Redmi K20 Pro review: Is this the best affordable flagship?

Earlier this year, Xiaomi split Redmi into a separate brand. What had previously operated as a line of affordable smartphones alongside the more expensive Mi devices would now be positioned as a standalone brand with phones at every price point. The Redmi K20 Pro is the first flagship to come out of this change. The K20 Pro arrives at a time when competition is heating up in the mid-range segment, and it becomes increasingly important for Xiaomi to start looking upwards.

About this review: I wrote the Redmi K20 Pro review after spending over a week with the phone as my primary device. Xiaomi India supplied the review unit, which was running Android Pie with MIUI 10.3.3 stable on board. The software version at the time of testing was 9 PKQ1.181121.001.

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Redmi K20 Pro review: The big picture

While last year’s POCO F1 showed Xiaomi that there was a market for an affordable premium Xiaomi product, the device cut too many corners to hit that price point. The Redmi K20 Pro is Xiaomi going all-in to create a value segment flagship that can compete with the best. The challenge now is to manage consumer expectations with respect to pricing and the company’s efforts to climb the value chain.

The Redmi K20 Pro takes on the OnePlus 7 and the Asus Zenfone 6, both of which have established themselves as credible players in the affordable flagship segment. Between the pop-up camera, flip-out camera, and waterdrop notch, all three phones offer similar specs in different form factors. Can the Redmi K20 Pro edge out the competition with its lower price point and feature-rich take on software? Let’s find out in Android Authority’s Redmi K20 Pro review.

What’s in the box

  • Redmi K20 Pro
  • 18W charger
  • USB-C cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • User guide
  • Hard case

The Redmi K20 Pro’s in-box contents are rather run of the mill. The phone ships with a SIM ejector tool and manuals. Despite having support for 27W charging, the phone ships with an 18W charger with the faster charger available as an aftermarket accessory. There are no headphones included either, but you do get a basic hard case in the package. It would have been nice to see a pre-applied screen protector like on OnePlus devices. 

Design

  • 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8mm
  • 191g
  • Gorilla Glass 5
  • P2i Coating

With a switch to the aura-prism design language in 2019, the latest Redmi phones have been all about gradients. The Redmi K20 Pro, however, takes it up a notch with a flamboyant design that screams “look at me!” There are three different variations available. Black is the most subdued. We had the Flame Red version of the phone on hand and it is quite the looker. There’s also a nice gradient blue version available. 

Redmi K20 Pro in hand showing back

Gradients come in all colors of the rainbow, but the K20 Pro’s take is the most fiery yet. The central black band spills over into the red side panels with shape-shifting licks of flame visible in between. These fire-like gradient patterns are scarcely visible outdoors, but burst into view indoors as they change shape and color based on how the light strikes them.

The K20 Pro sports an aggressive, gradient-heavy design.

The end result is an aggressive design that just might sit well with the young, performance-seeking audience that is the Redmi K20 Pro’s principal demographic. More conservative types might prefer the Carbon Fiber black variant.

Redmi K20 Pro showing gradient on back

Earlier this month, Xiaomi confirmed to Android Authority that the Redmi K20 Pro is not a successor to the Pocophone. Operating separately, the two sub-brands pursue completely different approaches to smartphone design. Nowhere is it more obvious than in the build quality.

The glass and metal sandwich of the Redmi K20 Pro feels luxurious in hand. There is nothing cheap about the hardware, and at 191g, it is heavy enough to convey strength, but not weighty as to weigh down your wrist (I’m looking at you OnePlus 7 Pro!)

From the weight distribution to the way the glass curves around on the back, the Redmi K20 Pro has top-tier construction and feels every bit a flagship.

That feeling of quality applies to the buttons, which are perfectly machined for the hardware. Placed on the right, the power button and volume rocker are perfectly clicky and easy to reach. As a design flourish, the blue and black variants of the phone sport a red power button. The phone is encased in Gorilla Glass 5, both on the front and back, so there is adequate protection for your screen. Additionally, a P2i coating promises a small degree of resistance to water splashes. No, you cannot take your Redmi swimming.

Redmi K20 Pro with display and apps

With the recent trend in pop-up selfie cameras, smartphone designs are starting to become rather generic when viewed from the front. The face of the Redmi K20 Pro is minimalistic. The big display is flanked by slim side bezels and a slightly larger chin. It looks fine. Meanwhile, the bottom edge houses the USB-C port, speaker grille, and dual-SIM card slot. The top edge has the headphone jack and pop-up selfie camera.

Placed along the top edge, the notification LED is hard to see and offers limited utility.

The Redmi K20 Pro is the first Redmi device to sport a pop-up selfie camera. The implementation takes a playful approach with a bit of utility thrown in for good measure. The pop-up camera module has an LED built around the frame that lights up every time the elevation is activated. This same LED doubles up as a notification light too.

Redmi K20 pro notification LED

Unfortunately, the location of the notification light makes little sense. Lying on a table, it is impossible to view the notification LED. Thankfully, the K20 Pro has an always-on display that makes it is easy to spot notifications. Additionally, I found the in-display fingerprint sensor to be remarkably fast and reliable.

Redmi K20 Pro pop up selfie camera and light

The pop-up module has been tested for 300,000 elevation cycles, which should make it quite robust. Like every other smartphone with a pop-up, the K20 Pro’s mechanism will auto-shut if you drop the phone.

Of course, the Redmi K20 Pro supports face-unlock as well, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. To start, you have to swipe up from the lock screen the activate the pop-up camera. The pop-up mechanism isn’t the fastest either and this adds to the time taken to unlock. Finally, the pop-up camera plays a jingle every time you open it and this can become irritating rather quickly. Fortunately, you can mute this sound from the settings.

Display

  • 6.39-in AMOLED panel
  • 2,340 x 1,080
  • 403 PPI
  • 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • HDR capable
  • Gorilla Glass 5

The Redmi K20 Pro and the Redmi K20 are the first Redmi devices to sport an AMOLED panel. This display scores very well in our independent testing and comes across as a rather good-looking panel to the naked eye. The size strikes a good balance between providing an expansive canvas for content while still being manageable to hold.

Redmi K20 Pro with display on

Brightness is plenty good, with the Redmi K20 Pro hitting 430 nits in our tests. This is more than enough for outdoor visibility on a sunny day. Between the resolution and screen size, the display is perfectly sharp as well.

In its default configuration, the panel on the Redmi K20 Pro is ever so slightly over saturated, but is contrast-rich and consumer friendly. Switching to the standard display profile presents a more accurate picture. While the OnePlus 7 has a more accurate screen, Xiaomi has done a great job here and the Redmi K20 Pro should delight even picky users. The panel is capable of HDR playback, and the added Widevine L1 support makes this a fantastic device for media consumption.

There are loads of options to tune the display to your preference.

As usual for Xiaomi devices, the Redmi K20 Pro comes with robust customization options for the display. The default configuration adjusts contrast on the fly and does a good job of it. An increased contrast mode is provided, but the highly saturated look wasn’t very visually appealing. It is possible to switch between warmer and cooler picture profiles as well.

Performance

  • Snapdragon 855
  • Adreno 640
  • 6GB or 8GB RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB storage

A key highlight of the Redmi K20 Pro is the Snapdragon 855 processor. Combined with 6GB or 8GB of RAM, this is the fastest Redmi phone to-date. I found performance to be right in line with the OnePlus 7, with nary a lag or slowdown. The Redmi K20 Pro brings a highly optimized experience and ensures that MIUI flies on the hardware. Xiaomi’s RAM management has also gotten a lot better and, generally speaking, it is hard to find gaps in performance.

Understandably, the Redmi K20 Pro excels at gaming and packs enough grunt to max out current games. PUBG runs at the highest settings without breaking a sweat. Redmi introduced a dedicated Game Turbo feature to further streamline performance and mute notifications while in-game.

Redmi K20 Pro antutu scores
Redmi K20 Pro 3D Mark score

Synthetic benchmarks back up our experience and the phone performs exceptionally well. In the CPU-focussed AnTuTu benchmark, the Redmi K20 Pro managed to hit 372,205 points. In the GPU-centric 3DMark benchmark, the phone managed 5,417 points. 

Battery

  • 4,000mAh
  • 27W charging support
  • 18W charger included

Like most Redmi phones, the K20 Pro packs a 4,000mAh battery. In our standard browsing test, the phone managed over 13 hours of web browsing. This was ahead of the OnePlus 7, which has a smaller battery. Xiaomi phones generally have excellent battery management and the K20 Pro is no exception. I could handily get between 6.5 to 7 hours of screen-on time before having to charge the phone.

Redmi K20 Pro camera modules

A differentiating point for OnePlus and Realme phones is their support for the very fast Warp and VOOC charging standards. This time around, the K20 Pro supports 27W fast charging, but there’s a catch: The fast charging adapter is not included in the box. You’ll have to dish out an extra 999 rupees (~$15) for it. With the included 18W charger, you can expect to top off the phone in about 87 minutes.

Software

  • Android Pie
  • MIUI 10.5.5
  • No Ads

The Redmi K20 Pro sits squarely in the value flagship segment, and, as such, needs to offer a software experience that matches up to the high-end hardware. While the Redmi K20 Pro continues to use MIUI 10.5.5, the experience here is markedly difference from what you would get on something like a Redmi Note 7 Pro.

Redmi K20 Pro homescreen
Redmi K20 Pro app drawer in poco launcher
Redmi K20 Pro app drawer

To start, there are no ads. Yeah, you heard that right. No more need to dodge a shady ad the moment you install an app from the Play Store. The same can’t be said about notification spam. Xiaomi’s system apps continue to spam notifications with a continuous barrage of messages that has no place on a premium smartphone. It is fairly easy to disable these on a per-app basis, though I can’t help but wish that Xiaomi provided a single interface to reduce system notifications.

While Xiaomi promises that the Redmi K20 Pro will not have any ads in the interface, spam from system apps is still a concern.

The user experience, however, is generally pretty good. The Redmi K20 ships with the POCO launcher by default, which comes with add-ons such as an app-drawer, something that is still missing in MIUI. Oh, and the launcher ships with a full blown system-wide dark mode that shines on the phone’s AMOLED display.

Since the phone focuses on performance, Xiaomi made special additions to the gaming mode. In PUBG, for example, you can toggle on a special screen calibration that changes contrast levels to improve in-game night time visibility.

Camera

  • Rear:
    • Standard: 48MP, f/1.75, 0.8μm, Sony IMX586
    • Wide-angle: 13MP, f/2.4, 1.12μm, 124.8-degree FoV
    • Telephoto: 8MP, f/2.4, 1.12μm, 2x optical zoom
  • Front:
    • Selfie: 20MP pop-up camera
  • 4K 60fps video
  • 960fps slow motion

The Redmi K20 Pro is the first Redmi series device to offer multiple focal lengths. Between the ultra-wide angle, standard, and telephoto lenses, the set up is versatile and competitive. We’ve already seen the primary IMX586 sensor in action on the Redmi Note 7 Pro, and the tuning hasn’t changed drastically since. Xiaomi expects you to use the pixel-binned 12MP images, but a handy toggle to switch over to full-resolution 48MP shots is provided as well.

Redmi K20 pro outdoors standard mode

Daylight shots from the Redmi K20 Pro are rather good. The dynamic range is on point, but you will have to deal with slight saturation boost. The camera app lets you switch over to an AI mode that uses on-board machine learning algorithms to tweak images.

Redmi K20 Pro - AI Mode Redmi K20 Pro – Wide Angle Mode Redmi K20 Pro – AI Mode

Redmi K20 Pro - Wide Angle Mode

I wasn’t too fond of the images shot using AI mode. The camera has a tendency to over-sharpen images and boost saturation a bit too much. The Redmi K20 Pro also has a tendency to overexpose images to achieve a brighter look. That said, the results are perfectly good for social media use. Personally, I would stick to the standard mode.

The Redmi K20 Pro’s wide-angle camera offers a whopping 124.8-degree field-of-view, which is among the widest available right now. This lets you capture wide, sweeping landscapes. Distortion is fairly well controlled, but you end up losing low-level details. Foliage, for example, looks like green mush.

Redmi K20 pro outdoors 2x zoom with AI mode

The telephoto lens on the Redmi K20 Pro is the weakest of the three. You will need ideal light to get a decent image, and even then there’s just not much detail in shots. Anything less than moderate to bright light leads to a blurry and noisy image that is, more often than not, unusable.

Redmi K20 Pro - AI Mode Redmi K20 Pro – Standard Redmi K20 Pro – AI Mode

Redmi K20 Pro - Standard

There is a noticeable difference between the standard and AI-enabled modes. The latter gives a nudge to the sharpening levels, which makes images just a bit more crispy. Lifting shadows and with a slight saturation boost, the images shot in this mode tend to be more visually appealing, but not perfectly natural.

Redmi K20 Pro - Night Mode Redmi K20 Pro – Standard Mode Redmi K20 Pro – Night Mode

Redmi K20 Pro - Standard Mode

After debuting on the Redmi Note 7 Pro, the Redmi K20 also gets the new night mode feature. Using a combination of exposures and multiple captures, the camera is able to stack images and produce a fairly bright, noise-free image. While I’m not a fan of the over-sharpening, it is remarkable to see the kind of results the K20 Pro produces. It might not be as good as a Pixel, but the K20 Pro’s camera set up is among the best you can get under 30,000 rupees (~$430).

Main camera modes include portrait, night mode, panorama, Pro, and 48MP.

Redmi K20 Pro - Portrait Mode Redmi K20 Pro – Standard Redmi K20 Pro – Portrait Mode

Redmi K20 Pro - Standard

As a person who is not too big on taking selfies, I love the fact that I can hide away the front camera module. For those who do care, though, the 20MP front camera on the Redmi K20 Pro does a reasonable job. I found images to be slightly overexposed. The camera switches on a beauty filter by default, but it is a trivial task to disable. Portrait mode in selfie mode was rather bad and the depth-of-field fall off was very unnatural looking. 

The phone does a decent job at video capture as well. It doesn’t produce the most detailed footage, but the electronic image stabilisation works even at 4K 60fps which is definitely a handy feature. Additionally, the phone can use the ultra-wide camera for capturing 4K, 60fps videos — something that almost no other phone does in this or higher price brackets.

Audio

The Redmi K20 Pro includes a headphone jack but skimps out on the Poco F1’s stereo speakers. Audio output from the headphone jack is neutral sounding. Headphones aren’t included in the box, but music sounded great via my 1More Triple Driver earphones.

The single speaker along the bottom edge gets loud, but it is no match for the stereo speakers on the OnePlus 7. It’ll do the job in a pinch, but I’d recommend a good Bluetooth speaker if you want to play your media loud. 

Specifications

  Redmi K20 Pro
Display 6.39-inch AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080
403 PPI
HDR
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Octa-core
7nm
GPU Adreno 640
RAM 6GB/8GB
Storage 64GB/128GB/256GB
Cameras Rear:

Main: 48MP, f/1.75, 0.8μm, Sony IMX586
Ultra-wide: 13MP, f/2.4, 1.12μm, 124.8-degree FoV
Telephoto: 8MP, f/2.4, 1.12μm, 2x optical zoom

Front:

20MP, f/2.2, 0.8μm

Audio 3.5mm port
AAC/LDAC/aptX/aptX-HD/aptX-adaptive
Battery 4,000mAh
Non-removable
27 watt fast charging
18 watt charger included
IP rating N/A
Sensors Accelerometer
Ambient Light
Camera laser focus
E-compass
Gyroscope
In-display fingerprint
Proximity
Network LTE FDD: B1/B3/B5/B7/B8
LTE TDD: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41
LTE B41 (2535 – 2655 120MHz)
WCDMA: B1/B2/B5/B8
TD-SCDMA: B34/B39
CDMA EVDO: BC0
GSM: B2/B3/B5/B8
CDMA 1X: BC0
Connectivity USB-C
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5Ghz
Bluetooth 5.0
SIM Dual Nano-SIM
Software MIUI 10
Android Pie
Dimensions and weight 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8mm
191 grams
Colors Red, Blue, Carbon Fiber Black

Value for the money

  • Redmi K20 Pro: 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM — 27,999 rupees (~$406)
  • Redmi K20 Pro: 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM — 30,999 rupees (~$450)

It is an incredible time for customers. Never before has there been so many options with bleeding-edge hardware at less than half the cost of a premium flagship phone. Sure, some sacrifices have been made to hit that price point, but the Redmi K20 Pro represents the pinnacle of engineering at Xiaomi.

The K20 Pro arrives when Xiaomi needs to start making inroads into the premium segment and it cannot afford to repeat the mistakes it made with previous Mi phones. Starting at 27,999 rupees (~$400), the Redmi K20 Pro is the most hardware you can get for the price and it is right in line with the Xiaomi ethos of offering utmost value for money.

The Redmi K20 Pro offers incredible bang for the buck and will be the affordable flagship to beat for the foreseeable future.

The obvious competitors for the Redmi K20 Pro include the OnePlus 7 and the Asus Zenfone 6. Both are excellent devices in their own right, but for a price-conscious customer, a top-tier Redmi K20 Pro is still priced lower than either competitor. This matters a lot to a user who is looking for the best value. It also helps that the K20 Pro offers a superior display, solid performance, and perhaps a better camera than the Asus Zenfone 6.

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 7 wins for its cleaner software build, though the overall hardware package pales in comparison to the Redmi K20 Pro. The OnePlus 7 doesn’t have the versatile camera set up of the Redmi, lacks a pop-up selfie camera, and offers half the storage at similar price points.

Redmi K20 Pro review: The verdict

Redmi K20 Pro back in hand

The Redmi K20 Pro is Xiaomi flexing its muscles to show off its capabilities. The company that kickstarted the value segment revolution is now set to change the affordable flagship segment. The challenge now is to change the market perception that Xiaomi is only an affordable smartphone segment player.

The Redmi K20 Pro is a premium smartphone at a fantastic price point. If you are in the market for an affordable flagship, the Redmi K20 Pro should rank very high in your list of devices to consider.

This concludes Android Authority’s Redmi K20 Pro review. What do you think, are you interested in this phone? 

Source of the article – Android Authority
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