Redmi K50i review: Redefining value, yet again

Hands down the biggest reason to buy the Redmi K50i is the Dimensity 8100.

Redmi K50i review: Redefining value, yet again
Redmi K50i price in India starts at Rs 25,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Redmi K50i is not as crazy-looking as the Redmi K20 Pro. Its specs, too, are not as crazy. That phone was just way ahead of its time and those were simpler times. Hardware wasn’t so commoditised. Smartphones had some element of surprise and Xiaomi almost always managed to spring a few. That is not to say the Redmi K50i isn’t good. It is fantastic. But if you were hoping for some déjà vu, you should keep your expectations in check. Rest assured, the Redmi K50i has its own story to tell.

PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE

Hands down the biggest reason to buy the Redmi K50i is the Dimensity 8100. It’s a fairly new chip and so far, has been limited to devices that command a slight premium. Oppo’s Reno 8 Pro, for instance, costs almost Rs 46,000. The OnePlus 10R (review) starts at Rs 38,999. One can argue that both these brands have worked closely with MediaTek on a customised version of the chip but even the Realme GT Neo 3 that ships with the standard version –by those standards— will set you back by Rs 36,999 at least. The Redmi K50i costs only Rs 25,999.

Redmi K50i review
Redmi K50i is the cheapest phone with Dimensity 8100. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

That difference in pricing is pretty bonkers and naturally, it could raise a few concerns. Lack of optimisation and proper cooling, to name a few. The Redmi K50i breaks many stereotypes you’d normally associate with budget phones by not only giving you the best performance in its class but, also putting many pricier phones on notice. Xiaomi has taken the same chip and somehow managed to squeeze more out of it, than say the OnePlus 10R, something that’s evident in benchmarks. The phone scored an impressive 8,03,849 on AnTutu (though still falling short of Xiaomi’s claimed 8,22,274 figure). The 10R scored 7,85,404 in performance mode. The Poco F4 with Snapdragon 870 scored 7,07,198.

Xiaomi’s Liquid Cool Technology 2.0, also, seems up to the task as the phone was able to sustain its speedy performance without any perceivable throttling, no matter how we pushed it. It does get warm during an extended session of a graphically demanding game like Genshin Impact but not alarmingly so. There is support for high-refresh rate gaming in this phone. Speaking of which, the Redmi K50i is probably the only mid-range phone that we can think of that supports 90fps playback in Battlegrounds Mobile India.

The phone supports 67W fast charging. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Xiaomi is using up to 8GB of fast LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS3.1 storage (this is non-expandable), giving you enough legroom even as features like support for 12 5G bands, Bluetooth 5.3, and Wi-Fi 6 add good amount of future-proofing which is always a nice thing to have. Rounding off the package are dual speakers (these get nice and loud and can pull Dolby Atmos) and high-impedance headphone jack for pristine audio out. Haptics are nice and tight, too, for the asking price.  

Battery life is excellent. Casual users will easily be able to get over a day’s worth of usage out of the Redmi K50i’s sizeable 5,080mAh battery but, obviously, you can kill it quickly if you play too many games on it. Good thing is, you get 67W fast charging with this phone with the bundled charger taking about 55 minutes to top it up from 0-100% — not the fastest in this segment, but still very fast. PD fast charging option is available.

DESIGN & DISPLAY

The K20 series had a one-of-its-kind whacky industrial design and came in a choice of bold finishes. Xiaomi has gone the other way with the Redmi K50i. The design scheme is modern, but restrained. The choice of colours is muted. But what really sticks out more than anything is the lack of originality. The Redmi K50i would remind you of a dozen other Realme or Vivo phones. For what it’s worth, the phone is built well and looks just about fine. It is made entirely out of plastic. The phantom blue version we have for review has a gradient that shifts from a smooth blue to a shimmery yellow/orange when viewed from an angle. You can also get it in quick silver (also with a gradient finish) and matte stealth black colourways.

It is made entirely out of plastic. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

What we like best are the phone’s ergonomics. The phone is quite tall, rather than being wide, and has a flat frame with a subtle curve along the edges that enhances grip while at the same time ensuring it’s comfortable. It weighs quite a bit— about 200g— but weight distribution is on point so it feels solid and reassuring, not heavy. You get a side-mounted fingerprint reader for biometrics which is fast and reliable, and IP53 certification for dust and splash resistance.

Redmi K50i has a 6.6-inch 1080p LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate and up to 270Hz touch sampling. This is adaptive. Xiaomi says the panel can go all the way down to 30Hz, to improve all-round efficiency. There is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection.

The screen is 144Hz. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

It’s a great display, for an LCD, with rich colours and ample brightness, and inclusion of Dolby Vision playback is a big bonus if you’re into that sort of thing. But one wonders why Xiaomi didn’t choose to go OLED with this one. The Poco F4 (review) that sells roughly at around the same price offers a more premium screen and by extension, a more immersive multimedia experience.    

CAMERAS & SOFTWARE

The Redmi K50i has three cameras on the back— a 64MP main (f/1.89), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV), and another 2MP macro (f/2.4).

The main sensor, which is a Samsung GW1, takes pleasing photos with good amount of detail, rich, if a little boosted colours, and fairly wide dynamic range when lots of light is available. The ultrawide generally takes more true-to-life photos with the occasional softness here and there, though it’s not a deal-breaker. The macro doesn’t have any autofocus so getting a clear, blur-free closeup is a hit or miss even in well-lit conditions. Low light performance could be better but night mode does help bring out more in photos of static subject whether it be in overall detail or exposure.

There are three cameras on the back. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

You can record videos at up to 4K@30fps on the Redmi K50i. These come out nice and crisp mostly with natural colour tones and above average dynamic range. 

On the front, you get a 16MP camera. It takes good selfies and pleasing portraits in good light. Low light selfies could be better. Video recording tops out at 1080p@30fps.

Software is MIUI 13. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

At the heart of the Redmi K50i lies the MIUI 13 software. This is based on Android 12. The latest version allows you to manually uninstall or at least hide many core Xiaomi apps, so the experience can be— eventually— cleaner but the bigger takeaway is that the Redmi K50i— like the K20 and K20 Pro— doesn’t show any pesky ads or spammy notifications. The user interface is nice and fluid with plenty of customisations available for those who would fancy it. We did not encounter any weird bugs or lags during our testing. Xiaomi is promising two years of major OS and three years of security updates for this phone.

REDMI K50I | SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

Redmi K50i offers great value. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Redmi K50i, as you can probably tell by now, isn’t as whimsical or fancy –or even as daring, for that matter— as the K20 phones from 2019. Rather, it’s a more mature, more concerted attempt at rewriting the flagship phone rulebook in 2022. Regardless of the style and approach, the blueprint remains the same. Much like the Redmi K20 Pro (and K20), the Redmi K50i, also, redefines value making high-end specs like a flagship-grade chip and quick charging tech more accessible to the masses. It’s easily the best phone available at around Rs 25,000 at the time of writing. Here are the official prices:

  • 6GB/128GB: Rs 25,999
  • 8GB/256GB: Rs 28,999

The real question that you’ll need to ask yourself, though, is can you spare another Rs 2,000 and get the Poco F4 instead. If yes, that is the phone you should be looking at. It may be tad less powerful but you’d get a more premium glass build, a more feature-rich display, and a slightly better camera experience.

Also Read | Poco F4 5G review: Back in the game

ProsCons
Fast performanceBoring design
Great battery life, quick chargingDisplay could be brighter
Fast displayLow light photography could be better
Competitive main camera
IP53 rating
Loud speakers, good haptics
Great value

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