Redmi Note 8 Pro Design: Elegant but a tad bulky

Note 8 Pro is easily the best-looking Redmi Note till date. After sticking to its older design for generations, Xiaomi took a conscious decision to completely redo the aesthetics with the launch of Redmi Note 7 Pro earlier this year. While the Note 7 Pro still looks quite classy, the company has decided to step up the glamour quotient with the Note 8 Pro. A certain competitor may want to take some credit for it, and rightly so. The curved glass back of the Halo White variant looks extremely elegant and makes the phone look a lot more premium than its price tag would suggest.

The pearl white finish bears a close resemblance to the white variant of its closest competitor, Realme XT. The camera placement is different though; I will come to that in a minute. The colour tones that the back reflects in different lighting is a thing to behold and the effect is quite cool. Fingerprints aren’t easily visible at the back either in this variant, which is another plus. The glossy plastic frame looks slightly out of place though. The curvy design and the lack of any rough edges make the phone good to hold, and the build quality is rugged too. The screen and the back are both protected by Gorilla Glass 5.

While I liked the looks of the Redmi Note 8 Pro, one cannot ignore the fact that it’s a fairly large phone. It also weighs a good 200 grams, and the weight distribution isn’t the most optimal, making it feel heavy in hand. There are two SIM trays along the left edge, one of which also accommodates a dedicated microSD card slot. The power button and volume rocker are on the right and are easily accessible. Three cameras and a fingerprint sensor are vertically aligned at the back centre on a slight elevation. The macro camera and LED flash are placed next to it.

The fingerprint scanner is located a bit higher than would be ideal and you need to stretch a bit to reach it. Also, your finger brushing against the hard edges of the aforementioned elevation when trying to unlock the phone isn’t a pleasant feeling, but it’s something you will get used to. I’ve no complaints about the responsiveness of the fingerprint scanner though. There is an IR Blaster located at the top, while a micro USB port, 3.5 mm audio jack and the speaker grille can be found along the lower edge of the phone.

Redmi Note 8 Pro: Key specifications

Mediatek Helio G90T SoC: 2 Cortex-A76 performance cores at 2.05 GHz + 6 Cortex-A55 efficiency cores at 2 GHz

Mali G76-MC4 GPU clocked at 800 MHz

6 GB or 8 GB RAM options

64 GB or 128 GB UFS 2.1 internal storage + dedicated microSD slot

6.53-inch Full HD+ display with HDR and Corning Gorilla Glass 5

64 MP (main) + 8 MP (ultra-wide) + 2 MP (macro) + 2 MP (depth sensor) quad cameras; 20 MP selfie camera

4,500 mAh battery with bundled 18 W fast charger

Android Pie 9.0 with MIUI 10

Redmi Note 8 Pro Display: Vibrant screen with HDR

While the Redmi Note 8 Pro looks to compete with the Realme XT, Xiaomi has opted for an LCD screen rather than going the Super AMOLED route. Despite that, what we have here is an extremely sharp 6.53-inch Full HD+ display (with a drop notch) that also supports HDR. The black levels and contrast aren’t exactly as good as the AMOLED screen on the Realme XT, but the difference in quality isn’t huge either. The screen feels a bit too big though and one-handed operation is out of the question, but those with a ‘bigger the better’ motto won’t be complaining.

The contrast looks good and colours look vibrant without going over the top. Brightness can hit 500 nits, ensuring that the display is very much legible even under bright sunlight. The default screen calibration is towards the cooler side and the display has a distinct blue tinge even when you set the colour temperature to its Default (standard) setting. For more accurate colour reproduction, one should set this to Warm.

Redmi Note 8 Pro Performance: The new midrange monster to beat

Eyebrows were raised when Xiaomi decided to go with a Mediatek SoC in the Note 8 Pro despite the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 doing an excellent job in the Redmi Note 7 Pro. As it happens, this was a brilliant decision on Xiaomi’s part as the Mediatek Helio G90T delivers on all fronts, and how! The G90T is an octa-core chip with two 2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 performance cores and six Cortex A55 efficiency cores running at 2 GHz. There’s Mali G76-MC4 GPU clocked at 800 MHz to tackle graphics and games.

There was absolutely no lag in day-to-day operations or even when switching between multiple apps running at the same time. But that can also be attributed to the ample 8 GB RAM on my test unit. In performance benchmarks, it simply blows the competition away. In Antutu 8, it managed a score of 284,957, which is a good 32.8 percent higher than what the Snapdragon 712 managed on the Realme XT (214517). Similarly, in Geekbench 5, it recorded a single-core score or 498 as opposed to 322 on the XT. The Multi-core score was almost similar for both phones at 1,552 and 1,504 respectively.

The OpenCL performance of the Redmi Note 8 Pro in Geekbench 5 was almost double its competitor’s score at 1,827 vs 936. Xiaomi opted for the Helio G90T chip for a boost in gaming performance and it delivers on that front. In the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan benchmark, the Mali-G76 MC4 GPU managed a score of 2,412, a 20 percent jump over the 1,994 scored by the Adreno 616 in the Realme XT. To test the gaming performance further, I tried PUBG Mobile on it in Ultra mode with HDR on. The performance was fairly smooth at those setting too. However, the phone got warm within 10-15 minutes, but the game did not freeze or crash even then.

So, the Redmi Note 8 Pro seems to be the new midrange performance king under Rs 20,000, barring one in-house competitor. The 6 GB RAM / 128 GB storage variant of the Poco F1 now sells for Rs 15,999, which is the same as that of the similar variant of the Note 8 Pro. The Snapdragon 845 in the Poco F1 is at a different level altogether and outperforms the Helio G90T in all benchmarks. But the Poco F1 is over a year old and may be at the end of its life cycle. Also, the Note 8 Pro is a much better phone overall when you factor in design, camera, battery, etc., making it a solid option in this segment.