[Face Off] Redmi Note 10 Pro Max vs Mi 10i: Which is the ten for you?

The Redmi Note was the OG of the Rs 10,000 price segment in the Indian phone market. It then decided to move a step up and get into the Rs 15,000 segment with the Pro variant. And this year, it has moved a further step up the price ladder and get closer to Rs 20,000 with its Pro Max avatar, which starts at Rs 18,999. But this move could well lead to phone family feud. For waiting in this zone is its own sibling, the Mi 10i, which was released a few months ago and had dibs for fishing in the same Rs 20,000 waters – it starts at Rs 20,999.

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So basically if you have about two times ten grand to spend, there are two phones that will jump out at you – one that starts slightly below that price point, and one that starts slightly above it. Both come from the house of Xiaomi, both have 108 megapixel cameras, both have 6.67-inch 120 Hz refresh rate displays…but which Mi should you go for: the plain one or the one with a Red prefix? Read on.

Looks: Rising in the Pacific, going Vintage with Bronze

Both phones have glass backs and have an IP53 rating. The Note 10 Pro Max is the lighter (192 grams as compared to 214 grams) and more compact of these two phones – it is less tall and also slimmer. And we have seen a lot of people on social media going ga ga over the Vintage Bronze shade of this Note. However, we think that the Pacific Sunrise variant of the Mi 10i is very eye-catching in its own way with the colors switching between two shades. And its circular camera arrangement at the back also makes the phone much more distinctive, as compared to the Note 10 Pro Max, which sticks to general phone design patterns. The Note has a slightly frosted glass finish whereas the Mi 10i is a bit more on the glossy side. The chrome encirclement of the camera in the Note also might seem a little loud to some people.

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It is a very subjective call – looks always are – but we are going to say that if you want a compact phone, the Note 10 Pro Max is the one, but if you want something that looks distinct, the Mi 10i has an edge.

Winner: Mi 10i (we are voting for being distinct and different)

Display: AMOLED vs LCD (sigh!)

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Both phones come with 6.67-inch full HD+ displays with a 120 Hz refresh rate. But do not get taken in by those numbers – there is a big difference between them. The Note has a Super AMOLED display while the Mi 10i has a LCD one. The refresh rates also might seem similar but the Mi 10i has an adaptive refresh rate which means the refresh rate adjusts as per the content on it. The Note on the other hand sticks to 120 Hz or 60 Hz, depending on which you choose. The Note’s display is definitely brighter and its colors pop, but the Mi 10i’s display is rather good as well, and that automatically changing refresh rate should mean more battery minutes.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Processors: Fishing for chips

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This is a pretty straightforward one, really. The Note 10 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732 chip, which is pretty good, but is a level below the Snapdragon 750G on the Mi 10i. The performance difference for general tasks is not super great but the 750G is the better chip here.

Winner: Mi 10i

Memories: RAM and gigs of storage

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The Mi 10i and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max have similar RAM and storage variants – 6 GB/ 64 GB, 6 GB/ 128 GB and 8 GB/ 128 GB. Both support micro SD cards that let you put in an additional 512 GB storage. But the Note has a dedicated microSD card slot, while in the Mi 10i, if you use a card, you will have to give up one of the two SIM card slots. Both have LPDDR4x RAM and UFS 2.2 storage

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Cameras: 108 megapixels and all that

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There are four cameras each on the back of both phones. Both have a 108-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra wide and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The macro cameras are different – 5 megapixels on the Note and 2 megapixels on the Mi 10i. Actually, even the 108 megapixel cameras are not exactly the same. Both are Samsung HM2 sensors, but the Mi 10i has a bigger aperture – f/1.75 as compared to f/1.9 and also a 7P lens as compared to a 6P one on the Note.

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In terms of results, we found both cameras to be very close to each other, in images as well as videos. The Mi 10i seemed to get a bit more detail and also was slightly better in low light conditions, but the difference was not exactly spectacular. The Note 10 did Macros much much better though. General camera quality wise, we think the Mi 10i gets an edge, with more realistic colors and better detail. On front, there are 16 megapixel cameras on both – and they are pretty much the same.

