With the Redmi K20 Pro, Xiaomi is charting on a new course, and what a fabulous course it is. In this Redmi K20 Pro review, we find out that despite its modest price this new Xiaomi phone is a complete package and as good as any flagship phone out there in the market.
Xiaomi has finally brought the Redmi K20 to India after launching it in China this May. The Redmi K20 starts at Rs. 21,999 in India, and for that price, the phone offers a striking design, a notch-less AMOLED display, triple rear cameras including a 48-megapixel main snapper, a large 4,000mAh battery, and 18W fast charging. And did we mention that MIUI on the Redmi K20 will dish out fewer ads? Yes, Xiaomi has finally heeded the tsunami of complaints and claims to have toned down its advertising strategy. The Redmi K20 is filled to the brim with powerful hardware that is hard to find elsewhere in this price bracket and boasts of a snazzy design that will surely turn heads.
This new Xiaomi phone seems to be superior to its competition in terms of specifications, but does it perform well enough? Read on to find out in our in-depth Redmi K20 review.
Redmi K20 design
Redmi K20’s design is one of its biggest attractions. The flame-inspired gradient pattern on our Glacier Blue review unit’s rear panel looks eye-catching, while the black strip in the middle contrasts with the dynamic pattern on either side.
Xiaomi calls this Aura Prime Design and says it has been achieved using a 6-layer stacking process. The back of the phone is made of curved Gorilla Glass 5. This design is seen on the Glacier Blue and Flame Red variants of the phone, but Xiaomi also offers the Redmi K20 in a Carbon Black variant with a sleeker and more understated Kevlar-like finish.
As far as ergonomics go, the curved glass panel ensures a comfortable grip, but the Redmi K20 is quite slippery and the rear panel also gets smudged quickly. Thankfully the retail package includes a hard protective case that has a matte finish and provides a more reassuring grip.
The frame running around the sides of the phone is made of Series 6000 Aluminium and matches the colour scheme of the rear panel. Overall, the Redmi K20 is built solidly and feels premium from the get go.
The phone has Gorilla Glass 5 on the front as well as the rear. The volume and power buttons are comfortably positioned on the right side, and both provide good tactile feedback when pressed. The power button has a red accent and stands out from the rest of the body. The camera module at the back of the Redmi K20 protrudes slightly, but this is not enough to make the phone wobble while lying flat.
The pop-up front camera module has LED lights that glow when it is raised in dark surroundings. It also has a small ring at the top that lights up and acts as the phone’s notification light, but it is hard to notice most of the time when the phone is lying flat.
Xiaomi has trimmed the bezels on all sides of the screen to give the Redmi K20 an all-screen look. The chin is thinner compared to other phones in this price segment, making the phone look modern.
Redmi K20 specifications and software
The specifications of the Redmi K20 are quite impressive for a phone that starts at Rs. 21,999. This phone’s hardware is nearly the same as that of the more expensive Redmi K20 Pro, with two major differences. The Redmi K20 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 855 and employs the 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor for its primary rear camera, while the Redmi K20 gets the Snapdragon 730 SoC and comes equipped with the slightly lower-end 48-megapixel Sony IMX582 sensor.
The only difference between the two sensors is that the Sony IMX586 can record 4K videos at 60fps, while the Sony IMX582 can only go up to 30fps. Xiaomi apparently went with the latter because the Snapdragon 730 does not support 4K video encoding at 60fps anyway.
The Redmi K20 features a 6.39-inch full-HD+ (1080 x 2340 pixels) HDR AMOLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 91.9 percent, 403ppi pixel density, and 600 nits of peak brightness. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
The in-display fingerprint sensor on the phone is reasonably quick and accurate, and unlocked the Redmi K20 within a second during the course of our usage. While setting up the fingerprint sensor, we were warned that using an adhesive screen protector might interfere with the scanner, and only an authorised protective cover compatible with the phone should be used.
The Redmi K20 comes in two variants – a base model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which is what we have for review, and a higher-end configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Unfortunately, there is no microSD card slot for storage expansion.
