On October 16, Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 8 Pro in India. The new devices replace the successful Redmi Note 7 Pro and Redmi Note 7S in the country. While the Redmi Note 8 Pro hogged the limelight with MediaTek Helio G90T processor and 64-megapixel main camera, the Redmi Note 8 seems like a disrupter in its own sense. The smartphones are clearly the answer to increased competition from brands like Samsung, Vivo, and Realme. Xiaomi is the leader in India’s smartphone market, and it has become one by launching iterative products at disruptive prices.
However, the past 15 months have been all about Realme, which has followed Xiaomi’s playbook to perfection. The industry has been looking for Xiaomi to react, and it has done so with the Redmi Note 8 series. The two devices not only undercut pricing in a big way, but they also define the market for next year. If Redmi Note 8 Pro targets gamers then Redmi Note 8 targets regular smartphone users. Here is our first look at Redmi Note 8, which has the potential to become the next best seller in the sub-Rs 15,000 price segment.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8: Design and Display
The Redmi Note 8 is an incremental update over Redmi Note 7S and from the front, it is visually unchanged. This time around, there is glass at the front as well as rear and Xiaomi is using a metal frame. The smartphone feels strong when you hold it and does not give away its budget price tag. Xiaomi has been trying to make its budget smartphones feel premium for the past year or so and with Redmi Note 8, it seems to have hit the nail on its head. At a time when premium flagship smartphones are becoming predictable, budget smartphones are taking a leap in terms of premium and overall feel.
At the front, the Redmi Note 8 has a 6.3-inch Full HD+ LCD display which looks identical to its predecessor. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 but the notch has been trimmed. As a result, the Redmi Note 8 is not as tall as the Redmi Note 7S but it is a bit wider. Xiaomi is also adding a Redmi branding to the chin this time, which is similar to what Nokia and Motorola do to their devices. The real difference between Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 7S come alive when you turn over the device. Our review unit came in Neptune Blue color, which is shiny and emits beautiful shades of blue and purple. The back panel also has a texture that reflects a ‘S’ shaped curve. However, all this glitter ends the minute you slap a case on the back of this device.
The one prominent thing about the back of Redmi Note 8 is its quad-camera setup. Realme raised a quad-camera smartphones in this market, Xiaomi is now raising its own variant. There are four cameras on the back including a 48-megapixel main shooter. We will have more in-depth look at these cameras in our full review. In other words, the Redmi Note 8 has two more cameras on its back than its predecessor.
The Redmi branding has also moved from center to the bottom left side of the device. There is, of course, a fingerprint sensor on the back. One key takeaway here is that Redmi Note 8 does not look like a Rs 10,000 smartphone. It looks more premium with curved edges and clicky buttons on the right hand side.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8: Hardware
The Redmi Note 8 is the second smartphone from Xiaomi to get Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 mobile platform. It is the same octa-core chipset found on Mi A3 fabricated using 11nm process. It has Adreno 610 GPU which should allow for gaming but the phone lacks liquid cooling seen on the Redmi Note 8 Pro. So, we will see how thermals are handled in our full review.
I said that Redmi Note 8 defines the market in my introduction that’s because of its memory configuration. Xiaomi is not offering the Redmi Note 8 with 3GB RAM, and it is only available in 4GB and 64GB storage variant priced at Rs 9,999 or 6GB and 128GB storage variant priced at Rs 12,999. They go on sale for the first time on October 21 via mi.com and Amazon India.
Memory remains one of the most expensive components inside any consumer electronics device. By killing the 3GB RAM variant, Xiaomi is showing that modern day consumer does not only need more internal storage but also better memory to boot. Now, it is up to other OEMs to react and make 4GB RAM as the base for their devices.
The rear camera setup includes a 48-megapixel main shooter paired with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide and two 2-megapixel sensors that act as dedicated macro and depth cameras. We will find out the use case of these two new sensors in our full review along with the performance of 13-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8: Initial Impressions
I have spent less than 24 hours with the Redmi Note 8 and most of my time has been spent looking at its design. The choice of material and build quality just shows how much the industry has evolved since the days of the Redmi Note 3. The smartphone is also a clear answer to Realme 5, which was the first to bring quad-camera setup to sub-Rs 10,000 price segment. Redmi only tries to make it better by using a 48-megapixel sensor. In a nutshell, Xiaomi is killing the 3GB RAM variants seen in this price point. It is bringing 48-megapixel camera to more consumers and making budget phones premium. Is that enough to stay the market leader or compete with Realme? We will answer that and other questions in our review. Stay tuned.
|Features||Xiaomi Redmi Note 7S||Xiaomi Redmi Note 8|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 660 SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC|
|OS||Android 9 Pie||Android 9 Pie with MIUI|
|Display||6.3-inch full HD+||6.3-inch FHD+|
|Internal Memory||3GB/4GB RAM + 32GB/64GB storage||4GB RAM + 64GB storage|
|Rear Camera||Dual – 48MP + 5MP||Quad – 48MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP|