While most of us would normally associate Redmi with mid-range phones offered on a budget, the now independent brand has released a flagship that sounds pretty convincing. It features most of the flagship features without a few important things like water resistance, high refresh rate display and the like. And then there’s the price that makes the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro one of the best deals this year. On the other hand, a lower price also raises the question of whether there are important trade-offs that you should be aware of. More importantly, does cheaper necessarily mean faster? Let’s figure it out.
Redmi K20 Pro vs Competition
Price-wise, the K20 Pro’s rivals lag far behind in performance, but not so much in design and cameras. The real challengers to the phone are all priced above Rs 30,000 and most of them offer the same level of performance. So it comes down to the software you prefer and the kind of user you are. The K20 Pro will please users as the battery life, screen and performance are among the best. However, the camera needs a lot of improvement. It’s not as reliable as the one on the Oppo Reno 10X Zoom or the OnePlus 7 Pro. As for the Zenfone 6z and OnePlus 7, the performance will be similar, but each of the two has its own unique features, and as a result it comes down to what you would want in a phone.
TL; DR: The K20 Pro is a viable candidate for this year’s flagship killer, but it’s not without flaws and compromises.
Performance and battery
First, let’s take a look at the performance of the Redmi K20 Pro. Xiaomi claims that it is the fastest smartphone on the market. It’s a long statement to make, and frankly, there’s nothing in the real world to support or disprove the claim. Relying on benchmarks, the Redmi K20 Pro is significantly faster on some tests like AnTuTu and Geekbench, but slower on some like 3DMark and GFXBench. Based on that, it seems that the CPU of the K20 Pro is much better optimized than the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the GPU works better on the latter.
When used in the real world, you won’t find any significant difference compared to other flagships with Snapdragon 855. The fact that this is the most affordable phone powered by the flagship processor makes it remarkable, but otherwise there is nothing new in the field. of performance. Everyday tasks such as taking photos, browsing the web, and launching apps are all lightning fast and hassle-free. What was interesting to note was how well Xiaomi manages its resources. On the 8GB RAM variant, apps launched hours ago resumed where I left them.
We also tested the gaming capabilities of the K20 Pro, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the stats on play bench† Using the phone’s in-game FPS counter, PUBG Mobile ran on the K20 Pro at a maximum frame rate of 40 FPS, while Asphalt 9 also hit a maximum of 30 FPS. We don’t have the stability number, but based on experience it should be stable at maximum frame rate most of the time.
The software on the Redmi K20 Pro is very similar to Xiaomi in a way. There is an app drawer! A swipe up from the home screen brings up the app drawer and automatically divides apps into different categories that can be accessed by swiping to the right. There are also some other new additions. A Game Turbo mode, which organizes all installed games into a carousel, gives you some detailed access to game settings. PUBG Mobile, like most phones these days, got special treatment. You can control the latency of touch and repeat, as well as a highlighted area to prevent accidental touches.
As for the battery, the 4000mAh battery on the K20 Pro managed to last 9 hours and 46 minutes on the Geekbench battery test, which is quite impressive and should easily convert into more than a day of use. In the real world, 15 minutes of PUBG Mobile drained the battery by 5 percent, while 30 minutes of Netflix drained the battery by 4 percent.
The Redmi K20 Pro features a triple camera setup on the back and a 20MP pop-up shooter on the front. While the segment has a few more triple camera phones on offer, none offer a flagship chipset. As such, the triple camera setup is similar to that of the Vivo V15 Pro or the Oppo F11 Pro, with one exception. The K20 Pro also has an 8MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. This is paired with a 13MP wide-angle camera and a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor. It’s quite impressive considering that the next phone to offer something similar will cost Rs 40,000 (Oppo Reno 10X Zoom).
How does it all work? These camera examples can help provide the answer –
In typical daylight conditions, the Redmi K20 Pro is actually quite good. The details come out sharp and while the phone does saturate the colors to some extent, they look quite aesthetically pleasing. It’s not all perfect though, as the camera tends to clip the highlights and overexposed the shot more often than not. Also, the 48MP mode on the K20 Pro is much better than on the Redmi Note 7 Pro, although both phones have the same Sony IMX586 sensor. The difference is probably caused by the Snapdragon 855’s ISP, which applies Xiaomi’s sharpening and noise reduction algorithm in 48MP mode. As a result, the 48MP recordings are no longer blurry and they lack details. They’re much sharper now, and when you’re zoomed in at 100 percent, the sharpening algorithm is pretty clear. Still, it’s pretty impressive how the sensor finally shows extraordinary results.
The HDR mode, on the other hand, manages to salvage details from the shadows and expose the highlights better, but when we compare, the Honor View 20 has outperformed in our previous tests.
The Redmi K20 Pro also has one of the better wide-angle cameras in this range. Samsung and Vivo have made the ultra-wide cameras mainstream, but most phones that offer this feature suffer from excessive distortion. The ultra-wide angle shot of the Redmi K20 Pro not only ensures the correct exposure and sharpness, but also corrects the shape in post-processing, which does lead to a narrower field of view.
The K20 Pro also comes with a dedicated night mode that does the usual multi-frame processing, and the results are quite impressive. It gets more light in and makes things super sharp. But there are also some limitations. Night mode only works with the primary lens and you can’t zoom in. There is also a small wait when the photo is taken and processed.
There’s also 960 FPS slow-motion recording, which is nowhere near what the Galaxy S10 offers as it’s done with software and the camera stack lacks stabilization of any kind.
Design and display
While the performance and camera are pretty impressive for the price it’s being offered, the phone’s design is what will grab your attention first. This is one of Xiaomi’s best designed phones. Period. Aura Prime is what the company calls the design and the two-tone play of colors looks mesmerizing. We’ll let the rear panel photo speak for itself. The front is full screen, with very thin bezels on all sides. Xiaomi is not new to the bezel-less trend. In fact, it pioneered this with the Mi Mix series. However, the K20 Pro achieves the full-screen design by storing the front camera in a pop-up module. It appears fairly quickly and during unlocking, but not as quickly as the OnePlus 7 Pro.
The in-display fingerprint sensor is also quite accurate. It unlocks four times out of five and will likely be your default unlock mode, as the pop-up face unlock will only work if you swipe up from the lock screen. There is also another annoying aspect of the design, but this could just be a personal annoyance. Since there are no navigation buttons in gesture mode, the keyboard now starts at the very bottom. This led to a lot of mistakes and typos and I had to relearn my hands to grip the phone in a new way.
As for the display, the Redmi K20 Pro has an impressive AMOLED panel that extends without interruption to 6.39 inches. This is the first Redmi phone to come with an AMOLED display and that brings the expected boost in contrast levels. It’s also a bright panel with 724 lux registered in our test. At the bottom, the brightness drops to 7 lux, which is quite impressive. The screen also has an HDR rating, but we’re not sure what standard it is. Currently, HDR videos only play on YouTube and not on Netflix, Amazon Prime, but Xiaomi did state that they are working with the streaming services to enable HDR playback.
The Redmi K20 Pro has all the bells and whistles of an affordable flagship. We won’t call it a premium flagship outright as it still lacks some features that make a device premium. Still, the K20 Pro packs in all the features in vogue this year: a bezel-less display, a pop-up front and triple rear cameras, a gradient design, and flagship performance. If you were wondering, the Redmi K20 Pro is also much more than what the Poco F1 offered. Poco’s flagship was focused only on performance, while the K20 Pro is an all-rounder. While the price is close to what other flagships with Snapdragon 855 come for, it’s still the most affordable flagship you can buy right now and comes with all the bells and whistles that have been in vogue this year.