When it comes to premium flagship smartphones that aren’t so expensive, you can certainly count on Xiaomi to offer such devices with exceptional performances. The company had recently announced its 5G capable Xiaomi Mi 10T and the Mi 10T Pro, and we got the chance to review the base model. Here are our thoughts about the new flagship.
While the new Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G looks quite similar to other flagship smartphones in the market, the company ensured that the device is made of premium materials. The smartphone features a large and bright 6.67-inch IPS DotDisplay and has a screen resolution of 1080 x 2400. The images and texts appear to be very sharp, thanks to the 395ppi pixel density and the great viewing angles of the IPS display adds up to the viewing experience. The screen has support for HDR10+ based video content so you can see your favorite flicks at their best. Xiaomi ensured to bring in the goodness of fast refresh rates on its latest flagship. The MI 10T 5G delivers an impressive refresh rate of 144Hz, a count that is usually seen on high-end PC monitors. The IPS display also features a widescreen ratio of 20:9, giving users more screen estate while they browse the web, mobile gaming, or watch their favorite content on the go.
The display features an impressive brightness, thanks to its 500 nits. And to ensure that the display can resist your everyday bumps or accidental scratches, Xiaomi has implemented the Gorilla Glass 5 screen protection atop the display. The device feels very premium when you hold the device, although, since the smartphone is quite big, it could be a problem for one-hand use for some users. The Xiaomi MI 10T 5G weighs about 216g and is 9.3mm thick. Adding to the weight of the device is its 5000 mAh battery and the big camera island on its rear side, which we will discuss at the later part of the review. Speaking of the camera, the device has a punch-hole selfie camera located on the top-left side of the device. While this kind of front-facing camera placement is common among many other models, users who do video calls will always appear to the other person as if they are looking somewhere else, which is awkward. It won’t be a problem when we snap selfies since we are directly looking at the camera. But when doing video calls, you will be looking at the display to see the caller and they would feel like you are always looking on the left or right side. This is one of the reasons why placing the punch-hole camera in the top-middle portion of the screen or using the waterdrop design is the better idea.
While the smartphone is quite big, the Xiaomi MI 10T 5G does not feature its own 3.5mm audio jack. We feel there were a lot of unused portions on the top of the smartphone that could have been used for a 3.5mm audio jack. While it may not bother some users for the lack of a dedicated audio jack, Xiaomi has included a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adaptor on the smartphone package for those who still prefer to use wired headphones. That said, the top portion includes microphones and an IR blaster. The USB Type-C port is located on the bottom part of the device, along with a speaker grill, microphone, and the dual-SIM card slot. Unfortunately, the dual-SIM slot cannot accommodate MicroSD cards. Even with the lack of a dedicated MicroSD card slot, Xiaomi could have looked into the possibility of expandable storage via the dual-SIM slot. We aren’t sure if Xiaomi’s decision to not include expandable storage has anything to do with the 5G capability of the SIM slot. Oh, and by the way, both the SIM slots has support for 5G capability.
Looking at the sides, the Xiaomi MI 10T 5G has a metal frame with smooth rounded edges. Except for the usual antenna bands, there isn’t much to discuss on the left side of the device. On the right side, the smartphone has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner placed on the upper middle portion, along with the volume rocker positioned above the scanner. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is conveniently placed in such a way our thumb or other fingers can easily reach the scanner to unlock or wake the device. By now, you may have noticed the huge camera hump on the rear side of the device. It protrudes a lot in such a way, the smartphone rests in a slightly slanting position when kept on a surface.
The rear side of the smartphone is completely made of glass, which is also protected with Gorilla Glass 5. The rear-facing glass is not only very reflective but can easily attract fingerprints and smudges. So, unless you will be using the included or other cases, you will always end up worrying about keeping the rear glass clean. The glass back isn’t the only attention-grabber as the main camera island is really big and protrudes a lot. The camera island holds a total of three different cameras and an LED flash module. Since the camera island is very thick, we noticed that a large amount of dust can easily accumulate on the sides of the camera island. This can be a concern when we constantly carry our phones inside our pockets. The main 64MP camera is what takes up most of the camera island estate, followed by the rest of the lens and sensors.
The Xiaomi MI 10T comes with a range of accessories, that includes the 3.5mm audio adaptor via USB Type-C port, SIM eject tool, a fast charger, the usual documents for the user guide and warranty card, and a silver ion antibacterial case and antibacterial screen protector. With the threat of COVID-19 still there, it’s a good idea to have some sort of protection on your phones. Xiaomi mentions that the case features silver ion technology that supposedly has a long-lasting antibacterial effect for 24 hours. And after the 24-hours contact period is over, the case is capable of eliminating over 99% of the bacteria that could have made their way onto the smartphone. Not a bad idea!
While most of the flagship smartphones are very expensive, Xiaomi offers devices with the fastest chipsets at a price that is acceptable. At the heart of the Xiaomi MI 10T 5G is the powerful Snapdragon 865 processor that is based on the 7nm fabrication. The SoC brings in support for 5G connectivity and is paired with 6GB or 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM. Our review unit came with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM. Despite the lack of expandable storage, the smartphone features 128GB of fast UFS 3.1 storage under its hood. The smartphone runs on the latest Android 10 OS with Xiaomi’s very own flavor of MIUI 12 interface.
The MI 10T 5G offered a smooth operation with no lags or stutters while using the device for heavy workloads such as multiple Chrome tabs, gaming, opening Word/Excel files, and more. The 8GB of LPDDR5 may even be overkill unless you are one of those who run so many applications most of the time. The GPU used here is the Adreno 650, which is plenty fast enough to handle most games at ease. I’m sure that many smartphone gamers would love to get the MI 10T 5G just for the gaming performance, and even for those who would love to emulate older console games.
Due to the limited time, we had tried two different games: Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile. We cranked up the graphical settings and did not notice any slowdowns or stuttering during the gameplay. The Xiaomi MI 10T 5G allows you to select between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 144Hz refresh rates. The standard 60Hz, while not bad at all, is the best choice if the battery life is of concern. The 90Hz mode delivers a smoother experience with better clarity, without taking a toll on battery life. And the 144Hz mode is for those who want to experience the smoothest framerate. Unfortunately, there isn’t currently any direct way of measuring the FPS performance of games on the Android platform.
We have conducted various theoretical benchmark tests such as the Geekbench, where we achieved a single-core score of 914 points, along with the multi-core score performance ranked at 3360 points. Our Antutu benchmark test resulted in a whopping total of 591284 points on the first trial. We also installed the 3DMark application and ran the WildLife graphics test, resulting in a total of 3793 points. We also ran the 3DMark SlingShot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 test and achieved a score of 6984 points. While the device we reviewed was indeed the MI 10 T, for some odd reason, the Antutu application thinks that the smartphone is the Xiaomi MI 10 T Pro. After all, except for the camera and storage, both smartphones share the same specifications.
With all that said, one of the main features of the Xiaomi MI 10 T is how it performs while downloading files or streaming with 5G speeds. In our initial test with the Speedtest application, we achieved a download speed of 1286 Mbps and an upload speed of 30.7 Mbps. I had tested the device with the Etisalat 5G connection. On the network settings, you get to choose if you want the smartphone to focus on 5G, 4G, 3G, or the very old 2G speeds. During several trials with Speedtest, the application automatically chose Sharjah as the server. I had manually changed the server to Etisalat Dubai and got speeds, reaching up to 1140 Mbps download speeds and 72 Mbps upload speeds. I tried both the SIM card slots and got similar results. There was a time where I got lower speeds up to 930 Mbps download and 43 Mbps upload speeds. Do note that it could be because the network coverage was a couple of bars less at that time. Regardless, these numbers for a smartphone is insane. Even way faster than my modest Etisalat home connection with the 250 Mbps plan.
While all those numbers are theoretical, what does it mean for real-world use? We had performed a test where the smartphone downloads a 10GB test file from the internet and took a total of 2 minutes and 42 seconds. We also tried downloading Spiderman: Homecoming from Netflix and the whole movie took about 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
Xiaomi has packed some powerful high-megapixel mobile sensors on both the MI 10T and the MI 10T Pro. The main cameras of the MI 10T and the MI 10T Pro are 64MP and 108MP shooters, respectively. And in our case, the 64MP camera is a Sony IMX682 1/1.7-inch mobile image sensor with 1.6um pixel size and backed by a sharp aperture of F1.89 lens. The 1/1.7-inch image sensor is considerably larger than most of the common mobile sensors used on smartphones, which is more the reason why the 64MP shooter takes up most of the space on the camera island. Having a bigger sensor means more light can be collected and will perform better to produce detailed images and better low-light capability.
On the contrary, the MI 10T Pro’s 108MP snapper is a Samsung HMX 1/1.33-inch mobile sensor, which is much bigger than the one found on the base model. There are other two cameras that are common between the two MI 10 T models. The second camera is a 13MP shooter for wide-angle photography with an aperture of F2.4. The third camera is a 5MP macro shooter, also with an F2.4 lens aperture. The main camera is capable of recording videos up to 8K videos at 24 or 30fps. The smartphone is also capable of recording 4K videos up to 60fps.
You will be able to get 1x and 2x modes when on the default photo mode, along with a pro mode that gives you the option to custom tune your settings and also switches to Macro mode. Other photo modes include night mode, the 64MP mode (which is also accessible from the Pro mode), Panorama, VLOG, slow-motion, timelapse, long exposure, clone, and more. We liked the long exposure modes that gave the option for creative images/videos such as Moving Crowd, Neon Trails, Oil painting, Light painting, Starry sky, and Star trails. The rear-facing camera isn’t the only one with high-megapixels, as the punch-hole camera on the front-side houses a 20MP image sensor with features such as timelapse selfie videos, AI Portrait, night mode, panorama selfies, etc. Take a look at some of the image samples we have taken using different modes of the main camera setup.
The MI 10T’s normal 1x and 2x zoom modes produce some great and sharp looking images, although, I think they need to work a bit on the phase-detection AF performance of the camera. When shooting “Flower 2”, there was a lot of wind and the camera was struggling to focus and snap the image instantly when the plant kept moving. The macro mode does its job, however, the quality could have been better. While the 64MP camera does not have a wide aspect ratio mode, the quality and the amount of details processed is a lot for such a small mobile sensor. You can zoon the 64MP all the way into the image. The long exposure modes are fun to use, especially the starry sky and star trail modes. The night mode of the camera produces better-looking images than the standard versions.
With all that power inside, the Xiaomi MI 10 T 5G packs a large 5000 mAh battery, which has support for 33W fast charge capability. With the included fast charger, I was able to fill up the battery from 32 percent to 100 percent in about 45minutes. While we didn’t charge from zero percent, the numbers we got are quite close to what the company claims. Xiaomi mentions that achieving a charge from zero to 100 percent takes about 59 minutes. Additionally, Xiaomi has also implemented a feature called the Smart AdaptiveSync that automatically changes the refresh rate depending on the application that you use. While watching movies, the smartphone switches to 60Hz, along with scrolling online content and playing games at 144Hz mode.
The smartphone can easily go on for the whole day even when using 5G streaming. The 10GB test and the Netflix movie download test that we mentioned before, was done after the smartphone was fully charged. After a couple of trials of the download speed tests, the battery percentage remained at 98%. We also tried a stair trial movie where the smartphone was kept for recording for more than five hours and was still left with 30% battery life. Unfortunately, the MI 10T 5G does not feature wireless charging.
While most of the latest flagship smartphones from Samsung, Huawei, and other manufacturers are very expensive, Xiaomi has always delivered cheaper alternatives that can perform the same or even better. The company has not failed to offer premium products at lower prices. The Xiaomi MI 10T 5G not only offers one of the best specifications in the market but also future-proofs your investment to take advantage of the 5G network. The device brings in one of the latest flagship SoCs that offers exceptional performance, even for gaming. And the stunning 144Hz refresh rate is a plus point for all those gamers out there. Normal users out there will also be able to enjoy the smooth experience of the high-refresh-rate.
While the smartphone doesn’t have any form of expandable storage expansion, the internal storage maxes out up to 128GB of fast UFS 3.1 flash memory, which has plenty of room to store a lot of apps, games, and your personal data. Although, it could be a concern for those who will be using the smartphone to record 8K videos and snap 64MP images most of the time. The camera’s 64MP camera delivers sharp images with a lot of details, along with a lot of different long-exposure modes. The battery of the MI 10T 5G can easily last for over a day of use and bring support for fast charge capability.