Up until now, my favorite Xiaomi phone was the Mi Mix 3. It had the right combination between hardware, design, and a certain element of style. I really didn’t think there would be another Xiaomi phone to fill the void the Mi Mix 3 left in my heart, but luckily, there is. That phone is the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is Xiaomi’s most premium consumer-grade flagship yet. This is also Xiaomi’s most expensive flagship to date, starting at €999 (~$1,090.) Xiaomi, a brand known for its fantastic value on phones, has now released a phone that’s just as expensive as high-end competitors. That now leaves us to wonder, is this phone still a good value in comparison to the other flagships on the market? Was the jump in price worth it from their previous flagships?
|Specification||Xiaomi Mi 10||Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro|
|Dimension & Weight||
|System-on-Chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865:
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 865:
|RAM||up to 12GB LPDDR5||up to 12GB LPDDR5|
|Storage||up to 256GB UFS 3.0||up to 512GB UFS 3.0|
|Battery & Charging||
|Software Version||Android 10||Android 10|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, Hi-Res Audio certified||Stereo speakers, Hi-Res Audio certified|
|Colors||Coral Green, Twilight Grey||Solstice Grey, Alpine White|
About this review: Xiaomi provided us the Mi 10 Pro unit for review purposes. This review is after two months of use.
First up, the display. This is one of the places Xiaomi phones previously struggled. They were always good, but never great. Even on their flagships, they looked about average and didn’t really feel like flagship-level displays, but that was excusable at the much lower prices. This year, the price is much higher and as expected, the display quality is much better. So good, in fact, I would say this is one of the best displays on any phone.
This year, Xiaomi is using a curved FHD+ panel with a high refresh rate of 90hz and touch sampling rate of 180hz. This means everything will look smoother thanks to the high refresh rate and feel more responsive thanks to the faster touch sampling. This is all around a good improvement and something that is needed to keep Xiaomi in the running with other flagship phones this year.
As for the colors, they look fantastic. I kept my phone in the “Auto” display mode because Xiaomi has some really great calibration in that mode. According to Xiaomi, the mode will “adjust colors based on current lighting.” Nothing gets overly saturated and it is nice to look at. The “Saturated” mode gets much more saturated. Every color really pops and I’d say it’s too saturated for my liking, but some people do like this. The other preset mode is “original color”. It gets a highly calibrated and accurate color mode. It’s not as nice to look at, but it will look good for those who prefer images to look true and flat, with no added punches. The last mode is a custom mode. There are a whole lot of settings, so you can really calibrate the display colors however you want.
I would give this display a nice A- rating. Why A-? Well, it’s because of two reasons, resolution and refresh rate. They cut down on refresh rate and resolution because 90hz and FHD+ are both decent. The combination helps save cost and battery. 120hz and WQHD+ would just be nice improvements, especially at the price Xiaomi is asking it for. I know it’s nitpicking, the display is fantastic but those two improvements would have been nice to see. If Xiaomi wants to compete at the top, it needs to be at the top, and 90Hz FHD+ is not the top, even though it remains practical.
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro has some of the best internal hardware on the market. It’s running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 with the X55 5G modem. This device only supports mid/low band 5G and no mmWave. That is perfectly fine as the device isn’t launching in the US. In the countries it is launching in, it should support most 5G bands in use for the region. It has a 4,500 mAh battery with 50W wired charging and 30W wireless charging. Xiaomi claims the 50W wired charger should fill the battery in about 45 minutes and my tests find that this is true. The 30W wireless charger is obviously a bit slower, but not by much. It takes around 25 minutes to charge from 5% to 53% and around an hour to fill the battery. That is much faster than a lot of other flagship phones’ wired charging. Back to that in-box wired charger for a moment, it is actually a 65W charger that supports PD/PPS so you can use it to fast charge most laptops and tablets. This is a small detail but greatly appreciated. The single storage option is also pretty good. It has 256GBs of UFS 3.0 storage with 8GBs of LPDDR5 RAM. That is more than enough base storage and a good amount of RAM.
