The 108-Megapixel Camera Is Just One Part Of The Larger Brilliance

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You may have an opinion on this, and you are free to have one, but I strongly believe that the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is by far and away the best-looking Redmi series phone. As yet, that is. This is most certainly a case of Xiaomi really upping the design game for phones starting around Rs 11,999 (that’s where the Redmi Note 10 pricing starts) and going all the way up to the Rs 21,999 mark, which is how much the top spec variant of this Redmi Note 10 Pro Max costs. In the middle there is also the Redmi Note 10 Pro, which makes it a troika of new phones that will renew Xiaomi’s already very strong grip on the affordable Android smartphone market in India. Why I say that? Numbers tell their own tale—the Q4 2020 numbers, as reported by Counterpoint, tell us what we already knew. Xiaomi has a 26% share of the Indian smartphone market, ahead of Samsung. And if phones as beautiful as these keep trickling in, Xiaomi’s Made in India phones should continue to fly off the shop shelves.

It is important to illustrate the width of just the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max range that goes on sale in India at this time. The entry spec option, which is 6GB RAM and 64GB storage is priced at Rs 18,999. A spec up gets you 6GB+128GB for Rs 19,999—and why wouldn’t you really spend that extra grand to get this variant? And if you can spend Rs 21,999 on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, you can buy yourself the 8GB+128GB configuration. All three are available in the Dark Night, Glacial Blue and Vintage Bronze colour options. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s competition? There is the very capable Samsung Galaxy M51 with prices starting around Rs 22,999 and the Realme X7 5G which is priced upwards of Rs 19,999 depending on which variant you pick. The question is, do any of the rivals feel this premium?

Should The Lack Of 5G Really Bother You? The Answer Is A Resounding No

Let us deal with the elephant in the room. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max does not have 5G support, much like its siblings, the Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Redmi Note 10. Is that a big deal? The thing is, Xiaomi has already clarified why they decided against 5G as a standard option with the new phones—the cost factor. According to the company, the addition of a 5G modem and antenna could have driven up the cost of these phones any about Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000. In the extremely price sensitive and incredibly competitive affordable Android phone market, that’s an advantage Xiaomi understandably didn’t have. To put this in perspective with how things are, we don’t seem to be anywhere close to having 5G networks in India, at least not in the foreseeable future. While one could and should argue that a lot of rivals have 5G capabilities—but in the end, it becomes your choice about futureproofing for something that you may or may not use. Or maybe change your phone before that.

Beautiful Design Defines The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

What is your colour of choice? Vintage Bronze? Glacial Blue? Dark Night? This is one of the most beautiful phones that you’ll find around the Rs 20,000 price point. The large display with rounded edges, the phone’s edges rounded in symmetry, the slightly contoured side spines, and the gorgeous finish on the back all come together to undeniably make the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max a gorgeous phone to look at. Camera modules, particularly multi-camera setups tend to look a bit untidy on a lot of phones, but not the quad camera setup on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. In fact, this module has a stepped design that you will notice soon enough. For a large screen, that is 6.67-inches, this phone still keeps the weight nicely in check at 192 grams—being well under 200 grams is an achievement. If we are to compare with the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is 0.7mm thinner at 8.1mm and 16 grams lighter as well.

I have to say that the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max snuggles really well in the hand, and you wouldn’t really complain of the typical ergonomic niggles that accompany large screen phones. The power key and the volume keys fall well to hand and the phone isn’t top heavy either. There’s the 3.5mm headphone jack too, so you are very much in luck if wired earphones or headphones are your thing. Xiaomi says this is a completely new design language, and it surely feels as much. And if you’re still waiting for my pick in terms of the colour, it has to be the Vintage Bronze. There is a sophistication about it that a lot of “gold” smartphones aren’t otherwise able to get across.

If there is one grouse that I have with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, it’s that the finish on the back is still a dust and fingerprint magnet. The former in case of the Dark Night finish specifically, and the latter quite surprisingly for the Bronze’s frosted glass back. Maybe it wouldn’t bother you as much, but my OCD issues require I wipe the phone every time I pick it up. And that’s surprisingly therapeutic too.

