achieves a low-on-bezel 90% screen-to-body ratio, bettering that of the iPhone 11 and OnePlus 8, and with a 1080 x 2340 resolution, the 386 ppi pixel density means clarity is comparable too.
Onto fancy credentials, and the Mi 10’s screen packs HDR10+ support, so high dynamic range content on Netflix and YouTube will look punchy and deep, and thanks to the phone’s 90Hz screen refresh rate, menus glide. Ultimately, while it isn’t the best screen in the world, for the price, it’s absolutely up there and the phone’s design impresses too.
Camera: Serious selfies
When a phone has the same main camera sensor as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, we expect great things. While the Xiaomi Mi 10 camera can grab a beautiful looking snap, however, as a package, it can’t topple the competition.
The main reason it isn’t up there is down to the fact there’s no telephoto camera around the back. The 108 MP main camera is specced out with its f/1.7 aperture and OIS. It’s matched with a 13 MP, f/2.4 ultrawide camera, as well as a 2 MP macro module and a depth sensor.
When compared to the cheaper Mi Note 10, the Mi 10 misses out on not one, but two telephoto cameras, and when compared to similarly priced phones like the Realme X50 Pro 5G and the Huawei P40, the lack of optical zoom is felt.
The main camera is still a corker; it shoots sharp, punchy 25MP pictures by default – though can also grab humongous 108MP snaps too. Shots taken on the Mi 10 pack stacks of background blur, so look expensive, and even backlit scenes look good, though the camera leans towards cooler blue tones more than most. In low light, it’s about where it needs to be for its price, though is outperformed by the OnePlus 8 Pro and P40, and the night mode is a welcome addition, even if it isn’t class-leading.
As for the 2MP Macro camera, we’d have been fine if this was left out – it’s low resolution and can’t handle anything but the best lighting.
Video captured on the Mi 10 is grand, and the phone is of the only a few on the scene to pack 8K capture. If you fancy saving your internal storage, however, it also shoots 1080p and 4K resolution at up to 60fps.
The Mi 10’s 20 MP selfie camera is perfectly respectable with its wide-angle and f/2.0 aperture, though unlike Huawei’s P40 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S20-series, its video is capped at 1080p.
UI and performance: Another droid
Xiaomi’s new phones run Android 10, with MIUI 11 over the top. Like Oppo, Xiaomi has cleaned up is customised MIUI in its latest guise. There are less annoying quirks – clunky app scans etc. In turn, if you’re coming from a Xiaomi phone, you’ll be delighted the experience has improved so tangibly.
Compared to other phones, however, Xiaomi’s UI still isn’t quite as intuitive. Additionally, on both the Mi 10 and Mi Note 10, we experienced occasional touch sensitivity issues on the bottom right of the screen, with the phone not registering presses. A quick double-tap of the power button fixed this, but the fact it’s becoming a ‘Xiaomi quirk’ in our experience isn’t great.
As far as performance across apps and games goes, thanks to a Snapdragon 865 chipset, it’s little wonder that the Mi 10 flies, and handles 108MP images so much better than the underpowered Mi Note 10 before it.
Battery and specs: All night long
Where the Mi 10 steps ahead of competition from the likes of Oppo is in terms of battery capacity. With a 4780mAh cell, it’s packing more milliamp-hours than most. The real-world results stack up well, with the Mi 10 losing around 7% battery after an hour of Full HD video at max brightness.
Fast charging clocking in at 30W keeps the Mi 10 competitively quick to power up, and a bonus at the price is wireless charging, with the phone even offering reverse wireless charging too. If you’re a file-hoarder, then the starting capacity of 128GB storage + 8GB RAM might not meet your needs, especially given the fact there are no storage expansion options. For you, the Mi 10’s also available in a 256GB capacity, either with 8GB or 12GB RAM.
All your other flagship features are loaded up, from excellent stereo speakers through to NFC, and there’s a handy Second Space profile option so you can work across two profiles on one device.
Xiaomi Mi 10 verdict
The Xiaomi Mi 10 looks and feels like a five-star phone, and its screen is also gorgeous. What lets it down, however, is a pared-back camera combo compared to much of the competition – there’s no optical zoom lens in sight, despite there being no less than four snappers around the back.
Additionally, occasional interface gremlins hold it back from true excellence when it comes to usability, despite the fact it’s one of the only phones costing less than €799 to look this good and feature wireless charging.
Despite any shortcomings, however, with an all-day battery, stacks of style and a solid primary camera, it’s still relatively easy to recommend the Mi 10 for anyone who isn’t too fussed about zooming when taking photos.
A great looking phone that packs a tonne of features, but falls short with no optical zoom and occasional UI gremlins.
Great stereo speakers
No telephoto camera
No SD card slot