Review Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 in Early 2021: Is It Still Worth It?

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is a smartphone launched in 16 October 2019. As its name stated, it is successor of Redmi Note 7 released eleven months before and predecessor of Redmi Note 9 launched eight months ago. As a family of Redmi Note series, Redmi Note 8 has expectation to give more than decent smartphone for mid to entry class. In this review, we will explore more about Redmi Note 8 and answer whether this phone is still good or not after a year after launching day. 

  1. Introduction

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is released one years ago as the next generation of Redmi Note 7. Launched in Indonesia with price starting from IDR 2.100.000 for 3/32 variant until IDR 2.900.000 for 6/128 variant, Redmi Note 8 got positive feedback and was considered as one of the best phones in its price at the time by Indonesian gadget reviewers. In early 2021, Redmi Note 8 already had successor, Redmi Note 9. Its price is also dropped to IDR 1.950.000 for 3/32, IDR 2.150.000 for 4/64, and IDR 2.900.000 for 6/128. It is strange that the highest variant’s price is still the same after one year. This makes 3/32 and 4/64 as a good deal if you haven’t had this phone and want to buy one because of the price and performance. For further information about the phone, let’s explore this phone starting from the outside part.

  1. Body dan Display

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 uses plastic frame back body with dimensions size around 158.3 x 75.3 x 8.4 mm. Although using plastic frame, the feel and the colour is not bad. It looks pretty well for the phone’s price range. For the colour option, Redmi Note 8 sold in Indonesia has three colour options. They are Neptune Blue, Moonlight White, and Space Black. Both back and front body is covered with Gorilla Glass 5 making this phone a little safer although it is still recommended to use additional screen cover because Gorilla Glass 5 is still fragile especially for small particle like sand.

For the display, Redmi Note 8 uses 6.3 inches IPS LCD with 1080p resolution. For the price range, 1080p is wonderful to have especially for those who like to watch movies or stream YouTube and Netflix. Moreover, Redmi Note 8 already has L1 certification for Netflix so watching 1080p Netflix video with Redmi Note 8 is very possible. Uniquely, 1080p is still rare to find in Redmi Note 8 price in late 2020. Some phones using 1080p with similar price are Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 and Xiaomi Redmi 9. A dot drop display, Xiaomi’s way of speaking notch display, is used in this phone. 

At the front, we can find a single front camera, earpiece, and LED notification at top alongside with Redmi name with white colour at bottom. At the back, there is four-main camera and a fingerprint sensor at the middle. Unfortunately, the fingerprint is not enjoyable to use due to its placement which is parallel to the back body. Using any additional casing will solve this problem, however. Fortunately, Redmi Note 8 gives a free soft case. 

After exploring front and back side of the phone, let see the other sides of the phone. At the left side, there is a sim slot. In Redmi Note 8, triple slot is used. This means that the user can use two sim cards and a micro SD card without sacrificing anything. At the right side, we can find power and volume button. At the top side, an IR blaster which has been additional value for Xiaomi’s phone can still be found. For those who do not know, IR blaster can turn a phone into remote. In short, Redmi Note 8 can be used as TV’s remote or AC’s remote thanks to IR blaster. At the bottom side, there are 3.5 mm jack audio, USB type C slot, microphone, and speaker. 

  1. Camera

As stated in previous section, Redmi Note 8 has quad-main camera and single front camera. For the main camera, Redmi Note 8 uses quad camera setup with 48MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide camera, 2MP depth camera, and 2MP macro camera. For the front camera, a single 13MP wide lens camera is used. This phone can record up to 4K@30fps with primary main camera and up to 1080p@30fps with its front camera. 

Redmi Note 8’s software supports some function that is helpful for the user. There is night mode which gives a better result at taking pictures at night or at low light places. There is also a 2x zoom for the primary camera which provides a good result while photograph small objects with no blur. However, the 2x zoom feature clashes with macro camera since macro camera’s function is the same which is to photograph a very close or small objects. The 2x zoom result is still better to use due to better result compared to macro camera so it is more recommended to use the 2x zoom feature. This makes sense considering the fact that macro camera only has 2MP resolution which is way more inferior than the primary camera which has massive 48MP resolution.

For taking video, Redmi Note 8 also gives some nice features. The first one is EIS or Electronic Image Stabilizer. With this feature, video taken with Redmi Note 8 will have much less shaking effect thus giving more enjoyable video. However, it is important to know that only main camera support EIS. The front camera does not support this feature resulting in more unstable video result. The EIS also can only be used with 1080p@30fps video resolution although the main camera supports up to 4K@30fps video. If you want more stable video, just use 1080p@30fps due to EIS will help you a lot. Despite of the fact that 4K@30fps does not support EIS, it still can be used although you need to buy stabilizer and use it whenever you record a video with this resolution to make a stable video result.

Besides having EIS, there is also slow-motion feature in the main camera. Just like its name, it will give slow-motion video which is great for some conditions such as playing Yoyo and doing some fast styles that is hard to see clearly with normal speed video or doing a bottle flip challenge. For the slow motion, Redmi Note 8 can record 1080p@120fps and 720p@240fps. It is recommended to record slow motion video outdoor because the result will be blurry if recorded indoor.

Redmi Note 8’s camera is still one of the best options for the camera. Although this phone has been released for year ago, finding 48MP camera in this price range is still rare. Another 48MP phone that can be found in Indonesia’s market is Redmi Note 9 which of course is expected to give equal or even better performance than its predecessor. Here are some photo samples taken with Redmi Note 8’s camera.

The camera in Redmi Note 8 might still not well compared to flagship smartphone’s camera. However, considering the price of the smartphone, I am satisfied with the result since it already gives decent result. The night mode also is helpful because taking photo at night without using nigh mode is terrible. The 2x zoom feature in the main camera also is good to take photo of small object and you expect the photo will have good detail and not blurry. The default setting from the main camera also is already good so you do not need to take every photo with 48MP mode that does not have much different from the default mode which takes photo at 12MP resolution.

  1. Main Specifications

For the main specifications, Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 as its SoC, three variants of RAM and storage; 3GB and 32GB, 4GB and 64GB, also 6GB and 128GB. The variant that will be used in this review is 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. If you think that 128GB storage is still not enough, you can add up to 512GB micro sd card.

If you do not know or do not understand what SoC is and how important it is, SoC can be equalized with human’s brain because its function is to control everything in a smartphone. A smartphone’s maximum camera resolution, maximum screen display, maximum RAM, and maximum cellular modem are some examples of function controlled by SoC. For Redmi Note 8. Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 is used.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 is a midrange SoC launched as a successor of Snapdragon 660 which is used in Redmi Note 7. Snapdragon 665 provides cooler temperature with similar performance with Snapdragon 660 which has temperature problem while running at maximum performance. The usage of 11nm technology in Snapdragon 665 results in Redmi Note 8 having less power usage and more battery life compared to the predecessor, Redmi Note 7, which uses Snapdragon 660 with 14nm technology.

For more technical information about the SoC, Snapdragon 665’s CPU is created by using configuration of four cores Kryo 260 Gold working at 2 GHz and four cores of Kryo 260 silver working at 1.8 GHz. Kryo 260 Gold itself is a custom core made by Qualcomm based on Cortex-A73 while Kryo 260 Silver is based on Cortex-A53. Cortex A-73 is a powerful core from the family of Cortex-A7x series so Snapdragon 665 have a good performance when a software or game needs powerful clock performance. On the other side, Cortex-A53 is a power saving core that is important when a software or game does not need much power from the CPU and it has very less power usage compared to A-7x. Combination of both is solid because there is a powerful clock for some heavy tasks like playing  games such as PUBG Mobile but can minimize its power usage when just listening music or watching video.  As for the GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 uses Adreno 610. The usage of Snapdragon 665 in Redmi Note 8 is incredible especially considering the price. 

An additional information about RAM and storage in Redmi Note 8. Redmi Note 8 uses LPDDR4X working at 1866MHz for RAM and EMMC 5.1 for storage. LPDDR4X with 1866MHz RAM used in the phone is great since smartphone released in 2020 with a bit higher price still use the same RAM technology. Even the new smartphone launched last month in Indonesia, Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC, midrange killer smartphone and one of the best smartphones for its price range up to this writing’s day, uses the same RAM technology with Redmi Note 8.

For cellular and wireless connection, Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 has a decent capability. It uses Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem which means that this phone does not support 5G. The peak download and upload speed provided by this modem are 600 Mbps or 75 MBps for download and 150 Mbps or 18.75 MBps for upload. This modem also supports 4G+ connection which is good enough to use in Indonesia in 2021 since 5G has not launched in Indonesia. For the wireless connection, Redmi Note 8 has Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.11a/b/g, 802.11n that can run in 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This means that Redmi Note 8 users can enjoy 5GHz Wi-Fi that provides better connection speed. Unfortunately, Redmi Note 8 does not support multi-user MIMO that means Redmi Note 8 cannot use both Wi-Fi and Hotspot at the same time. This phone has IR Blaster or infrared sensors so the user can use this phone as a remote. For those who are looking for NFC, this phone does not support it. The one that has NFC is the pro version or Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro.

  1. Performance – Benchmark Test

If you want to see how good Redmi Note 8 performs in some benchmark test, this is the moment of the truth. I will give some screenshots of benchmark test done with Redmi Note 8. There are three applications used for benchmark testing in this review. They are PCMark, Geekbench 5, and 3DMark. For those who do not know what is benchmark test, it is a test done to see the maximum performance of a smartphone by maximizing every component and the result will be shown in number. You can search at the internet to look other smartphones result and compare it with the result gotten here.

  1. Performance – Gaming Test

Nowadays, one of several considerations of buying or using a smartphone is that the gaming performance. Playing games in a smartphone has become a normal trend. However, playing new games especially some heavy games can not be done in every smartphone. Some games require powerful specification to run the game smoothly thus making gaming enjoyable to do in a smartphone. In this review, four games will be tested and seen to know Redmi Note 8 can play this game well or not. Those four games are Among Us, PUBG Mobile, LOL Wild Rift, and Genshin Impact. Those games are chosen because many people still play them and except Among Us, the rest of games could not be played well at phones with low specification. In the testing, an additional application named GameBench is also used. The usage of GameBench in the testing here is to see how much fps in the game while testing since only a few games have dedicated fps counter inside it.

Among Us

The first game tested is Among Us. It is very popular in the last two months with this game achieving the most downloaded game in Play Store for last month. Because of requiring very low specification, Redmi Note 8 can play this game without any problem. A stable 30fps is enjoyable for this game since the game is locked at 30fps and there is no way for Redmi Note 8 reaching higher fps although with the specification, Redmi Note 8 at least might run this game at stable 60fps.

PUBG Mobile

In testing PUBG Mobile, there are two scenarios used. The first one is running at maximum default setting while the second one is running the game with GFX Tools, an application that can improve this game’s performance. There is a reason why this game is tested with two scenarios and you will soon know why.

 

As seen from the pictures above, the maximum graphics setting for Redmi Note 8 is smooth-high. With this setting, PUBG Mobile will run at maximum 30fps. While playing the game, reaching the 30fps limit is very easy. Most of the time the game will run at 30fps. Only in few conditions the fps will drop to 22-25. In short, smooth-high is too easy to be played in Redmi Note 8. With this consideration and curiosity about Redmi Note 8 whether can get more fps or not by GFX Tools, the second scenario is done.

 

GFX Tools is used in the second scenario. It is used for unlocking the fps from 30fps to 60fps that might open new possible graphics setting. As seen from the picture above, the maximum graphics possible changes from smooth-high to smooth-extreme. Smooth-extreme makes the game possible to run at 60fps which also means that Redmi Note 8 can maximize its performance.

It is proven that Redmi Note 8 can gain more fps by using GFX Tools. The game can reach 60fps this time. However, unlike the previous scenario where the game plays constantly at 30fps, the 60fps here is not constant. Most of the time, the game will run at around 52-60 fps and having some drops to around 40s if there is war or the player has just landed at the beginning of the game. Although it is not 60fps stable, it is still much better than the default possible setting since the minimum fps found with GFX Tools is 40s fps which is more enjoyable. It is recommended to use GFX Tools if you want to play this game for smoother and more enjoyable experience.

