The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is yet another offering from the Chinese tech giant in the Redmi Note 10 series. The smartphone has launched in India with three other Redmi Note 10 models; the Redmi Note 10, the Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.
The Redmi Note 10S is identical to the Redmi Note 10 except that it has slightly better cameras and chipset. The pricing is however, greater than the Redmi Note 10 and almost equals the Redmi Note 10 Pro. This smartphone is the first to run the MIUI 12.5 out of the box. The final version is not yet out and the Redmi Note 10S features an “interim” version of the MIUI 12.5. It basically means that the phone will not possess all the features present in the final version of the UI.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S specs at a glance:
- Body: 8.3mm thick, 179g, IP53, dust and splash protection.
- Display: 6.43″ AMOLED, 700 nits (typ), 1100 nits (peak), FHD+, 409ppi.
- Chipset: MediaTek Helio G95 (12 nm): Octa-core (2×2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G76 MC4.
- Memory: 64GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM, UFS 2.2; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
- OS/Software: Android 11, MIUI 12.5.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 64 MP, f/1.8, Ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2, 118˚, Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4; Depth: 2 MP, f/2.4.
- Front camera: 13 MP, f/2.5, (wide)
- Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 720p@960fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
- Battery: 5000mAh, 33W fast charging.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); Infrared port; 3.5mm jack.
The unboxing experience is just like any other normal smartphone. Inside the box, we get the phone itself, a 33W power adapter, a USB-A to USB-C cable and a transparent case. The case is very tight and is difficult to put on and remove. Though this makes the phone more secure, pressing keys like the volume button is pretty hard.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S has an all-plastic build. With CG3 protection on the front, there is a plastic back panel and side frame. The plastic build has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, the phone is light weight (178g) and thin (8.3mm). The plastic back exposes fingerprints and smudges on the back very easily.
Also, it has IP53 certification against water and dust. The phone is not likely to survive if submerged because the IP53 certification stands for splash and rain resistance. And, what more do you expect from a budget smartphone. The Redmi Note 10S has a pretty fresh design, unlike the squares that we are seeing in the market right now. The side frame is curved which makes the phone feel thinner and grippy.
The top side of the phone is occupied by a loudspeaker grille, a microphone and the IR blaster. On the bottom, there is another loudspeaker grille, a microphone, USB-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack. On the right side is the side-mounted finger print sensor, which works fine if reached perfectly by thee thumb and the volume rocker. Then there is the sim tray on the left which holds 2 nano sim cards a microSD card for storage expansion.
The Redmi Note 10S has a 6.43-inch AMOLED FHD+ panel with 60Hz refresh rate and DCI-P3 color coverage. Other highlights are 1100 nits peak brightness and 700 nits typical brightness which is pretty rare at this price point.
The display on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S displays eye-pleasing (not always) and bright colors. The 60Hz refresh rate is fine. Though there are smartphones with a 120Hz IPS LCD screen, I would prefer an AMOLED screen with 60Hz (or above) over them.
While streaming videos on any social platform or be it just you watching a video taken from your phone, the display over-sharpens the video and adds a layer of contrast on top. This looks awkward and there is not much that you can do about this since it is deeply coded into the software. It is hoped that Xiaomi would fix this in an upcoming update, because it is really hard to recommend a smartphone with a display like this to anyone.
There is no need for a phone’s display to just alter every frame of video that is displayed on its screen. In the above image (Source: GSMarena.com), the difference can be well noticed. The picture on the right is a screenshot taken from the Redmi Note 10S display. I know, the picture on the left does not look great but at least it tends to look more natural. The effect is more noticeable when you watch videos on the phone itself
Software and UI
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S has an “interim” version of the latest MUI 12.5. To put it simply, the smartphone does not have all the features that the final version of MIUI 12.5 will have when it releases globally. The missing features will be added through a software update later.
As for now, there are not much changes as compared to the previous MIUI 12 on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10. Under the hood, the new UI brings lesser CPU usage and better power efficiency.
The MIUI 12.5 has floating windows feature similar to that in iOS. The feature allows to pull down notifications into small windows which can then be placed anywhere on the screen or dismissed. Almost every app can be opened in a small floating window like this. This feature is very helpful for multitasking and easy communication; although a single window can be opened at a time. For multiple windows or multi-tasking, users can approach the traditional split screen functionality.
The Dark mode looks weird on third party applications, where the system applies an additional dark layer over the existing dark mode in the third-party apps.
