Redmi K20 Pro review: oh OnePlus and ASUS, I am worried for you

Redmi K20 pro 1

Rating: 8.6/10

Pros:

  • Refined and polished design
  • Great in-hand feel
  • Excellent sound quality through the headphone jack
  • Good daylight pictures
  • So inexpensive, Xiaomi might as well distribute them for free
  • Good AMOLED panel

Cons:

  • Low light performance is below average
  • Selfie camera algorithm needs a major software update
  • Speaker could’ve been better
  • Intrusive first-party apps

Introduction:

The Redmi K20 Pro is a phone that has created nothing short of mass hysteria in India. Ever since its launch in China, every video of ours – including ones that were not about phones – people wanted us to talk about the K20 Pro. The hype is real. 

And why shouldn’t it be? This flagship phone has all the high-end specs you come to expect from a flagship device but the price is anything but flagship. So much so, that it actually makes me wonder if Xiaomi is trying to go bankrupt by selling the phone at this price?

Let’s get down to our in-depth review of the Redmi K20 Pro. 

Redmi K20 pro 4

Redmi K20 Pro design: a marked upgrade over the Poco F1

The K20 Pro is a spiritual upgrade to the Poco F1. However, don’t ask me about the F2 because Xiaomi India is non-committal about its existence. Anyway, the K20 Pro is a marked improvement in terms of design from the Poco F1. You now get a glass sandwich design with a metal railing protecting the integrity of the phone. The front and the back are both protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Way better than the plastic build of the Poco F1 for sure. Additionally, the K20 Pro comes with p2i nano-coating and rubber linings for SIM card tray to protect it from water splashes. There is no IP certification but the phone is definitely water-resistant. 

Redmi K20 pro 3

The design language of the K20 Pro continues to follow the aura-design language started by the Redmi Note 7 series. However, Xiaomi has gone flamboyant with the K20 Pro’s Flame Red and Glacier Blue variants. On these variants, you get a fire pattern lining the edges of the rear glass panel. The pattern looks more intense when the light source hits it directly. This design is a little too flashy for me.

If I were to buy the K20 Pro, I’d pick the Carbon Fibre Black variant. I like the fact that the power button is in red and so is the inner ring on the telephoto camera on top. By the way, the power button is also red in the Blue variant. The volume rocker sits above the power button and both these buttons feel soft to press. I would’ve liked a definitive click sound to make it feel more tactile. 

One thing I like about the design is the camera bump doesn’t protrude as much as the OnePlus 7. In the hand, the K20 Pro feels far more comfortable than the OnePlus 7 or even the 7 Pro. Xiaomi has packed the phone densely and you don’t feel any flex anywhere. Unlike the Poco F1, the K20 Pro has a more premium design. So much so that it is better looking than the ASUS 6Z and has better ergonomics than the OnePlus 7 in my opinion. 

Redmi K20 pro 7

Coming to the most important part of the design, the pop-out selfie camera module. Owing to which, you now get a full-screen display which I shall discuss in the next section. But the selfie module is slow to actually pop out of the body compared to phones like the Vivo V15 Pro or the OnePlus 7 Pro. That said, this pop-out module differentiates itself from the rest by adding a lining of LED lights on the sides. It is definitely unique and the fact that it doubles up as a notification LED on the top could be useful for many. This module is rated to work for 3,00,000 open and shut cycles. That is 100 selfies every day for 8 years. 

By the way, I wouldn’t ideally use the pop-out module for face unlock. Not just because it is slow but also because it doesn’t directly unlock into the home screen. You have to swipe up from the lock screen to actually unlock the phone. Oh, and lest I forget, the pop-out module has a pre-recorded sound that plays every time it peeks out of its hiding place. It sounds damn funny. 

Along with the pop-out camera on the top, you also get a headphone jack. Yay! But, no infrared port which has been a stable on most Xiaomi phones and it could be a letdown for many folks. At the bottom, you have the single downward-firing speaker, a USB Type-C port and the tray for two Nano-SIM cards. Sorry, no memory card expansion available here. No donut for you.

Redmi K20 pro 16 

Redmi K20 Pro display: very well color-tuned

Coming to the display, you get a 6.39-inch Super AMOLED panel on the front with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. This display outputs at a resolution of 1080×2340 pixels. I am so glad that Xiaomi hasn’t cheaped out on the display panel because it is very well color calibrated and can get pretty bright outdoors as well. You get upwards of 600nits of brightness from the panel, which is pretty good for a phone in this price range. And of course, you get deep blacks. 

By default, the display settings are tuned for automatic contrast. You can use vivid contrast for brighter, poppier colors. Or, you can use the standard setting for a more accurate color palette. In fact, you can individually choose the color temperature of the display according to your liking. In standard mode, the display is almost neutral and it is very well-calibrated. Remember that light bleed issue with the Poco F1’s LCD display? Yeah, that doesn’t exist here. 

Redmi K20 pro 15

As for the linear vibration motor, it is average at best. By default, the vibration intensity is set to medium and I had to switch to low in an instant. 

Moving on, I did mention not to use the face unlock because of the slow pop-up camera. Well, the display has an integrated in-display fingerprint scanner and it works really well. It is almost as fast as the fastest fingerprint solutions out there. So, no worries there. Plus, there is alway-on display (AOD) with a few presets that look great. Heck, even OnePlus doesn’t offer an always-on display. 

Redmi K20 pro 2

Redmi K20 Pro multimedia: hi-res certified audio from the headphone port!

The display has support for HDR playback and Widevine L1 certification as well. Watching HDR videos is a great experience, which is further enhanced by the fact that there is no notch to obstruct the vision. While the display is great for multimedia, the mono speaker is a bit of a letdown. It does get loud enough but doesn’t sound very full. A stereo speaker setup would’ve elevated the experience in my opinion. It is a baffling omission considering Poco F1 has stereo speakers. 

There’s a silver lining in the form of hi-res certified audio from the 3.5mm audio port. Yes, you can playback 24-bit/192khz audio files without any hiccup. This is more of an SD855 thing than anything else. But whatever it is, audio quality is excellent. My Tin Audio T3 sounds magnificent. In fact, if you listen to a lot of music on your phone, the K20 Pro is a better option than the OnePlus siblings. 

Redmi K20 pro 13

The sound quality of the headphone port is on par with the ASUS 6Z and that is saying a lot. Even the wireless audio performance is pretty damn good. 

Redmi K20 Pro software: Poco Launcher makes things exciting but there are issues

You know in Gupt when the real killer is revealed *spoiler alert* as Kajol. The shock on everyone’s faces in the theatre must’ve been delightful for the makers of the movie. Why am I talking about Gupt? Well, here’s the twist in this tale and I so wish I could see your faces when I tell you – the K20 Pro in India uses Poco Launcher over MIUI 10. 

This is an excellent move but one that causes even more concerns about the existence of the Poco F2. 

Redmi K20 pro 11

Anyway, the software itself is great and now even better with the in-built dark mode. I really like the dedicated app drawer with the Search bar at the bottom. And of course, the auto-categorization is great too. Moreover, the Theme Store has something for everyone and you can change icon packs of your choice as well. The gestures are great too. Design consistency-wise, the UI has been very well optimized for a full-screen experience. Thankfully, I didn’t find ads in system apps or anything so that’s good. But there is a possibility that ads invade the phone after more people buy it, so do let us know in the comments section if that happens. 

The other problem is the default browser. Man, I haven’t used a more intrusive app yet in my life. If you want to open an external link directly into an app, you will have to go through hoops for it. Hit the three dots next to the browser (which by the way is set as the default option). Then, click on the app link and then open it within the app. Most people won’t even know this and open it in the default browser itself. And, the default browser sends you notifications as well. In fact, many first-party apps do. Most people won’t know to switch it off. This is super duper annoying in my opinion and breaks away from a clean user experience. 

Redmi K20 pro 10

Redmi K20 Pro camera: great versatility but low light pictures are not up to snuff

The Redmi K20 Pro has three cameras on the rear: a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor, a 13MP wide-angle camera, and an 8MP 2x optical zoom telephoto camera. And, there’s no OIS in any of these cameras. We have a camera comparison of the K20 Pro against the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro which can be considered the full camera review. However, let me break down my findings for you:

Redmi K20 pro 5

  1. The 48MP camera is extremely rich with details when you capture images in daylight when shot in 12MP pixel-binned resolution. The sharpness is present even in the native 48MP shot, so that’s great. 

     

  2. But, the one thing that makes flagship cameras great is the dynamic range performance and that’s a big issue with the K20 Pro. You will see a lot of highlight clipping and over-exposure in shots in areas with bright light. 
  3. The Portrait mode has issues as well. Apart from slightly wonky edge detection, the over-exposure issue raises its ugly head once again. You can also change the software-induced aperture levels while shooting or post-shooting. Moreover, there are a few extra portrait lighting effects that could excite you.

     

  4. Incidentally, the same dynamic range problem is present in the selfie camera. The selfies are definitely very sharp and detailed but I am not a fan of the super bright images. It just looks really artificial and unnatural to me. 
  5. The K20 Pro can record 4K 60fps video with EIS even at max recording quality. The bitrate is low and therefore the details are lacking slightly but the footage quality is pretty good otherwise. The sound recording is pretty average though. Interestingly, the wide-angle camera can also shoot 4K 60fps footage, which the OnePlus siblings cannot at the moment. 

     

  6. Talking about the wide-angle camera, you get a very wide 125-degree field of view and a decent lens distortion correction post-capture. However, the images look bland and unattractive. The 2x optical zoom camera helps you get closer to the subject but the details are soft. Otherwise, the picture quality is fine. 
  7. Coming to low light images, the 48MP camera can take decent shots but it is definitely not flagship-grade. The Night Mode of the K20 Pro is easily bested by the Nightscape mode on the OnePlus phones. 



So, when you put all of this together, the K20 Pro definitely offers great versatility when shooting pictures. The image quality is great in daylight but the algorithm very badly needs dynamic range corrections. Which btw, can be achieved by the Google Camera mod. However, most phones support GCam these days and that doesn’t make the K20 Pro any special. If the K20 Pro takes better pictures using GCam, so can the ASUS 6Z or the OnePlus 7/7 Pro. The K20 Pro has all the ingredients for a great camera setup, it just needs some tadka (tempering) in the form of a retuned camera algorithm. 

Redmi K20 Pro performance: blazing fast, no complaints

The K20 Pro’s biggest crowd-puller is the fact that it comes with Snapdragon 855 inside and in two RAM/ROM variants: 6GB/128GB or 8GB/256GB. Our unit is the 8GB variant and it is super duper fast and responsive. Daily usage is extremely fast and you won’t have any complaints whatsoever. RAM management is also not very aggressive. 

I ran AnTuTu and after multiple attempts, the max I could achieve was 3,68,800-ish. But with the Game Turbo mode on, the score went up to 3,80,000+, which is what Xiaomi claims. I ran other benchmark tests too and what you see on your screen right now is a comparison of Geekbench and 3DMark Slighshot Extreme OpenGL and Vulkan scores against the OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7 Pro, OPPO Reno 10x Zoom and ASUS 6Z. 

Redmi K20 pro 9

By the way, to switch on Game Turbo 2.0, you have to actually head into the Security app. In fact, there are granular settings to change the touch sensitivity and even improve the quality of the image for each game individually. 

The phone is very well-suited for PUBG and other graphically-intensive games but there is one issue that has been reported extensively. Yes, I am talking about the multi-touch jitter. Essentially, due to some earthing problem for AMOLED displays, when you use more than 2-fingers on the touchscreen at once you will notice a jitter in the first two touchpoints. This could be an issue for pro-PUBG players who use the claw hand formation for expert gameplay or a third-party trigger. In this formation, you can use four fingers at once and therefore four touchpoints as well. 

However, this is a widespread issue with many AMOLED panels and not limited to the K20 Pro. Moreover, Xiaomi has acknowledged the issue and is sending out a software update to fix it. So, it’d be pointless to make a big deal out of it. In fact, the touch latency of the K20 Pro is pretty good compared to many other Android phones. Also, when you hold the phone in landscape mode to play the game, the panel gets earthing from your body and the problem doesn’t exist after that. 

