Redmi Note 10S Review: Barely an Upgrade

The Redmi Note 10S is a slightly more powerful version of the Redmi Note 10, which was launched in March this year. The Redmi Note 10 is still a capable smartphone and it managed a good score in our review. Xiaomi claims to have improved upon the Redmi Note 10 by using a different processor, more RAM, and a higher resolution primary camera sensor, all for a small bump in price. Should you pay the premium for the Redmi Note 10S, or spend this money elsewhere? I put the Redmi Note 10S through our tests to find out.

 

Redmi Note 10S price in India

The Redmi Note 10S commands a premium over the Redmi Note 10 (Review) and is available in two variants. The base variant offers 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 14,999. The higher variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at Rs. 15,999.

Redmi Note 10S design

The Redmi Note 10S and the Redmi Note 10 look identical, making it impossible to distinguish between the two unless you get the newer model in its exclusive Deep Sea Blue colour. This new option has a gradient finish which looks fresh. Just like the Redmi Note 10, the Note 10S is also available in subtle colours such as Shadow Black and Frost White.

The Redmi Note 10S is a relatively slim smartphone, measuring 8.29mm, and it weighs 179g. The polycarbonate back is curved along the sides which makes it comfortable to hold. The camera module is on the left of the rear and doesn’t protrude much. There is a silver highlight around the new 64-megapixel primary camera to draw attention to it.

The Redmi Note 10S in the new Deep Sea Blue colour looks fresh

 

At the front, the Redmi Note 10S has a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. You’ll see a sizable camera hole at the top. The display has thin bezels on the sides while the chin is noticeably thicker. The frame of the Redmi Note 10S is made out of plastic. It is curved on the sides, and relatively flat at the top and the bottom.

The power button has an integrated capacitive fingerprint scanner and is well positioned on the right side of the phone, along with the volume buttons. The Redmi Note 10S has stereo speakers with a speaker each on the top and bottom. An IR emitter, commonly seen on Redmi smartphones, is at the top along with the secondary microphone. The USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack are at the bottom.

You get IP53 dust and water resistance on the Redmi Note 10S which isn’t very common in this price range. You’ll also see a rubber flange around the SIM tray to help prevent water from entering the device. The battery capacity remains unchanged, compared to the Redmi Note 10, at 5,000mAh. You get a 33W charger in the box which is a good addition considering the price of this smartphone.

Redmi Note 10S specifications and software

The Redmi Note 10S packs in a more powerful MediaTek Helio G95 processor than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 in the Redmi Note 10. This processor is paired with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM, and you get to choose between 64GB and 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage. There is also a dedicated slot for storage expansion.

The Redmi Note 10S has an AMOLED display with a full-HD+ resolution and a peak brightness of 1100 nits. It has good viewing angles and was legible under sunlight.You can also adjust the colour scheme and colour temperature of the display to suit your needs. The Redmi Note 10S supports Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi, VoLTE, and VoWiFi. It is a dual-SIM device and can use two Nano-SIMs.

redmi note 10s miui12 gadgets360 Redmi Note 10S Review

Xiaomi ships the latest MIUI 12.5 on the Redmi Note 10S

 

Xiaomi ships the Redmi Note 10S with MIUI 12.5, making this the first smartphone to run the latest version of MIUI. The UI runs on top of Android 11 and my unit had the April Android security patch. The Redmi Note 10S was running an interim version of MIUI 12.5 during the review period, and more features will be added soon, according to the company. During setup the phone did ask permission to enable Glance for Mi, a wallpaper carousel service which I declined because it shows sponsored content. There are a fair number of preinstalled apps on the device but I could remove most of them, which is a step in the right direction. I got promotional notifications from GetApps and the Themes app while using the smartphone.

Redmi Note 10S performance and battery life

The Redmi Note 10S offers very good performance and did not show any signs of slowing down during the review period. There is 6GB of RAM which makes multitasking quite easy. I found the AMOLED display to have good viewing angles, and it did get bright enough when outdoors. The stereo speakers are a neat addition and help enhance the video watching experience on the Redmi Note 10S. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is easy to reach and quick to unlock the smartphone.

