The Redmi Note series has been very important for Xiaomi. The Redmi Note 4 (Review) was the first model that sold in huge numbers, helping the Chinese smartphone giant cement its position in the Indian market. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 7 Pro is another highlight of the series, according to the company. Launched in February earlier this year, the Redmi Note 7 Pro offered impressive performance and good cameras at an aggressive price. Naturally, this puts a lot of pressure on its successor, the Redmi Note 8 Pro. While this new smartphone has been launched nine months after its predecessor, it claims to be better in every measurable way. Will the Redmi Note 8 Pro become the new yardstick for its segment? We put it to the test to answer that.
Redmi Note 8 Pro design
Xiaomi has changed the design of the Redmi 8 series of smartphones, and the Redmi Note 8 Pro also benefits from this. The new smartphone packs in a bigger display measuring 6.53 inches compared to the 6.3-inch display on the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review). It has a waterdrop notch at the top which houses the selfie camera. The earpiece sits just above the display and is finished in black, which camouflages it well with the black bezel at the top. There is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection.
Xiaomi has managed to reduce the thickness of the bottom bezel on the Redmi Note 8 Pro by opting for a flexible chip-on-film display driver that bends downwards. The power and volume buttons are on the right side of the device. We found the power button to be well positioned while the volume rocker needed a bit of a stretch to reach.
The left side of the Redmi Note 8 Pro sports two trays: one has only a Nano-SIM slot while the other has the second Nano-SIM slot and a dedicated microSD card slot. Xiaomi has specifically added the microSD card slot for the Indian market, as the Chinese version of this phone lacks this feature.
The back of the phone is made out of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and is curved on the sides to make it easy to grip. The camera module is positioned in the centre and is slightly raised. Xiaomi has also moved the fingerprint scanner into the raised camera module, which feels a little weird at first. We usually have fingerprint scanners recessed into the bodies of smartphones, and this one is quite the opposite. However, it isn’t a huge issue and it didn’t take us long to get used to. We also found that the fingerprint scanner is slightly higher than ideal. Next to the camera module is the LED flash along with a separate macro camera positioned under it.
At the bottom, the Redmi Note 8 Pro sports a USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, and primary microphone while the IR emitter and secondary microphone are on the top. Xiaomi ships a clear plastic case in the box along with an 18W fast charger.
Redmi Note 8 Pro specifications and software
The Redmi Note 8 Pro sports a big 6.53-inch display with a full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) resolution and HDR support. It has a vivid output, and gets bright enough when outdoors with a maximum brightness of 500 nits.
Xiaomi has opted for the MediaTek Helio G90T SoC which has apparently been specifically designed for gaming. This processor competes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G SoC which is expected to power the Realme XT 730G. The Helio G90T is an octa-core processor with two performance ARM Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.05GHz and six efficiency Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 2.0GHz. For graphics, it has an ARM Mali-G76 MC4 integrated GPU clocked at 800MHz.
To maintain operating temperatures on this processor, Xiaomi has implemented what it calls liquid cooling along with dual pyrolytic sheets. Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 that it uses a bigger vapour cooling chamber than the one in the Poco F1 (Review).
Xiaomi has launched three variants of the Redmi Note 8 Pro with the base variant sporting 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage priced at Rs. 14,999. The second variant sports 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 15,999. The top variant of the Redmi Note 8 Pro gets 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 17,999.
Xiaomi offers the Redmi Note 8 Pro with UFS 2.1 storage instead of EMMC 5.1 which is common at these price points. Storage is expandable using a microSD card of up to 512GB.
Connectivity options on the Redmi Note 8 Pro include Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, dual 4G VoLTE, and four navigation systems. The phone packs in a 4,500mAh battery. Xiaomi also mentions that the Redmi Note 8 Pro has a self-cleaning speaker which plays a low-frequency tone to try to eject dust.
