It might not be familiar to you, but Xiaomi is the world's third-largest smartphone vendor. It has a range of high-quality yet affordable phones within its flagship Mi and budget Redmi lines, and is very often unbeaten on value for money.
Since November 2018 Xiaomi has officially sold its phones in the UK via the official Mi Store (often also available at Amazon and via some mobile operators), but it can still be cheaper and easier - especially when they have only recently been released - to import them from China, using sites such as GearBest and Geekbuying.
Case in point: the flagship Mi 11 was announced in China on 28 December 2020, but didn't go on sale in the UK until 22 March 2021. The new Redmi Note 10 Pro has also been announced, but won't go on sale in the UK until April, according to Xiaomi.
In late March, Xiaomi announced yet more new phones during its 'Mega Launch'. The Mi Mix Fold, Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Lite 5G may not go on sale outside China (we will have to wait and see), but we should be able to buy the Mi 11 Ultra and Mi 11i within the UK. European availability is expected to be announced in late April.
Best Xiaomi Phone Reviews 2021
The latest Xiaomi phones are often announced in China long before they come to Europe and the UK. This can mean a delay between the phone's debut and us getting our hands on a review sample. We do everything we can to add new models to our chart as soon as possible in order to give you the best advice.
1. Xiaomi Mi 11
The Mi 11 is a fantastic bit of hardware for the price. The fastest chipset around, a beautiful display, and strong cameras are all packaged within a lovely bit of industrial design.
Some will miss the IP rating, though for me the bigger downsides are the choice of a macro over a telephoto lens, the only average battery life, and a software experience that still lags behind the key rivals.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 review
2. Xiaomi Mi 10
Soon to be replaced at the top of Xiaomi's line-up in the UK is the Mi 10. It's something of a departure from the Mi 9 and, as such, we've seen a significant price hike that takes it up into standard flagship territory. But Mi 10 still offers very strong value among its peers.
Some of those new features include the addition of 5G connectivity, display upgrades, a new 108Mp camera (part of a quad-lens setup at the back), a higher-capacity 4,780mAh battery and the swapping out of LPDDR4 RAM for LPDDR5.
Wired charging happens at 30W, which is behind some of the competition, but Xiaomi leads the pack with 30W wireless charging. You also get a Snapdragon 865 processor and up to 12GB of RAM for breathtaking performance.
3. Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
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.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro review
4. Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC
The Poco X3 isn’t perfect. The big battery makes it bulky, and we don’t love the aesthetic. For the most part these are small complaints though, especially when stacked up against the X3’s myriad strengths: strong specs, an excellent camera, a beautiful display, and absolutely fantastic battery life.
The fact that you can get all of that for under £200 is almost unbelievable, and makes the Poco X3 a shoo-in for the best budget phone of 2020.
Read our full Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC review
5. Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite
If you want a 5G phone, Mi 10 Lite is the most affordable way to get one in Xiaomi's current line-up - actually, it's one of the most affordable 5G phones full-stop.
It's a stripped-down version of the Mi 10 flagship, but Xiaomi hasn't cut too many corners and the Mi 10 Lite still offers a rich feature set.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G chipset is an impressively powerful processor, and Xiaomi has also graced the Mi 10 Lite with other premium features, including 20W fast charging and a 48Mp quad-camera setup.
6. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is one of the best budget phones you can buy, with Xiaomi delivering exceptional value for money.
Highlights here start with the stunning screen offering AMOLED technology and a 120Hz refresh rate, and continue with an excellent set of cameras. The headline is a 108Mp whopper which is backed up by a reasonable ultra-wide and a surprisingly decent telemacro.
There are smaller delights too such as the inclusion of a headphone jack, Arc fingerprint scanner, stereo speakers and even an IR blaster. Battery life is also strong (Xiaomi includes a 33W charger in the box), and core specs are decent with a Snapdragon 732G ensuring smooth performance.
Our only real gripe is a lack of support for 5G.
Redmi Note 10 Pro should go on sale in the UK in April 2021.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review
7. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S
The Redmi Note 9S is one of the best budget phones we've seen. This is a fantastic phone for less than £200, a real all-rounder with decent performance and cameras, as well as mind-blowing battery life. The Redmi recorded the longest time in the Geekbench 4 battery life test that we've seen to date.
We are not fans of the rear camera module, and the lack of NFC in some territories is a shame, but those niggles aside it ticks all our boxes at this price point.
A fine example of not a lot of money very well spent.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S review
8. Xiaomi Black Shark 3
The Black Shark 3 hardly reinvents the wheel when it comes to gaming phones, but there are some useful upgrades here.
Of course, a Snapdragon 865 processor and 8- or 12GB of RAM means performance is truly excellent, while some thoughtful touches in Shark Space should make it a hit with gamers. Other highlights include some significant camera improvements and staggeringly fast charging speeds.
Our main frustration is with the accessories, with a bulky fan and expensive gaming pad adding little to the experience. The magnetic charging cable is a great idea, though.
It certainly isn’t what most people have in mind when considering a new smartphone, but Xiaomi hopes gaming fanatics will buy into its vision for the future of mobile gaming.
Read our full Black Shark 3 review
9. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
First announced in late 2018, Mi Mix 3 is an outgoing flagship - but with 5G connectivity now available it still represents excellent value.
Swapping out the awkwardly placed selfie camera with a new dual-lens model that is tucked away behind the screen, the Mi Mix 3 is one of several slider phones that shows how the concept should work. Not only allowing a proper full-screen display, but adding quick-access functionality to the phone.
In other respects Mi Mix 3 is not a huge upgrade over the 2S, and actually loses some of its bling over its predecessor with the absence of its 18K gold camera surround. But it's still a great phone, and it's astonishing to see just how far the original full-display phone has come.
10. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro
Completing the Redmi Note 9 line-up is this Pro model - the best overall of the three in terms of specification, but arguably offering the least value at its higher price.
In common with its siblings it offers incredible battery life from its 5020mAh cell, a large display, a quad-lens rear camera and expandable storage.
It has the same processor and display as the Redmi Note 9S, but switches out its 48Mp camera for a 64Mp model, and the 16Mp selfie camera for a 32Mp version. Wired charging is also faster, at 30W against the 9S' 18W, and the Pro adds support for NFC (available in selected markets only for Redmi Note 9 and Redmi Note 9S).
11. Redmi Note 9T
With Note 9T, Xiaomi brings 5G to its Redmi line. But it's more than that: this is a budget phone offering fast performance, impressive battery life and a clear and crisp display.
It’s not all positive - the rear design isn’t overly impressive, the 60Hz refresh rate is low and the side-mounted fingerprint sensor is glitchy. Plus the camera isn’t the best when zooming, and textures are a little soft in portrait mode.
Nonetheless, if you want to jump aboard the 5G train without dropping a whole lot of cash on a phone, the Redmi Note 9T is absolutely one to consider.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review
12. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
If you're on a tight budget, Redmi Note 9 is a fantastic smartphone below £200. It ticks a great many boxes and, though it isn't flawless, you can't argue with the value it offers.
Though it's plastic it is well designed, and it comes with impressive-sounding features such as a quad-lens camera that performed mostly well in our tests, save for lacking some finer detail.
There's enough power for casual users, though we had hoped for better performance from the huge-capacity 5,020mAh battery.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 review
13. Xiaomi Redmi 9
If budget is your primary lookout, Redmi 9 is the best cheap phone we've found. Considered in isolation it has much to offer, with a big battery and a quad-lens camera the highlights - at least on paper.
In reality, performance and photography are distinctly average, it's lacking necessities such as NFC (at least in some markets), and the plastic design with a somewhat dull display leaves us wanting.