It is fortunate enough that Indian users are blessed with a ton of Chinese bloat apps on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S. Though most of them an be easily uninstalled, there are other Google apps (which won’t be used by majority buyers) which can’t be uninstalled. Also promotional ads will be placed in first party applications, just like any other typical Xiaomi smartphone.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is powered by the MediaTek Helio G95 chipset. It is offered in a base variant of 64GB storage and then a higher variant with 128 GB of storage. Both the variants have 6GB RAM on board. The storage is expandable via the dedicated microSD card slot. The CPU on the Redmi Note 10S is somewhat similar to that on the Redmi Note 10 but the GPU is a bit more powerful on paper.
The smartphone performs very well, especially it carries out day-to-day tasks amazingly well. The UI fells very responsive and snappy. We didn’t feel any lags or stutters in this device. Being a budget smartphone, Xiaomi has done a great job in its UI optimization.
However, there is always an area where companies lack performance. Yes, Gaming! The Redmi Note 10S is certainly not for users who would play ASPHALT, COD or PUBG. There are a lot of other smartphones out there, try them out. For users who are concerned with just checking their mail, scrolling and browsing the internet and occasional calls, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is perfect.
The major Disadvantage
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S heats a lot. Even while playing light games, the phone gets warm. The problem is not that your hands start to burn, instead the major concern is the degrading performance once the phone/CPU gets hot. Even while taking photos/videos, the phone gets pretty hot. Not to say, if you are standing in the sun it heats up even faster.
GeekBench 5 (Multi-core) :- 1576
GeekBench 5 (Single-core) :- 502
The cameras on the Redmi Note 10S include a 64MP primary camera, a 8MP ultra-wide angle sensor ,and a 2MP depth and macro sensors. The 64MP sensor captures pretty good high-res shots provided there is enough lighting. Under low-light conditions, the shots have the potential to look blurred if not shot without shaking. Also, using the night mode is not recommended as it drastically reduces the camera quality.
The Ultra-wide angle camera is not great. The images look soft and also lack details on the edges. Also, there is no night mode for the ultra-wide angle lens. The 2MP macro and depth sensors are good for close-ups and portraits under sufficient lighting. Under low-light, there are focusing issues with the macro sensor and also the images are noisy.
Other than that, the camera can record 4K@30 fps, 1080p@30/60 fps. There is a 13MP f/2.5 aperture single selfie shooter in the front which can record 1080p@30 fps. The camera samples form the selfie cam do not look great. Overall, they can be suggested for casual video calls and ‘not-so overwhelming’ selfies.
While taking photos, we had to stop after regular intervals due to the heating of the phone. This needs to be improved quickly as it is so frustrating to use a device that heats up even while taking still photos or recording videos.
Battery and Charging
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S packs a 5,000mAh battery and easily lasts a day of moderate usage involving an hour or two of gaming (COD mobile). For light users, the phone will easily get through 2 days. Also, the 33W fast charger which comes bundled in the box completely charges the phone in just an hour. So, in terms of battery life, the smartphone is great.
The Redmi Note 10S features stereo speakers. The bottom speaker fires straight down while the earpiece on the top fires through the earpiece grille as well as the loudspeaker separate grille on the top of the phone. The audio quality is OKAY. It lacks the quality expected from stereo speakers. The bottom speaker is louder than the ear-piece and sounds hollow.
However, it is foolish to expect high quality stereo speakers in a budget smartphone. The point is, the sound quality on the Redmi Note 10S is good but certainly not exceptionally good.
Disadvantages and Areas to improve
- The Display needs to be improved to show accurate and un-processed RAW videos (from the internet).
- The heating issue has to be eliminated through an update. It is so much difficult to recommend a phone that cannot handle photo shoots without getting HOT.
- Camera quality needs to be improved on both the front and rear sensors, especially under low-light. Also the night mode needs a fix.
If you have a strict budget of Rs. 14,999, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is suggested only to normal users. However, at just Rs 1,000 more, the Redmi Note 10 Pro offers a more capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 732 processor, improved cameras and a 120Hz refresh rate, with the rest of the spec-sheet and the design similar to the Redmi Note 10S. These extra features make the Note 10 Pro a clear winner here and force us to question the existence of the Redmi Note 10S. In fact, we do fell that the Redmi Note 10S was launched just for making the Note 10 Pro look better.