The camera setup is also pretty top-notch. The main sensor is the Samsung Bright HMX 108MP sensor. It has a sensor size of 1/1.33”, a pixel size of 0.8μm with 4-in-1 pixel binning to 1.6μm, f/1.69 aperture, and OIS. Unlike the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the Mi 10 Pro does pixel binning more conventionally, with 4 pixels instead of 9. There is also a 20MP ultra-wide at a 117-degree FoV along with a 12MP 2X optical and 8MP zoom lens with 10X hybrid zoom. It’s a pretty great setup. and I’ll get into more detail in a bit. Note that the rear camera setup is where the phone sets itself apart from the regular Mi 10.
On the outside, the phone is absolutely fantastic. It has a 6.67-inch FHD+ display with HDR10+ and a 90hz refresh rate. The brightness on the display is pretty good at 500 nits average and 800 nits in high brightness made. It is a curved display, but it isn’t too curved. It’s definitely a comfortable curve, though. There are little to no issues with palm rejection as well. It’s all around really great.
The body of the phone is aluminum and the back and front are Gorilla Glass 5. It comes in two colors, Alpine White and Solstice Grey. The rear glass on both devices has a matte texture with a slight color shift depending on the lighting. The unit Xiaomi sent me was the Alpine White unit and it shifts between white, pink, red, and blue. It just looks absolutely fantastic.
Something else that has seriously improved about the Mi 10 Pro is the haptics. I would go as far as to say the haptics on this phone are better than on the OnePlus 8 and Pixel 4. They are precise and strong without making a table shake while getting a notification. Xiaomi also implemented them throughout the entire UI. When you hit the top or bottom of a page while scrolling, you’ll get a light haptic buzz to let you know that you can’t scroll any longer. It’s little things like this throughout the UI that just make it feel complete.
There are a lot of absolutely fantastic parts of this phone, and for a Xiaomi flagship, that’s pretty impressive.
Normally I don’t talk about audio quality in reviews. I’m not an audiophile and I’m not too versed in audio quality. What I am versed in is phones. I’ve used so many phones over the years, and every year, one can hear the improvements in speaker quality. That improvement has plateaued in basically every phone expect two, the Galaxy Fold and Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro. These two phones have one thing in common that makes them so much better than every other device: symmetrical speakers.
Symmetrical speakers are my favorite thing about this phone, if I’m being honest. They get super loud and sound really good. These are the best speakers on any phone I’ve ever heard. Better than the iPhone, better than the Galaxy Fold, better than the Pixel 4 XL. Xiaomi absolutely nailed them. I tried to record a video of the speakers, which is above, but it doesn’t do complete justice to the speakers. They are truly fantastic. I’d say they are even better than my 2020 iPad Pro, which also has fantastic speakers. It’s just incredible.
The microphone is also really good. My experience with Xiaomi phones has been mostly negative in the microphone department. I usually find them to be really bad for anything but phone calls. The Mi 10 Pro changes that. These new microphones are, once again, fantastic. They sound accurate and do a great job of getting good voice accuracy and not sounding tinny. While I was talking to my friends on Houseparty, they told me the Mi 10 Pro had the best sounding microphone out of all of the flagships I asked them to compare, those being the OnePlus 8 Pro, the Huawei P40 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s really impressive to come out on top against such a heavyweight lineup!
This was honestly shocking to me, but I’m glad Xiaomi focused on it. The Xiaomi Mi 9 and Mi Mix 3, the previous two Xiaomi flagships I used, had bad microphones and speakers. They were disappointing for expensive phones. I’m so glad Xiaomi not only improved them but made them better than any other phone OEM.
As I mentioned in the hardware section, the main shooter of this camera is the 108MP Samsung Bright HMX sensor. Xiaomi was the first OEM to use this sensor in the Xiaomi Mi Note 10. On that phone, it was all around fine. It wasn’t particularly good or particularly bad. It was all-around average, which was fine for the price since the Mi Note 10 was cheaper. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is a much more expensive phone and, of course, a flagship. The main sensor, and all the others at that, do not disappoint and are actually really great.
So first off the main sensor, this 108MP behemoth. The images you capture won’t actually be 108MP, unless you use the 108MP mode. They will be 25.2MP after using 4-in-1 pixel binning. Pixel binning basically takes a set of nearby pixels in a square and combines them into one larger pixel. So even though the individual pixels are very small, it is effectively a much larger pixel. This should result in better detail and better low light photography.
