Xiaomi threw a OnePlus punch right back at them when they decided to produce a flagship killer of their own, the K20 Pro. The phone made a buzz in not just India but many other countries outside of China with people speculating what specs the alleged ‘Flagship Killer 2.0’ would come with, and more importantly, at what price?
Well, the phone’s been out for a while now and you know the rest. The release sparked a series of phones to be launched by various companies and for a while, it seemed like the budget-flagship/pop-up camera madness would be everywhere in the market. Unlike the younger Redmi K20, which was seemingly lost in the crowd, the K20 Pro stood the test of time. Though it faced criticism for its pricing, the specs it offered for the price were unbeaten. In fact, even now, over a month later (a long time in the tech world), there seems to be no competitor to the Redmi K20 Pro at its price. We analyse the device and determine if the device still wears the best budget flagship crown.
The Redmi K20 is a stunner of a device when it comes to looks. While we have the more humble Carbon Black variant, the phone is also available in the Glacier Blue, Flame Red and a recently added Pearl White variant. The blue and red variants, with their gradient flaming patterns on the back, look unrealistically good and are certain head-turners. While the white and the black versions don’t attract as much attention, they still look pretty cool. The black one we have features an even carbon fibre finish on the back, but sadly you cannot feel its texture since the back of the phone is also all glass. That does help give the device a premium feel in the hand though, and that leaves us no reason to complain.
The phone has an all-screen display on the front with thin bezels on all four sides. The back too is all glass except the minimal triple-camera module that we really loved for two reasons. Firstly, this isn’t a simple long oval module that houses the three cameras and a flash, something you see on literally every dual/triple-camera smartphone. It is divided into three parts, the sole telephoto lens with a red accent on the top, a slightly bigger module holding the main and ultra-wide lens below it, followed by a dual-flash below which is actually inside the glass back of the phone so you can’t really feel it when you’re holding the phone.
The second reason is how minimal the camera protrusion is. The camera modules barely pop out the back and as a result, the phone practically doesn’t rock when you place it on a flat surface. Snap on a case, even a very thin one, and the protrusion is completely gone!
The left of the device is clean while the right houses the volume rockers and a red coloured power button. The bottom houses the speaker grille, a primary microphone, a USB-C port and the SIM slot. The top gets the beloved 3.5mm jack, a secondary noise-cancellation microphone and the pop-up camera.
The pop-up mechanism has lighting on it. A circle lights up on top of the unit, that is always exposed, and there is also lighting on either side of the front-facing camera inside. The lights go on when the camera pops out, and when it’s in, the circle on top lights up to indicate notifications or charging. A neat little feature cramped in, that also ends up adding aesthetic value. If you don’t like it, you can turn it all off and it’s a regular pop-up camera. We didn’t expect the detail and added functionality, but we surely loved it.
The build here is sturdy. Glass on both sides on the phone and metal running around the frame makes it a solid device with no creaky parts or wobbly buttons. The phone both looks and feels premium from every angle and as far as looks go, there is simply no better-looking phone in the segment.
The phone has a 6.39-inch Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, which translates to a crisp 403ppi display. The brightness levels on the device go high enough to make outdoor visibility easy and also low enough to not hurt your eyes at night. A Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protects the screen and viewing and 2.5D curved glass ensures good viewing angles from all directions. There is no high refresh rate here though and that’s probably the only thing that could have possibly made this screen any better.
The bottom portion of the display panel houses the optical fingerprint sensor which is one of the fastest fingerprint sensors out there and definitely the fastest for the price. It is also very accurate and we didn’t face any rejections unless there was water or dust involved.
The phone runs on MIUI 10 on top of Android 9.0 Pie. While we aren’t fans of the whole custom skin ideology, MIUI is one of the good and popular custom skins out there. The MIUI interface was once criticised for the weight it put on the phone’s resources, but MIUI has now come a long way from its less-optimised beginnings. MIUI started out as a custom ROM and the ecosystem is filled with all kinds of customisations, most of which actually strike as useful and not just flashy. The K20 Pro is also powered by top-notch specs and that means despite the skin being packed with features in every pocket, you don’t feel the weight while using the device.
A clean interface, handy tweaks, time-saving features and the best theme store of all custom UIs out there right now, make MIUI a win for the device rather than a setback. Some of the great features you get here are built-in apps for pretty much everything, a highly customisable stock launcher, minimal bloat (also uninstallable) and timely MIUI updates that will sometimes bring new features and security patches before fellow stock android phones get them.
The Redmi K20 Pro was pretty much designed to offer all features from a certain flagship phone at a more affordable price, thanks to which it also features a great triple camera setup that not only rivals said flagship, but also beats it in some areas.