Given the MediaTek Helio G95 processor, I was expecting this phone to perform better than the Redmi Note 10 and it did in the few tests that I was able to run. The Redmi Note 10S managed 330,650 points in AnTuTu, while Geekbench 5’s scores were 516 and 1,668 for the single-core and multi-core tests respectively. The Redmi Note 10S did not run the graphics benchmarks GFXBench and 3DMark.

redmi note 10s cameras gadgets360 Redmi Note 10S Review

The Redmi Note 10S sports a quad-camera setup with a 64-megapixel primary camera

 

Call of Duty Mobile ran fine without any issue. It defaulted to the High preset for graphics as well as frame rate. The game was playable at these settings without any drop in performance and I did not notice any stutters during gameplay. After playing for 10 minutes, I noticed a 3 percent drop in the battery level, and the top of the phone was slightly warm to the touch.

The 5,000mAh battery in the Redmi Note 10S is capable of delivering good battery life. I could use the smartphone for over a day very easily on a single charge. I did not notice any abnormal battery drain either. In our HD video loop test, the phone managed to run for 17 hours and 26 minutes which is a good score. Xiaomi bundles a 33W charger in the box, which took the smartphone from zero to 40 percent in thirty minutes and to 67 percent in an hour.

Redmi Note 10S cameras

The Redmi Note 10S has a quad-camera setup just like the Redmi Note 10, except that the primary camera sensor has a higher resolution. It sports a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, it has a 13-megapixel shooter.

Xiaomi’s camera app has most of the different shooting modes well laid out, making it easy to choose the one you want. Sadly, the Macro mode still requires multiple taps to enable. The camera app has AI and you get a quick toggle for that too.

Daylight photos taken with the Redmi Note 10S were average and looked oversharpened. There was decent detail on nearby objects but distant objects appeared blotchy. Photos shot at the full 64-megapixel resolution had relatively low detail and were not as sharp as pixel-binned ones. With the ultra-wide angle camera, you can capture a wider shot but the detail was not as good, and there was noticeable distortion at the sides.

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Redmi Note 10S daylight camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

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Redmi Note 10S ultra-wide angle camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

 

Close-up shots turned out better, and with the AI-enabled, the phone can detect scenes quickly. The Note 10S was quick to focus and I did not need multiple attempts to get a usable shot. Portrait shots had good edge detection and I could set the level of background blur I wanted before taking a shot. Macro shots were decent but limited to 2 megapixels in resolution.

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Redmi Note 10S close-up camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

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Redmi Note 10S portrait camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

 

Low-light shots appeared flat, and objects at a distance were grainy. The phone managed to keep noise under control but shots weren’t the best I’ve seen at this price point. With Night mode enabled, photo quality was marginally brighter and shots had slightly better details. The ultra-wide angle camera fails to capture decent shots at night and is best used for daylight landscapes only.

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Redmi Note 10S low-light camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

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Redmi Note 10S Night mode camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

 

Selfies were decent and the smartphone could detect faces even with masks on for portraits. You do get a slider to adjust the background blur before you take a shot. Low-light selfies were also good. Beautification is enabled by default which softens the image.

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Redmi Note 10S daylight selfie portrait camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

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Redmi Note 10S low-light selfie portrait camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

 

Video recording tops out at 4K 30fps for the primary camera. Footage shot at 1080p seemed stabilised and only had occasional shimmer while walking around, whereas 4K footage wasn’t stabilised. Low-light video shot at 1080p was strictly average and had a shimmer effect in the output, while 4K footage wasn’t stabilised.

Verdict

The Redmi Note 10 (Review) is still great value for money. Xiaomi has introduced a new sibling with a more powerful processor, more RAM, and a higher-resolution primary camera, and called it the Redmi Note 10S. The only surprising thing is that this update was launched a mere two months after the original.

The Note 10S is more expensive though, and there’s a price difference of Rs. 2,000 between variants of the Redmi Note 10 and the Note 10S with the same amounts of RAM and storage. I did not find the cameras to be a significant enough upgrade to recommend the Redmi Note 10S over the Redmi Note 10. However, for those looking for more performance, the Note 10S does have a slight edge over its sibling.

If you are looking for alternatives, the Realme 7 (Review) and the Poco M3 (Review) are worth considering for roughly the same price.



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