Separated from Xiaomi, the budget brand Redmi makes inexpensive hit phones one by one at a bullet speed. The new Redmi Note 8 Pro will win the thrifty users who want everything, immediately and cheap. No joke, the screen is 6.5", 6 GB of RAM and 4(!) cameras for only $245! The best smartphone in the segment, or are there disadvantages? Read more in our extended review.
- Redmi Note 8 Pro looks solid, assembled like a flagship
- 64MP, 4 cameras and artificial intelligence – but far from camera phones
- Game-oriented phone, and works 2 days without recharging
- Phone screen... is large
- Redmi Note 8 Pro competitors
- The opinion of professional testers
The price-quality ratio of the budget Chinese novelty is simply enchanting. A simple listing of features is breathtaking even without considering the price: a huge 6.53" screen, a glass case and gradient color, 4 cameras on the rear panel, including a macro lens and an almost record-breaking 64MP main module, 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory. For dessert – a 4500 mAh battery, heat pipe cooling, a 3.5 mm headphone port, quick charge from the kit and a combo slot for two SIM or SIM+micro-SD. Apple iPhone 11 for $900 can only dream of such characteristics on paper.
Of course, the manufacturer had to make compromises, let’s analyze them in more detail.
Redmi Note 8 Pro looks solid, assembled like a flagship
Xiaomi has repeatedly proved that you can not save on materials and build quality even in the most desperate cases. You can’t find fault with Redmi Note 8 Pro – a classic “sandwich” made of glass panels and an aluminum frame. Both glass with an excellent oleophobic coating, the rear also with ergonomically rounded edges.
There are three colors to choose from – graphite gray, pearl white and sea waves, all with a slight “holographic” effect and beautifully refract the light.
All the buttons on the right side, metal, with a confident pleasant click – the times of rattling colored plastics are long in the past. These are the only moving parts of the structure, the 20MP front-mounted camera is located in a small V-neck at the top of the screen.
On the rear panel there is a camera unit resembling the Redmi K20 / Xiaomi Mi 9T – vertical, with a highlighted contrast ring on the upper lens. True, a fingerprint scanner is embedded in the same frame, and on the side, next to a single flash, there is a tiny eye of the fourth module for macro shooting.
64MP, 4 cameras and artificial intelligence – but far from camera phones
The Redmi Note 8 Pro cameras are an example of what happens when a marketer commands a design engineer. Does the coolest camera phone on the market have as many as 4 cameras? We do as much and no matter what!
The 64MP main module with f/1.9 aperture most of the time operates in the Bayer filter mode – combines every 4 physical points on the matrix into one logical one – and produces 16MP images. The camera application has a separate 64MP mode, so you can get pictures with perfect detail.
For everyday purposes like personal social networks and the family archive, the pictures quality is quite decent, especially after a little fine-tuning in Snapseed. However, it shouldn’t even be compared with the expensive cameraphones of this year. And only the iPhone 11 stands out, giving the worst picture in some cases, if you compare it with the 64MP mode in Redmi.
In Redmi Note 8 Pro, not a single module is equipped with optical stabilization, and the kit itself is not quite the one you expect from a 4-camera system. In order from top to bottom (in the photo): 2MP depth sensor, 64MP main sensor, 8MP ultra-wide and a tiny 2MP macro module on the side, next to the flash.
Accordingly, the zoom is only digital – with a double zooming we get a picture with the same resolution as the main module (16MP), but without the Bayer filter. The zoom gives excellent detail in the afternoon, but as soon as the light begins to miss, the picture loses all attraction. And finally, due to the lack of OIS on the main module, it’s hard to make a sharp picture the first time you zoom, not to mention the video, where the focus often does not keep up even with the smooth movements of objects. High-quality video is still the prerogative of high-end smartphones.
A photo with 2x zoom and a macro shot. Quality is not the best, but bearable.
The wide-angle module is remarkable good. The quality of such modules is significantly inferior to the main ones even in high-end devices like the Galaxy S10 – and this is also true for Redmi – but this is enough for those tasks for which this shooting format is used. It was especially surprising that in the pictures of the evening landscapes, the wide-angle camera produced a more impressive and close to reality sky. Although the level of detail suffers, it is better to use such photographs without zooming.
Game-oriented phone, and works 2 days without recharging
Redmi Note 8 Pro was the first device in the world with the fresh SoC Mediatek Helio 90T. This is a new mid-level single-chip system, which the manufacturer claims to be “game-oriented”. With a performance slightly higher than that of the Snapdragon 730 in Xiaomi Mi 9T and 6 GB of RAM, the novelty shows itself perfectly in games – not at the level of “monsters” like ASUS ROG Phone II, but for more than satisfactory fps at high graphics settings in PUBG Mobile and WoT Blitz grab it.
An important point – since our testing of the Xiaomi Mi 9T, the GeekBench and AnTuTu benchmarks have been updated to new versions, and the scoring system has changed. So, in the old (May) version of AnTuTu Benchmark Redmi Note 8 Pro earned 221 thousand points, while in the new one – already 277 thousand points. With GeekBench 4 and 5, the difference is even greater, so the table below shows two ratings for this device.
