Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S review: A Great Daily Driver

The Redmi series which is one of the most successful model series of Xiaomi so far. It has helped catapult Xiaomi to the spot of 3rd biggest mobile phone brand in the Philippines. The Redmi series has also helped push Xiaomi to reach number 2 spot in global sales last July 2021. This time, we’re taking a look at the Redmi Note 10S, a slight bump in the Redmi Note 10 lineup. While we’ve already taken a look at the Redmi Note 10 here, the Redmi Note 10S has upped the Note 10 by some aspects. It’s not a complete redesign, but a pretty strange one given the timing of the releases.

To keep it simple, the Redmi Note 10S only has two main differences versus the Redmi Note 10, which are the primary camera (Redmi 10’s 48MP vs Redmi 10S’ 64MP) and the chipset (Pretty good comparison video here). In terms of configurations, there are also some small bumps, with the Note 10S giving out a minimum of 6GB-8GB RAM while the Note 10 only has 6GB maximum RAM. Will the minimal price bump for the Note 10S make a difference? Let’s find out!

Packaging and Contents

As most budget midrangers go, the Redmi Note 10S doesn’t really have a lot in its package. It comes with the wall charger, a Type-C to Type-A USB cable, and a jelly case.

Design and Build

The Redmi Note 10S, like its older brothers, is quite thin and light. It also sports the similar polycarbonate body which makes it feel elegant. The entire body has an IP53 rating which is pretty unique for a phone at this price range.

Speaking of which, it’s IP53 rated for water and dust resistance, which is a great feature for a relatively budget phone. It has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protecting its screen. It weighs 178.8 g, and measures 8.29mm thick, the same as the Redmi Note 10.

The Redmi Note 10S still has the a USB Type-C charging port capable of Mi Turbo Charge (33W charging), as well as a 3.5mm audio jack both located at the bottom.

At the top, it has an IR (infrared) Blaster for those who still would want to control a lot of devices, which is pretty cool.

Like the Redmi Note 10, Xiaomi opted to include stereo front-facing speakers, with one speaker each on the top and bottom parts of the phone which push out pretty good and loud sound quality.

There’s also a microSD card slot for upgradeable storage up to 512GB, as well as space for two SIM cards.

The power button with arc fingerprint reader is located at the side below the volume rocker. It’s one of the fastest fingerprint readers we’ve tested on a phone, and does its job quite well.

Display

One of the key differences between the Redmi Note 10 and the Redmi Note 10S is the “downgrade” to AMOLED from the Note 10’s SUPER AMOLED display. But in all honesty, having tried both phones, there is no noticeable difference from either phone. The display of the Redmi Note 10S, which is a 6.43” FHD+ AMOLED DotDisplay, is still fantastic for a midranger. Colors are still bright and vivid, although definitely not the same as more advanced SUPER AMOLED displays that can be found in high-end phones. It’s also quite interesting to note that both Note 10 and Note 10S have the same brightness rating (450-1100 nits) even though they have different panels. In terms of touch sensitivity, I did not run into any response issues using the Redmi Note 10S.

It can get quite bright at a max of 1100 nits. Thus, sunlight legibility is outstanding, although it will take up a whole lot of power. Screen-to-body ratio is just okay at 83.5%, but it’s not a deal breaker since the size alone doesn’t make it feel bulky at all. One thing to note about the screen is that it only features a 60hz refresh rate.

Internals, UI, and Performance

The Redmi Note 10S is powered by a Mediatek Helio G95. In comparison, the Redmi Note 10 is powered by the Snapdragon 678. There’s a pretty good user comparison of both chipsets here. Both CPU’s performed similarly, but we don’t really know why Xiaomi opted for the G95 for the Note 10S. In terms of GPU, Xiaomi claims to have a 30% faster rating. It does have a few advantages in terms of raw performance but a Snapdragon platform generally produces much better game optimization, which might also affect certain games.

Xiaomi Philippines opted to only bring in one variant, which is the 8GB + 128GB version. Same as the Redmi Note 10, We encountered no issues playing most games, watching movies, browsing. Apps such as Facebook, Waze, Netflix, Google Maps, were smooth and performed well even run after each other. It can also be upgraded with a microSDXC card, which is a great feature to still have in a smart phone.

The MIUI 12.5.12 version on Android 11 is pretty stable and had no visible issues. Although it does seem a bit heavier nowadays, it still is a relatively smoother version, but the startup is still plagued with some “preferred” apps and games that Xiaomi seems to be pushing. (It isn’t as bad as what Huawei is doing, though…..)

While I wasn’t expecting a whole of difference, gaming performance was more than adequate for casual gamers. Mobile Legends, League of Legends: Wild Rift were enjoyable at around 60 fps, with low to medium settings turned on.

Call of Duty: Mobile played exceptionally well and I was blown away by the phone’s capability to be smooth even under massive action. Even at very high settings, CODM was a joy to play using the Redmi Note 10S.

Genshin Impact was not so pleasant and even with a 30 fps limit couldn’t reach 27 fps in medium settings, and we had to turn down the graphics settings to be able to play it smoothly.

Watch our full game test here:

To boost performance even further, Xiaomi has the Game Turbo app pre-installed. This further focuses processing power (and reduces notifications) specifically just for gaming. It gives an overlay on top of playing games where we could be able to see the FPS counter and CPU usage. There’s also other features to help out and focus the user on gaming usage only.