Power Of 108-Megapixels: Flagship Phones Don’t Alone Have The Bragging Rights

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is now the most affordable smartphone you can buy right now, with a 108-megapixel camera. If nothing else, that isn’t just a winner on the spec sheet, but delivers in the real world too. I do apologize for the spoiler alert, but this is just too good a camera to be diplomatic about. To give you a glance at what’s on the menu, there is a quad camera setup doing the duties at the back—a 108-megapixel wide camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 5-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

I’ve often remarked that a camera is only as good as the image processing optimization that it is given. Hundreds of megapixels will not do much at all if the software and the algorithms that drive it aren’t up to scratch. Happy to report back, at least from my experience, that Xiaomi has done a fantastic job on both fronts. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max delivers on exactly what it promises—fantastic photos, good light or low default, the camera app starts you off in the 12-megapixel mode which does a whole lot of pixel binning to merge together details from 9 pixels into what is called one Super Pixel. The results, across all lighting conditions, are really good. Photos are nicely detailed, vivid without any overbearing colours and good dynamic range. Though I have to observe that in some photos, contrast in certain parts of the frame could have been a bit more profound. Yet, that’s nitpicking. I am most impressed by the crispness of the frame, with no real visible soft spots—cameras with a lot of megapixels tend to struggle with dialed down sharpness, particularly around the edges.

Switch to low light photos and I have to readily admit the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max genuinely surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it to be this good. Perhaps a very human response to one bitten, twice shy. Even before you switch to the night mode, or the 108-megapixel mode, the standard photo that you click will be well lit up, detailed, crisp and very minimal distortion around the darker edges. Yet, it’s the colour reproduction with absolutely no noise and graining that you’ll fall in love with. The 108-megapixel mode, for the same low-light photo, returns even higher levels of detailing as expected—yet there isn’t any visible over-enthusiastic noise reduction happening and the photo that you get is nice and crisp. The final low light comparison had to be with the night mode active (by the way, I didn’t notice the camera enable the night mode on its own, at least when I was using it) and you get really well-lit photos that don’t compromise on details, colours and retain the sense of place.

MIUI Is Most Parts Lovable, But Some Things Cannot Be Ignored

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max gets you to interface with MIUI 12 based on Android 11. That’s the latest and greatest on both fronts—MIUI and Android, as Google would want you to use. A subtle improvement is the greater reliance on Google’s own apps—the Phone app, Messages, Calendar and Chrome, for instance. These apps don’t get duplicates, which is great. The interface, if you already use a Xiaomi phone, will have that warmth of familiarity. Yet, the same slickness doesn’t always apply—there is Google Photos and Xiaomi’s own Gallery app as well as Google’s Files app and also Xiaomi’s File Manager app. There is significantly lesser preloaded app clutter too but the GetApps app notifications drive me up the wall, for some reason. Maybe there are too many of those, and maybe I don’t like to be prompted that much. If you can call those adverts, there’s that bit too.

That being said, I didn’t see any ads interfere with the notification bar after I explicitly turned them off. There are still recommendations all over the place, including the App Vault screen (that’s -1 on your home screen), which serves up a lot of ‘popular videos’, ‘utilities’ which are basically app and task suggestions that lead to an app or “recommended” apps.

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max Gives It One Mighty Go On The Spec Sheet Too

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has a lot going for it. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor gives it the grunt for apps and enough headroom to ensure that this phone holds up very well for the next few years, even if your app requirements increase over time. I tested the 6GB RAM version, which not even once stuttered or indicated that it was struggling even the slightest to pull along. I can only assume that if you splurge on the 8GB RAM spec, you’ll be even better placed with futureproofing. Gaming is well within its realms of capabilities, and that’s a solid positive. In a phone that isn’t very thick, there’s still a 5020mAh battery that does the duties of keeping things going. Does quite well too, lasting around 25 hours on a single charge with medium to heavy usage of apps and a lot of camera use and web browsing. You’d probably be relieved to hear this—Xiaomi bundles a 33W fast charger in the box.

The 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display (2400 x 1080 resolution) looks great in Light Mode and gorgeous in the Dark Mode. Just the right amount of sharpness along with inky blacks really give this the aura of a display of a more expensive phone. Again, a lot of phones may use the same display hardware and tech, and it’s the optimization behind the scenes that really seems to have made the difference. This is a very bright display too, though in the Dark Mode, smudges tend to show up prominently after a while. Get the wipe out!

The Last Word: Almost Impossible To Fault The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

There are reasons why Xiaomi is by far and away ruling the affordable Android smartphone space in India, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is testament that the tried and tested playbook hasn’t changed. There are three variants and three colour options to choose from, and each seem to be well priced. My pick would be the mid-spec 6GB+128GB option, which should be enough for most users as a balance of performance and storage. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is a serious step forward in terms of the design, the premium touch the phone offers as you hold and use it and also in terms of the camera which is seriously setting the benchmark with rivals with have to work really hard to match up to, let alone surpass. The lack of 5G doesn’t really rankle that much, does it?

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