This is a smartphone that was announced unexpectedly. While we know 64MP smartphones were coming, we didn’t know that 108MP smartphones were going to be released this quickly. Today, we got to review the world’s first smartphone with a 108MP camera sensor – the Xiaomi Mi Note 10.
We’re going to change things up in this review as we’ll be focusing on the cameras. The Mi Note 10 is not meant to be topping benchmarks, although it is still perfectly fine for gaming and everything else.
To demonstrate the capabilities of all of the five cameras’ capabilities, I suggest you to watch our review video here as we highlight both the photography and videography capabilities of the Xiaomi Mi Note 10.
These are the things you’ll get. It’s nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the things included in the box.
However, the charger is something interesting here as Xiaomi included a 30W charger. We have the charging test benchmark at the later part of this review.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is available in a few different color options – green, white, and black. We have the one in white obviously – but I personally will prefer the green color. It’s a brighter green compared to the one we saw on the Redmi Note 8 Pro, which is one of my instant favorites.
The Mi Note 10 has a relatively thick body but the smooth curvatures on both edges of the phone make it feel good to hold. I quite like the design overall, since it does pack a massive battery inside.
Connectivity & Ports
The Mi Note 10 comes with commonly-found connectivity options on a smartphone these days. Yes, it does have all WiFi-AC and even NFC. It even has an IR blaster at the top!
At the bottom of the phone is where we can find the usual loudspeaker, USB-C, and also the headphone jack.
All of the buttons are also shifted to the right side of the phone. Personally, I’m okay with this decision since I am a left-handed user and I can press all the buttons with my fingers.
However, the Mi Note 10 lacks a microSD card slot. It only has two dedicated nano SIM card slots. We talked more about this in our review video.
The Mi Note 10 is a rather huge phone. It has a 6.47-inch AMOLED display with 2340×1080 pixels in resolution. It also comes with waterdrop notch, which is surprising as I can see many smartphone manufacturers are moving away from the popup selfie camera trend. I wonder what happened?
Anyway, the colors are quite saturated on the Mi Note 10, which the display can be really bright as well. It also supports HDR10, which also looks stunning to the eyes.
This is the most important part of the Xiaomi Mi Note 10. It’s the world’s first smartphone to be using a 108MP sensor on a smartphone, and it also has 4 other cameras that make use of itself in different situations. From top to bottom, it has these cameras:
- 5x optical zoom telephoto: 5MP (upscaled to 8MP) f/2.0; PDAF, Laser AF, OIS, 5x optical zoom
- 2x optical zoom telephoto: 12MP f/2.0; Dual Pixel PDAF, Laser AF, 2x optical zoom
- Main: 108MP f/1.7 with 8P lens; PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
- Ultrawide angle: 20MP f/2.2; Laser AF
- Macro: 2MP f/2.4
Now that’s a lot of cameras and also lots of pixels – but is the camera actually good? As usual, check out our full album of pictures in our Shutterfly album.
For the full breakdown of these images and our thoughts about the cameras on the Mi Note 10, please do watch our video review at the top of this page. We’ll just show a few pictures here.
Main 108MP camera
By default, the Mi Note 10 takes pictures in 27MP. That makes sense as it bins 4 pixels into a big one like the 48MP and 64MP sensors. But we think since we’re playing the resolution game here, we’ll take all pictures in 108MP.
By looking at these pictures as is, the colors, details, and sharpness are just fantastic. I absolutely love the images that come out of the Mi Note 10. Then, we started pixel-peeping and we start to see the finer details.
Within a single shot, we get to see the subject in whole, and zoomed in to see its texture. What impressed me the most is the pink flower. It was a blotch of pink at first, but we were able to see its hair-like structure when we zoomed in.
When we started taking close-up shots using the 108MP camera is when we can start to see something funny. The lens is unable to keep the field of view in focus even though the plane is flat. There’s a visible lens blur around the center of the frame. When I took the picture and looked at it, it reminded me of Samsung phone cameras.
