TECH
21/10/2019 10:54 AM IST | Updated 21/10/2019 1:36 PM IST

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro Review—Bang For The Buck

Delivering a good gaming experience on a budget, Xiaomi’s got a good thing going with the Note 8 Pro… but the comparisons with the Realme XT are inevitable.

Tushar Kanwar
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro and box.

Just this past week, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series crossed the 100 million shipment mark for global sales since the lineup launched back in 2014. Given that context, the Redmi Note 8 Pro arrives at a crucial time for the company.

Not only does it have to shoulder the burden of expectations set by its hugely successful predecessor from earlier this year, the Redmi Note 7 Pro, but it also has to stave off the very real competition posed by the likes of the Realme XT.

Are the headlining 64MP camera sensor and the all-new gaming focused MediaTek Helio G90T chipset enough to bag the average buyer?

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The Redmi Note 8 Pro goes on sale on Monday October 21, and is available in three variants — a 6GB RAM + 64GB storage option (Rs 14,999), a 6GB+128GB option (Rs 15,999) and a 8GB RAM + 128GB storage option (Rs 17,999) — in three colors, Shadow Black, Gamma Green and Halo White. All variants sport the MediaTek Helio G90T chip, a 64MP quad camera array and a 4500mAh high capacity battery. 

Redmi Note 8 Pro: What’s to like

The cameras

It may have been pipped to the 64MP camera post by Realme, but Xiaomi’s done a pretty bang-up job with the Samsung GW1 sensor to capture pixel-binned 16MP photos, though you could switch to the dedicated 64MP mode in the app to take photos in their full 64MP 20MB-per-shot glory!

Photos shot in daylight exhibited good detail and accurate exposure levels, and even when the sun went down, the camera was quick to focus and turned out bright images with perfectly usable levels of detail (switching to Night Mode helps as well).

Tushar Kanwar
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro outdoors camera sample.

Yet, the 64MP shooter is only one fifth of the equation. There’s the 2MP depth sensor that helps background-foreground separation in portrait shots-it works well outdoors and lets you set the level of blur before taking the shot, but struggles with fine edges in indoor lighting.

Then there’s the 2019 flavor of the season–an 8MP ultra-wide-angle, 120-degree-field-of-view camera that shoots a wider scene for added perspective or creative visualization. Images shot from the ultra-wide-angle obviously can’t compete with the detail levels on the primary sensor, but they’re perfectly usable and don’t suffer from a lot of the barrel distortion that plagues most ultra-wide-angles.

Tushar Kanwar
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro indoor camera sample.

The really interesting addition is the 2MP macro shooter which may not win any plaudits in the image quality department, but it lets you really up close and personal with tiny, easily-missed objects and textures in everyday life. Finally, the selfie department gets a bump up to a 20MP and results were good enough for social media sharing.

Performance

Xiaomi’s choice of the MediaTek Helio G90T chip was all at once interesting and, for Indian buyers conditioned to looking for the ‘Qualcomm Snapdragon’ on the phone box, initially worrisome.

With its positioning as a gaming-centric chipset that competes against the Snapdragon 730-series chip, the G90T delivered on everyday asks-apps opened quickly and ran without any lag or stutter even on heavy workloads, and the 8GB of memory on our test unit allowed quick switching between apps without over-aggressive background app management.

Tushar Kanwar
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro cameras.

Asphalt 9 and PUBG defaulted to High settings with high frame rates, but one could push this manually to ‘ultra’ frame rates and HDR graphics and the phone responds with aplomb. Xiaomi’s implemented a liquid cooling tech which keeps the phone cool-a 30-minute gaming session gets things warm but not uncomfortably hot. Add to that the bright and vivid full-HD+ display with HDR support, and you have a device that’s a ton of fun while playing games or bingeing on the latest Netflix show.

All in all, a great first showing for the chipset from MediaTek on the Redmi Note 8 Pro.

Interestingly, the MediaTek chipset also delivers dual-wake word support, so it can listen for more than one trigger word to spring into action. You get both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa on the Redmi Note 8 Pro, and the flexibility is super useful, particularly if you’ve heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem.

Battery Life

With the kind of performance the phone packs, Xiaomi did well to pack in a 4,500mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging…with a fast charger in the box, for good measure! Even while we pushed the device during the review period with a heavy workload of Maps, web surfing, YouTube and some Asphalt 9, the phone would end up around the 30-35% mark at the end of the day, which is downright respectable.

Tushar Kanwar
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro uses the USB Type-C type port.

Design

The premium new design language we saw in the Redmi 8 series benefits the Note 8 Pro as well, and so Xiaomi’s been able to add in a bigger display (6.53-inch vs 6.3-inch) without significantly bumping up the overall dimensions from the Redmi Note 7 Pro.

Make no mistake about it – this is still a big phone and heavier as well, but the curved panel to the sides allow you to get a firm grip on the otherwise slippery, glossy back. The camera bump on the rear is prominent enough to make the phone wobble when lying flat on its back, and it interestingly houses three of the four rear cameras plus the fingerprint sensor, with the macro lens below the flash to one side.

It’s not the ideal location for a fingerprint scanner—its proximity to the ultra-wide camera right above it means you oftentimes smudge the camera when unlocking the device. On the flip side, dual Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot are a welcome addition, as is the audio jack and IR blaster. USB Type-C is fast becoming the port of choice across Xiaomi’s lineup, and an all-Type-C future couldn’t come sooner.

Tushar Kanwar
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro display is good—but given the competition, could be improved upon.

Redmi Note 8 Pro: What needs work

App Bloatware and Ads

This is getting into ‘tired trope’ territory and you probably already know what you’re getting into with MIUI, but the glut of preinstalled apps and spammy notifications from some system apps continues to irk.

The competition

Delivering a good gaming experience on a budget, Xiaomi’s got a good thing going with the Note 8 Pro…but the comparisons with the Realme XT are inevitable, more so because they look pretty similar on paper with their quad-camera setups, similarly competent performance levels and similar form-factors.

The Realme XT does have the ace up its sleeve in the form of the richer, brighter OLED panel but Xiaomi’s done well to fight back in terms of optimized camera performance and aggressive pricing, so it’ll come down to individual preference. 

Redmi Note 8 Pro: Verdict

With the Note 8 Pro, Xiaomi’s delivered yet another stellar bang for the buck and the phone checks off most of the boxes consumers crave-battery life, performance and good cameras-at a price that’s just right. Our issues with the ad situation on MIUI smartphones notwithstanding, this is an easy phone to recommend.