Winner: Mi 10i

Gaming and multimedia: Sight and sound

When it comes to playing games and watching shows, the two phones come with their own advantages. The Mi 10i’s chip does give it a slight advantage in playing games – high end games at maxed out settings tend to play a little smoother on the Mi as compared to the Note, where we faced the odd pause and lag. We also think the stereo speakers on the Mi 10i are better than the ones on the Note in terms of volume and quality. But then the Note has a much more colorful and brighter screen, thanks to that Super AMOLED, so the visual experience is way more spectacular. If gaming is on the agenda, we would think the Mi is the better option, but if you are more into watching stuff, then the Note’s display is simply stunning.

Winner: Tie, but a slight edge to the Mi 10i.

General performance: Calls, multitasking and all

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In terms of using the phone in routine day to day matters, we felt that the Mi 10i was the smoother operator, with a few bugs cluttering up the experience on the Note. Of course, there is a chance that this will be fixed with a software update in the coming days. But overall, we just found the Mi 10i a little more snappy, although both phones are neck and neck. The AMOLED display of the Note does make content look better, and the always on display is an advantage too. Both phones handle multiple tasks with the same degree of comfort.

Winner: Mi 10i

Software: Going beyond (Android) 10

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Of course, as these are Xiaomi phones, both come with MIUI 12 on top of Android. MIUI has got its share of criticism in the past for the number of ads in the interface but their number is going down and both phones will get MIUI 12.5, which Xiaomi claims is the cleanest MIUI ever. There is a huge difference in the two phones though – the Note comes with Android 11, while the Mi 10i comes with Android 10, although an update to 11 is on the cards soon. Right now, however, the ten with the eleven wins!

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Future-ness? 5G or no 5G

There is no sign of 5G in India right now, and by most accounts, it is unlikely to be available for most of us until late next year. But sure, if you are the one that gets a high from a high-speed network (so what if it is non-existent), then the Mi 10i comes with 5G support, while the Note 10 Pro Max sticks to good old 4G.

Winner: Mi 10i

Battery: The numbers do not tell the story

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The Note has a 5020 mAh battery. The Mi 10i has a 4820 mAh battery. Game over, right? Wrong. Whether it is because of the processor or the refresh rate, the fact is that the Mi 10i actually goes past a day of use easily while the Note 10 just about gets a bit more than a day if you keep the display at 120 Hz. Perhaps that brighter display is also more juice-y in terms of battery usage. Also while both phones come with a 33W charger in the box (yes, there is a charger in the box – celebrate), the Mi 10i gets charged in less than an hour while the Note takes closer to an hour and a half. We are told that this is because the Mi 10i supports dual split charging and also because it has a (slightly) smaller battery. Whatever the reason, the Mi 10i wins this one.

Winner: Mi 10i

Price matters: How much?

In terms of sheer price, the Note has a clear edge, it starts at Rs 18,999 for 6GB / 64 GB base variant, while the Mi 10i starts at Rs 20,999 for the same. The Note also has generally lower prices – 6 GB/ 128 GB is at Rs 19,999, while 8 GB/ 128 GB is at Rs 21,999 – Rs 2,000 more than similar variants for the Mi 10i. Sure, the Mi 10i brings a bit more for the price – the processor, 5G and all – but if money is the main thing, the Note is the better option here.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Final decision: Which ten? Mi or Redmi?

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So which of the two phones should you buy? The above points tell the tale. The Mi 10i wins on processor, battery and we think just about edges it on the cameras and sound. What is left, some would say? Well, there are a LOT of folks who would value that super Super AMOLED display on the Note 10 Pro Max, and its lighter and more compact frame (as well as dedicated storage card slot) also make a difference. The geeks would also prefer Android 11 out of the box, which the Note 10 brings. And yes, crystal ball gazers would say that 5G is a must (even though our operators do not think so). Add to that a lower price tag, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has a LOT going for it. It is not an easy choice, but if we had to make it as simple as we can, we would say that the Mi 10i is for those who value all-around performance, while the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is for colorful display and compact phone fans. Honestly, both are very good. Not perfect tens (no one is), but close to it.

Winner: Depends on your needs, really!

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