Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro review: Plenty pro for the price
Xiaomi’s finally stepping up its game to play with the big boys in the premium smartphone space, first with the impressive Mi 10 earlier this year and now with the Mi 10T and the Mi 10T Pro duo. No, this is not a T or a Pro version of the Mi 10 as the name might suggest – it’s a new variant in the series, one that takes a couple of steps forward and a few steps back to be able to slot in at a lower price point and truly take the fight to OnePlus in the segment. At Rs. 39,999, the Mi 10T Pro offers stellar value but how does it fare on day-to-day use? I put it to test to find out.
The Mi 10T Pro is a gorgeous piece of kit, if a little on the chunky side of things. Typical of its peers, there’s a metal and Gorilla Glass 5 sandwich with a punch-hole cutout on the flat-edged display (unlike the dripping over the edges curved display on the Mi 10). As with the Mi 10, the gloss that gives the rear glass panel a premium look is also responsible to collect every smudge and fingerprint that comes its way! The large camera module announces the phone’s photography chops from a distance, so you’d be well advised to slap on the included case to avoid the inevitable rocking motion when the device is placed on a hard surface. There’s the Xiaomi staple infrared emitter, stereo speakers and a snappy side-mounted fingerprint scanner that doubles as a power button.
Despite retaining a similarly sized 6.67in screen as the Mi 10, Xiaomi opted to bump up the battery to a 5000mAh variant for which it had to increase the dimensions by what seems like a smidgen in each direction on paper. The effect is discernible – the Mi 10 was comfortable to hold in the hand, but the Mi 10T Pro has tipped over into the somewhat bulky territory. As much as the curved glass on the back helps it nestle in the palm, you can feel the heft in daily use, and one wishes the brand had stuck to the better, hand-friendly design on the Mi 10.
The bigger battery, of course, powers one of the Mi 10T Pro’s standout features - the 144Hz refresh rate display. If you pick up most modern competing flagships with high refresh rate panels, you get to pick between regular 60Hz and either 90Hz or 120Hz, and the phones runs the snappier refresh rate all the time. With the Mi 10T Pro, the screen dynamically adjusts the refresh rate based on what you’re viewing, so it can go all the way down to 30Hz if you’re streaming videos, bump it up to 48Hz/50Hz for watching movies, or further to 90/120Hz for games and all the way up to 144Hz for scrolling around in MIUI 12 or in supported apps (like Chrome, Twitter and some games). You can, should you want to, select the refresh rate manually as well from 60Hz, 90Hz and 144Hz, but Xiaomi’s adaptive refresh rate tech does well to ratchet up and down based on the content and is super responsive in use, so you’ll likely save some battery in the process as well (instead of going full tilt all the time). You’ll almost forget the other big change in the display - the switch from the AMOLED display on the Mi 10 to the IPS LCD panel on the Mi 10T Pro. The switch has likely helped Xiaomi hit the sweet price point on the 10T Pro, and the panel is as vibrant and punchy as I’ve seen an LCD display get, with only the darkest of movie scenes having me wish for an AMOLED panel. The flat panel is fun for gaming, with all that extra screen real estate.
The Mi 10T Pro offers the same 108MP primary camera from the Mi 10, with a 13MP ultra-wide, a 5MP macro lens and a 20MP selfie shooter.
Shooting with the primary camera, you get pixel-binned 27MP shots though there is the option to take full-resolution 108MP photos.
Images are replete with detail and excellent dynamic range in good light, though the noise levels crept up in low-light shots, particularly on the ultra-wide. New modes for shooting short video for social media, shooting with both the front and rear cameras and capturing neon trails or long exposure star trails are a bunch of fun to explore.
The camera also suffered from the super-shallow depth of field when up close with a subject, typical of large-sized sensors on smartphone. By and large, I liked the images the Mi 10T Pro turned out and having the massive 108MP sensor accessible to more folks at a lower price point can only be a good thing.
What hasn’t changed is what’s under the hood, and the Mi 10T Pro is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor as the Mi 10. Xiaomi’s retailing only a single variant with 8GB of speedy LPDDR5 memory and 128GB of the fastest UFS 3.1 storage, but no storage expansion. One thing that stood out for me on the Mi 10 was the degree of restraint Xiaomi had exercised with software, and the theme continues on the Mi 10T Pro. There are some preinstalled apps for Amazon, Booking.com and a bunch of first party Mi services, but most can be uninstalled. Plus, one didn’t see the spammy notifications that are rampant on the company’s budget lineup, which is a good touch. Performance is along expected lines, given the uncompromising nature of the hardware – apps were quick to load, and jumping between apps and screens was super smooth with the faster refresh rate display. The phone run a tad warm after sustained one-hour gaming sessions, but the liquid cooling tech kept temperatures under check. In my use, I didn’t hit any issues with having only 8GB of memory, though a bump up to 12GB (in a slightly pricier variant) could have been considered.
The bumped-up battery did well to last out over a day (between 6-7 hours of screen-on time) of use, even with the refresh rate set to 144Hz. There’s 33W fast charging with the included charger for a claimed just over an hour to charge to full, a claim I couldn’t test since my pre-launch unit came without the bundled charger. The 30W wireless charging we saw on the Mi 10 is missing here, as is IP certification for water resistance.
Landing at just under forty thousand bucks, the Mi 10T Pro is pretty good value for a phone with top-shelf performance, a great primary camera and a high-refresh rate display that’s as slick as they come. It strips away some of the bells and whistles and delivers flagship table stakes and premium quality at a compelling price point, and you have to look really hard at the few compromises (wireless charging, an AMOLED display and the heft) it makes to figure out if you’d rather just pay the slight premium and pick up a Mi 10 or a OnePlus 8T instead.
Highlights: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
Pros: Adaptive refresh rate LCD panel, good performance, great 108MP camera, decent battery life, stereo speakers,
Cons: Lacks wireless charging and IP-rated resistance, unwieldy and heavy, no AMOLED panel
Price: Rs. 39,999 (8GB+128GB)
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar