Xiaomi's Redmi Note 10 lineup seemed quite straightforward when it launched in March this year. None of the Redmi Note 10 series smartphones announced featured 5G, which made a bit of sense since news about 5G networks going live was not conclusive. Six months later, things haven't changed much. We are still waiting for an operator to confirm when the first 5G network will be operational. However, we have started to see more budget 5G smartphones, like Realme's Narzo 30 5G, the Narzo 30 Pro 5G (Review) and Poco's M3 Pro 5G enter the market.
So now, Xiaomi has decided to launch its own budget 5G smartphone. While the new Redmi Note 10T is a bit late to the game, a closer look at the specifications also reveals that there's little that different about it, when compared to the existing competition. Another important detail to note here is that the introductory price of Rs 13,999 does not apply any more, and the device is now priced starting from Rs. 14,499.
After using it for a week, I discovered that the Redmi Note 10T is a decent starter 5G smartphone, but as with every budget 5G device we have seen so far, it falls short in some areas.
The Redmi Note 10T 5G is available in two RAM and storage variants. The first one has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, and is priced at Rs. 14,499. The second variant offers 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 16,499. Both variants are available in four finishes: Chromium White, Graphite Black, Metallic Blue, and Mint Green.
My review unit came in the Mint Green, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, and it was good at resisting fingerprints and smudges. The Redmi Note 10T 5G's frame is made of plastic, while the back panel is made from polycarbonate. The design looks classy and gives you the impression that it fits in with the rest of the Redmi Note 10 lineup.
However, it lacks the heft and premium feel of a glass back like the rest of the Note 10 series. The polycarbonate back panel does pick up smudges and dust within minutes of using it. The smudges cannot be wiped off easily because of the matte finish.
The 3.5mm headphone jack, IR emitter, and secondary mic are located at the top. The primary mic, Type-C USB port, and single speaker are at the bottom. The left side is mostly clean with just the SIM tray, while the right side has the volume rocker and power button, which has an embedded fingerprint reader.
The Redmi Note 10T 5G uses the MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor, which has an integrated 5G modem. This seems to be the go-to processor for budget 5G smartphones in this price range, because competitors such as the Realme Narzo 30 5G and the Poco M3 Pro 5G also use it. The Redmi Note 10T offers up to 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM and up to 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage. Communications standards include dual-band Wi-Fi ac, FM Radio, Bluetooth 5.1, support for several 5G bands (SA: N1, N3, N40, N77, N78 | NSA: N78), and dual 5G standby. The hybrid dual-SIM tray can support a microSD card of up to 1TB at the cost of a second SIM. The phone has a 5000mAh battery and supports 18W fast charging.
Xiaomi's MIUI 12.0.3 runs the show with Android 11 as its base. The software ran quite smoothly on my review unit despite it having only 4GB of RAM, but some of the transparency effects, such as the pull-down notifications tray, seemed to have been switched off. Apps opened and closed instantly, and multitasking was a breeze with no sign of lag or stuttering animations.
MIUI 12.0.3 has plenty of preloaded Xiaomi-branded apps as well as third-party apps such as Amazon, Facebook, Prime Video, and LinkedIn. These can be uninstalled if not needed. Notifications from the Wallpaper Carousel, Themes app, and GetApps annoyed me a bit, until I turned them off in the Settings.
The 6.5-inch full-HD+ LCD was sharp, and showcased good viewing angles. It was bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight. I missed having stereo speakers, which would have made for a more immersive gaming and video streaming experience.
In terms of benchmarks, the Redmi Note 10T 5G managed a below-average AnTuTu score of 2,39,964. However, with the rest of the benchmark tests, performance was on par with other phones powered by the same SoC. The Redmi Note 10T scored 555 and 1,698 in Geekbench's single- and multi-core tests respectively.
