Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro full review
Xiaomi announced Mi 10T Pro alongside Mi 10T and Mi 10T Lite at the end of September, and we've spent the past few weeks vigorously testing Mi 10T Pro.
In the UK launch event on Monday 19 October Xiaomi confirmed UK pricing and, as expected, the Pro's European pricing of €599 translates to exactly £599. It went up for pre-order on 30 October, and is officially on sale today - for more details see where to buy Mi 10T Pro.
Our first impressions are extremely positive. This is a mid-range phone with a huge 5000mAh battery that turned in the highest PCMark battery life score we've seen to date, a super-smooth 144Hz display, a triple camera that headlines with a 108MP lens, and 5G.
Add to that a mostly appealing design, strong performance and hi-res audio, and it's difficult to understand exactly what is mid-range about Mi 10T Pro - aside from the price, of course.
Design & Build
When I tell you that looking at Mi 10T Pro is like looking in a huge shiny mirror, it might sound conceited when I tell you that it's gorgeous. Of course, I am talking about the phone, which comes in three attractive finishes: Cosmic Black, Lunar Silver and Aurora Blue. The latter is one of the few differentiating factors between this Pro model and the standard Mi 10T.
Reviewed here in Cosmic Black, Mi 10T Pro is not the type of phone you hide away in a case - and you needn't do so either, with protective Gorilla Glass 5 and a strong aluminium frame feeling very sturdy in the hand. There's also a silver ion coating, which is apparently good for fighting off germs, but no certified waterproofing rating (Xiaomi says it is splashproof).
It is a chunk - not dimensionally but in weight, with that 5000mAh battery contributing to its 218g load. It feels somehow heavier still, and that is a frustration.
But every inch of Mi 10T has been buffed up to a premium, super-glossy shine, and there's not a single sharp edge. Fingerprints are a thing, but far from its Achilles heel: a major problem only when stroking Mi 10T Pro like it's your favourite pet. We won't judge you: it is rather pretty.
Alas, it's not perfect. With the Pro you trade some of this promised elegance for photography smarts, and the triple-lens camera module is just too big - by which we mean it steps out way too far from the back of the phone.
Check out our photo below to see how much this raises the top half of the phone on a flat surface. Using Mi 10T Pro on said flat surface is worse still, with the camera positioning causing the phone to constantly rock like a crazed Weeble.
Flip it over and Xiaomi has more to shout about: this is a buttery-smooth 144Hz panel with HDR, 6.67in on the diagonal, and the perfect companion for fast-moving framerates in games. You can step things down to 90- or 60Hz to save on battery power if you like, and AdaptiveSync tech can automatically select a refresh rate between 30- and 144Hz depending on the app you're using.
With the flagships only just moving into 120Hz display territory, it is an impressive feat for a mid-ranger to step in with 144Hz - even if few games currently support it. Unlike most flagships, however, this is a Full HD+ display, and Xiaomi has yet to venture into Quad HD with any of its smartphones.
Brightness and viewing angles are strong, but vibrancy and contrast are lacking when compared to the OLED screens found higher up Xiaomi's product line. For Mi 10T Pro it specifies an IPS LCD panel, albeit a very decent one.
I'm also liking the very modern DotDisplay, which tucks the 20MP selfie camera almost out of sight in the top left corner.
But one of my favourite things about the display is that it doesn't have an integrated fingerprint sensor - and it's not on the back either. It's actually in the power button, which I think is the most natural, effortless placement of all (unless you're a leftie).
The sensor is so efficient and reliable that were it not for the haptic feedback you wouldn't even realise you were unlocking the phone. The haptic engine is very good.
There are a few deviations from Xiaomi's usual design blueprints, with the SIM slot on the bottom edge and, though you still get the company's trademark IR blaster up top, there's no 3.5mm audio jack here.
Instead, Mi 10T Pro offers hi-res audio via its USB-C port, or you can pump out audio from its 'super-linear' speakers. Don't let the single grille fool you: this is a dual setup that also uses the earpiece for playback. With sound firing out in two directions it is less likely to get muffled, and you don't need to point the speaker directly at you to get the best experience.
Quality is okay, only occasionally distorting in our tests, but there is a constant hiss that can just be heard above the music, and we'd appreciate more oomph to the bass and a tad more volume. There is definitely room for improvement.
