Xiaomi is marking its fifth year anniversary in India with the launch of Redmi K20 and Redmi K20 Pro. The Redmi K20 Pro, in particular, tries to bring the best of technology in a price point that can be termed as affordable. Wait, haven’t we seen that in the past as well? Xiaomi is clearly taking a page from OnePlus’ journey in the smartphone segment here.
OnePlus started its journey as a flagship killer, but is now competing with real flagship brands. Xiaomi, on the other hand, wants to take that seat and become the new flagship killer brand. It has already garnered a lot of support with Poco F1 and now, the idea is getting Redmi-ed by the company. The Redmi K20 Pro is unlike any other Redmi smartphone. It marries state-of-the-art design with flagship-level specifications. It does all that by keeping the cost in control. So, does that mean Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro checks all the boxes for a great smartphone? Read our review to discover for yourself.
Design and Display
It was not that long ago when all Xiaomi smartphones looked identical. It was almost impossible to tell Redmi Note 6 Pro apart from Mi A2 by simply looking at the back panel. With Redmi K20 Pro, Xiaomi is bringing a new design language, one that challenges premium flagship smartphones. For starters, Xiaomi is ditching plastic for a glass sandwich design. The glass has been curved gently to meet the edge of its metal chassis.
Xiaomi calls it Aura Prime design and it would go down as one of the best gradient implementations on a smartphone. The glass back is not as smooth as Google Pixel 3 XL‘s frosted structure, it still feels nice and ergonomic to hold in one hand. It comes in three finishes – Carbon Black, Flame Red, and Glacier Blue. While our review unit is blue, I personally found the red to be more eye catching.
Xiaomi has not only been smart in terms of choice of material, but it has also used them intelligently. The texture of the back panel is capable of reflecting light and generates a pattern as well. The black model might be subdued but it is designed by Marc Newson. There are grooves-like pattern built on the metal surface that adds class to an oft repeated color. If Redmi Note 7 Pro was a first salvo from Xiaomi to make a good looking smartphone then the Redmi K20 Pro is their design team’s home run.
The back of the device is also home to vertically stacked triple-camera setup. It is accompanied by dual-LED flash module. Towards the bottom, there is Redmi by Xiaomi branding. On the right side, you get volume rocker and power button. The power button on all three models is red in color. I wish it was textured, which would have made it even more attentive. The left is void of any ports while the top is home to pop-up selfie camera and 3.5mm headphone jack. There is USB Type-C port, dual-SIM card tray and speaker at the bottom. This is textbook smartphone design that stands out for keeping the audio jack.
At the front, you only have the display to look at. Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro features a 6.39-inch AMOLED panel with 2340×1080 pixel resolution. There is 1mm bezel on either side of the display and 2.1mm bezel on the top. The bottom bezel is bigger at 3.8mm, but that is now standard for this industry. The AMOLED panel is a marked improvement from LCD seen on the Poco F1. It definitely results in deeper blacks but you also get better contract and color accuracy. The Chinese smartphone maker claims peak brightness of 600 nits but I did not find it to be that bright. As someone who has experienced OLED panels on smartphones like the iPhone XS, OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10, this falls short of matching them.
The display acts as a window to our digital world and Redmi K20 Pro just gets the basic right. I would not say the display is bad. In fact, it is superior to anything else seen on Xiaomi device in India. Since it covers 100 percent of DCI-P3 color gamut and has HDR support, the visuals from games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends look stunning. It is tuned for activities like media consumption and that’s what most of us would be doing on this smartphone.
Performance and Battery Life
Xiaomi is calling the Redmi K20 Pro as the fastest smartphone in the country. It houses a Snapdragon 855 mobile platform, the first 7nm based SoC from Qualcomm. The processor is also aided by Adreno 640 GPU and Hexagon 685 digital signal processor. In my time using the smartphone, I did not have even a single issue with the Redmi K20 Pro.
If your primary usage is that of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, video calling and clicking pictures, you will find it as fast as a cheetah. However, the real power gets unleashed when you start playing games like PUBG Mobile or Asphalt 9: Legends. In the very first screen of PUBG Mobile, the smartphone sets the game to highest setting. You can easily play the game on the Redmi K20 Pro with graphics set to HDR and Frame Rate set to Ultra. It also supports the new Extreme frame rate option, but I need to spend some more time before judging how well Redmi K20 Pro performs in this setting.
The same is true with game like Asphalt 9: Legends as well. The cars flying and hitting another car come to life with Adreno 640 GPU. Since every component is concealed inside a tight enclosure, smartphones tend to overheat during gaming. Xiaomi is using 8-layers of graphite from Kaneka, which also supplies to Apple, for cooling. The cooling is effective for most part but I observed that it could get hot after 45 minutes of continuous PUBG Mobile session at the highest graphics setting. In such a situation, all you need to do is put the phone down for a few minutes and start again. The cooling is not expected to be as effective as the one seen on BlackShark 2 or Nubia Red Magic 3.
While Redmi K20 Pro is no doubt a powerful smartphone, it is hard to say how much more power it has compared to OnePlus 7 Pro. The latter also has an edge with its OLED panel supporting 90Hz refresh rate. Xiaomi has also added software feature like Game Turbo, which allows you to get more out of your gaming experience.
The best implementation is found with PUBG Mobile, where you can change the touch response and sensitivity to repeated taps. You can also tweak touch sensitivity area allowing you to reduce touch sensitivity near the edges. While you can tweak graphics in the game, there is a similar setting in Game Turbo as well. Xiaomi says it plans to add custom options for popular games like Asphalt 9 and upcoming Counter Strike Mobile post launch of the smartphone.
The Redmi K20 Pro packs a 4,000mAh battery, which might sound conservative in this era. However, it does last for a day without any issue, On the days when I spent playing games, I averaged screen on-time of around four-and-a-half hours. Without gaming, I was able to extend it to five-and-a-half and six hours. While it may not be as great as more than eight hours of screen-on-time offered by Huawei P30 Pro, it is still decent for a smartphone in this price segment. Xiaomi also achieves this without going too aggressive on killing background applications. Do I want more juice out of my smartphone? Yes, I do but that will need new technology altogether.
The Redmi K20 Pro’s star feature is the pop-up selfie camera. The company has put a 20-megapixel shooter inside an enclosure that sits at the top of the body. The camera shoots very nice details in selfie mode, and also retains shadows in the background. The selfies are vibrant with a zeal that portrays the emotion really well. There is a bit of beautification happening that tends to smoothen the skin, but the result is largely acceptable. The selfie camera is flanked by blue light on either side that forces people to take note of it. I have used a number of pop-up selfie camera smartphones in the past year. While Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s implementation is unique, the Redmi K20 Pro’s wins attention.
For regular photography, the Redmi K20 Pro is equipped with a total of three cameras on its back. There is a main 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 image shooter paired with 8-megapixel telephoto and 13-megapixel ultrawide angle camera. At a focal length of 12mm, the ultra wide-angle camera is wider than that offered by rivals in this segment. It also produces better dynamic range than standard camera. A great image is generally about vibrancy and feel to it that otherwise cannot be found. The ultra-wide camera on Redmi K20 Pro does that effortlessly.
The primary 48-megapixel camera with Sony IMX586 sensor is no slouch here. It captures standard pictures at 12-megapixel but you get a 48-megapixel option as well. The camera is quick to shoot and focuses rather fast with its laser autofocus support. However, I found the laser autofocus not to be as fast as dual-pixel autofocus. The images captured here have good color accuracy but they are not anywhere close to Google’s Pixel lineup in terms of color science.
The most important thing to note here is that the camera is quick and has better consistency than rival devices. We will shortly compare Redmi K20 Pro with OnePlus 7 Pro to better understand how they stack up against each. The zoom camera supports actual 2x optical zoom and does not deploy any software trickery. Xiaomi has added a number of features to the camera application to make it enticing. At BGR India, we were stunned by Poco F1’s camera and the Redmi K20 Pro definitely takes a step forward from there.
One of the first things that I noticed is that MIUI has matured significantly. The Redmi K20 Pro runs MIUI version 10.3.1.0 with Poco Launcher. The overall user interface has been streamlined from previous versions of MIUI. The software responds much faster than it did before and the gesture interface is easy to understand.
Swiping up from the bottom to enter multitasking and swiping to enter homescreen is more fluid than you see on Google’s own Pixel smartphones. The multitasking interface has been redesigned into a pile of cards. This makes it easy to pick your favorite application and swiping them simply closes the app. To enter the split view, you need to long press one of the apps. This, I think, should be replaced with a split-view option at the top panel. There is also a system-wide dark theme that I ended up liking after a week.
The MIUI 10 is based on Android 9 Pie and the real deal is how quickly can Xiaomi release Android Q update. In the past, the company has not been the fastest to release update and has instead brought core features to its own user interface. Our review unit is also running May security patch, which looks outdated when other devices have started getting July security patch. While I like MIUI for what it aims to do by integrating features like Mi Pay, there is definitely room for improvement. One of the first things Xiaomi needs to do is drop all duplicate apps.
For instance, there is a browser that lives next to Google Chrome browser. We all know that most people use Chrome and this second browser becomes a nuisance after a point. Every time when a link opened in Mi browser instead of Chrome, I literally felt like scratching my head. Android OEMs should focus on building their own apps but these should fix existing issues. They should not become the cause of an issue. There is also the controversy of ads popping up in MIUI, but I hardly noticed it. I would say MIUI introduces bloatware in the process of simplifying user experience.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro?
I have been using the Redmi K20 Pro for well over a week now. If there is one thing that I have learnt during the process then it’s that Redmi K20 Pro is Manu Jain’s precious. I would say it is Anuj Sharma and Redmi team’s precious as well. They are not Gollum per se but their passion for this device comes through without much effort. That alone should be considered a win for Xiaomi.
The Redmi K20 Pro has an industrial design that makes people ask you which phone it is. It has performance to back up that design. It also has a camera that can take good pictures in most situations. Xiaomi’s own software aims to bring out the best experience out of the device. It has an in-display fingerprint sensor that is reliable. The calling function is great and the bottom firing single speaker is loud. In a nutshell, Xiaomi seems to have delivered a smartphone that checks a lot of boxes. It does not do everything exceptionally well but it does a lot of things right within the budget. If your budget is Rs 30,000 then it hard to look past this smartphone.
|Features||OnePlus 7||Honor 20||Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 855 SoC||Kirin 980 SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC|
|OS||Android 9 Pie||Android 9 Pie-based Magic UI 2.1||Android 9 Pie|
|Display||Optic AMOLED-6.41-inch full HD+||IPS LCD display-6.26-inch||AMOLED-6.39-inch full-HD+|
|Internal Memory||6GB RAM + 128GB storage||6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage||6GB RAM + 64GB storage|
|Rear Camera||48MP + 5MP||48MP + 16MP Ultrawide + 2MP macro + 2MP depth||48MP + 8MP + 13MP|