Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 8 is here and it takes up from where the Redmi Note 7 left. The phone does not only upgrade the specifications but keeps the prices under check. The Redmi Note 8 has a new processor and implements a 48MP quad-rear camera setup carrying a macro, ultrawide, and bokeh lens.
Xiaomi has learned from its previous experience with the Note 7 series and this time it has put the fast charger in the box. On paper, the Redmi Note 8 is a sweet deal at a starting price of Rs 9,999. Here is how the device performs in our week-long testing.
Redmi Note 8 price: Rs 9,999 for 4GB/64GB model | Rs 12,999 for 6GB/128GB model
Redmi Note 8 specifications: 6.3-inch FHD+ screen | Snapdragon 665 processor | 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP quad-rear camera | 13MP front camera | 4,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging | Android 9 Pie
Redmi Note 8 review: Design and display
Design-wise, the Redmi Note 8 smartphone bears more similarities to the design of the Redmi Note 7. Even though the phone sports a flat back, it is comfortable to hold, unlike its predecessor. The colour-scheme of the Redmi Note 8 is quite refreshing and lively. I had the Neptune Blue colour model with S-shaped waves, which seems to have taken inspiration from Realme 3 Pro’s back design. The back is a fingerprint magnet but it is not blindingly reflective.
The quad-camera setup is aligned vertically to the top left side of the back but very much like its predecessor, it is too bumpy to lie flat on the surface. Good thing Xiaomi packed a good back cover that takes care of that. Coming to the front panel, Redmi Note 8 sports a water-drop style notch on top but the notch takes subsequently lesser space now.
I often complained about how the smartphones these days have the same front-panel design but Redmi Note 8’s Neptune Blue model addresses this issue. The colour-scheme at the back stretches to the front of the device. The bottom chin carries a gradient textured style that looks absolutely stunning. I hope other smartphone manufacturers also start to pay attention to their phones’ front panel design.
Redmi Note devices still haven’t incorporated the AMOLED display. The Redmi Note 8 sports a TUV Rheinland certified 6.3-inch FHD+ screen with 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 2340×1080 pixels resolution, 90 per cent screen-to-body ratio, and 450 nits of brightness.
While the AMOLED screen would have bumped the price a bit, Redmi Note 8’s screen is good enough for the price. The colour reproduction is good, viewing angles are nice, and the sharpness levels are also okay. The phone can be used outdoors for calling and other nominal task but the reading text under direct sunlight is a bit difficult.
Redmi Note 8 review: Performance, UI, and gaming
The Redmi Note 8 is powered by the Snapdragon 665 processor paired with Adreno 610 GPU. While the SD 665 is not a huge jump from the SD 660 processor, it is certainly better given its smaller 11nm semiconductor size in comparison to the 14nm size of the SD 660.
The Redmi Note 8 handles day to day tasks quite easily like browsing social media, opening and switching between multiple apps, calling, and more. I never experienced any lags or stutters while using the device even while I had multiple apps and dozens of Chrome tabs opened in the background. Switching between background apps and Chrome tabs is also smooth.
The Redmi Note 8 runs MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie. Xiaomi has announced the schedule for the MIUI 11 rollout and the Redmi Note 8 will receive the update in the third phase between November 13 and November 29. As of now, there is nothing new to write about the MIUI 10 but the future software update promises exciting features like Dark Mode, new overall look, new lock screen with loads of customisation, Always-on-DIsplay, revamped Mi apps, and more.
Coming to the gaming on the phone, while the more expensive Pro-model has been presented as the gaming-smartphone, the Redmi Note 8 is also quite good at handing not only casual gaming but also graphics-heavy games as well. PUBG Mobile runs on medium settings without lags. The stutters are only minimal and the frame drops are also negligible.
Redmi Note 8 review: Camera
The Redmi Note 8 sports a quad-rear camera setup carrying a 48MP primary lens with 4-in-1 Super Pixel technology, an 8MP ultrawide lens with a 120-degree field of view, a 2MP depth sensors, and a 2MP dedicated macro lens that allows 2cm of minimum focus distance.