The results are really good. There’s a lot of detail and colors are mostly accurate and very appealing. You are able to zoom in and retain detail and clarity. HDR is pretty good but not crazy good. There is some work that can be done, but it’s not a huge deal. The detail in portrait pictures is great and there isn’t much skin smoothing once you turn off beauty mode. It’s not great for moving objects, though. I really haven’t been able to get any good pictures of my 3-month-old puppy. The white balance is always off and the images are all blurry. It’s a good all-around main sensor, but not without its issues.
The ultra-wide is also really good. It’s a 20MP sensor 117-degree FOV lens. It is definitely a good camera and I have no complaints about it. HDR and detail are good. There really aren’t any glaring issues with it, though I would have liked to see a bit more similarities between the colors of the main and ultra-wide lenses.
There are actually two zoom lenses, a 12MP short telephoto which is used for portrait shots. It’s all-around pretty good. Of course, it’s not as good as the main sensor but no telephoto really ever is. It’s great for portrait mode and for close range zoom. Once again, no real complaints about this camera. It’s pretty good, but there’s always room to bring it up to par with the main sensor.
Lastly for the rear, the long telephoto. It’s an 8MP sensor with a 3.76x optical zoom. It’s good to note this is NOT using a periscope camera setup. Using extra information from the main 108MP sensor, Xiaomi was able to get 10x hybrid zoom and 50x digital zoom. Like most cameras with ultra far zoom, it’s not great, but again, no phones with this type of zoom really are.
As for the front-facing camera, it’s pretty good. The photos aren’t super sharp but it does preserve a lot of detail and have minimal skin smoothing. It’s a pretty damn good looking selfie camera, and I really have no complaints about it. I do have complaints about the camera app, though. Beauty mode should not be enabled by default, it should be an option that you have to manually turn on.
All around, this isn’t a camera you can be disappointed by. It’s good, like most Xiaomi cameras. I’m not going to say it’s the best smartphone camera, as white balance and moving images have been common issues I’ve noticed. I mean sure, there are a few improvements you can make here and there but that’s not going to ruin the overall experience of the camera. It’s no worse than something like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which I really like despite its flaws. The same goes for the camera on the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Performance Analysis
Section contributed by Mishaal Rahman
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 mobile platform, Qualcomm’s flagship-tier SoC announced at the end of 2019. The SoC features an octa-core CPU in a 1-3-4 core configuration; 1x ARM Cortex A77 core clocked at up to 2.84GHz is joined by 3x ARM Cortex A77 cores clocked at up to 2.4GHz and finally, 4x ARM Cortex A55 cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz. For graphics, the Snapdragon 865 packs Qualcomm’s Adreno 650 GPU. TSMC fabricates the Snapdragon 865 using its 7nm (N7P) foundry process. Compared to the previous generation Snapdragon 855 found in the Mi 9 series, the Snapdragon 865 enables 25% faster CPU performance, 20% faster graphics rendering, and 35% more power efficiency in graphics rendering.
Other important components to note that contributes to the day-to-day performance include the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro’s LPDDR5 RAM module (up to 12GB) and UFS 3.0 storage module (up to 512GB). LPDDR5 RAM brings faster memory speeds at a lower power consumption than the previous generation LPDDR4X specification thanks to features like DVFS, Deep Sleep Mode, DQ Copy, and WriteX. Universal Flash Storage, or UFS, is a storage standard designed for flash storage devices that are commonly used in mobile devices. UFS 3.0 promises significant improvements in theoretical sequential read and write speeds with over double the bandwidth per lane compared to the previous generation UFS 2.1.
With that in mind, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is expected to perform very well in synthetic benchmarks and in real-world performance. However, there are a myriad of factors that affect the actual performance because OEMs like Xiaomi don’t simply clone Qualcomm’s reference hardware and software. On the software side, OEMs tune things like the CPU and GPU schedulers, memory controller, and file system. On the hardware side, OEMs design their products to have a balance between heat dissipation and aesthetics. To help dissipate heat in the Mi 10 Pro, Xiaomi boasts a “VC Liquid Cooling” system consisting of a large vapor chamber, 6-stack graphite layer, and heat-transmitting gel. While that means the Mi 10 Pro is equipped for extended gaming sessions, does that translate to great performance in spite of MIUI?