There are three rear cameras – a 48-megapixel Sony IMX582 sensor with an f/1.75 aperture, an 8-megapixel secondary camera with a telephoto lens and an f/2.4 aperture, and a 13-megapixel camera with an ultra wide-angle lens and 124.8-degree field of view.
Selfies are handled by a pop-up 20-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 aperture. The lens is protected by sapphire glass, while the module itself is automatically retracted when the phone detects that it is falling.
As for camera features, the Redmi K20 supports slow-mo video capture at up to 960fps and 4K video capture at 30fps. There is a dedicated night mode, a 48-megapixel mode, lighting effects, and a tonne of beautification filters to play with. The lights are kept on by a 4,000mAh battery, and this phone supports Quick Charge 3.0 so it can be topped up with the supplied 18W fast charger.
On the software side, the Redmi K20 runs MIUI 10.3.3 based on Android 9 Pie. Our review unit ran on the dated May 2019 Android security patch, but we hope Xiaomi will roll out an update with the latest security patch soon.
The first thing that struck us about the Redmi K20’s UI was the presence of an app drawer, something that has been missing from MIUI for a long time. This is thanks to the use of Poco launcher. The other major attraction is a system-wide dark mode. The rest of the interface is typical MIUI, with plenty of customisation options and useful features.
The Redmi K20, unsurprisingly, comes with a lot of preinstalled third-party and in-house bloatware including Amazon, Facebook, WPS Office, Dailyhunt, and Paytm, to name a few. All the third-party apps can be uninstalled, but Xiaomi’s own can’t be.
Some of the native apps such as Mi Video and Music pestered us with notifications, prompting us to revoke their notification permission. The Mi Video app, in particular, was the main culprit and even showed a lot of content in the ‘fashion’ and ‘beauty’ categories that we would describe as unflattering and not safe for work.
A major sigh of relief was the lower frequency of ads. Xiaomi made it a point at the launch event to state that the Redmi K20 and Redmi K20 Pro will show fewer ads than people are used to seeing on a Xiaomi phone. We found this to be true to a large extent. For example, the ads that appeared after we installed apps from the Google Play Store have gone entirely.
There are some small quirks scattered throughout the interface. The swipe gesture to switch to the last-used app doesn’t always work. Also, for apps that have slide-out menus to the left, the gesture simply can’t be performed from the left edge because the app’s interface is prioritised over the navigation gesture.
The categorisation of apps in the app drawer is also not accurate. For example, Downloads, File Manager, and Gmail fall into the Knowledge & Education category. When navigation gestures are enabled, the one-handed mode cannot be activated unless the Quick Ball tool is activated.
A minor discomfort, which may well be a pet peeve, is that without the Android navigation buttons on the screen when gestures are enabled, the keyboard is pushed right to the bottom. We found this less comfortable and our typing was less accurate as well. Another issue was with face recognition. It performed admirably in well-lit conditions but struggled in low light.
Still, overall, MIUI on the Redmi K20 feels a bit more refined than its implementation on other Redmi series phones. The ambient display feature is a neat touch, and we quite liked the minimalist dynamic wallpaper in which the sun changes its position on a circular path depending on the time of day.
Redmi K20 display and performance
The Redmi K20’s 6.39-inch AMOLED display is great, and that is especially evident when MIUI’s dark mode is enabled. Colours simply pop, and viewing angles are good too. The display offers a peak brightness of 600 nits, but we didn’t feel the need to crank the brightness up past the 80 percent mark even under daylight.
Sunlight legibility was good too, and the contrast level was excellent for a phone in this price segment. Reading emails and viewing content on the Redmi K20’s display was easy on the eyes. However, we found that the screen brightness was sometimes adjusted erratically, requiring us to reset it manually using the slider in the notifications shade.
