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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Redmi K20 Pro review: Does Xiaomi’s new ‘flagship’ live up to the hype?

Redmi K20 Pro review: Redmi K20 Pro starts at Rs 27,999 for the base 6GB RAM option and comes packed with high-end specifications like the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. Here's our review.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rs. 27,999
Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi | Updated: July 23, 2019 10:10:11 am
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With the Redmi K20 Pro, Xiaomi has introduced its first flagship in the Redmi series, known for phones in the under Rs 15,000 price segment. Instead of launching Mi series phones in India, which come with high-end specifications, Xiaomi has gone with its better known Redmi brand for the flagship route.

It will be hoping that those who have used its Redmi phones in the past, will perhaps be ready to take that leap of faith and pay the premium for either the Redmi K20 or K20 Pro. After all this is the first time that two Redmi phones sport a price tag, which is higher than Rs 20,000. Xiaomi is also clear that it is targeting OnePlus with its new Redmi K20 Pro smartphone, given that it is offering similar specifications at a much lower price.

The Redmi K20 Pro comes with all the trademark features for a flagship phone in 2019, including a high-end processor and triple camera. If one were to compare it with other phones sporting the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, Redmi K20 Pro is cheaper than the Asus 6Z and the OnePlus 7 series. But is that good enough to justify calling this a flagship? Here’s our review:

Specifications: 6.39-inches full HD+ display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor | 6GB or 8GB RAM + 128GB or 256GB storage | 48MP+8MP+13MP rear camera and 20MP front camera | 4000 mAh battery | MIUI 10 on Android 9

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Price in India: Rs 30,999 for the 8GB RAM variant 

Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro review: Design, Display

The design is a standout feature of the Redmi K20 Pro smartphone, especially if one were to compare it to previous Redmi phones. The curved glass back with the ‘Aura Prime Design’ as Xiaomi calls it, makes this look like a flagship that would cost a lot more than Rs 30,000. We have the carbon black variant for review, which is more muted compared to the Red and Blue colour options, but still an eye-catching device.

The one major concern I have is around the slipperiness of the device, which is accentuated by the glass back. Xiaomi also sent us the new covers for the Redmi K20 Pro, which add a firmer grip to the phone, though it also means that the beautiful glass design is covered.

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As I had noted in my first impressions, Xiaomi has done small tweaks to the design to make the Redmi K20 Pro stand out. The power button and main sensor of the rear camera come with a red accent. The camera module barely juts out on the back.  The LED notification light has moved to the top, where the headphone jack is still present.

The notification light appears as a red ring light when you put the phone on charging (you can switch this off in the settings) or where a notification is received. It’s very minimalistic and you might not notice it, but I liked the subtlety that Xiaomi has used here. The company has done away with the microSD slot on the Redmi K20 Pro.

The 6.39-inches AMOLED display is edge-to-edge, though the bezel at the bottom is very much visible. The display resolution is 1080 x 2230 pixels and it has a fingerprint sensor underneath as well. Redmi K20 Pro has an excellent display, which works well even in sunlight. I could easily read content on the screen. The blacks could be richer, but the colours are vibrant and this notchless design means more real estate for videos.

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The Redmi K20 Pro also comes with Widevine L1 certification, which means it can stream full HD resolution and higher resolution content from Netflix, YouTube, etc. Xiaomi has also included support for HDR content, which is available on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video on the phone.

However, one problem with the edge-to-edge screen is that times while watching a video you might accidentally press on a part of the screen and the video gets paused, which happened quite often while watching YouTube.

The in-display fingerprint sensor is accurate. I like that the display will constantly have a little thumbprint displayed on it, almost to remind users that the scanner is under the screen and not at the back as one might be used to. Xiaomi does warn that with this new fingerprint sensor, a screen protector is not recommended. While setting up, the phone flashed a message saying that should the user wished to use one, the screen protector should be from authorised compatible options.

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Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro review : Performance, Software and Battery

Our Redmi K20 Pro unit came with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. It runs the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. In the Antutu BenchMark test, the K20 Pro scored 324,888 in our first test, which put it below players like OnePlus 7 Pro, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series, Black Shark, Mi 9, etc. The second time around K20 Pro scored 366804, which put it number four on the list below OP7 Pro, Mi 9 and Mi Black Shark 2.