When passing the tests in the complete silicone phone case, the Note 8 Pro felt noticeably warm, but we did not notice the throttling. Without a cover, the result is better – heat is evenly distributed on the rear panel and dissipated before the surface manages to heat up to unpleasant temperatures. This is due to the copper heat pipe located under the rear window. The Chinese persistently call this “water cooling”, but, of course, you will not find any active circulation of liquid or at least an evaporation chamber inside the smartphone. We see a sealed flat copper tube, there is literally a couple of drops of liquid inside of it – when heated, it evaporates and evenly distributes the temperature along the entire length of the container. When the temperature drops, the steam condenses and the cycle repeats.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro is equipped with a huge 4500 mAh battery. But due to a more “gluttonous” IPS screen and, apparently, a less energy-efficient processor, the autonomy indicators generally coincide with what we observed with the Mi 9T. With measured use, you can safely count on two full days of work, if you play, shoot video and drive benchmarks – then one incomplete day at a brightness of 80%. If you throw it in a backpack and get it from time to time like a second device, then Redmi starts asking for charging by the middle of the fifth day. For flagships, such results are practically unattainable, but among budget devices this is almost standard.
Phone screen... is large
Budgeting Redmi Note 8 Pro is most felt when looking at the screen. After the flagship (and not such) AMOLED screens, switching to an inexpensive IPS matrix is difficult. It is large (6.53"), with small frames and a compact V-neck for the front, but if you can add $75-$95 to the Mi 9T level device with AMOLED, then you should do it without hesitation.
Compared to more expensive devices, the screen lacks saturation and contrast, and the margin of brightness leaves much to be desired, on a sunny day, the Redmi Note 8 Pro practically “fades”. However, it’s fair to say, the improvements are enormous compared with similar price solutions 2-3 years ago, and thus users are likely to switch to this device. Viewing angles are maximum, with only minimal fading when tilted horizontally. In addition, the resolution has grown to Full HD+, and the aspect ratio of the screen is 19.5:9 against the “normal” HD/HD+ and 16:9 in some Xiaomi Mi MAX 2.
Redmi Note 8 Pro competitors
Redmi Note 8 Pro is in a very difficult price category up to $300, the competition here is very high.
So, the recently launched Samsung Galaxy A30s is better in screen technology – there is SuperAMOLED with a fingerprint scanner in the display and a similar set of cameras (except for the useless macro-sensor). But the main module has a lower resolution (25MP vs 64MP), the processor is less efficient, and the phone case is completely plastic. The battery is also smaller (4000 mAh), but the real autonomy will be approximately the same due to the economical screen.
The second competitor is Huawei P smart Z. The screen is the same size and quality, but without a cutout, and with a motorized retractable front. However, the device from Huawei is hopelessly inferior in photo capabilities, the frame of the case is made of plastic, and fast charging is not provided.
Vivo V17 Neo has almost the same characteristics (a set is comparable): a 6.38" display, but already SuperAMOLED, the fingerprint scanner is a sub-screen, the battery is also 4500 mAh, and the main camera is Sony IMX499 16+8+2MP.
Given the fact that we interact with the display 90% of the time we use the smartphone, its quality is very important: Samsung’s SuperAMOLED with low HD+ resolution may not be better than the sharper Full HD IPS in Redmi, and if you don’t want to compromise, you can pay about $75 and get all three devices features in one Redmi K20 / Xiaomi Mi 9T. There is a capacious battery, and an AMOLED screen from edge to edge with a scanner under the glass and a retractable camera, and it shoots perfectly.
On the other hand – iPhone 11 for $920 (which is 4 of these Redmi!). But the iPhone 11 has a thicker frame, the IPS screen resolution is lower, and there is a face scanner instead of a fingerprint one. Of course, you will have to forget about two SIM-cards, a 3.5 mm jack, a memory card and fast charging, because it is still a “cheap” iPhone.
The opinion of professional testers
Redmi Note 8 Pro turned out awesome. With a minimum cost that will fall in a couple of months (the upcoming 11.11 promotions on Aliexpress, Black Friday and New Year’s sales come to mind), the smartphone offers a large screen, optimal performance and good, although not flagship photography capabilities. Separately, it is worth praising the build quality and materials, the low price is not felt at all at the first or the “second” glance.
Redmi Note 8 Pro advantages:
- Low price for such characteristics
- Optimal performance even in games
- 4500 mAh capacious battery
- Decent photo capabilities with a 64 megapixel camera
- There is NFC for payments
- Quality assembly and expensive design
Redmi Note 8 Pro disadvantages:
- More cameras than needed
- Faded screen in the sun
- Fingerprint scanner in one unit with cameras
- Warming in games
However, there is also a reason to criticize the Note 8 Pro. The four-module set of cameras on the rear panel does not justify at all – this set is there for marketing, and not for real use. At least two of the four sensors (depth sensor and macro) are actually quite useless: competitors, including the iPhone 11, have a main camera for this purpose. It could be possible to refuse, and the money saved on extra modules and engineering tricks could be invested, for example, in the optical stabilization of a 64MP sensor. But we have what we have.