I’ve mentioned this in my Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 review, but the company does its best work in this midrange segment, where it manages to squeeze as much value into these devices. So, even those with tighter budgets can get their money’s worth.
The Redmi Note 10S is the middle child of this series, sitting between the Redmi Note 10 and the Redmi Note 10 Pro. The slight upgrade from the Redmi Note 10 gives you a better 64-megapixel sensor and a more optimized experience. If the extra PHP 2,000 seems a bit too steep, then this handset is vying for your attention. But does it deserve it?
A long-lasting device
I love that a 5,000mAh battery is quickly becoming a standard for smartphones. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is no different. It comes equipped with this battery capacity, which the company pairs with 33-watt fast-charging support.
Throughout my two weeks with the phone, I average around a day and a half of use. That time includes some gaming and content consumption and tons of messaging and browsing. And then it just takes around an hour to top up the phone completely. If you need a device to last through your busy day, you can’t go wrong with this phone.
Binge-watch ready (with a caveat)
Even with a standard 60Hz refresh rate, the 6.43-inch Full HD+ (2,400 x 1,080 resolution) display and its dual speakers lend themselves to hours of entertainment. I love that Xiaomi opted to add a dual speaker here because it makes watching shows, playing games, or listening to music enjoyable even without headphones. It’s reasonably loud, too. But if you want more privacy or want to hear better in noisy environments, it does have a headphone jack here.
The Redmi Note 10S battles a bit with glare on a sunny day, but the viewing angles are great, the colors are good, and the blacks are deep. The black bar at the top can hide the punch-hole, so I tend to forget it’s there while I’m watching. Unfortunately, if you watch a lot of Netflix, this phone only supports Widevine L3, meaning it just plays the content in Standard Definition.
LiTT Tip #1: Xiaomi equips the Redmi Note 10S with an equalizer for wired earphones. Just head to Sound & vibration > Sound effects, and you’ll see the equalizer there. It will only be activated when earphones are plugged into the headphone jack. For Xiaomi earphones, you can even adjust the sound to suit the specific model.
Mostly smooth operator
Under the hood, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S comes armed with a MediaTek Helio G95 processor, Android 11-skinned MIUI 12.5, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB expandable storage. It took up around 16.6GB of storage from a new setup.
I didn’t really run into any trouble while using this device. It mostly responded to whatever I threw at it. There weren’t any day-to-day inconveniences that I felt this handset could be unusable for many people.
I could play games like Cooking Battle, Asphalt 9, and Ragnarok X: Next Generation in mid to high settings. Xiaomi’s Game Turbo helps optimize the gaming experience on this phone. I wish it weren’t hidden in the settings, though.
MIUI 12.5 might not be your favorite or the cleanest Android skin out there, but I find it quite helpful with the different customization options it offers. But, as I’ve mentioned countless times, I could still do with fewer pre-installed apps.
LiTT Tip #2: Don’t want to get promoted apps in the app drawers? All you need to do is tap on the App drawer name. An option labeled “Promoted apps” will appear with a toggle beside it. It looks like it’s turned off by default. But it’s good to know that it’s there.
LiTT Tip #3: If you’re using MIUI’s new Control Center style, it’s easy to switch between the Notification Shade and the Control Center. Simply swipe on any free space to switch between the two options—swipe right to get to the Control Center and swipe left to access your notifications. Your best option is to do this at the top, where the time and date are, so you don’t accidentally swipe away an unread message.
For quick social media snaps
For its price point, you get a decent set of cameras on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S. Its quad-cam setup at the back comprises a 64-megapixel main, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide, a 2-megapixel macro, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Meanwhile, the punch-hole holds a 13-megapixel selfie camera.
As with similarly spec’d smartphone cameras, you can get some good pictures already. The photo quality looks great in good lighting with natural colors and plenty of details. You will notice quality drops as it gets darker. It does tend to boost the highlights a bit so that it might overexpose the bright parts of the photo, especially in low light.
If you want to get extra details in your photos, you can use the 64-megapixel mode. But I’ve been plenty satisfied with the default settings. You can zoom in digitally up to 10x, but I find the best quality is up to around 4x. There are times when autofocus takes a few tries to get it right. It didn’t happen often enough to be too bothersome, but it’s there.
You can get some help in low light with the dedicated Night Mode. It doesn’t seem to overly correct the image, but it eliminates some of the noise, boosts brightness a bit, and tempers the overblown highlights. As with Night Modes on many other devices, it works best when you still have a light source nearby. But you can get brighter low-light shots by tinkering with the Shutter speed in the Pro camera mode.
The Pro mode will also let you use the 64-megapixel sensor in full quality, but when you’re in low-light conditions, you will notice that parts of the photos come out softer and muddier.
The ultra-wide camera can get a fair amount of details with decent color reproduction, but you have to watch out for that fish-eye effect. It also doesn’t work in the Night mode, so no ultra-wide shots in low light.
Admittedly, I don’t really use the macro lens on these phones as the quality of photos rarely turns out well for me. There’s only so much a 2-megapixel sensor can do.
Selfies are okay with a good amount of detail and pleasing colors. Like the rear cameras, though, it boosts the highlights a bit There are some basic beautification features, but it’s not as extensive as Xiaomi’s competitors. Its portrait mode can easily separate the subject from the background, and you can even edit the bokeh in post.
You can record videos up to 4K at 30 frames per second. But without tripods or gimbals, those videos will come out shaky. Recording in 1080p is still your best bet because it has less camera shake even without Optical Image Stabilization on board.
I find Xiaomi’s Short Video mode useful for creating quick videos like the one below. It even comes with some pre-installed tunes.
Xiaomi equips the Redmi Note 10S with some filters for photos and videos, which you can play around with within the app. I also like that Xiaomi also has its features like Best Photo and Secure Sharing, which I’ve mentioned in my Redmi Note 10 review.
A slim and stylish handset
I’ve loved the feel of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10, so with the Redmi Note 10S having an almost identical look and feel to that, I knew I was going to like it, too. Design-wise, the only difference is that the Redmi Note 10S has a more distinctive silver ring around the primary sensor.
The camera module still protrudes slightly off the phone’s back. The rear of the phone is covered in glass-like plastic with a metal frame. I tested the Onyx Gray option, but it’s also available in Pebble White and Ocean Blue. There is even a Starlight Purple option, which recently became available.
It feels solid yet slim, so it’s easy to slip into a handbag. It’s still more of a two-handed device, though. And its shiny back is a smudge magnet. You get a silicone case with the phone so that you can keep the fingerprints and smudges at bay. This handset is also IP53 rated, which means it can handle a bit of rain if you find yourself using it at those times outdoors.
You have the triple card tray for two nano-sized SIMs and a microSD card on the left side. While on the right are the volume keys and a power button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
It’s my preferred design for fingerprint scanners as it is easy to access. Xiaomi’s interpretation here is quite responsive, too.
At the bottom, you have the 3.5mm audio jack, main mic, USB-C port, and a loudspeaker. You get an IR blaster at the top and the earpiece doubles as a speaker.
What’s lit and what’s not?
What’s lit about it:
- Fast-charging for its long-lasting 5,000mAh battery
- Better audio with dual-speakers
- Customizability of MIUI
- Affordable, value-packed phone
- Handy camera features for quick social media sharing
- Sturdy, stylish build
What needs the extra spark:
- Just standard 60Hz display & only supports Widevine L3 (meaning you only get SD videos on Netflix)
- Still more pre-installed apps than I’d like
- Wished Game Turbo wasn’t hidden in the settings
- A bit of trouble with autofocus at times
Typical of a Xiaomi phone, you get a lot for what you pay for with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S. Xiaomi does face stiff competition at this price point, even with its own devices. But if you get a good deal on this device and aren’t as exacting with what you need, you can’t go wrong with this phone.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S is available for PHP 11,990.
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