The display is HDR certified, but it is not clear what standard Xiaomi has used. The Redmi K20 is currently absent from Netflix’s list of phones that support HDR10 content, which means you currently cannot watch HDR 10 content from Netflix on the phone – not yet, at least. However, we were able to watch HDR videos on YouTube.
The full-screen display looks great and is also good for watching content without any camera hole or notch coming in the way.
The AMOLED panel has a slightly warm tinge by default, but one can adjust the colour temperature and contrast to their liking. Users can set the brightness and temperature of the Night Mode independently, and there is a reading mode as well. To sum up, the Redmi K20’s display is among the best in its price bracket.
Coming to the phone’s performance, the Snapdragon 730 SoC with its eight Kryo 470 cores and Adreno 618 GPU truly blurs the lines between flagships and mid-range models. We did not come across any lag or instances of freezing while using the phone. Even with 10-15 apps running in the background, switching between them was smooth.
The Redmi K20 had no trouble with high-end games either. We played PUBG Mobile at high graphics settings and did not see any noticeable frame drops or stuttering. Xiaomi has implemented some neat features and claims to boost speed with its Game Turbo 2.0 tool.
In PUBG Mobile, for example, players can adjust the touch response and sensitivity of the screen to repeated taps. You can also reduce touch sensitivity around the edges of the screen to avoid triggering a navigation gesture by mistake.
There is also a feature called ‘Enhanced Visuals’ located in the ‘Additional Settings’ of the Game Booster app, which allows users to choose between visual presets labelled Original, Moderate, Strong, and Extreme. However, they merely appear to tweak contrast and shadows based on the selection.
The game booster also offers a quick settings panel that can be accessed by swiping in from the top-left corner of the screen. It shows stats such as CPU and GPU usage, and also provides nifty shortcuts for actions like grabbing a screenshot, recording gameplay, and clearing memory.
There are also shortcuts for apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, which can be opened in small floating windows. This implementation is quite similar to Game Genie on the Asus ROG Phone(Review).
In PUBG Mobile, we recorded an average of 30fps at the High graphics preset, which is not too shabby. As far as synthetic benchmarks go, the Redmi K20 reached a score of 214,685 in AnTuTu. In Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests, the phone scored 2,537 and 6,910 respectively. GFXBench T-Rex returned 58fps, while the GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 score was 23fps.
The Redmi K20’s Snapdragon 730 is not at the level of the Snapdragon 845, which powers many of last year’s flagships that are still on sale for around Rs. 25,000. But it is a tangible upgrade over the Snapdragon 710 and the Snapdragon 675, both of which are now very common at this price level.
Redmi K20 cameras and battery life
The Redmi K20 offers the same camera hardware as the flagship Redmi K20 Pro (except for the sensor difference discussed above), and that does make a solid statement for a phone that costs around two-thirds as much as a budget flagship like the OnePlus 7 (Review) or Asus 6Z (Review). The third rear camera is an additional bonus. In our camera tests, the Redmi K20 punched well above its class.
The camera takes 12-megapixel pixel-binned photos by default, but there is a 48-megapixel mode if you need full-resolution 48-megapixel photos. The images captured by the main sensor are crisp and contain a lot of detail. The dynamic range is good too. We noticed that the Redmi K20 captures images at high ISO levels by default in daylight, and some of our shots turned out a bit oversaturated.
In close-ups, gradients are reproduced in vivid detail with nice contrast, but the edges of objects appear a little soft, and highlights around bright objects are overblown. Shooting in the 48-megapixel mode brought out more detail and deeper contrast, but we prefer the 12-megapixel photos because they look more vibrant.
Macro shots captured by the Redmi K20 retain an impressive amount of surface detail and have punchy colours. The camera occasionally boosts colours a bit too much, which robs shots of true-to-life colours. Disabling the AI camera mode helped with this colour inaccuracy issue to some extent.
The telephoto camera is used for portrait shots and does a good job of separating subjects from backgrounds. Edge detection is also on point. The blur effect is applied evenly, and there are a host of portrait lighting effects to play with too. Portrait shots captured in daylight look great, but those captured indoors or under low light tend to exhibit a grainy texture when zoomed in.
The wide-angle camera takes pleasing photos, and thanks to the distortion correction feature, we did not notice any unnatural warping in shots. One area in which the Redmi K20 leaves a lot to be desired is low-light photography. The low-light shots we took had a lot of noise and poor colour rendition.
The dedicated Night mode helps with noise reduction and increases brightness, but details and colours are missing. Night mode simply enhances the ISO and does little to sharpen objects in the frame. Still, compared to the regular mode, the Night mode does a decent job with subject exposure.
Low-light photos captured by the wide-angle camera are also underwhelming with weak exposures, a lack of detail, and grainy textures. We found the Motorola One Vision’s (Review) night mode was better than its implementation on the Redmi K20. It is also worth mentioning that the wide-angle camera can’t take advantage of the Night mode.
The 20-megapixel pop-up selfie camera somewhat makes up for the rear cameras’ shortcomings. Selfies captured by the 20-megapixel front camera exhibited minimal over-processing, and this phone could capture natural colours with an impressive amount of detail.
Portrait selfies had good subject separation and edge detection, but they are a little less sharp than regular selfies. Our only gripes with the front camera are low dynamic range and lack of sharpness when clicked indoors or in dimly lit surroundings.
The 4K videos capture a good amount of detail and render natural colours. There is no OIS, but the EIS does an admirable job of negating the hand movements. The dynamic range is also better compared to 4K videos captured by phones which fall under the same price bracket.
The 4K videos shot by the ultra-wide-angle camera are a bit oversaturated and have lower dynamic range compared to what the primary camera can capture. Slo-mo videos turned out smooth, and with steady hands, we could capture some social-media-worthy clips at 960fps.
Battery life is another strong area of the Redmi K20. In our usage over a week, which involved using social media and productivity apps throughout, an hour of gaming, a couple of hours of listening to music over Bluetooth headphones, and intermittent calls, the phone still had around 30 to 35 percent battery left in the tank at the end of each day.
In our HD video battery loop test, the phone lasted for a very impressive 25 hours and 17 minutes. The supplied 18W charger took the 4,000mAh battery from zero to 45 percent in 32 minutes, and needed around 1 hour, 40 minutes for a full charge.
There has been some outrage over the Redmi K20 being overpriced, with many fans and prospective buyers expressing disappointment that the company did not target the sub-Rs. 20,000 segment. Here’s the bottom line, though — the Redmi K20 is the most heavily specced and feature-laden ‘non-flagship’ phone under Rs. 25,000 in the market right now, And its day-to-day performance is still extremely impressive considering its price.
The design of the Redmi K20 is attention-grabbing and this phone will stand out in a sea of glass slabs and garish gradients. The display is of excellent quality, and the in-display fingerprint sensor is also quick and reliable.
The camera hardware is impressive, and save for the slightly underwhelming low-light performance and some other minor issues, the overall quality and versatility you get are a notch above what the competition offers. The phone’s battery life is also amazing, and you can easily sail through a day and more with each charge.
The Snapdragon 730 SoC powering this phone ensures a lag-free experience in even the most demanding situations. A refined MIUI with fewer ads, plus features like a dark mode, app drawer, and ambient display, further sweeten the deal.
If you are looking for alternatives, last year’s Snapdragon 845-powered flagships such as the Poco F1 (Review) and Asus ZenFone 5Z (Review) are worth checking out. The Samsung Galaxy A50(Review), Vivo V15 Pro (Review), and Nokia 8.1 (Review) are other mid-range alternatives, but none of them can compete with the overall value and performance offered by the Redmi K20.
If you want to save some money and don’t want to go above Rs. 20,000 mark, the Realme X(Review) is an excellent choice right now. Other options include the Samsung Galaxy M40(Review), Realme 3 Pro (Review), Vivo Z1 Pro (Review), and the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review), though, again, none of them would offer as appealing an overall package as the Redmi K20.