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Redmi Note 10 Pro Max review: A worthy upgrade in every way

Xiaomi's sub-brand continues to push the envelope on budget devices every year and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is no exception. But let's find out whether you should pay 18,999 for this device — or buy the cheaper Redmi Note 10 Pro variant instead.

.There's a lot to like about the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.  .There's a lot to like about the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. 
.There's a lot to like about the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.  (David Delima/HT Tech)

Brand: Redmi/Xiaomi

Product: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Key specs: 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display at 120Hz, 108 MP primary sensor, 8 MP ultrawide sensor, 5 MP macro and 2 MP depth sensor, 6/8 GB RAM, 64/128GB UFS 2.2 storage, Snapdragon 732G chipset, 5020 mAh battery with 33W charging.

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Price: 18,999

Rating: 4.5/5

Xiaomi has firmly established itself in the affordable smartphone category over the past five years or so, bringing relevant upgrades to its budget line of devices while keeping the price firmly below 20,000.

Many phone manufacturers bring incremental upgrades over their previous offerings, and this has been the case for Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series as well, with the notable exception of this year’s Redmi Note 10 series. The company has brought some serious upgrades across the board this year, starting from the screen to the camera, design and durability.

If you’re in the market for an affordable device under 20,000 and want something that offers great bang for your buck, should the latest Redmi Note 10 Pro Max be on your radar? 

We’ve spent the better part of two weeks with Xiaomi’s latest offering and here are our thoughts.

Design and display

Redmi has brought some interesting changes to their Note 10 series this year, and the most notable change is switching out the IPS LCD screen on its predecessor with a Super AMOLED panel this year. Redmi says the device has a peak brightness of 1200 nits and we had no issues using this device outside, even with dark mode turned on.

For its first Super AMOLED screen on a Redmi Note 10 device, Xiaomi seems to have done a decent job in terms of colour accuracy, while HDR content looks great on the 1080p screen. The screen also supports a refresh rate of 120Hz, making scrolling through the gallery and webpages on both Samsung Internet and Chrome a very smooth experience. One thing is certain, this is the best display to feature on a Note series device from Redmi so far.

Redmi's new EVOL design is probably its best budget series design, so far.  
Redmi's new EVOL design is probably its best budget series design, so far.   (David Delima/ HT Tech)

Redmi has dropped the Aura design from its previous Redmi Note series devices this year in favour of its new “EVOL. design” and the phone looks fantastic, with a frosted glass back design that didn’t attract any fingerprints or smudges. 

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, especially the vintage bronze colour variant we tried, might subjectively be the best-looking device in this price segment, and possibly Redmi’s most mature design so far and we really like what Redmi has done with the overall design this year.

This phone weighs 192 gms, thanks in part to the 5,020mAh battery that powers it. It’s still 17 grams lighter than its predecessor, and this will make a difference when using a case, which Redmi has included in the box. The case even has a rubber seal for the charging port and wide cutouts for the earphone jack and the fingerprint sensor.

Redmi's Note 10 Pro Max features a 108MP primary sensor.
Redmi's Note 10 Pro Max features a 108MP primary sensor. (David Delima/ HT Tech)

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor that is responsive, but we couldn’t find a way to have it unlock without waking up the screen first. Tapping on the screen or pressing the power button to unlock takes a bit of getting used to since most smartphone sensors are usually waiting to authenticate you as soon as you touch it. 

The buttons on the side are easy to reach, while the fingerprint sensor can also be used to set gestures to perform different actions on the device.

Camera

Another big improvement Redmi has brought to the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max this year is the 108MP primary camera sensor. Including a 108MP sensor seems to be the latest smartphone camera trend, and this phone is no exception. The device’s main sensor takes very clear images and there is a lot of detail even after you zoom into the photo.

Unlike other budget phones, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max takes high resolution photos almost instantly. (Image has been resized for web)
Unlike other budget phones, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max takes high resolution photos almost instantly. (Image has been resized for web) (David Delima/HT Tech)
Images taken with the wide angle lens have a little bit of distortion around the edges, so you may want to stick with the primary sensor.  (Image has been resized for web)
Images taken with the wide angle lens have a little bit of distortion around the edges, so you may want to stick with the primary sensor.  (Image has been resized for web) (David Delima/ HT Tech)

While taking photos during the daytime, the Note 10 Po Max takes bright images and colours are accurate but we sometimes had to tap to focus, after which the phone took very crisp shots. While the ultra-wide lens seems to do a decent job and we didn’t see a lot of distortion at the edges, we ended up shooting with the main camera most of the time.

