2 months ago, I bought the China-only Mi 10 Ultra, and since then, I’ve been using it as my daily phone. How has it held up? Is it still worth considering 2 months later? Let’s check it out.
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra has essentially the exact same front design as the Mi 10 Pro. That means thin bezels, with a very small hole punch in the top left of the screen. The rear design is more unique. My model has a transparent glossy glass back, which shows a piece of plastic with a design made to look like the inner components of the device. It looks very unique, yet understated. I really like it, but the glossiness of the glass ruins it completely for me. Holding the phone without a case is a horrible experience, it feels smudgy, grimy, and makes it look disgusting.
The camera module is also quite unique, with the telephoto lens being held in a separate silver housing, which looks really good. The only issue is that the housing extends literally almost halfway down the phone, which can make it hard to hold. I found that I got used to it after a couple of weeks, but it can still be annoying at times.
The Mi 10 Ultra has a very nice screen. It refreshes at 120Hz, which makes animations such as scrolling look far smoother and faster. It is a 10-bit panel which can show over 1 billion colours, but honestly very few people will notice that; I definitely didn’t.
The Mi 10 Ultra has a 4500 mAh battery. That, paired with aggressive battery management software, means that the Mi 10 Ultra can last a full day of heavy usage. That’s with 120Hz on, by the way. If you dial it back to 60Hz, most users will likely be able to get 2 full days out of it.
One of the main headlining features of the phone is its charging speed, with 120W wired and 50W wireless. I mainly used the wireless charging, and it was ludicrously fast. Xiaomi’s estimates of a full charge in 40 minutes seemed about right to me. As for the 120W wired charging, Android Authority recently did a deep-dive on this and found that it actually only charges at 80W. Nevertheless, a full charge in 23 minutes, with 41% in 5 minutes is completely insane and is something that has to be seen to be believed. Still, as most users charge their phones overnight, it may not serve much actual use.
- 48MP main, f/1.9, 1/1.32″ sensor, OIS
- 48MP 5x periscope zoom, f/4.1, 1/2″ sensor, OIS
- 20MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 1/2.8″ sensor
- 12MP 2x telephoto, f/2.0, 1/2.55″ sensor
- Video: 8K @24fps, 4K @60fps, 1080p @960fps
- Selfie: 20MP, f/2.3, 1/3.4″ sensor
- Selfie video: 1080p @30fps, 720p @120fps
The most important feature of the Mi 10 Ultra, in my opinion, and why you might consider buying it, is the cameras. It comes with a quad-camera array, as detailed above. The main camera is 48MP, which is odd because the Mi 10 Pro and Mi Note 10 both have 108MP setups. With this flagship, though, Xiaomi decided to remove that sensor and opt for a technically better 48MP sensor, for better low-light performance and dynamic range.
Photos out of the phone look nice. Dynamic range is good, but not quite at the level of Samsung or Huawei. Some detail can be lost in highlights or shadows, but it generally performs well. With human subjects, it really doesn’t fare particularly well. Shadows are often crushed, skin smoothed, and edges blurred. This phone simply cannot compete with the likes of Apple, Samsung and Huawei when it comes to software enhancements.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to. The prowess of the hardware on this camera makes up for the lack of impressive software. Photos come out detailed, even in low-light scenarios, thanks to the very large 1/1.32″ sensor. The astrophotography on this phone is some of the best I’ve ever seen, beating even my Pixel 3 in most situations. the periscope zoom lens is also 48MP, with a large sensor, meaning that photos have plenty of natural bokeh and detail is preserved so much that a 10x photo is very usable. The ultrawide lens is 128 degrees, which may not sound like much more than the 120 degrees of competitors, but it really makes a difference. Quality is similar, but there is so much captured in a single photo. Overall, the camera system is excellent, matching and often beating the best of the best and it’s a real reason why you might want to buy this phone.
The Mi 10 Ultra runs on MIUI 12 based on Android 10. That’s not great, as newer flagships are now running Android 11, and since this phone was only ever released in China, it is unlikely that it will get many updates.
While MIUI 12 is aesthetically pleasing, with cool features such as Super Wallpapers which zoom in when you unlock the phone, the Chinese software makes it slightly hard to use at times, with some software being completely unusable.
I’ve also had some issues with notifications being delayed, or just not arriving at all. This is likely due to MIUI’s very aggressive memory management closing the app in the background. It really is a big deal when a phone doesn’t notify you when you get a message until 20 minutes later. If you are considering buying this phone, this issue should be considered very carefully. Or, if you’re looking for a reason to hate on this phone, then you’ve found it.
In the end, I think the Mi 10 Ultra is a brilliant phone. With a camera that can go up against – and often beat – the best, a great display, and some really cool rarely-seen features like an IR blaster, it is a very unique buy, and is Xiaomi’s best phone to date. Not to mention, its current starting price in China is 5299 Yuan, which is just under £610, or just over $802. That is literally half the price of the Note 20 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max, which are its closest competitors!
Nevertheless, I would not recommend this phone to most people. The software woes simply make this phone too hard to use for the average consumer. Only the most avid of Xiaomi fans, those who appreciate a really good zoom lens, or those who live in China and can speak Chinese should consider buying this phone today.
What do you think, is the Mi 10 Ultra worth the asking price? Will you be buying one? Should Xiaomi have released this phone globally? Let me know in the comments below.