Redmi Note 8 Pro first impressions: Has the potential to shake up sub-Rs 20,000 segment

Before we publish its detailed review, a quick look at what’s impressive about the Redmi Note 8 Pro and what isn’t.


Redmi just unveiled its brand new Redmi Note 8 Pro with much fanfare.

We have had the device since the start of this week. While I would like to test it a little longer and put it through a few more paces before we publish its in-depth review, I thought why not share my initial impressions about the device with you right away. After fiddling with the device for a couple of days, here’s what I like about the Redmi Note 8 Pro and things that could have been better.

The Redmi Note 8 has been launched at a starting price of Rs 9,999 for the 4 GB + 64 GB variant while the Redmi Note 8 Pro 6 GB + 64 GB variant will be launched at a starting price of Rs 14,999. The phone will start selling from 21 October from 12.00 pm onwards on Amazon and Mi's online store.

Redmi Note 8 Pro first impressions: Has the potential to shake up sub-Rs 20,000 segment

Redmi Note 8 Pro

What’s good about the Redmi Note 8 Pro

The design looks even more premium

Xiaomi took a conscious decision to revamp its dated phone design with the launch of the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review). While the Note 7 Pro still looks quite classy, the company has decided to go a notch or two higher in that department with the Note 8 Pro. The curved glass back of the Halo White variant (the one we got for review) looks extremely elegant and makes the phone look a lot more premium beyond its price tag. The colour tones that the back reflects in different lighting is a thing to behold and something that’s hard to describe in words. The curvy design and the lack of any rough edges makes the phone good to hold.

Display is sharp

While the Redmi Note 8 Pro looks to compete with the Realme XT and has too many common elements, Redmi has opted to persist with a regular LCD screen, rather than going the Super AMOLED way as its competitor. Despite that, what we have here is an extremely sharp 6.53-inch Full HD+ display that also supports HDR. The contrast looks good and the colours look vibrant without going over the top. It feels a bit too big at times, but those who like large displays won’t be complaining at all.

Redmi Note 8 Pro back comes with a dual-tone finish. Image: tech2

Redmi Note 8 Pro back comes with a dual-tone finish. Image: tech2

Raising the performance bar further

While Xiaomi set a new performance benchmark in the sub-15K segment with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC on the Redmi Note 7 Pro earlier this year, they have pushed the envelope further with the Redmi Note 8 Pro. While Qualcomm loyalists will frown at the usage of a Mediatek SoC in this device, the gamer in them wouldn’t be grumbling. While the Snapdragon 675 is an excellent all-round chip, its Adreno 612 GPU wasn’t exactly setting the gaming scene on fire. That is exactly what Redmi has looked to address with the Mediatek G90T SoC on the Note 8 Pro. Its Mali G76 quad-core GPU provides the necessary boost in gaming without a drop in the regular performance of the device. I will share the benchmark results in the review.

Right variants and excellent pricing

Often a good SoC can be handicapped by low RAM on a device. That won’t be the case with the Redmi Note 8 Pro as the company has decided to provide 6GB RAM even on its base variant. And that too at a starting price of Rs 14,999. There’s also a 6 GB/128 GB variant available for just 1K higher, a combination I personally prefer on midrange phones. And something that’s missing on Realme XT. 8 GB is often an overkill with midrange SoCs. Yes, there’s an 8 GB RAM variant of the Note 8 Pro too but you don’t have to opt for it just because you want 128 GB internal storage on your device.

Quad-camera setup on the Redmi Note 8 Pro with a 64 MP primary camera. Image: tech2

Quad-camera setup on the Redmi Note 8 Pro with a 64 MP primary camera. Image: tech2

Dedicated memory card slot and bundled fast charger

Turns out a lot of Indian smartphone users prefer a dedicated microSD card slot over and above two SIM slots; hybrid slots aren’t enough. And Redmi has provided just that in the Note 8 Pro. The battery capacity has also gone up to 4,500 mAh from 4,000 mAh. But what I liked best is the presence of an 18 W fast charger in the bundle. I had criticised its absence in my analysis of the Redmi Note 7 Pro. It’s good to see one here. With increasing battery capacities, fast chargers have become more of a necessity these days, and it’s good to see several brands bundle one in the package, and now, Xiaomi has provided one too with the Redmi Note 8 Pro.

While there are a lot of things to like about the Redmi Note 8 Pro, it isn’t perfect. While there are no glaring shortcomings, there are areas where the company could have done better. Let’s take a quick look.

Here are a few camera samples shot from the Redmi Note 8 Pro.

RedmiNote8Pro_frontcamera

RedmiNote8Pro_camera1

RedmiNote8Pro_camera

What’s not so good about the Redmi Note 8 Pro

Feels a tad bulky and heavy

While I liked the looks of the Redmi Note 8 Pro, one cannot ignore the fact that it’s a fairly large phone. Not just that but it weighs a good 200 grams and the weight distribution isn’t the most optimal. And it’s that heavy despite having a plastic frame and not one made out of metal. One-handed operation on smartphones went out of the window a long time ago. Now some phones are struggling to fit in our palms and pockets too. A point to ponder.

Redmi Note 8 Pro

Redmi Note 8 Pro

Exact rear cameras combination as Realme

The battle between Redmi and Realme is at its peak currently and both brands are trying to one-up the other on several fronts. While the Note 8 Pro’s key flaunt parameter was always going to be the 64 MP camera, there was no reason for Redmi to opt for the exact combination for the remaining three cameras as found on recent Realme phones — 8 MP ultra-wide, 2 MP macro and 2 MP depth sensor. While the Note 8 Pro may have seen the light of the day globally before the Realme XT (Review), the same combination exists even on Realme 5 series of phones. And honestly more cameras don’t necessarily mean better photography.

There’s so much more that can be achieved with fewer cameras. Case in point, one of the best camera phones on the planet, Google Pixel 3, has a single camera. Redmi could have even opted for a triple camera combination similar to their K20 series with optical zoom and ultra-wide options both. But then - marketing...

MIUI OS

Wonder when the company will bring about an overhaul in this department. I have seen several iterations of MIUI over the years. While I was never a big fan of the interface, I haven’t hated it either. But now it clearly feels dated and just a few cosmetic changes won’t help fix it. It is in dire need of a fresh approach more than a fresher look. And the bloatware needs to go too.

I will stop here for now. Stay tuned for the in-depth review of the Redmi Note 8 Pro that’s coming up shortly with performance benchmarks, camera samples and more.

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