Quick Overview of Each Benchmark
- AndroBench: AndroBench is a fairly old benchmark with an equally dated design, but it’s still the go-to for storage testing. It tests the speed of sequential read/write, random read/write, and SQLite insert, update, and delete operations. A sequential read/write is an operation that involves reading/writing storage blocks that are contiguous, while a random read/write involves reading/writing randomly scattered storage blocks. SQLite describes a type of database management system; developers dealing with large databases often have to make SQLite calls to retrieve or modify the database. We can get a good idea of the storage performance of an Android device with AndroBench. By default, the benchmark writes a 64MP file with either 32MB or 4KB buffer sizes for sequential and random read/writes respectively, and an SQLite transaction size of 1. The speed of the former operation is measured in MB/s while the latter in Queries Per Second (QPS).
- AnTuTu: This is a holistic benchmark. AnTuTu tests the CPU, GPU, and memory performance, while including both abstract tests and, as of late, relatable user experience simulations (for example, the subtest which involves scrolling through a ListView). The final score is weighted according to the designer’s considerations.
- GeekBench: A CPU-centric test that uses several computational workloads including encryption, compression (text and images), rendering, physics simulations, computer vision, ray tracing, speech recognition, and convolutional neural network inference on images. The score breakdown gives specific metrics. The final score is weighted according to the designer’s considerations, placing a large emphasis on integer performance (65%), then float performance (30%), and finally, crypto (5%).
- GFXBench: Aims to simulate video game graphics rendering using the latest APIs. Lots of onscreen effects and high-quality textures. Newer tests use Vulkan while legacy tests use OpenGL ES 3.1. The outputs are frames during test and frames per second (the other number divided by the test length, essentially), instead of a weighted score. Aztec Ruins: These tests are the most computationally heavy ones offered by GFXBench. Currently, top mobile chipsets cannot sustain 30 frames per second. Specifically, the test offers really high polygon count geometry, hardware tessellation, high-resolution textures, global illumination and plenty of shadow mapping, copious particle effects, as well as bloom and depth of field effects. Most of these techniques will stress the shader compute capabilities of the processor.
- PCMark 2.0: Tests the device as a complete unit. It simulates everyday use cases that can implement abstract algorithms and a lot of arithmetic; the difference is that these are dispatched within an application environment, with a particular practical purpose, and handled by API calls and Android libraries common to multiple applications. The test will output a variety of scores corresponding to the various subtests, which will be detailed below; the composite, Work 2.0 score is simply the geometric mean of all of these scores, meaning all tests are weighted equally.
- Web browsing 2.0 simulates browsing social media: rendering the web page, searching for the content, re-rendering the page as new images are added, and so on. This subtest uses the native Android WebView to render (WebKit) and interact with the content, which is locally stored — this means you can run it offline, but it does not simulate web browsing fully as it rules out internet connection factors (latency, network speed). It is specifically tracking frame rates and completion time across seven tasks, with their score being a multiple of their geometric mean.
- Video Editing simulates video editing performance: applying effects to a video using OpenGL ES 2.0 fragment shaders, decoding video frames (sent to an Android GLSurfaceView), and rendering/encoding the video in H.264/MPEG-4AVC at several frame rates and resolutions up to 4K. It is specifically tracking frame rates on the UI, except for a final test tracking the completion time of a video editing pipeline.
- Writing simulates general document and text editing work: adding or editing texts and images within a document, copying and pasting text, and so on. It uses the native Android EditText view as well as PdfRenderer and PdfDocument APIs. It will open compressed documents, move text bodies, insert images in the document, then save them as a PDF, to then encrypt and decrypt them (AES). It specifically tracks task completion times for the processes of opening and saving files, adding images and moving text bodies, encrypt/decrypt the file, and render the PDF pages on ImageViews.
- Photo Editing simulates photo-editing performance: opening images, applying different effects via filters (grains, blurs, embossing, sharpening, and so on) and saving the image. It uses 4MP JPEG source images and manipulates them in bitmap format using the android.media.effect API, android.renderscript API’s RenderScript Intrinsics, android-jhlabs, and the native android.graphics API for drawing the process on the screen. This is an extremely comprehensive test in that it will be impacted by storage access, CPU performance, GPU performance, and it is dependent on many different Android APIs. The test specifically measures memory and storage access times, encoding and decoding times, task completion times. The various filters and effects come from different APIs.
