If there’s one brand that has time and again twisted the conventional specs-vs-price paradigm on its head, it’s Xiaomi. From its very first offering (Mi 3) to the most recent Redmi 7A (first impressions), the phonemaker has ensured that consumers get the best possible package for their money. And yet, the company hasn’t been able to taste much success in the Rs 20k+ price segment… not until the POCO F1 (review) came out. Released in August last year, the device still ranks high in the affordable flagship category (not to mention that price cuts have made it a sweeter proposition).
But it seems Xiaomi believes that it can garner more sales by riding on the brand value of Redmi. Perhaps that’s why it’s launching its latest affordable flagship in the Redmi series. While the new phone is labelled the Redmi K20 Pro, make no mistake that it’s the spiritual successor of the POCO F1. So can the Redmi K20 Pro enjoy a similar level of success as its predecessor? And can it become the new value king? There are a lot of questions, and I believe this review has all the answers you are looking for. So without further ado, let’s begin.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||1080 x 2340 pixels|
|CPU||Single core, 2.84 GHz + Tri core, 2.42 GHz, Snapdragon 855|
|Internal memory||128 GB|
|Capacity||4000 mAH, Li-Polymer, Non removable|
|Primary camera||48 MP|
|Secondary camera||20 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 9.0 Pie|
There are some movies that you know would be a hit even before release. Similarly, I believe there are certain smartphones whose fate can be decided before they reach the shelves. And undoubtedly, the Redmi K20 Pro is one such smartphone. The fact that it’s been getting huge consumer interest even before its India release date was announced is a big testament to that and if you have any doubts as to why, then just glance over its specs sheet. The K20 Pro offers everything you’d ask for in a flagship smartphone, and then some more… and that too at a price that you won’t baulk upon.
The POCO F1 filled the void left by OnePlus (when the latter moved up the price ladder), and the Redmi K20 Pro does exactly the same… with oodles of style this time around.
Design and display
Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm
Weight: 191 grams
If the POCO F1 was playing it safe in terms of design, the Redmi K20 Pro goes in the opposite direction with its bold styling. From a high screen-to-body ratio to the impressive colourways, everything about the handset screams attention. While my review unit ships with a blue gradient hue – dubbed Glacier Blue – I think the Flaming Red option will sell like hotcakes (pun intended). You can also opt for the classic Carbon Black colour with the Kevlar pattern.
Mind you, it’s not a simple gradient pattern either. The brand has ensured that the K20 Pro stands out from other such similar devices. Referred to as the Aura Prime Design, you’ll also see unique reflections when the light falls on the back panel. I also liked the fact that the same colour is available across the edges.
Of course, the all-screen fascia with an impressive 91.9 percent screen-to-body ratio of the Redmi smartphone is also quite attractive. There are extremely narrow bezels on three sides of the display, with the one at the bottom not too broad either. All this means that the handset feels one-hand friendly despite sporting a large 6.39-inch display.
Speaking of which, the Redmi K20 Pro sports an AMOLED screen and bears a resolution of 1,080 x 2,280 pixels with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. Now I don’t need to tell you the benefits of an OLED screen; you will be seeing sharp visuals with punchy colours and deeper blacks. The brightness levels are impressive too, and I didn’t feel the need to increase the brightness when I was out and about. The viewing angles are impressive too.
The K20 Pro sports an always-on display (termed Ambient Display) that even allows you to customise the animations.
The display is protected against scratches and nicks by a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. You’ll also find the same coating towards the back. Adding to the durability quotient is the P2i nano coating, which makes the Redmi K20 Pro resistant to splashes.
Moving to the sides, you won’t find anything unusual, apart from a pop-up module up top. Another good thing is that the K20 Pro continues with the good ol’ headphone socket. Towards the back, the vertically-aligned triple cameras are placed in the centre. What’s interesting however, is the fact that the primary camera is placed separately, with the other two present in a slightly protruding module. This is followed by a dual-LED flash, with the Redmi logo (along with the mention of Designed by Xiaomi) further below.
But that’s not all about the design of the Redmi K20 Pro. There are several other details that will delight you. The power button has a bright red hue, while the primary camera on the back has a lunar ring around the sensor. Similarly, the pop-up module has a notification LED flash and it illuminates every time it’s elevated. The mechanism also lights up while the device is juicing up. The swoosh-like sound every time the front camera pops out is also quite interesting, though some people might find it to be nagging.
Talking specifically about the self-elevating camera, it isn’t the slowest out there but I’ve certainly seen faster implementations. It does retract automatically when the device detects a fall. This also meant that I didn’t need to resort to unlocking the phone with my fingers as the face authentication worked perfectly fine. The optical in-display fingerprint sensor also worked like a charm, and came in handy in the dark, when face unlock failed to work.
While the K20 Pro gets the visual part right for an ideal multimedia experience, what about audio output? Well, the device sports a single speaker at the base, but comes with Smart PA for offering enhanced output. Now the sound isn’t the loudest, but it’s enough to fill a room and remains quite crisp. If you plug in good-quality earphones however, then you could take advantage of the built-in HiFi DAC that supports 24-bit, 192KHz audio playback.
I’d also like to highlight the bundled case with the Redmi K20 Pro, for it’s not a run-of-the-mill transparent cover. Despite being quite thick, it’s easy to slap on and offers a good in-hand feel. Without the cover however, the device is prone to slippage due to its glossy rear that also gathers fingerprints and scratches rather easily.
Primary camera: 48 MP
Flash: Dual LED Flash
Secondary camera: 20 MP
With triple rear cameras becoming the order of the day, the Redmi K20 Pro also boasts a trio of shooters. As a matter of fact, it’s the brand’s first triple camera-toting handset in India. Specs-wise, the device uses the popular Sony IMX586 48-megapixel sensor that comes with an aperture opening of f/1.8. The main snapper is coupled with a 13-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens and an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor, both of which feature f/2.4 apertures. If you ask me, it’s one of the best camera combinations, allowing you to cover all kinds of scenarios. Having said that, it’s worth noting that the telephoto shooter only offers 2x optical zoom, unlike crazy levels of magnification offered by many flagships these days. For selfies, the K20 Pro gets a 20MP snapper inside the pop-up system.
The camera interface on the device will be familiar to anyone who has used a Xiaomi smartphone before – it’s minimal yet functional in terms of options on offer. In the portrait orientation, you get the shutter button in the centre at the bottom, sandwiched between the ability to view your gallery and switch to the front camera. Above it, there’s the option to shoot photos, videos, portraits, night shots, panorama, pro and 48MP shot (this is quite handy as many phones make you jump through hoops to enable the high-res output). The K20 Pro also makes it easy to capture moments with a single hand as you can just drag the slider above these modes to go to the wide-angle mode (0.6x), normal one or the zoomed-in mode. You also get the option to adjust beautification or tweak figure that lets you modify head, slender body, etc. Up top, there’s the toggle for flash, HDR, AI, real-time filters and a pane for accessing settings, and timer among others.
Coming to the imaging performance, the TL;DR is that the Redmi K20 Pro is a versatile and capable shooter. If you want more detailed analysis, then read on (worth mentioning that HDR mode has been turned to Auto and AI was on during my testing).
1) As far as autofocusing and shutter speeds go, the K20 Pro is really swift.
1) Images captured in daylight offer great levels of sharpness and reproduce vibrant colours. Although, the dynamic range is slightly iffy and some of the shots are overexposed.
2) Close-ups look quite pleasing with a faux-bokeh effect adding to the charm.
3) In portrait mode, the device ensures that the subject is separated from the background well, though the skin does seem somewhat soft.
4) In low light, the Redmi phone fares well, offering a good level of details and ensuring that the noise is kept in control. But it’s nowhere near the quality delivered by some other flagships.
5) The wide-angle shooter tries to make sure that image quality doesn’t go for a toss, but it does show distortion with the sides showing a noticeable amount of blur. The telephoto lens on the other hand, does a fairly good job.
7) As usual, you could capture photos at the 48-megapixel resolution, but you’d be hard-pressed the tell the differences between the 12MP output and high-res pictures.
8) For videos, the K20 Pro can record up to 4k clips at 60fps. While the footage is smooth and detailed, the inclusion of OIS would have made it even better.
9) The 20MP pop-up camera for selfies evokes mixed reactions. While the shots are well detailed, the device tends to soften skin tones, making them selfies artificial. They also suffer from light distortion.
As far as the competition is concerned, the Redmi K20 Pro can take on the nearest Snapdragon 855-powered, 48MP camera-equipped rivals like the ASUS 6Z and OnePlus 7 quite well. It’s hard to pick a winner between them in terms of sharpness levels, but it’s their colour science which is vastly different. In ample lighting, while the ASUS 6Z and OnePlus 7 offer a natural output, the K20 Pro is tuned towards saturation. Having said that, I believe that K20 Pro isn’t the most consistent smartphone in terms of the cameras.
Hardware and software
CPU: Single core, 2.84 GHz + Tri core, 2.42 GHz, Snapdragon 855
GPU: Adreno 640
RAM: 6 GB
Memory: 128 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Talking about internals, you’d need to “believe the hype” as the company touts. Of course, the credit for the same in the performance section goes to the all-powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset, which works in tandem with up to 8GB RAM. The unit that I was testing was the higher-end version, and as many of our previous reviews of a similar combination has stated, the hardware ensures buttery-smooth usage. Lags and slowdowns didn’t come near the Redmi K20 Pro, be it while doing normal tasks, running apps like Photoshop or juggling through multiple apps.
The Adreno 640 GPU makes sure that the experience remains the same while gaming. The Redmi K20 Pro won’t disappoint whether you’re a professional gamer or just play to kill time. I stress tested the handset with a slew of titles, including the PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9: Legends and Dead Trigger 2, and loved the gaming experience. The phone offers sustained frame rates even for long sessions. Sadly however, the thermal management is something that the device struggles with. It heats up within just 20 minutes of gaming, despite the 8-layer graphite sheet it packs inside for improving thermal efficiency.
For installing apps and storing your files, the K20 Pro ships with 256GB storage. You could also opt for the base configuration with 128GB memory onboard (along with 6GB RAM), and I’d urge you to make a conscious decision about which model to go for as Redmi’s offering doesn’t offer a storage expansion slot.
I’ve been an ardent fan of Xiaomi’s MIUI, and you’ll find the latest iteration of the custom skin running atop Android 9.0 Pie. While of late, the interface has been criticised for ads, thankfully, then don’t plague the K20 Pro as it comes with POCO Launcher. That means you also get an app drawer. Of course, the usual Xiaomi goodies continue, including the left-most homescreen and the all-in-one Security app. Perhaps my favourite feature is the system-wide dark mode, which makes using the AMOLED display on the K20 Pro more delightful. While I appreciate the fact that there are no ads, the apps like Mi Video send nagging notifications every now and then.
Capacity: 4000 mAH, Li-Polymer, Non removable
Xiaomi has ensured that the K20 Pro scores well on all aspects, including the battery. The device sips juice from a strong 4,000mAh pack that exploits the power efficiency of the 7nm processor to deliver all-day battery life. Even with the use of power-guzzling features such as GPS for navigation, streaming videos, listening to music via streaming services, and gaming, the handset lasted an entire day comfortably. I usually achieved a screen-on time of around five hours, which is quite good. In our video loop test, the phone played back a 720p clip for almost 21 hours, which is outstanding.
The Redmi K20 Pro supports 27W fast charging. However, as has been the case with the company’s previous offerings – where the bundled adapter doesn’t offer the higher wattage – the phone comes bundled with the 18W wall charger. Using the power brick, the mobile went from 10 percent to 100 in about 80 minutes.
Even though the Redmi K20 Pro is in a league of its own by virtue of being the most affordable smartphone with Snapdragon 855 in India. The handset is priced at Rs 27,999 for the base variant, and Rs 30,000 for the higher-end model. That said, let’s pit it against some other devices to help you find out if it’s the best smartphone for your money.
Now this is an interesting battle, considering the OnePlus 7 (review) is priced around Rs 8k higher, and the Pro variant will seem rather ostentatious in front of the Redmi phone considering its sticker price of Rs 48,999. But if you compare the Redmi K20 Pro with the OP7, then the choice is quite easy to make, as the former offers a higher screen-to-body ratio, triple cameras, and a bigger battery – at a lower price.
If price is no bar, then the OnePlus 7 Pro (review) is clearly a better device, mainly because of its super-smooth HDR-compliant display offering 90Hz refresh rate and higher screen resolution. Then there’s faster charging at 30W and 3x zoom capabilities. But the question you have to ask yourself is whether these good-to-have features are worth the price difference.
Redmi K20 Pro vs ASUS 6Z
I’ve to admit that the ASUS 6Z (review) is one of the most innovative smartphones that have come our way in 2019, and yet, it carries an enticing price of Rs 31,999. In terms of core specs, both smartphones are almost at par, and ASUS’ offering gets an edge in terms of selfies as well. However, its flipping camera mechanism isn’t really smooth, and while it has a better battery (rated at 5,000mAh), the K20 Pro simply offers a superb value proposition.
Redmi K20 Pro vs Honor 20
Now that the clouds around the Huawei ban have started to clear, the Honor 20 (review) – priced at Rs 32,999 – is a device that’s surely worth considering for anyone that’s out in the market for an affordable flagship. However, not only does the K20 Pro ship with a modern design, but it’s priced more affordably too.
Redmi K20 Pro vs Redmi K20
This one’s an interesting comparison, since there’s not much that differentiates the Redmi K20 from its pricier sibling. Yet, the difference between the pricing of the two devices is Rs 6,000. While the K20 Pro is clearly a better buy, if you don’t necessarily need the Snapdragon 855’s prowess for gaming or other such abilities, then the Snapdragon 730 fuelling the K20 would serve you just as well.
Simply put, the K20 Pro is the new benchmark for the affordable flagship category. In fact, it’d surely be a device that buyers in the Rs 15k-25k price bracket would aspire to buy and compare with their choices, while those looking for in the higher-end price point would have to try hard to justify the price difference.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Stunning design
- All-screen fascia
- Loaded internals
- Great cameras
- Powerful battery
- Selfies look artificial
- Low-light imaging performance could’ve been better
- Suffers from heating issues
Photos by Raj Rout