You also don't have to look to far to find considerably more value for money with just a small increase to your budget - you needn't even look outside Xiaomi's own product line. With notably better cameras, faster performance and higher storage options, Redmi 9 can't hold a candle to Redmi Note 9 or the Poco X3 NFC.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi 9 review
Current Xiaomi phone line-up
Of the Xiaomi phones available in the UK, most sit in either the Mi or Redmi line. Black Shark gaming phones and the high-value Poco smartphone series also owe their heritage to Xiaomi.
It used to be the case that Mi meant flagship and Redmi budget and mid-range, but these lines are becomingly increasingly blurred.
The Mi range now includes some budget and mid-range models, such as the Mi 10 Lite, Mi 10T Lite and Mi Note 10 Lite, while many Redmi phones have adopted the premium design of the Mi line.
It is still the norm to find better performance and cameras with the Mi line, and cheaper price points with Redmi.
Top of Xiaomi's offering is Mi 11, which has now been joined by the Mi 11 Pro, Ultra, Lite 5G and 11i. The outgoing Mi 10 series remains a great offering, comprising a number of options that are so close in nomenclature that it can be rather confusing.
We have the Mi 10 Pro, Mi 10, Mi 10 Lite, Mi 10T Pro, Mi 10T, Mi 10T Lite, Mi Note 10 and Mi Note 10 Lite. Do not assume that the 'T' means it is an upgrade over the 'non-T' version, as is the case with OnePlus phones.
The Note moniker typically alludes to a larger screen, yet none of the models in Xiaomi's Mi line-up might be considered small-screened. These are now the only Mi phones in the current UK line-up not to include 5G support.
It had been a while since we've seen new Mi A-series and Mi Mix-series models, but the Mi Mix Fold has recently been announced in China. The A series run Android One rather than Xiaomi's own MIUI Android interface, but Xiaomi has now dropped the Android One programme, while the Mix series tend to be more revolutionary in their features and design.
Things don't get any simpler with the Redmi line. Here, Note models are more likely to offer a larger screen, with the non-Note Redmi phones the smallest and cheapest in the entire Xiaomi line.
In 2021 the Redmi 10 series will be announced, with Redmi Note 10, Redmi Note 10S, Redmi Note 10 Pro and Redmi Note 10 5G already confirmed. The Redmi Note 10 Pro will go on sale in the UK in early April. For the non-Note models, the Redmi 9 series is still the company's latest.
Redmi 9A is the cheapest, followed by Redmi 9C and Redmi 9. This pattern is reversed in the Redmi Note line, where the standard Redmi Note 9 is the entry offering, followed by Redmi Note 9S, Redmi Note 9T and Redmi Note 9 Pro.
When you're shopping at this end of the market, you will find 2GB or 3GB of RAM and sometimes just 32GB of storage. We would advise opting for a model with at least 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage if your budget can stretch to it.
It is not uncommon to find previous-generation Xiaomi phones still on sale, though we wouldn't recommend stepping down unless you're getting a big discount. We've rounded up some of the best Xiaomi deals, just in case that helps sway your purchasing decision.
Should I buy a Xiaomi phone from China?
As we noted further up in this feature, we often turn to GearBest and Geekbuying for shipping us Xiaomi phone samples, and you will almost always find cheaper prices at these outlets than at the official UK Mi Store or Amazon. We would recommend either site for purchasing these phones, but with two caveats.
First, make sure you buy Global ROM models and you'll get access to full Google services and an English-language interface out of the box. If you accidentally purchase a Chinese ROM model, we've explained how to install Google Play on a Xiaomi phone here.
Second, if you're buying from China you should take into account that your consumer rights are different to when you buy within Europe, and that should something go wrong you're going to find aftersales support more difficult.
Delivery times will be longer, though there are usually free and expresss shipping options. You may also be asked to pay import duty upon arrival to the UK, which is calculated at 20% of whatever value is printed on the shipping paperwork.