League of Legend: Wild Rift

Being the latest and the most anticipated MOBA game in Android for late 2020, it is such a sin to not testing this game. LOL Wild Rift is a MOBA game that provides better graphics and has a big-name from League of Legend, the PC version of this game. This game has its own FPS counter. However, GameBench is still used to validate the in-game FPS counter. The result is the same, however. With default graphic settings provided by the game, this game runs great at 60fps. Unfortunately, most of the graphics settings cannot be changed due to the smartphone’s limited specification. Despite that, no changing in graphics setting is needed for this game because playing at 60fps means that Redmi Note 8 can play this game at maximum fps possible for the phone.

Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact is another most anticipated game of the year. However, this game needs high specification to run this game well due to how wonderful and great this game. Although it seems that this game will struggle very hard playing this game, there is no sin to not test this game. So, can Redmi Note 8 play Genshin Impact?

The answer is yes. Redmi Note 8 can play Genshin Impact. However, it is not very enjoyable. At low setting, which is the default setting offered by the game, Genshin Impact will run at 10-20fps. By lowering the setting into lowest setting, the game now runs at 18-30fps with some drop to 15fps. Those fps at lowest setting is not great but already enough if you want to try the game. Although only played at 18-30fps at lowest setting possible, it is still a good achievement by Redmi Note 8 due to the fact that this game needs flagship smartphones like Samsung S series or Xiaomi Mi series to play this game well. In short, if you just want to play Genshin Impact, Redmi Note 8 is still a nice option considering the price. However, if you want a smartphone that can play this game more than enough, this smartphone is not a good option.

  1. Battery & Charger

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 has 4000 mAh Li-Po battery with 10-Watt charger inside of the box. Like any other 2019 smartphones, Redmi Note 8’s battery is non-removable battery so changing the battery is not as easy as changing old phone’s battery. It is always recommended to change the battery at service centre to make sure there is not anything bad happened. For the charger, Redmi Note 8 only gives 10-Watt charger although the phone actually supports 18-Watt charging. You need to buy 18-Watt charger by yourself if you need that. You can use Xiaomi’s 18-Watt charger that could be found in its official store or you can pick third party charger that supports 18-Watt quick charging. Any branded third-party charger should be fine if you do not want to buy the one Xiaomi selling.

Although just having 4000 mAh especially with the fact that newer smartphones commonly have 5000 mAh battery, Redmi Note 8 still have solid battery life. Based on the picture above, Redmi Note 8 can reach almost 10 hours SOT (screen on time). That means that you can use your phone up to 10 hours nonstop before needing to charge it again. However, this smartphone can last longer or shorter depends on your usage. If you play games nonstop, the battery will run out in less than 10 hours, if you just use your smartphone for few browsing and watching videos, it might run longer than 10 hours. 

  1. Conclusions: is Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 worth in early 2021?

After discussing every aspect from Xiaomi Redmi Note 8, it is time to answer whether Redmi Note 8 worth or not in early 2021 especially with new smartphones released at the same price range. With the specification and features that Redmi Note 8 provides alongside with the price, Redmi Note 8 is still worth to use after all in early 2021.

Snapdragon 665 that is still powerful to use, 48MP main camera that is still not common standard for two million IDR smartphones, and 1080p screen resolution are some reasons why Redmi Note 8 is still worth for early 2021. Although this phone launched one years ago in Indonesia, the performance of this phone will not make you unsatisfied.

In the same price, especially for 3/32 and 4/64 variants. Redmi Note 8 still can compete with late 2020 smartphones with similar price. Only few smartphones that can be categorized as a threat for Redmi Note 8 here which are Redmi 9 and Redmi Note 9. Redmi 9 has several weaknesses compared to Redmi Note 8 though Redmi 9 is sold cheaper than Redmi Note 8. Redmi Note 9 is also a solid option but the price is higher and some features find in Redmi Note 9 can also be found in Redmi Note 8. However, this situation might change especially since there was a rumour that Xiaomi would release Xiaomi Poco M2 soon. If the Poco M2’s price is lower than Redmi Note 8, it would be a bit better to choose Poco M2 instead. For the 6/128 variant, it is hard to say that this phone is worth in early 2021- due to the competitors in the price range. There are many other smartphones that can easily outclass Redmi Note 8’s performance such as Realme Narzo, Realme 6, Samsung M21, and the mighty Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC. Buying one of those phones is a good option rather than buying the 6/128 variant of Redmi Note 8 because Redmi Note 8’s specification is inferior to those newer phones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *