Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 series is elaborate and has many smartphones up for sale. One such is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S which lies between Redmi Note 10 and Note 10 Pro and has a steep inclination towards the former but of course with a better chipset and camera (at least on paper). Well, the specs may look good on paper but how does a phone perform in real life?
Here’s a hands-on review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S that you should read.
Prices in India, Variants, Availability
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is available in three colour variants that are Aqua Green, Frost White, and Shadow Black. The base 4GB+64GB is available on Amazon India at Rs 12,499/- while the higher 6GB+128GB variant is up for sale at Rs 14,499/-. Apart from that, you can avail up to Rs 11,100/- off via its Exchange Offer. There’s No Cost EMI and other offers available for Redmi Note 10S.
Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the Redmi Note 10s let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?
- Display: 6.43-inch (16.33cm) Super AMOLED Display, 60Hz refresh rate
- Processor: MediaTek Helio G95
- Storage: 6GB/64GB, 6GB/128GB
- Software: MIUI 12 based on Android 10
- Rear cameras: 64MP Quad Rear camera, 8MP Ultra-wide, 2MP Macro and Portrait lens
- Selfie camera: 13MP
- Battery: 5000 mAh, 33W fast charger
- Weight: 179g
- Dimensions: 16.05 x 0.83 x 7.45 cm
Design and Build
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S takes most cues from the Redmi Note 10 series with almost identical designs. What blows you out is the inclusion of IP53 rating which protects the phone against splashes of water which is better than not having any rating at all.
Talking about the design, the phone is slim at just 8.29mm and weighs at a comfy 179 grams. It is all-plastic except the front which has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top. The side panels are curved a bit to allow for better grip and usability of the phone which is a nice touch.
The rear has a subtle camera bump which isn’t that protruding above the back panel. There’s a silver highlight on the primary 64MP camera that seels the attention of the onlookers. Overall, the back panel is premium-looking as you don’t get a cluttered panel. Instead, there’s just a tiny Redmi branding and the camera bump. It is nowhere as wild as having a giant “Dare To Leap ” insignia on a Realme phone.
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At the front, you get a giant display and since it is AMOLED, I couldn’t ask for more. There’s a punch-hole cut-out at the middle for the front selfie shooter. Plus, the bezels are reduced although the chin is considerably thicker, but once you get the hang of it, I wouldn’t mind it.
Speaking about I/O ports and buttons, there’s an IR blaster and a secondary microphone on the top. A power button cum side-mounted fingerprint scanner sits on the right along with a volume rocker. On the left, you get a SIM tray with a dedicated microSD card. At the bottom, there’s a primary microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C port, and a bottom-firing loudspeaker. Finally, the earpiece doubles as a secondary loudspeaker as well.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10s packs in a 6.43-inch AMOLED panel with a 1080×2400 pixels resolution. With a 20:9 aspect ratio at a user’s disposal, the device boasts a rich 409 PPI density onboard. The device has 450 nits of typical and 1100 nits of peak brightness according to the advertised specs.
It’s not just the name but Redmi Note 10S shares the same display as that of Redmi Note 10. Talking about the unit stacked on Note 10S, the display performs very well in terms of colour accuracy. It reached 700 nits of typical brightness which is way more than what you need in any lighting conditions. Plus, its auto peak takes it way ahead in terms of brightness making the screen visible in harsh and direct sunlight. However, it didn’t reach the advertised 1100 nits mark for sure.
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The giant display has a standard 60Hz refresh rate. Since almost all the smartphones have the same standard refresh rate except ones that have a high refresh rate you would feel any difference if you are coming from a 60Hz smartphone. The same refresh rate can be seen across the majority of smartphones in this price segment although a 60Hz refresh rate would have made Note 10S an unbeatable candidate.
Moving on, the display doesn’t support HDR content, however, Xiaomi hasn’t officially hardcoded it in the software which means the display might assume that it is HDR compliant and play the files in HDR. Perhaps, YouTube is the easiest prey that falls in the trap while other platforms won’t let you access HDR content almost all the time.
Finally, there’s some issue with the video playback. Apparently, Redmi Note 10S contrast-boosts and over-sharpens all the videos you can play. Apparently, it looks cheap like watching on an LCD panel but since you are using an AMOLED panel, it looks worse in some cases. Technically, you can’t stop the device from over-sharpening the videos because it is permanently forced and cannot be deactivated unless a software update isn’t released to fix it.
Speaking about the powertrain under the hood, the device is driven by a gaming-focused MediaTek Helio G95 SoC which is an octa-core chipset built on a 12nm node. It is clocked at 2.05GHz of max frequency and has a Mali-G76 MC4 GPU embedded on it. There’s a 6/8GB of RAM and 64/128GB of UFS 2.2 storage and plus, there’s a dedicated microSD card slot available at your disposal.
It’s the Helio G95 SoC that we are talking about and it’s a gaming-oriented chipset, to be honest. About the benchmarking tests, the phone scored 330,650 points on AnTuTU, 516-points on Geekbench 5 single-core, and 1,668-points on multi-core tests. The G95 can handle most of the tasks you can throw at it. I was able to play Call of Duty: Mobile (which is a standard for testing phones with high-graphics games) and I was able to set the graphics to high. This is something you will love on a budget smartphone, to be honest.
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During the gameplay, I didn’t see any noticeable frame drops or stutter which is a good thing, to be honest. Having 6GB/8GB RAM does make a lot of difference on Android devices and the Redmi Note 10S is no different. It is still a budget smartphone and thus, its performance isn’t that attuned to handle graphics-intensive Genshin impact at 30fps.
I noticed that the phone does get warm and especially in warmer climates, it reaches the overheating stage while using the camera or playing games or doing some multitasking between apps, and more. Since an increase in heat correlates to a decrease in performance, you get a stuttery UI during such situations and the Redmi Note 10S is one of the many devices that face this issue.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10s runs on Android 11-powered MIUI 12.5 out-of-the-box. According to Xiaomi, MIUI 12.5 is the most less-invasive user interface with fewer bloatware at your disposal. MIUI 12.5 is also a bridge between MIUI 12 and the upcoming MIUI 13 that should arrive officially later this year. But being a Xiaomi smartphone, you are prone to ads and especially with the Glance for MI which has sponsored content. There are a few other apps like Themes and GetApps that send too many promotional notifications. Anyways, you can use various methods to reduce the number of apps reaching out to you unnecessarily while enjoying the infinite list of features the MIUI 12.5 brings on board.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S has a quad-camera setup on-board. This brings on-board a 64MP primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture, PDAF; an 8MP ultrawide snapper with f/2.2 aperture and 118-degree field of view; and two 2MP sensors dedicated for macro and depth. This setup is almost similar to Realme X7 5G except for the fourth depth sensor that isn’t available on the latter.
Finally, there’s a 13MP selfie shooter on-board on the front housed in a tiny punch-hole cut-out.
Having a giant 64MP camera doesn’t guarantee that you will have the best pictures when compared to sensors below 64MP. Talking about the unit mounted on Redmi Note 10S, it snags average photos in daylight although shots look over-sharpened. All the shots had a decent amount of details of the objects nearby but when it comes to distant objects, the details can go off-board. You can capture images with 64MP mode but with fewer details while the 16MP binned mode photos are high in details and more.
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When it comes to the ultrawide snapper, you get average results as you would get with any ultrawide snapper on Redmi devices. The field of view is of course bigger but you will also get noticeable distortions on the sides that the software should have to handle but didn’t handle properly.
The AI works in the background to consider settings by detecting the scenes during close-ups. The phone was able to focus quickly. I even captured a few shots with portrait mode engaged and the camera was able to capture shots with a good level of edge detection. Also, I can set the level of background blur which is a bit of mastery that I had with Note 10S. The same goes with a macro camera which is equally average.
Next up, we have low-light photography and here, the Note 10S shots look flat and grainy. This goes on to say that the sensor wasn’t able to retain many details as well. You can engage the night mode where the shots are slightly improved which is a blessing.
Talking about the selfie shooter, you can capture usual shots and portrait shots as well. As it goes without saying, selfie shooters on budget smartphones aren’t that evolved. You can capture decent selfies such as for social media, video calls, and more.
Beautification is enabled on a selfie shooter by default that softens the images. However, that’s something most people don’t like. There’s also low-light photography for the selfie cam which is decent.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S sports a 5,000 mAh battery under the hood. This is huge enough that it will last for a day on moderate to heavy usage. You can extend it further to more than a day, say one and a half days, which is way good for a budget smartphone.
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There’s a 33W fast charging tech that takes about an hour to juice up from zero to 67 per cent. It usually takes 90-odd minutes to juice up to its full capacity.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
One of the best things about the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is that the device has a stereo speakers setup. Irrespective of how it performs, the Redmi Note 10S has a bottom-firing speaker, an earpiece, and a top-firing loudspeaker that combinedly produces an overall average sound. The speakers are a bit hollow and don’t get too loud although the bottom one is way louder than the top one.
Plus, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack too that comes with HiRes Direct driver that automatically switches ON when users insert an earphone to deliver better sound quality.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is not a 5G smartphone which I think is just a marketing gimmick in India as the introduction of the 5G network is still dubious in India. Speaking about other connectivity features, the device has Bluetooth v5.1 with LE and A2DP. There’s dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac support on Note 10S along with an IR port and USB-C 2.0 port. Finally, there’s BDS, Galileo, Glonass, and A-GPS on-board for navigation purposes. Finally, there’s a much-needed 3.5mm headphone jack onboard the device.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S supports VoWiFi so anytime you have Wi-Fi access, you can enjoy HD calling which is way better than just calling over a cellular connection. You have VoLTE for cellular reception and I didn’t have any issue calling and receiving calls from people whilst testing the phone. I was able to reach almost 29 Mbps on a 4G network when connected to Airtel 4G.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is equipped with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner that lets you unlock the phone in a jiffy. Simply tap on it and it goes bang. Apparently, a side-mounted fingerprint scanner makes a lot of sense than using a face unlock because you literally have to tap the power button in both cases, and in the former, you can simply unlock the phone right away.
Pros & Cons
- 64MP Quad-rear camera
- Large 5000 mAh battery
- Superb 33W fast charging
- Multifunctional NFC
- Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- IP53 dust and water resistance
- Gorilla Glass protection
- Dual Stereo speakers
- No 5G connectivity gimmick
- Standard 60Hz refresh rate
- Heating issues during gaming
At the end of the day, you have to decide whether to buy it or not. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is a powerful sibling to Note 10 and that includes more RAM, a powerful processor, a high-res primary shooter to name a few. Note 10S is expensive which means you aren’t just getting a powerful smartphone just like that but you are actually paying more to get it and that makes sense. There’s a stereo speaker setup which is always better than a single speaker setup. It does have an edge over the vanilla Redmi Note 10 and thus, it does make a positive rep for those interested buyers. If you can shell out a little more and want to still do the Note 10 series, why not buy the Note 10S?