Xiaomi entered the Indian market with a huge splash in 2014, selling its Mi 3 with the then-flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor at an extremely low price. However, the company has concentrated more on its entry-level and mid-budget Redmi models for a while now. The new Redmi K20 Pro builds on the popular Redmi name but takes Xiaomi back into high-end territory. Priced starting at Rs. 27,999 with its top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, this phone undercuts even OnePlus, which has been the go-to brand for affordable flagship phones for quite some time now. The Redmi K20 Pro offers many of the features and capabilities of the OnePlus 7 and even the higher priced OnePlus 7 Pro.
Dubbed the ‘Flagship Killer 2.0', the new Redmi K20 Pro has generated huge amounts of interest in India thanks to multiple leaks and teasers before its official unveiling this week, not to mention its price. This is now the lowest-priced smartphone in India with a Snapdragon 855 processor, but it also has three rear cameras, an in-display fingerprint sensor, a big notchless screen with a pop-up selfie camera, and an intriguing design. Should OnePlus be worried? Read on to find out.
Redmi K20 Pro design
In the recent past we have seen that flagships have taken innovative approaches to design in order to achieve borderless, notchless displays. The Asus 6Z (Review), for instance, has a rotating camera module, while the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) sports a pop-up selfie camera. Naturally, Xiaomi didn't want to be left behind. As a result, the Redmi K20 Pro has a pop-up selfie camera.
This allows the big 6.39-inch AMOLED display to dominate the front of the smartphone, giving the Redmi K20 Pro a screen-to-body ratio of 91.9 percent. This is also the first Redmi smartphone with an AMOLED display. The FHD+ HDR panel(1080x2340 pixels) on the Redmi K20 Pro is tuned to the DCI-P3 colour gamut, has good viewing angles, and gets bright enough to be legible outdoors.
Since it is an AMOLED panel, the Redmi K20 Pro also offers an Always-On display feature that shows the time and icons of apps with notifications when the device is in standby. You can tweak the contrast as well as the colour temperature of the panel. This phone also sports an in-display fingerprint scanner.
The Redmi K20 Pro has a glass-sandwich design with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and back and a metal frame in the middle that gives this phone a premium look and feel. The rear glass is curved, which makes the device comfortable to hold in the hand. Xiaomi has positioned the power and volume buttons on the right, and we found the volume buttons to be a tad too high, needing us to stretch our thumb to reach them. The power button is highlighted in red, which looks good on our Glacier Blue review unit.
The Redmi K20 Pro is being offered in three colours: Glacier Blue, Flame Red, and Carbon Black.
The Redmi K20 Pro has a 20-megapixel pop-up selfie camera and a 3.5mm audio jack
The pop-up selfie camera module also has LEDs that light up when it rises. It glows blue on the Glacier Blue units and red on the other colour variants. Some might like the light effect, while others might find it tacky, but thankfully it can be turned off. The pop-up module also has a tiny window on the top which allows the phone to use these LEDs to alert you about incoming notifications.
The Redmi K20 Pro has a 3.5mm audio jack at the top along with a secondary microphone. At the bottom, it has a USB Type-C port, the primary microphone, a loudspeaker grille, and the SIM tray. The left side of the phone is blank. The phone does not have any IP rating but Xiaomi says it has a P2i nano-coating and rubber-lined ports. This could help it survive minor water splashes.
Xiaomi has opted for a gradient finish on the back of the Redmi K20 Pro. The finish is darker in the centre and transitions into a catchy blue colour at the sides on our review unit. The pattern has multiple arcs which are visible when light hits them at the right angle. This is a new kind of design finish and it does manage to hide fingerprint smudges to quite an extent. However, if you don't like gradient finishes, the Kevlar-patterned Carbon Black colour variant might appeal to you more.
There are three cameras on the rear of the Redmi K20 Pro, lined up down the centre. The first sensor is positioned separately, while the other two are placed in a raised pill-shaped module with a metal rim around it, which should help keep the lenses safe from scratches. A dual-tone LED flash sits below the cameras.
Redmi K20 Pro specifications and software
It is now well known that the Redmi K20 pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, afterall it was referred to as the “855 flagship” while it was being developed. The Snapdragon 855 is quite popular, and is the first choice for many manufacturers when designing a flagship device. It currently powers many top-of-the-line smartphones including the Asus 6Z (Review), OnePlus 7 (Review), OnePlus 7 Pro (Review), Nubia Red Magic 3 (Review), Blackshark 2, and Oppo Reno 10X Zoom (Review).
This popular SoC has eight CPU cores and is based on a 7nm manufacturing process. Xiaomi mentions that it has used eight layers of graphite sheets to help dissipate heat. The Redmi K20 Pro is available in two variants, one with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage priced at Rs. 27,999, and the other with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage priced at Rs. 30,999.
The Redmi K20 Pro uses UFS 2.1 storage which isn't as fast as the UFS 3.0 storage on the OnePlus 7 twins. It lacks a microSD card slot, but this shouldn't be a big issue considering that even the base variant has 128GB of storage.
The Redmi K20 Pro boasts of DC dimming just like the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro. This feature uses DC voltage to lower the brightness of the screen instead of the commonly used Pulse Width Modulation. This decreases flickering and can be easier on the eyes.
In terms of connectivity, the Redmi K20 pro phone has dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, dual GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, and dual 4G VoLTE.
The Redmi K20 Pro runs MIUI 10 on top of Android 9 Pie
Like every other Redmi smartphone, the K20 Pro runs MIUI 10 on top of Android 9 Pie. The Redmi K20 Pro supports themes which let you customise the look of the UI. It also gets a system-wide dark mode that takes advantage of the AMOLED display to save power and is easier on the eyes when using the phone at night.
This implementation of MIUI has an app drawer thanks to the use of Poco Launcher, which was first seen on the Poco F1 (Review) but is also available as a standalone app via the Play Store. The Redmi K20 Pro also has a few preinstalled apps including games like Ludo Master and Block Puzzle Guardian, as well as Facebook, Dailyhunt, Amazon, Google Duo, Paytm, and WPS Office. There are also several Xiaomi apps such as Mi Community, Mi Music, Mi Video, Mi Pay, Mi Store, and a Security app. These apps tend to push notifications, but we've observed that the frequency of these spammy notifications is slightly less compared to other Xiaomi phones.
The Redmi K20 Pro also features Game Boost 2.0, which claims to improve gaming performance by managing your Internet connection, reducing latency, and improving the touch response of the panel. This Game Boost mode is activated through the Security app, which is the last place anyone would look for it. Xiaomi should have implemented it in the Settings app or offered it as a separate standalone app. This mode lets users adjust the touch response and sensitivity of the panel to repeated taps for each game individually. It also claims to enhance visuals by making darker areas brighter in games.
Gesture navigation is available as well, and you can ditch the traditional three-button Android navigation scheme in favour of swipe gestures. Xiaomi also gives you six sound effects to choose from for when the camera module is being raised. Digital Wellbeing, a popular feature of Android that helps you keep tabs on your smartphone usage, was missing from the Redmi K20 Pro at the time of this review.
Redmi K20 Pro performance and battery life
The Redmi K20 Pro is a fast smartphone and at no point did we notice any lag or stuttering when using it. It is quick to load apps, and with 8GB of RAM, our review unit could multitask with quite a few apps running in the background.
The Redmi K20 Pro has an in-display fingerprint scanner as well as the pop-up selfie camera for face recognition. We found the in-display fingerprint scanner to be quick to unlock the smartphone, but it isn't as quick as the one on the OnePlus 7. The selfie camera module pops up to scan your face when needed and retracts itself after a successful scan. This makes face recognition a little slower than using the in-display fingerprint scanner. The Redmi K20 Pro also has drop protection, so the module can be retracted quickly when the phone's gyroscope and accelerometer detect a fall.
We watched several HDR videos on YouTube that could take advantage of the HDR display. It is bright and has good viewing angles. The single bottom-firing speaker is loud but we found it to be tinny at higher volumes. We wished that this phone had stereo speakers like the OnePlus 7.
The Redmi K20 Pro is a dual SIM device but does not offer expandable storage
We ran a couple of benchmarks to see where the Redmi K20 Pro stands in comparison to other devices powered by similar hardware. In AnTuTu, the phone managed to score 368,332 points which places it between the Asus 6Z, which scored 355,965, and the OnePlus 7, which managed 375,219 when we tested it. In Geekbench 4's single-core and multi-core tests, the Redmi K20 Pro scored 3,421 and 10,775 respectively.
As for graphics benchmarks, the Redmi K20 Pro managed to hit 60fps in GFXBench T-Rex and 57fps in the Manhattan 3.1 scene. This phone also scored 5,620 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme OpenGL. We found these scores to be on par with those of the OnePlus 7.
The Redmi K20 Pro packs in a 4,000mAh battery and supports up to 27W fast charging. However, it only ships with an 18W charger in the box. Xiaomi also announced a 27W SonicCharge adapter at the Redmi K20 series launch event, and it is priced at Rs. 999. This should be on your list if you want to speed up the charging process and don't already have a high-powered charger.
We played PUBG Mobile on the Redmi K20 Pro and found that the game defaulted to the High preset with graphics set to HD and the frame rate set to High. We bumped these the quality up to HDR and the frame rate to Ultra. Even with these higher settings, the game ran smoothly. We played a full match at these settings, and after around 30 minutes, the battery level had dropped by 13 percent. The phone was only slightly warm to the touch.
In our HD video loop test, the smartphone managed to clock 19 hours and 26 minutes of continuous runtime. With our day-to-day usage, which consisted of using an active WhatsApp account, using Google Maps for navigation, running benchmarks, and taking camera samples for a full day, the phone still had 50 percent left in the battery. If you are frugal with your usage, you should be able to stretch beyond a day and a half or even two days.
When the battery did run out, we were able to charge it up to 45 percent in 30 minutes and to 80 percent in an hour using the bundled 18W charger.
Xiaomi bundles an 18W charger along with the Redmi K20 Pro.
Redmi K20 Pro and cameras
The Redmi K20 Pro has a triple camera setup at the back. The primary camera uses a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with an f/1.75 aperture and 1.6 micron pixels. There's also a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a 124.8 degree field of view and an f/2.4 aperture. The third camera is an 8-megapixel unit with a 2x optical telephoto lens and f/2.4 aperture. The Redmi K20 Pro offers laser autofocus as well as PDAF. At the front, this phone has a 20-megapixel pop-up selfie camera which has sapphire glass to prevent scratches.
Xiaomi hasn't changed a lot in its camera app compared to what we've seen before, and it is easy to cycle between different camera modes. The Camera app has multiple modes including Short Video, Slow Motion, Portrait, Night, Panorama and Pro, other than the standard photo and video modes. There are quick toggles to switch between the three different camera sensors. The app is capable of detecting what the camera is pointed towards thanks to its AI capabilities.
The camera uses 4-in-1 pixel-binning to deliver 12-megapixel shots by default, but you do have the option to take photos at the full 48-megapixel resolution. In Portrait mode, the K20 Pro uses the telephoto lens which means you have stand a bit far back from your subject. There is a quick toggle called Full Body Mode which you can tap if you want to take a full-body portrait of your subject. This makes the phone use the primary sensor instead.
Photos taken with the Redmi K20 Pro in daylight had good amounts of detail, and even text on objects at a distance was legible. Xiaomi has implemented distortion correction for the ultra-wide camera. Barrel distortion is corrected by cropping the side of the frame, but photos come out appearing stretched at the edges. Photos taken using the telephoto camera were bright, but not as much as those taken using the primary camera.
For close-ups, the Redmi K20 Pro was quick to focus and could usually detect what it was shooting. It also managed a very good depth effect between the subject and the background. Edge detection was also good, and the K20 Pro captured details well. The camera app does give you the option to set the level of blur before taking portrait shots.
Tap to see full-size Redmi K20 Pro camera samples
Photos taken in low light looked good as is, but fine grain was visible on zooming in. The telephoto camera also delivered good output at night but we found that shots taken with the wide-angle camera had more noticeable grain and weren't as sharp. Close-ups taken in low light were good, and images looked crisp. The phone could focus quickly thanks to laser autofocus. There's a dedicated Night mode as well, which takes multiple-exposure shots. Photos taken with Night mode were brighter and had slightly better details.
Selfies taken with the Redmi K20 Pro were good, and the phone managed to expose subjects as well as backgrounds properly. The front camera produced good amounts of detail and managed to get the get the colour tone right. We had to be a little conscious of how we angled the phone when shooting with the pop-up selfie camera in order to keep our faces framed correctly.
Video recording maxes out at 4K 60fps for all three rear cameras, and 1080p 30fps for the selfie shooter. However, you can't switch between sensors while recording videos. When recording video at 1080p 30fps, we noticed a mild shimmer effect which was acceptable. Videos shot at 4K had a pinkish tinge to them and the colours were saturated, which made them look artificial. Video shot with the selfie camera wasn't stabilised.
The K20 Pro is Xiaomi's flagship model in the Redmi range, and has a lot on offer at an affordable price. Yes, it lacks wireless charging and an IP rating, but that can be forgiven considering its lower price tag. The Redmi K20 Pro has the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC and the variants have generous amounts of RAM and storage for their prices. The pop-up selfie camera and an AMOLED display are firsts for a Redmi device.
The Redmi K20 Pro does offer a versatile set of cameras at the back, and they did manage to do a good job in most lighting conditions. While the 4,000mAh battery is not the biggest we've seen paired with the Snapdragon 855, the resultant battery backup of over a day-and-a-half is more than acceptable.
This phone lacks UFS 3.0 storage, which the OnePlus 7 sports, and we also would have liked stereo speakers. The main thing that the Redmi K20 Pro has going for it is its pricing. Starting at Rs. 27,999, the Redmi K20 Pro is the most affordable smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 855 SoC in India right now. Even the higher-priced variant is affordable compared to the Asus 6Z (Review) and the OnePlus 7 (Review) making it excellent good value for money. Considering the aggressive pricing, though, it could be hard getting your hands on one.