Benchmarks Results

PC Mark

  • PC Mark Work 3.0 Score: 8151
  • PC Mark Storage 2.0 Score: 18504

Last time we tried the Redmi Note 10, it had a Work 2.0 score of 7163 and Storage 1.0 Score of 11,226. Now with the the new PCMark software, they upgraded both tests for better support of 64-bit architectures. Unfortunately, it also means that we cannot compare the results of both tests, since there is a vast difference in configurations.

Geekbench v5.4.1

  • Single Core: 470
  • Multi-Core: 1653
  • OpenCL: 2173
  • Vulkan: 2279

Single core scores put the Redmi Note 10S in between the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro running a Helio G90T and the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 on a Snapdragon 845, both relatively older “flagship” chipsets more than 2 years ago.

Multi core scores however are a little bit more interesting. The Redmi Note10’s performance puts it between the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Poco X3 NFC. Generally speaking, the Helio G95 has a slightly higher performance bump to the Snapdragon 730G but not in all aspects.

One thing to note though that despite the great performance of the Helio G95, it is still based on a relatively old platform, a major downside of which is the lack of 5G functionality.

Battery Life

Similar to our experience with the Redmi Note 10, overall performance for daily use was fantastic. The Redmi Note 10S is rated with a 5,000mah battery, and was capable of around more than 1 day use on normal activities (2-3 hours gaming, always on WIFI, 3-4 hours on social media). It should last more than 1 and a half day if usage is cranked down a little bit.

One thing that probably makes this phone last much longer than usual is because MIUI shuts down background apps a little bit more aggressively compared to other systems. This is great if you don’t want a lot of apps running, but not so great if notifications are affected. This setting can be customized though.

The included 33W charging capability on the Redmi Note 10S was also very helpful and one of the fastest we’ve experienced for a device at this price point, and was able to charge to around 65% in less than 30 mins.

Camera Performance

The camera has definitely been improved compared to the Redmi Note 10’s camera. The rear setup now features a 64MP main camera, a 2MP macro camera, a 2MP depth sensor, and an 8MP ultra-wide sensor with 118 degrees field of view.

In addition, they also have a Pro time-lapse mode which works in a variety of lighting conditions, which is great because you can fully control which settings should be used during time lapse, brightness of which is most important.

Redmi Note 10S Sample shots

Overall, the camera quality of the Redmi Note 10 performed well above expectations.

Outdoor scenes are great although it does turn down brightness quite a lot to preserve some image clarity. The resulting photos are somewhat tame in comparison to the actual contrast levels, but it does smoothen out the harshness of the sun.

Although I’m not too sure on the difference of the macro lens of the Redmi Note 10 vs the Redmi Note 10S, Macro photography was great and had much better details compared to the Redmi Note 10, which was not too great. Details were crisp, although there is no super macro mode which zooms in a little closer to the subject. Macro mode also seemed to over-blur the surrounding background quite a lot, compared to other phones I’ve used. While that may be good for some photos, take note that it doesn’t necessarily have the best results all the time.

In indoor (yellowish) lighting, the rear and front cameras had totally different results. Obviously, the front camera would have a better results but the difference in white balance is completely different. The front camera does seem to tone down color temperatures, especially skin tones. This is quite normal for most rear cameras, although maybe not as aggressively as the Redmi Note 10S does. Despite this, both results worked out pretty well, considering that the lighting was not too great.

At almost zero lighting, both cameras also have different results. The rear camera taken using night mode is actually pretty good, and some detail were still visible. For a budget midranger, the Redmi Note 10S had pretty surprising results.

With much better lighting, the Redmi Note 10S takes superb portrait photos, which is the recommended way of taking photos of people. Background details are blurred out quite nicely and facial detail and accuracy is great.

Overall the camera setup on the Redmi Note 10S is totally decent if you’re not really nitpicky about details. If you’re the type of person who just needs the occasional IG or FB upload for your selfies or your food, the Redmi Note 10S would just be right for you.

CONCLUSION

There is not really much to complain about the Redmi Note 10S, given the price point and the fantastic specs that it offers to people who can buy it. It’s lightweight, has great gaming performance, great battery life and fast charging, and a more than decent camera package. It also has dual speakers, and still has the headphone jack. Perhaps one of the few downsides is the lack of 5G connectivity, which is the current trend of smartphones in its price range. Another one would be the strangely downgraded screen compared to the Redmi Note 10.

During the later part of 2021 up to early 2022, it is expected that more phones will come out sporting 5G connectivity. But possibly sacrificing other features which the Redmi Note 10S already offers. In this case, the Redmi Note 10S might be the current king of this segment. Until other brands launch 5G phones at this price range and specs, the Redmi Note 10S is definitely one of the best smartphones that we can recommend to anyone out there.

Redmi Note 10S Specifications

Display6.43” AMOLED DotDisplay
Rear camera64MP wide-angle camera 8MP ultra-wide angle camera 2MP macro camera 2MP depth sensor
Front camera13MP front camera
Dimension & Weight160.46mm x 74.5mm x 8.29mm 178.8g
ProcessorMediaTek Helio G95
RAM+ROMLPDDR4X UFS 2.2
AudioDual speakers 3.5mm headphone jack  Hi-Res Audio certification
SecurityArc side fingerprint sensor
Charging5,000mAh (typ) battery Supports 33W wired fast charging
ConnectivityDual SIM Multi-functional NFC* IR blaster
Variant*8GB+128GB
Available color*Onyx Gray Pebble White Ocean Blue

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S

Php11,990
9.4

Design

9.5/10

Features

9.7/10

Performance

9.0/10

Pros

  • Great gaming performance
  • Good camera (for basic use)
  • Dual speakers
  • Quick Fingerprint sensor

Cons

  • No 5G
  • downgraded screen

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