The Super Macro lens on the Note 10 Pro Max takes crisp and clear images even when lighting isn't ideal. (Image has been resized for web)
The Super Macro lens on the Note 10 Pro Max takes crisp and clear images even when lighting isn't ideal. (Image has been resized for web) (David Delima/ HT Tech)

Redmi has included a 5 MP “Super Macro” lens on the Note 10 Pro Max and this might just be the first budget device where the macro camera doesn’t disappoint. Images clicked in well-lit areas have a lot of detail and the colours are quite accurate, although you should probably avoid using it in low light scenarios. We feel like the 2MP depth sensor could really have been done away with entirely – the phone took great portrait shots even when we covered it with a finger.

Performance

Part of the reason why Redmi is so popular in the budget device category is their powerful specification sheet and the Note 10 Pro Max is no exception. Redmi has thrown in everything except the kitchen sink into this device, with the notable exceptions of NFC and 5G connectivity. 

However, benchmarks are synthetic performance tests and rarely tell the whole story – the real-world performance of a device is equally important. The device’s Snapdragon 732G processor is definitely an improvement over its predecessor, and games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty: Mobile run flawlessly. The device did get a little warm after around 20 minutes of gameplay, so you may want to wait for a while before charging it if you’ve been gaming for over an hour.

While the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max comes in 6GB and 8GB RAM variants, we recommend that users go for the 8GB variant. This is because of Google’s recent decision to allow 64-bit Chrome to run only on devices that run Android 10 and have at least that much RAM. Besides, having extra RAM for all your apps and games to remain cached in memory is always a good thing. 

However, even the 6GB variant is extremely smooth and keeps apps in memory for long enough without any issues. Switching between open apps is very smooth and there are no lags or stutters.

MIUI may still be the best version of Xiaomi's software so far, but we can't wait for the company to roll out the MIUI 12.5 update so we can reduce the ads and bloatware. 
MIUI may still be the best version of Xiaomi's software so far, but we can't wait for the company to roll out the MIUI 12.5 update so we can reduce the ads and bloatware.  (David Delima/ HT Tech)

Battery life on Redmi phones has always been way above the competition, thanks in part to Xiaomi’s aggressive background battery savings. However, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max surprised us again with over a day and a half of battery life with moderate use. Charging with the built-in 33W charger is quick, with the phone completing a full charge in around an hour and ten minutes.

During the launch, Xiaomi also mentioned that they have built-in a Z-Axis haptic vibration engine on the device. After using the device for a while, we found that the haptic feedback was tight and responsive to small gestures like swiping up from the home screen. It’s a better experience than the one on the Samsung Galaxy A71, for example, but it isn’t going to beat the one on the iPhone (ah, well). 

When it comes to software, Xiaomi’s MIUI has the same advantages and disadvantages as its predecessors – there's a lot of bloatware and ads, but the company says you’ll be able to reduce both of these (including quite a few system apps) with the arrival of the MIUI 12.5 update later this year. You get all the MIUI related advantages, such as a dual apps mode, an iOS inspired Control Center, and the built-in app privacy protection service (for permissions) and “privacy indicators”.

Verdict

It’s almost impossible to find another device that costs 18,999 and delivers such excellent value for money, but the question arises — if the only difference between the Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Note 10 Pro Max is the 108 MP primary camera, is it worth spending 3,000 more if you don’t care about taking photos all the time? 

The Redmi Note 10 Pro has every single feature we have mentioned in the review above, from the screen to the processor – even the 5020mAh battery is the same.

Should you instead spend some more money and get the Mi 10i instead of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max? 

It depends. 

The Mi 10i only has an LCD screen and a slightly smaller battery. Buying a 5G capable phone right now, when we do not have any 5G networks in the country seems a little premature. By the time we see 5G network tech rolled out properly in the country, a mid-range device like the Mi 10i might just feel outdated. However, if you really want to buy a 5G device, then the Mi10i seems like a better choice.

If you want an all-round device that has a great design, a vibrant AMOLED display with a high refresh rate, takes good photos and videos, runs reliably without any stutters and hiccups, and has great battery life – then the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is probably the best device you can buy at this price point. If you don’t really care about the 108MP camera, then the Redmi Note 10 Pro at 15,999 is a far better deal.

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