The primary lens of the setup is the 48MP f/1.8 Sony IMX586. You’ve seen this sensor in pretty much every phone rocking a 48MP camera, and the fact that every brand is running behind the same lens, says something. It’s not just the megapixel count, the sensor will take good well-lit pictures, maintain true colours and produce great detail. The sensor also combines four pixels into one to take terrific 12MP low-light images.
The 13MP ultra-wide sensor on the K20 Pro maintains a 124.8-degree FOV and also has AI correction for the distortion on the sides. This results in great wide-angle shots, with the frames being one of the widest we’ve seen amongst ultra-wide sensors. The 8MP telephoto lens lets you zoom two-times into shots.
A picture taken with the telephoto lens
A picture taken with the main lens
A picture taken with the ultra-wide lens
The front camera of the phone is a 20MP sensor that takes great photos outdoors and decent pictures indoors. The pictures look great and capture lots of detail but colours often seem to lie on the warmer side. You can turn on HDR for selfies and also enable a palm gesture that takes a picture after three seconds when you show the camera your palm. Frequent droppers of the phone need not worry about the pop-up mechanism since it automatically retracts the pop-up camera inside the moment the phone detects it is in free fall.
A selfie taken with and without Portrait Mode
Video recording on the phone is excellent. The K20 Pro is one of the few triple-camera devices that can record video from any of the three lenses on the back. You can record videos up to 4K at 60fps on the rear cam and Full HD at 30fps on the front. There is even live focus tracking available that lets you lock focus on a subject even when the camera or the subject moves. That along with the stabilisation helps you capture great footage in pretty much any scenario.
Various video recording resolutions available on the Redmi K20 Pro
The Redmi K20 Pro, irrespective of its price, is a flagship. Unsurprisingly, it delivers flagship-level performance in pretty much everything you do. The Phone is powered by the Snapdragon 855, which was the best processor out there when the phone launched. Though we have the Snapdragon 855+ now, the 855 is no slouch. The newer 855+ is actually a tweaked and over-clocked and optimised version of the 855 itself. The variant we have has 8GB RAM. Many apps can be run together and the phone will still fly through them effortlessly. Transitions and scrolling rarely have a small stutter and the overall experience makes you feel you’re holding a much more expensive device in your hands.
There is also a 6GB RAM variant out there from which we expect almost similar performance except for the number of apps that can run simultaneously. Although in terms of real-world usage, both variants will be more than enough for the average user’s multi-tasking. The higher 8GB RAM variant is just more future proof. The phone scores a 3,75,700 on Antutu, which is one of the highest flagship scores we have witnessed even today.
Keeping dedicated-gaming phones aside, The Redmi K20 Pro offers one of the best gaming performances out there. The octa-core Snapdragon 855, 8GB RAM and Adreno 640 GPU basically mean you can play any and every game out there on the highest possible settings.
While casual games like Subway surfers were no problem for the phone, mid-level games like Bombsquad, Mini Militia and Football strike were excellent too. The phone can also run very intensive titles like PUBG with ease. PUBG can be played on extreme frame-rate on all graphic settings up to HDR and the experience was still very smooth and responsive.
Even apart from the specs offering one of the best performances, the phone’s compact size and excellent battery life help even further improve the overall experience and we found ourselves gaming more often than we should on this device.
The Redmi K20 Pro has a 4000mAh battery that supports 27W fast charging. But here’s the catch—the brand doesn’t ship the 27W Quick-Charge 4+ charger with the device and you must buy that separately. The charger you do get bundled with the phone is a regular 18W charger. It is fast, but it's not '27W fast'.
Regardless, the 4000mAh battery, MIUI optimisations, and battery restricting features woven throughout MIUI 10 give the phone beastly battery life. A full charge on the K20 Pro easily lasts a day on heavy usage and you may get a day and a half to two days, on low or moderate usage. Keeping in mind that the phone runs a Snapdragon 800 series processor and has an FHD+ resolution, the time of usage you get out of one charge is commendable.
The Redmi K20 Pro is not just an affordable flagship, it put the whole budget-flagship wheel in motion and affordable mid-range handset producing brands have picked up the trend of blurring lines between the mid-range and flagship segments.
The Redmi K20 Pro is very hard to beat in terms of sheer value for money at the price of Rs 31,000, and that is the top variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. There is a 6GB+128GB variant selling for Rs 28,000. If that too is a little high for you there’s the whole non-pro K20 series that offer almost the same specs with a slightly less powerful processor and 18W charging for even lesser.
Even if you set the price element aside, the K20 Pro was one of the fastest phones when it launched, months ago, and no doubt it still is.