Hardware & Performance
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 SOC powers the Mi 10T Pro. This is a flagship chip, which integrates an X55 modem for 5G connectivity, plus an Adreno 650 GPU. Unlike Mi 10T this Pro version also comes with 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM as standard, a choice of 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and an interior liquid-cooling system.
Only two phones have bested Mi 10T Pro in our Geekbench 5 benchmarks - Xiaomi's own Black Shark 3 and the OnePlus 8 - and only just. For pure processing power this is one of the best phones you can buy (or, rather, will soon be able to buy).
Another benchmark in which the Pro reigns supreme is the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 battery test. Turning in 14 hours 55 minutes, this is the highest score we've seen since we began using this benchmark. Xiaomi's Poco X3 NFC comes close with 14 hours 24 minutes, but nothing else touches it.
We also battery test with the older version 4 of Geekbench for comparison reasons, and here the Pro turned in an incredible 14 hours 24 minutes. That's an incredible score, beaten only by Redmi Note 9S.
It's real-world usage that matters, of course, and with a meaty processor and a powerful display the battery is going to drain faster than it might on a low-end phone. You can turn down the 144Hz default, set automatic brightness and make other adjustments to prolong battery life.
In our tests the battery is very good, and it will be easily possible to get two days from this phone - of course, dependent on your usage.
Our final test is with GFXBench, a graphics test that has several components with varying levels of intensity. The Pro recorded playable framerates in all, but performed slightly lower than some of the 120Hz display competition.
Connectivity is pretty strong, too. This is a dual-SIM phone that supports 5G, with a peculiar-looking SIM tray that requires you to put one SIM on each side rather than sitting them in a row. There's no space here to swap in a microSD card rather than use the second SIM.
Also missing is the aforementioned headphone jack, but you do get the IR blaster, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS and Wi-Fi 6.
Wired charging is fast at 33W, but there's no wireless charging. A 33W wired charger is said to be supplied in the box, but we didn't get a box with our sample. We therefore were unable to test how fast it charged from zero in 30 minutes, which is our usual test, but Xiaomi claims you can get to 100% in 59 minutes.
Cameras & Photography
The camera is a key selling point for Mi 10T Pro, and the primary distinguishing point between this model and Mi 10T. Whereas the cheaper phone has a six-piece 64MP lens headlining in its triple-camera setup, Mi 10T Pro goes all out with a seven-piece 108MP lens that boosts the digital zoom from 10x to 30x and adds support for 8K video. It's the same camera as that in the flagship Mi 10 Pro.
A Samsung HMX model, this monster lens uses Xiaomi's 4-in-1 Super Pixel to combine four ordinary pixels into one extraordinary pixel, so unless you select the 108MP mode you'll actually get 27MP images. It supports optical image stabilistion and is specified with an f/1.69 aperture and large 1.6um pixels, allowing the camera to capture more light.
This is one of three lenses on the rear, though the design of the phone might momentarily fool you into thinking there are five: Xiaomi has strived to keep things symmetrical, so tucked in beside the other sensors are an LED flash and what looks like another lens but is merely decoration.
The other two, then, match those on the Mi 10T: a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens with a 123-degree field of view, and a 5MP macro camera that can shoot at 2cm distance. There is no telephoto lens.
You can see a selection of test shots in the Flickr slideshow below (click to view more), and you'll immediately notice the ultra-wide aspect ratio of the camera using the default settings. You can alternatively choose 1:1, 3:4 or 9:16 ratios, but as a rule we test using the out-of-the-box settings.
It is clear that Mi 10T Pro is capable of capturing incredible detail, and we found it very fast to focus, but it then had a tendency to want to blur out the background a step too far, which may complicate its ease of use as a point and shoot.
Colours are good though, and given some more time to get familiar with Mi 10T Pro it should be capable of some truly decent shots.
There are loads of settings and modes to play around with, and two particularly intriguing options are Long exposure mode and Clone mode. The latter lets you take a single shot (image or video) with the same person appearing in it multiple times in different positions. Both should appeal to appeal to amateurs who want to shoot pro-level photography without learning the basics.
I am a big fan of MIUI, the custom user interface Xiaomi applies to Android, so it saddens me to see a continuation of the ads peppered about the place that we saw in the bargain-basement Redmi 9. This is one of the ways Xiaomi keeps down costs and is able to offer such incredible value for money, with the company making no more than 5% profit on any of its hardware.
To be fair, it's definitely not as in your face as on that much cheaper phone, but there is a bunch of preinstalled apps you might consider to be bloatware (Facebook, WPS Office, Netflix, LinkedIn, eBay and AliExpress, for example) along with quick-download shortcuts to more online services and games.
On this Global ROM model all Google apps are preinstalled, including Google Assistant and Google Pay, although you also get Xiaomi's own apps for many of the things for which you will probably continue to use Google services. Should you pick up a cheaper Chinese model, you will need to install Google apps yourself.
By default you also get a Google Discover feed with a swipe in from the left of the home screen, but it's easy enough to turn off if you don't find it useful.
MIUI is much more than just a bunch of apps you don't want and an unfamiliar (some might say disorganised) Settings menu, however - and especially here in MIUI 12, which is the latest version of the operating system.
New in MIUI 12 is a Control Centre, which is a spruced up version of the quick settings panel that you access when you pull down from the top of the screen. It takes a little getting used to, pulling down from the top left to access notifications, and top right to access Control Centre, but once you're familiar with it you'll probably find it easier to use with its larger icons and more space meaning fewer cramped up notifications that you could easily miss.
There is no always-on display feature on Mi 10T Pro, but the other software features we have come to love in MIUI are all present and correct.
Dual Apps and Second Space stand out, the former making better use of your dual SIMs and the latter creating a protected area for certain apps and data.
As with all Xiaomi phones, a Themes app lets you customise the user interface, and there are literally hundreds to choose from - and many are free to download.
There's also a system-wide Dark mode, Game Turbo, Video Toolbox, Floating Window, Lite Mode, Enterprise mode, Quick Ball, One-handed Mode, Full-screen Display, App Lock and Clear Speaker. Most of these are self-explanatory; the latter plays audio for 30 seconds to shake out dust from the speaker.
Unlike many of the 'bloatware' apps, you can't uninstall Xiaomi's own apps, but if you have no interest in the likes of Themes, Security, Cleaner, BoostSpeed, Mi Video, Mi Browser and so forth, it's quite easy to stick them out the way in a folder.
Alternatively, a relatively new addition to MIUI lets you add an app drawer, which by default is switched off, so you don't need to put anything you don't want on the home screen.
Now officially on sale in the UK, Mi 10T Pro is available for £549/£599 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB storage, and comes in three colour variants. You can buy SIM-free from the official Mi UK Store or Amazon, or purchase on a contract through Vodafone.
Buy the 256GB storage model at Xiaomi and you'll get a free pair of Mi True Wireless 2 Earphones thrown in, but right now at Amazon you'll save £40 on the 128GB version. Vodafone also has an introductory offer, and is giving away a £150 Amazon voucher with all purchases before 12 November.
For more detail, see where to buy Mi 10T series.
This Chinese phone is now one of our top recommendations in Xiaomi's line, if not quite up there with Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro. We'd love to see an OLED panel, wireless charging and some refinements to the design, but these are all sacrifices we are prepared to make for what appears to be a very strong overall package that comes at a lower cost.
Xiaomi majors on value with Mi 10T Pro, carefully balancing cost-cutting with awe-inspiring. The powerful Snapdragon 865 processor, the 144Hz display, the 108MP camera, the incredible battery power and the 5G connectivity: these are all specs that have no business in the mid-range.
The on-paper specs of Mi 10T Pro are simply unbeatable among its peers.
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Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro: Specs
- 6.67in Full HD+ (2400x1080) DotDisplay LCD, 144Hz, HDR10, Gorilla Glass 5
- MIUI 12
- 2.84GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 octa-core CPU
- Adreno 650 GPU
- 8GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
- 108MP + 13MP + 5MP triple-lens camera
- 8K video recording @30fps, 1080p slo-mo
- 20MP selfie camera
- dual-band 802.11ax with MIMO
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Fingerprint sensor in power button
- Dual speakers
- Hi-Res Audio
- 5000mAh battery
- 33W wired charging over USB-C (33W charger supplied)
- Available in Cosmic Black, Lunar Silver, Aurora Blue