- Data manipulation simulates database management operations: parsing and validating data from files, interacting with charts, and so on. It will open (date, value) tuples from CSV, XML, JSON files, and then render animated charts with the MPAndroidChart library. It specifically tracks data parsing times as well as draws per second of each chart animation (similar to frame rate, but specific to the updating chart).
We’ll start off with GFXBench. To test the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro’s sustained GPU performance (and in addition, the battery life) over time, we ran the Manhattan 3.1 long-term performance/battery test. This is a graphically intensive onscreen test that runs at the phone’s native resolution (1080p) and at maximum brightness. The Mi 10 Pro rendered at least 4645 frames through 30 iterations of the test. GFXBench estimates the battery would last 193 minutes, or a little over 3 hours, if it were to continuously run the test. That means you can expect at least 3 hours of continuous gameplay on the most demanding Android game you can think of with the screen bumped up to max brightness. What’s more, is that the performance shouldn’t fluctuate very much; the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro’s rendered between 4645-4654 frames throughout the 30 iterations of the test, so the variation was quite small. The battery temperature rose from about 27 degrees to about 37 degrees Celsius, which may feel uncomfortable but likely not hot. Keep in mind, though, that the baseline temperature will depend on where you live.
For good measure, we also ran the Sling Shot Extreme test in 3DMark (which is written using the OpenGL ES 3.1 API). This is another highly intensive, but shorter, test that pushes the GPU to its limits. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro scored within the top 1 percent of all devices with an overall score of 7061 and a graphics score and physics score of 8210 and 4739 respectively.
Next up is PCMark 2.0 and the Work 2.0 performance test. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro scored 11463 overall, which is about 800 points lower than the score of the Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Reference Device. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro outperforms the Qualcomm Reference Device in the Video Editing and Data Manipulation tests but underperforms the QRD in the Web Browsing, Writing, and Photo Editing tests. Keep in mind that the QRD is tuned for performance and as such, represents the pinnacle of what the Snapdragon 865 can accomplish.
In AndroBench, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro outperforms the 865 QRD in all the key areas: sequential and random read/writes. This suggests that Xiaomi’s optimizations to the file system have been beneficial to the storage performance. While the improvements don’t mean much in the real world, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro proves to be a champ in reading and writing files to storage. This has benefits in-app launching speeds, image saving, and more areas.
In Geekbench 5, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro underperforms the 865 QRD in both the single-core and multi-core CPU scores, but only slightly. The device boasts impressive numbers in all key tests, including cryptographic, integer, and floating-point calculations. The powerful CPU in the Snapdragon 865 proves to be a boon in retro console emulation including that of the Nintendo GameCube, Wii, and 3DS. The high single-core performance also means that single-threaded tasks, which are quite common in simple Android apps, will be performed quite quickly.
Lastly, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro posts a high score in the popular AnTuTu benchmark. The Mi 10 Pro bests the 865 QRD thanks to superior performance in the memory and UX tests.
Trying to decide if phones are “worth it” is hard. There are a few parts to it, the price to performance, the device to device competition, the experience of using the phone, and so much more. The price to performance ratio on this phone is good, but this year has been expensive for flagships in general. Xiaomi has incredible audio and fast charging, a pretty good but not breathtaking display, and a not-bad camera. Comparing device to device, it is highly competitive with most other phones at the €999 price. The experience of using this phone is absolutely fantastic.
When talking about modern smartphones, it’s really hard to say which phones are the best. Each flagship has a different trade-off in a different part that is more or less meaningful to different people. For example, the OPPO Find X2 Pro has an amazing display and super-fast charging, but no wireless charging. In comparison, the Galaxy S20+ has wireless charging but the camera is a little less than perfect. The Huawei P40 Pro has an incredible camera, but no Google apps. It’s all about the trade-offs about the device and what you value most about the phone you are getting.
If you value audio quality, fast wired and wireless charging, good battery life, overall great but not fantastic cameras, and a good display, this phone is for you. If any of those points are what you aren’t really digging, I highly recommend checking out other options. There are a lot of great phones right now that might be a better fit.
Rojenx is a leading concept artist who work appears in games and publications
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