5G makes the Xiaomi Mi 10 the most expensive Mi phone yet
Xiaomi rolls out its latest flagship handset in a live-streamed only launch event in China amid the coronavirus outbreak
The deadly coronavirus didn’t stop Xiaomi from launching its first flagship phone of 2020 just two months after opening its second headquarters in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. A face mask-wearing Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi, kicked off the online-exclusive Mi 10 launch event on Thursday to the recorded sound of people clapping -- since very few people were actually allowed in the audience.
Despite the headwinds faced by every Chinese phone maker right now, Xiaomi’s 10th anniversary phone is the most expensive of the Mi series to date. Starting at 3,999 yuan (US$570), it costs US$140 more than its predecessor, the Mi 9. About half of that added cost comes from Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 865 processor, Lei said. The chip is costly because it’s sold bundled with a 5G modem.
The Mi 10 also sports a curved 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and touch sampling rate of 180Hz (the frequency at which the touchscreen tracks your finger’s movement). That should make interacting with the Mi 10 smoother than many other smartphones on the market, but it notably lags behind Samsung’s freshly unveiled Galaxy S20, which has a 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate.
But the Mi 10 is, of course, much cheaper than Samsung’s latest flagships, which start at US$999. Lei was quick to point out that every model in the Mi 10 series sports a 108-megapixel camera, which for Samsung is only true of the priciest S20 model, the S20 Ultra. But while a higher megapixel count gives you higher resolution pictures, they aren’t always better images. As we found out with last year’s Mi Note 10, the small sensor often doesn’t gather as much light, resulting in granier pictures in darker environments.
Xiaomi says the new Snapdragon 865 chip should make processing high-resolution photos faster than before, which could be painfully slow on the Mi Note 10. It also supports the HEIF image format, which saves photos at roughly half the size of JPEGs, possibly saving some storage space for more high-resolution photos.
Other than the 108-megapixel sensor, the Mi 10 has three other lenses on the back for superwide, macro and depth shooting. There’s also a 20-megapixel selfie lens sitting inside a hole-punch cutout on the screen. The pricier Mi 10 Pro has four rear cameras, including the 108-megapixel main camera and optical zoom, super telephoto and superwide lenses.
The Mi 10 supports 30W wireless charging, which Xiaomi says can juice the phone’s 4,780 mAh battery from empty to 100% in 69 minutes. The Mi 10 Pro also features 50W wired charging, which the company says will give users a full charge in just 45 minutes.
The Mi 10 is available to preorder on Thursday and launches on February 18 in China.