Xiaomi ships the Redmi Note 8 Pro with MIUI 10 running on top of Android 9 Pie. Our unit was running the September security patch. Like most other Xiaomi smartphones, the Redmi Note 8 Pro comes with a quite a few apps preinstalled. Along with a few Google apps, the Redmi Note 8 Pro has Amazon, Facebook, WPS Office, Netflix, Dailyhunt, Gaana, and Opera Mini, among others. Xiaomi also preinstalled games such as Ludo Master, Block Puzzle Guardian, Pop Shooter Blast, and Dust Settle.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro has a GetApps app store that suggests new apps for you to try. Xiaomi’s own apps such as Mi community, Mi Pay, Mi Store, and Mi Credit are also preinstalled on the device. You need to pay attention while setting up the device to disable the personalised ad recommendations and wallpaper carousal. The smartphone still shows ads when installing new apps, which can get annoying. Apps like Music and Mi Video push spammy notifications throughout the day.
Xiaomi lets you switch from the traditional three-button navigation layout to swipe-based navigation. Since the MediaTek Helio G90T supports dual-wake, Xiaomi has added support for Amazon’s Alexa along with Google Assistant. That’s right, there are two assistants on the device that are ready to listen to their respective wake phrases and spring into action.
While both the Google Assistant and Alexa worked as expected, we found at first that Alexa would take over the screen causing it to be unresponsive. We had to hit the back button to use the smartphone again. An Alexa app update that we received during the course of our review fixed this issue. The advantage of the dual wake feature is that you can summon either assistant at any time including when the device is locked.
Redmi Note 8 Pro performance and battery life
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro is the first smartphone in India to sport the new MediaTek Helio G90T processor. We’re reviewing the top variant with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. Naturally, we were curious to see how it fares compared to its Snapdragon rivals. We did not notice any lag or stutter on this device when it was subjected to heavy load. It launches apps quickly, and 8GB of RAM ensures that the smartphone can multitask without needing to kill apps in the background.
We found the fingerprint scanner to be quick to unlock the smartphone. Face recognition is also available and needs only a glance to unlock the Redmi Note 8 Pro. The display gets bright enough outdoors, and the speaker is loud enough to enjoy the content you are watching.
We ran our standard set of benchmarks on the device to gauge its performance. In AnTuTu, the Redmi Note 8 Pro managed to clock 2,27,626 which is higher than the 2,14,687 scored by the Redmi K20 (Review) with its Snapdragon SoC. The Redmi Note 8 Pro also managed 273 and 943 in Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. These scores are higher than those of the Snapdragon 730 SoC, and come very close to those of the Snapdragon 730G. In graphics benchmarks, the Redmi Note 8 Pro managed 58fps and 15fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex and Car Chase tests respectively.
We couldn’t do without testing games on a phone that boasts of a gaming-optimised processor, so we played PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile to gauge performance. PUBG Mobile defaulted to the High preset with graphics set to HD and the frame rate set to High. The smartphone managed to run the game at these settings without any issues. We played the game for 36 minutes and noticed a 12 percent battery drain. The Redmi Note 8 Pro was warm at the end of this gaming session. We bumped the graphics up to HDR and frame rate to Ultra, and the smartphone could run the game at these settings with no protest. However, it got rather hot after playing for 20 minutes at these settings.
Battery life is decent on the Redmi Note 8 Pro if you consider the kind of performance it packs. The 4,500mAh battery in this device went on for about 14 hours in our HD video loop test. With our usage, which consisted of an active WhatsApp account, taking a few camera samples, and playing PUBG Mobile and Call Of Duty Mobile, we were left with around 40 percent left at the end of 24 hours. Xiaomi ships an 18W charger in the box which charged the big battery to 32 percent in 30 minutes and to 62 percent in an hour.
Redmi Note 8 Pro cameras
The Redmi Note 8 Pro has received a significant bump in terms of camera hardware compared to the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review). Xiaomi has effectively doubled the number of cameras compared to its predecessor. The Redmi Note 8 Pro packs a 64-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.79 aperture and 0.8-micron pixels. This sensor takes 16-megapixel shots in the default mode as is does 4-in-1 pixel binning.
The second sensor in the array is an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree field of view. Xiaomi has also added a 2-megapixel macro camera. The fourth sensor is a 2-megapixel depth sensor. At the front, this phone has a 20-megapixel selfie shooter.
Xiaomi hasn’t made any radical changes to the camera app on the Redmi Note 8 Pro, and it is similar to what we have seen on many other Xiaomi phones. It has a button that lets you switch between the primary camera and the wide-angle one. This control also offers 2X zoom which is achieved digitally. The toggle to switch to the Macro camera is at the top alongside the AI button. This could be easy to miss and we would’ve preferred it to be grouped with the other similar control.
At the top, there are icons for HDR, AI, the flash, and filters. The smartphone has Portrait, Night, Panorama, Pro, Short video, Slow motion, and 64MP shooting modes, apart from the standard Photo and Video modes.
Photos shot with the Redmi Note 8 Pro in daylight were sharp and had good detail, which was evident on zooming in. The camera enables HDR automatically for bright scenes and does a good job at getting the exposure right. Shots taken with the wide-angle camera offered a wider field of view but lacked detail compared to the primary sensor. However, they did not have barrel distortion.
In low light, the AI was quick to recognise scenes and set the camera accordingly. The phone captured decent levels of detail with its primary camera at night. Text at a distance was legible, but we did notice fine grain on zooming in. With Night mode enabled, the smartphone was able to capture brighter images with slightly better details, but we had to be perfectly still to get a usable shot.
Close-up photos taken using the primary camera had good background separation and a natural bokeh effect. We noticed that the AI wasn’t consistent when shooting closeups, boosting colours aggressively in a few scenes causing them to look artificial. The primary camera was quick to focus even in low light, and managed good shots with good detail.
Shots taken using the Macro camera had good detail, but the resolution is 2 megapixels only. Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 that the macro camera has been positioned just below the flash in order to use the flash as an illuminator to avoid shadows when taking macros with the phone really close to your subject. We would have liked the option to set the intensity of the flash.
In portrait mode, the Redmi Note 8 Pro does give you the option to set the level of blur before taking a shot. The phone managed good separation between the subject and background. Colours were also accurate when shooting portraits.
The single selfie camera returns sharp shots during the day but we found the contrast to be slightly boosted. You do have the option to take selfie portraits, and these showed good separation as well. Selfies taken in low light had slightly lower detail but were worthy of going on social media directly.
Video recording is capped at 4K 30fps for the primary camera and 1080p 30fps for the selfie shooter. You can also shoot video using the wide-angle camera or macro camera. Videos shot during the day were stabilised and the phone could meter light properly. 4K footage had boosted colours and the output wasn’t stabilised, which is acceptable for the price. Video shot in low light had a visible shimmer effect in the output and could do with some improvement.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro has iding on it considering how popular its predecessor, the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review), was. To give it a fighting chance, Xiaomi has equipped it with powerful hardware previously unseen in this price segment. The MediaTek Helio G90T can easily take care of your gaming needs. It beats the Snapdragon 712 as well as the Snapdragon 730 SoC in terms of performance, making it an easy pick for someone looking at just that. However, there seems to be a bit of a tradeoff, as we found that this processor wasn’t as power efficient as the Snapdragon 675 that powers the Redmi Note 7 Pro, and this was evident in our battery tests.
Xiaomi has beefed up the camera hardware to compete with other smartphones, most notably the Realme 5 Pro (Review) and Realme XT (Review) which offer good camera performance with a similar variety of sensors in the same price range. But we feel that the Redmi Note 8 Pro could do with a few camera tweaks to extract the best out of it.
As a whole package, the Redmi Note 8 Pro qualifies as a suitable successor to the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Xiaomi has sweetened the deal by pricing it aggressively and undercutting the Realme XT (Review). For those looking for a gaming device, the Redmi Note 8 Pro is an easy pick, but you might also want to look at the Poco F1 (Review) which costs the same and offers the same amounts of RAM and storage now that its price has been reduced so many times.
Is Realme XT the reason behind Redmi Note 8 Pro’s killer pricing? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.