When OnePlus left the very segment it created to pursue the flagship slice of the cake, it left a bitter taste in the mouth of many of its fans. For a while, it seemed as though the “Flagship Killer” segment would remain vacant, or populated with phones that would always lack serious horsepower. That all changed last year with the introduction of Xiaomi’s new venture, the Pocophone F1. Lauded by fans and praised by critics everywhere, this was the phone we all needed back in the space. It was, by no means, perfect. Build quality was unimpressive, the screen LCD, notched, and not so bright. The camera was mostly ok to potato depending upon the light, and only had a single lens camera system (the additional 5MP depth sensor doesn’t really count). Enter the K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro, the unofficial sequel to the F1, correcting most of the flaws the original had.
Where the Poco brandished an all-plastic unibody design, the K20 Pro features the fit-in-with-the-crowd glass and metal side design. But even though the design choice serves no purpose (no wireless charging), Redmi decided to give it a paint job that really shines wherever you keep it. The buttons are a bit mushy, but extra points for the flamboyant power button. The phone also has quite a nice heft to it, meaning that the phone was built to last.
The screen was quite possibly the most unanimously hated feature on the F1, first of all, sporting a notch, and adding insult to injury, it sported an LCD panel, in a day and age where OLEDs rule the scene. Thankfully, the K20 Pro addresses both issues, with a notch-less full screen 6.39” OLED display. The display maybe a “meagre” 1080+ but that takes nothing away to how good this screen is, considering its price bracket. Colours are accurate, blacks are, well, black, just as you’d expect from an OLED. Also, even if it is a personal opinion, bonus points for a flat screen and not the annoying curved ones; it makes life much more convenient since finding a good tempered glass protector is easier.
The camera department is where the K20 Pro makes the most improvement, considering its predecessor. Gone is the 5MP “depth sensing” system, and in its place, Xiaomi has put 2 entirely different camera systems, sporting an ultrawide lens and a 2X telephoto lens, along with the 48MP IMX586 sensor main camera. If this setup looks familiar, it’s because this same setup also resides on the OnePlus 7 Pro, a phone nearly twice as expensive.
As for the quality, it is a very reliable shooter. The IMX586 is a very capable sensor, and not too many manufacturers can screw this up. Plus, Xiaomi’s own twists on the camera software yields very good results.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the ultra-wide and telephoto, with the ultrawide being the biggest offender. The ultra-wide creates very grainy pictures in anything other than broad daylight. Also none of the lenses have Optical Image Stabilizing (OIS), meaning pictures under somewhat low light comes out all blurry, especially so for the telephoto, which by the way, doesn’t work unless the lighting is exceptional. Under normal light, your camera digitally crops when you switch to telephoto.
The phone also comes with its version of nightmode, but the processing on it is a complete hit or miss, and almost always noisy, and blurry thanks to the omission of the aforementioned OIS.
Perhaps, the biggest let-down was the pop-up camera, the technique they used to get a notch-less full screen display. Quite simply, it’s horrible, no dynamic range, washed out colours.
Video quality is ok, you do feel the omission of the OIS, but quality wise, its good. As a bonus, it also does super slow-mo videos at 960fps at 1080p.
This phone’s biggest offender is easily its software. MIUI is an OS we neither wanted nor deserved. Its bloaty, optimised, and a comical mess. Google already has it down with their Material Design, and there was no need for unnecessary iOS-ing the interface. Plus, the adds that are baked into MIUI is downright insulting the consumer. It’s almost like buying a full price game, and then finding micro transactions baked into it. I find it perplexing, considering Xiaomi already makes phones that ship with stock Android on some of their Mi A series. If it shipped with, say Android One, this could have been THE phone to buy, regardless of your budget. However, if you are a tinkerer, or know someone who is, you could rid yourself of MIUI and its messes, and install stock Android or better, Oxygen OS from OnePlus, with little to no loss of functionality.
Other than the software debacle, the K20 Pro does nearly everything else right. Ok, the camera may not be class leading, but do remember how much you are paying for it, and when that consideration is brought back, its excellent. It also has a 4000mAh battery, making this an easy two-day phone, even with heavy usage. And guess what — even with a full screen display, 3 cameras, a pop-up camera, and a big battery — it managed to retain the headphone jack, which does output good quality audio. And the mono loudspeaker gets LOUD.
Disclaimer: Avoid buying the 8/256 variant in Bangladesh, which costs BDT 50,000/-, which is absolute highway robbery.
Throughout the review, I have been referencing the Poco F1 as a comparison, and I think that’s unfair, because, all things considered, this is more a competitor to the OnePlus 7 Pro, not the normal nerfed 7. It has the same 3 lens camera setup, and pop-up camera setup, featuring the same main camera sensor, a notch-free OLED panel, same capacity battery, and the same glass and metal build. Yes, the 7 Pro does have a 90HZ display, but the K20 Pro retains the headphone jack. In my opinion, buying the OnePlus has just become completely redundant.
Processor: Snapdragon 855 (7 nm)
GPU: Adreno 640
OS: Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10
Rear Camera: 48MP f/1.8, 13 MP ultrawide f/2.4 and 8 MP telephoto f/2.4
Front Camera: Pop-up 20 MP
Display 6.39-inch, AMOLED FHD+ 2340 x 1080 pixels
Memory: 8GB RAM
Storage: 256GB internal memory
Battery: 4000mAH lithium-ion
Price: BDT 49,999/-