For its price, Redmi Note 8 outperforms on the camera front. The images turn out crisp and beautiful with ample details, good colour reproduction. The pictures are on the warmer side but it doesn’t look unrealistic even when you turn on the AI mode. However, in landscape shots, the shadow regions don’t carry as many details as the rest of the picture. I couldn’t check how it captures a cloudy blue sky, thanks to Delhi’s polluted air. The close-up shots, in particular, look more pleasing with vibrant colours and proper white balance.
The dedicated macro lens is the best thing on the Redmi Note 8. The mode is a tap away on the camera UI and it lets you get as close as 5cm to an object. When used the right way, you can have some beautiful pictures of the minutest objects. The pictures carry crisp colours and the details are great. As soon as you turn on the mode, you can get a whole new perception of the everyday things around you.
The Redmi Note 8 also comes with an ultrawide angle lens and while it produces good colours, the pictures do not look good when compared to shots taken from the primary lens. The ultrawide shots do not carry as many details, the noise is clearly visible even without zooming in on the picture, and the exposure levels aren’t good either. The depth sensor on the Redmi Note 8 works fine with proper edge detection. The bokeh mode also gives you the liberty to adjust the blur levels as per your liking.
Under low light conditions, the primary lens manages to get good pictures but the colours are a bit off. The results are better if the object is near you. The Night mode on the Redmi Note 8 doesn’t help much and sometimes abruptly adds a white layer on the image. The ultrawide shots do not produce good results in low light conditions and that is the case with almost all the ultrawide-angle lens in the phones priced under Rs 30,000.
Redmi Note 8 allows 2x digital zoom and it comes handy when you want to capture a specific object. You can zoom up to 8x but that doesn’t achieve anything meaningful. Also, you cannot club other modes like bokeh mode or night mode with the 2x zoom. It could have been better if the phone supported the zoom at least with the macro lens.
The 13MP selfie camera on the Redmi Note 8 is quite good. The details are ample and it keeps the colour skin close to natural even under low light situations. The portrait mode on the selfie camera is by far the best I’ve seen on a Redmi Note device.
The edge detection is on the point and you have the liberty to choose whether you want Beauty Mode on or off. Xiaomi has added the ability to take panorama shots with the front camera of the Redmi Note 8, which is good if you are trying to take the background but it is not suited for group selfies.
The camera UI is good for the most part but there is a problem. When you switch to the front camera, you can see all the available modes, but the front camera doesn’t support all of them. The camera interface switches you back to the rear camera when you select such a mode.
Redmi Note 8 review: Battery
The Redmi Note 8 sports a 4,000mAh battery and supports 18W fast charger via USB Type-C. The battery lasts a full day with above moderate usage that includes browsing social media for 1-2 hours, streaming videos for 3-4 hours, using WhatsApp web for 8-9 hours, attending calls, listening to music, reading news, PUBG Mobile for 1 hour. This time Redmi is packing the 18W fast charger-in-the-box. The device takes around one hour to get from 20 per cent to 80 per cent.
The fingerprint sensor on the back is now smaller in size on the Redmi Note 8. The scanner is fast and works without misses. The face-unlock feature is equally fast and accurate.
Meanwhile, the speaker on the Redmi Note 8 is not extraordinary but it is good for its price range. It is loud enough to hear call ringtone and notifications even outdoors. Playing YouTube videos without earphones is fine but setting the volume levels to max sounds a bit like noise.
Redmi Note 8 review: Verdict
Redmi Note 8 is a clear upgrade over the Note 7 when you consider the phone costs exactly the same as its predecessor. For Rs 9,999, you get a smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 665 featuring a quad-rear camera setup with good primary sensor and a dedicated macro lens. The phone looks good, performs well, takes beautiful pictures, and the battery backup is nice as well. The Redmi Note 8 is not only a value for money phone in the budget segment but can also compete with some mid-range devices.