Redmi K20 pro 18

Moving on, I’d be doing a disservice to the K20 Pro if I didn’t talk about the 8-layer graphite stereo cooling system inside the phone. And honest to god, it works. This is possibly one of the best cooling systems as the phone just became slightly warm after an hour of PUBG. And, I tried it with game boost using Game Turbo 2.0 on. So yeah, I was going for peak performance. 

Overall, performance-wise the K20 Pro is an excellent, excellent smartphone. 

Redmi K20 Pro call quality and network performance: above average

You get space for only a tiny slit for the earpiecee on the tiny bezel above the display. The sound from the earpiece during calls is average at best but I didn’t face any call drops, so that’s good. Xiaomi needs to improve the call quality on its phones in my opinion. 

When it comes to 4G network performance, I had no issues whatsoever with data connectivity and speeds on my Airtel and Jio networks. I could also run both the SIMs side by side. I connected to different 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks using the K20 Pro and they worked just fine, with great throughput as well. However, there was a problem with connecting to the 5GHz connection on and off. Although, this is a problem more due to the weak range of 5GHz networks more than anything else. That reminds me, I really need to get a Wi-Fi extender for home. 

Redmi K20 pro 4

Redmi K20 Pro battery performance: excellent for a flagship

The K20 Pro comes with a 4000mAh battery inside, which is a staple for all Xiaomi phones this year. And, battery management is excellent. I consistently got over 7 hours of screen on time, with my extensive usage, which is great. And, coming from a OnePlus 7 Pro, the improved battery life is definitely a major selling point for me. 

That’s not it, the in-built 18W fast charger can charge the phone from 0 to 100 in 1hr and 28mins. And the phone also supports 27W fast charging. You will have to buy the charger separately from Xiaomi India. 

Should you buy the Redmi K20 Pro?

Phew. That was a long, long review. Well, the K20 pro is priced at Rs 27,999 for the 6GB/128GB variant and Rs 30,999 for the 8GB/256GB version.

Redmi K20 pro 12

For this price, the K20 Pro is a steal. There are very few deal breakers for me in the K20 Pro, honestly. Xiaomi has really upped the ante here. Let’s compare it directly to a few of its peers. 

OnePlus 7

The first phone that everyone will compare the K20 Pro with has to be the OnePlus 7. The K20 Pro is cheaper, has better battery life, slightly better daylight pictures and more cameras, more ergonomic design, and hi-res certification. Moreover, the notch-free display is better as well. The OnePlus 7 has better low light cameras, better call quality, more brand value, and better software experience with Oxygen OS. Objectively, both phones are on par and picking either one won’t be a bad idea. But the K20 Pro has the price factor going for it for sure. 

 

OnePlus 7- Feature Image

ASUS 6Z

The 6Z is a whackier alternative to the K20 Pro with its swivel-out cameras. But I had a few problems with the 6Z such as the heating issue, the longevity of the flip-out module, and the abysmal call quality. Otherwise, from the near-stock software to the performance to the camera quality, the 6Z has a lot going for it. However, between these two phones, the K20 Pro feels like a better choice for me.

Also read: ASUS 6Z review: ASUS’ best phone yet, but is it enough to stop the OnePlus 7 juggernaut?

ASUS 6Z 2

OnePlus 7 Pro

Comparing the K20 Pro to the OnePlus 7 Pro might not be right considering the OnePlus phone is slightly more premium. But, if you are looking at spending more, the law of diminishing returns becomes more apparent. Does it make sense to spend that much more for a 90Hz refresh rate QHD+ AMOLED panel and better cameras? If you ask me specifically, it does to a certain extent but not so much that you will have to worry about the FOMO if you buy the K20 Pro. 

Also read: OnePlus 7 Pro review: the maker of “flagship killers” makes a killer flagship

OnePlus 7 Pro - Feature Image-2

To sum it up, the K20 Pro is not just a crazy good value but it is actually an excellent premium flagship alternative that misses out on very few features. Mark my words, the K20 Pro is bound to be a rzaging success. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments section below. 

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Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?