My usage experience was quite fluid, and gaming performance kept up, but with a few hiccups. The phone did not heat up during gaming sessions. Call of Duty: Mobile worked buttery-smooth at Medium graphics and High frame rate. Touch response was spot-on as well. On the other hand, Asphalt 9: Legends did not run smoothly at the default graphics setting (called Default). I encountered noticeable stuttering during gameplay and some lag when there was a lot of action in the scene. Switching the graphics quality to Performance reduced the stuttering by a large margin.
With a 5,000mAh battery and 7nm processor I didn't expect any battery trouble, and the Redmi Note 10T 5G met those expectations. With an hour of gaming and video streaming, a few calls, plenty of messaging on WhatsApp, Slack and two active email accounts, I was left with 60 percent power at the end of a workday. This phone is a solid performer when it comes to battery life. Our HD video battery loop test did not disappoint either, with the phone lasting 17 hours and 8 minutes.
Charging was a bit slow. A 22.5W charger is provided in the box but this phone is capped at 18W. At this rate, the Redmi Note 10T 5G managed to get up to 25 percent in 30 minutes, and 50 percent in an hour. It was fully charged in 2 hours and 21 minutes. While this is on par with the competition, it's quite slow compared to 4G smartphones at the same price level, many of which support 30 or 33W charging.
The Redmi Note 10T 5G has a triple rear camera setup, which is quite like what competing smartphones offer. There's a 48-megapixel primary camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor which is only used when the Portrait mode is activated. Selfie duties are handled by an 8-megapixel camera.
In comparison, Xiaomi's own Redmi Note 10, which is priced lower, offers more variety with an additional 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and the Realme Narzo 30 5G offers a slightly better 16-megapixel selfie camera. The camera interface is intuitive and easy to use, with all important controls a tap away.
Photos taken in daylight came out bright and saturated, but also overexposed. The level of detail fell short of expectations, with the primary camera showing flat textures even in brightly lit scenes. Sharpness decreased towards the edges of each frame. Dynamic range was decent at best, but the sheer lack of detail meant that darker areas of scenes just looked blurry.
Portrait photos taken using the rear camera came out a lot cleaner with better colour, good detail, and good edge detection. The selfie camera produced mixed results. In unfavourable lighting, like when shooting against a window, there was some abnormal noise in darker areas of the frame. Selfies, taken outdoors were brighter, but looked mostly flat. Switching to Portrait mode took care of the noise and delivered slightly better results with better contrast, but backgrounds were overexposed.
Macro photos came out oversaturated with abnormal colour tones when compared to the actual scene. Even a photo of the same subject taken with the primary camera looked a lot sharper and was more usable when cropped.
Camera performance in low light was also quite poor. The level of detail dropped in Auto mode and this got even worse in Night mode. Low-light selfies came out quite flat with below-average detail. The Portrait mode improved contrast and the software added a sense of depth to photos.
Just like the competition, video recording on the Redmi Note 10T 5G maxes out at 1080p 30fps. While videos came out well stabilised with good dynamic range, they lacked sharpness. Videos recorded in low light looked murky and the noise level would get cranked up the second I pointed the camera at a subject with limited lighting.
Since many budget smartphones fall short in some areas, your decision to invest in a budget 5G smartphone will mainly depend on the brand you choose and the software you prefer. The Redmi Note 10T 5G, Realme Narzo 30 5G (Review) and Poco M3 Pro 5G (Review) all feature similar hardware at similar prices.
If 5G is a must-have for your next smartphone upgrade, then take your pick between these three. Do keep in mind that the Redmi 10T 5G's camera performance is a bit below average, and its price is a bit higher at Rs. 14,499. The Realme Narzo 30 5G, for an additional Rs. 1,500, gets you a slightly better 16-megapixel selfie camera, as well as 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The Poco M3 Pro 5G sells for a slightly lower price of Rs 13,999 for the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant.
If you are alright with a 4G smartphone, then there's plenty of choice with much better hardware and features such as Super AMOLED displays, stereo speakers, better build quality, dust and water protection, and faster charging, most notably from Xiaomi's own stable of 4G Redmi Note 10 devices.