On GeekBench 4 it scored 3458 in single-core and 11,000 in multi-core. This puts Redmi K20 Pro below like S10 in single-core, but above OnePlus 7 Pro etc. In the multi-core test, our unit scored higher than the Mi Black Shark 2, which is currently on top of the list.

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Performance on the Redmi K20 Pro was not a problem during my review period. Be it browsing on social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, editing photos on Snapseed, using the phone for navigation via Google Maps, all of it worked smoothly.

There were no app crashes or instances of apps getting shut in the background. Games like Asphalt 9, Alto’s Odyssey worked smoothly on the Redmi K20 Pro. But I did notice that while playing Asphalt 9 for just under 10 minutes, the phone was starting to get very warm at the top.

Redmi K20 Pro has the Poco 2.0 launcher, which departs from the tradition MI launcher. You get an app tray in here and apps are categorised according to Entertainment, Photos, Communications, Games, Lifestyle, etc. The option of viewing apps based on colour icons is also present. While the app drawer is a welcome addition, MIUI’s gestures are still not the smoothest.

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During setup, MIUI will prompt for ad recommendations, and I would recommend keeping that switched off. Xiaomi’s own apps like Mi Video tend to have a lot notifications, which are annoying, though I did turn them off from the settings. I did the same with the wallpaper carousel, which shows news, wallpapers on the locked screen. For those who want to know how to turn off ads on MIUI across the various Xiaomi apps read our detailed copy here.

The Redmi K20 Pro has a 4000 mAh battery with the company’s own 27W fast charging. The 27W fast charger has to be bought separately at Rs 999. Xiaomi provided one to us for testing and I would say this is really useful. It gets the phone to 100 per cent in just over an hour. The battery will last you a day with heavy duty usage, but this is the part where I expected more from Xiaomi on its flagship.

I found on some days that the Redmi K20 Pro was losing battery rather quickly, even with minimal usage, and by the end of the day it would be down to 20 per cent, which meant I had to charge it for the next day.

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Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro review: Camera

Redmi K20 Pro has a triple camera 48MP+8MP+13MP camera combination with the 8MP being the telephoto lens with 2x zoom, while the 13MP is the ultra-wide. The user interface on the camera app needs some work. It took me sometime to figure out where the ultra-wide mode was and it really does not add much to the camera photos.

The main sensor does deliver some excellent shots when the lighting is good, though the colour tone is warmer than what I prefer. The greens for instance, are really saturated, far from the natural colour. Details are preserved for most part in photos, though Portrait mode does not deliver the best results in indoor lighting. The 2X zoom feature is quite useful and can give some steady shots.

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The 48MP camera mode doesn’t seem to offer much better than what the auto mode manages. The auto mode itself offers excellent results in most lighting conditions. Low light is where the Redmi K20 Pro still has a lot of work to do in terms of preserving details and colours. Night mode on the Redmi K20 Pro needs a lot of work, given it tends to brighten the image, while compromising on details.

The selfie camera has a cool LED light and sound effect when it comes up, but this is another weak point in the Redmi K20 Pro phone. The photos are just too bright, too unnatural and my skin looks eerily white, almost devoid of pigment. This bit certainly needs software improvement from Xiaomi’s side.

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Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro review: Verdict

Xiaomi has jam-packed this phone with a lot of features and the Redmi K20 Pro’s price is thus justified. The display, the performance, the overall look and design, and the camera’s performance in regular lighting is impressive. With the Redmi K20 Pro, the biggest cons could push notifications from the Xiaomi apps, which are annoying, the camera’s low-light performance, and the battery, which had an erratic performance in my usage.

There’s no denying that this is certainly cheaper than a lot of flagships in the market, and that works to its advantage. It costs less than the OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7 Pro, Asus 6Z to name its direct competitors. Given the performance and features, I would say Redmi K20 Pro is as good a flagship as any other on the market, and does not disappoint for its price.

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