I’ve been using the Galaxy S10+ (review) for months as one of my daily driver – and took many pictures of it, so I am familiar with its cameras – both the sensor and lens characteristics. I realized that the color saturation and the lens blur on the Galaxy S10+ is very similar to the Mi Note 10 – and that wouldn’t be a surprise as both Xiaomi and Samsung partnered up to bring us the Mi Note 10.
When shooting in night mode, the main camera performed great – but only for social media. Zooming in, the shots are very noisy as Xiaomi raised the ISO to beyond 8000 for quick shutter speed. I guess it’s a good trade-off since many users are only taking pictures and posting it to social media anyway. To take breathtaking night shots, it’s always great to use a tripod.
And then we took the same picture in 108MP. That’s when I found out that Xiaomi is compressing the 108MP by a lot. The night shot was at 27MP and resulted in around 24MB in size, but the 108MP resulted in only 14MB in size. That’s the reason why we lose details in our pictures – even the Redmi Note 8 Pro (review) takes 64MP pictures with larger file size.
I understand why Xiaomi did this – to conserve on storage, obviously. But then again – wouldn’t it be solved by adding a microSD card slot in the first place?
I also used the pro mode and took this picture. You can take it in RAW as well.
Also, we should highlight the time it takes to shoot a 108MP camera. To put it bluntly, it’s real slow. And I completely understand why. There are no chipsets that are readily available in the market that is able to process 108MP pictures natively. Hence, the Mi Note 10 does it via the CPU – hence the slowness.
By doing it via the CPU means it is also inefficient, hence that is why the Mi Note 10 does get warm after a couple of minutes of 108MP photoshoot. To further explain how all of these works, that’s another topic for another day.
The telephoto cameras
This is a weird one. Xiaomi included two different telephoto cameras – one with a 2x optical zoom with a 50mm lens coupling a 12MP sensor, and another 5x optical zoom lens coupled with a 5MP sensor, with pictures upscaled to 8MP.
I think both of these cameras perform well in the colors, details, and also the sharpness. The 5x optical zoom is a little softer since it is upscaled, but it still looks great for social media.
Software – Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 11.0.11
Yeah, you read that right. As of the time of this review is being prepared, the Mi Note 10 is using MIUI 11 but on Android 9.0 Pie. This actually happened to other Xiaomi phones that we have too.
Not that much of a difference overall, honestly.
Performance & Gaming
The Mi Note 10 is obviously meant to be a smartphone for photographers, not for gaming. But to process all of those photos, that means the Mi Note 10 also comes packed with some powerful hardware:
- 6.47-inch AMOLED display with 2340×1080 pixels in resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB internal storage (no microSD slot)
- 5,260mAh battery
It’s not going to break records in its performance, but it’s a formidable performer in the smartphone market right now. And yes, it’s going to run games just fine with the performance that it has.
Battery & Charger
Let’s not forget that it comes with a 5,260mAh battery. Now that’s a large battery – and it can last for more than 15 hours in our battery life test. That is astonishing, to say the least.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is also pretty interesting as it comes with a 30W charger – the highest wattage charger from Xiaomi that we’ve tested thus far. This 30W can charge this large battery in about an hour. Pretty good since the battery life is crazily long.
Wrapping up the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 review
Now, I’ve seen many arguments about the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 being an “expensive smartphone” that has “mid-range specs”. This is the world’s first 108MP camera smartphone, and lots of R&D went into making this phone possible.
And I just want to say – that’s because this phone is not meant to be topping benchmarks. Its core specs aren’t meant to compete with other “flagship killers” in the market. The Snapdragon 730G can still play PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile at the highest graphical settings without an issue – just the benchmark numbers aren’t that high. If you want a smartphone killer, then get the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (review) instead.
For the price of RM2,099, I see this as a concept device that showcases what a 108MP sensor in a smartphone can do. For those who want to live in the bleeding edge of camera smartphone technology, then yes – this smartphone is for you.