September 30, 2020
It might not be familiar to you, but 10-year-old Xiaomi is the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor. It has a range of high-quality yet affordable phones within its flagship Mi and budget Redmi lines, and is very often unbeaten on value for money.
Since November 2018 Xiaomi has officially sold its phones in the UK via the official Mi Store, but it is still cheaper (and often easier when they are new) to import them from China, using sites such as GearBest and Geekbuying.
Best Xiaomi Phone Reviews 2020
The latest Xiaomi phones are often announced in China and India long before they come to Europe and the UK. This can mean there is some difficulty in obtaining review samples at the time of the initial launch.
We do our best to source these phones to test as soon as we can, often leaning on Chinese importers and foreign colleagues, but sometimes this isn’t possible.
1. Xiaomi Mi 10 – Best Overall
Currently sitting at the top of Xiaomi’s line-up in the UK is the Mi 10. It’s something of a departure from the Mi 9 and, as such, we’ve seen a significant price hike that takes it up into standard flagship territory. But Mi 10 still offers very strong value among its peers.
Some of those new features include the addition of 5G connectivity, display upgrades, a new 108Mp camera (part of a quad-lens setup at the back), a higher-capacity 4,780mAh battery and the swapping out of LPDDR4 RAM for LPDDR5.
Wired charging happens at 30W, which is behind some of the competition, but Xiaomi leads the pack with 30W wireless charging. You also get a Snapdragon 865 processor and up to 12GB of RAM for breathtaking performance.
2. Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC – Best Value
The Poco X3 isn’t perfect. The big battery makes it bulky, and we don’t love the aesthetic. For the most part these are small complaints though, especially when stacked up against the X3’s myriad strengths: strong specs, an excellent camera, a beautiful display, and absolutely fantastic battery life.
The fact that you can get all of that for under £200 is almost unbelievable, and makes the Poco X3 a shoo-in for the best budget phone of 2020.
Read our full Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC review
3. Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite – Best Value 5G Phone
If you want a 5G phone, Mi 10 Lite is the most affordable way to get one in Xiaomi’s current line-up – actually, it’s one of the most affordable 5G phones full-stop.
It’s a stripped-down version of the Mi 10 flagship, but Xiaomi hasn’t cut too many corners and the Mi 10 Lite still offers a rich feature set.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset is an impressively powerful processor, and Xiaomi has also graced the Mi 10 Lite with other premium features, including 20Wfastcharging and a 48Mp quad-camera setup.
4. Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite – Best Mid-range Option
With Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 – the world’s first 108Mp camera phone – now increasingly hard to find, this Lite version is notable for sharing many of the same features.
The camera steps down to a 64Mp quad-lens model, but all other specs remain the same, including the huge 5,260mAh battery with 30W fast charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor, and expansive 6.47in AMOLED display.
Very similar to the Redmi Note 9, we think the Mi Note 10 Lite offers better value with its higher-capacity battery and better-quality display with integrated fingerprint sensor. For a mid-range Xiaomi phone, it’s currently your best option.
5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S – Best Battery Life
The Redmi Note 9S is one of the best budget phones we’ve seen. This is a fantastic phone for less than £200, a real all-rounder with decent performance and cameras, as well as mind-blowing battery life. The Redmi recorded the longest time in the Geekbench 4 battery life test that we’ve seen to date.
We are not fans of the rear camera module, and the lack of NFC in some territories is a shame, but those niggles aside it ticks all our boxes at this price point.
A fine example of not a lot of money very well spent.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S review
6. Xiaomi Redmi 9 – Best Budget Redmi
Redmi 9 is one of the most affordable models in Xiaomi’s current line-up, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on features. It’s a big-battery budget phone that boasts a quad-lens rear camera and a 6.53in Full-HD+ IPS Dot Drop display.
We love the fact Xiaomi has added a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster when so many others are removing it, and despite its low price there’s also a fingerprint sensor at the rear.
The phone is powered by a 2GHz MediaTek Helio G80 octa-core chipset, so expect capable but not mind-blowing performance.
7. Xiaomi Black Shark 3 – Best Gaming Phone
The Black Shark 3 hardly reinvents the wheel when it comes to gaming phones, but there are some useful upgrades here.
Of course, a Snapdragon 865 processor and 8- or 12GB of RAM means performance is truly excellent, while some thoughtful touches in Shark Space should make it a hit with gamers. Other highlights include some significant camera improvements and staggeringly fast charging speeds.
Our main frustration is with the accessories, with a bulky fan and expensive gaming pad adding little to the experience. The magnetic charging cable is a great idea, though.
It certainly isn’t what most people have in mind when considering a new smartphone, but Xiaomi hopes gaming fanatics will buy into its vision for the future of mobile gaming.
Read our full Black Shark 3 review
8. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G – Best Value Flagship
First announced in late 2018, Mi Mix 3 is an outgoing flagship – but with 5G connectivity now available it still represents excellent value.
Swapping out the awkwardly placed selfie camera with a new dual-lens model that is tucked away behind the screen, the Mi Mix 3 is one of several slider phones that shows how the concept should work. Not only allowing a proper full-screen display, but adding quick-access functionality to the phone.
In other respects Mi Mix 3 is not a huge upgrade over the 2S, and actually loses some of its bling over its predecessor with the absence of its 18K gold camera surround. But it’s still a great phone, and it’s astonishing to see just how far the original full-display phone has come.
9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro – Best Performance Budget Option
Completing the Redmi Note 9 line-up is this Pro model – the best overall of the three in terms of specification, but arguably offering the least value at its higher price.
In common with its siblings it offers incredible battery life from its 5020mAh cell, a large display, a quad-lens rear camera and expandable storage.
It has the same processor and display as the Redmi Note 9S, but switches out its 48Mp camera for a 64Mp model, and the 16Mp selfie camera for a 32Mp version. Wired charging is also faster, at 30W against the 9S’ 18W, and the Pro adds support for NFC (available in selected markets only for Redmi Note 9 and Redmi Note 9S).
10. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 – Solid Budget Phone
If you’re on a tight budget, Redmi Note 9 is a fantastic smartphone below £200. It ticks a great many boxes and, though it isn’t flawless, you can’t argue with the value it offers.
Though it’s plastic it is well designed, and it comes with impressive-sounding features such as a quad-lens camera that performed mostly well in our tests, save for lacking some finer detail.
There’s enough power for casual users, though we had hoped for better performance from the huge-capacity 5,020mAh battery.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 review
11. Xiaomi Mi A3 – Best Xiaomi Phone Running Android
Android One is attractive for its timely system and security updates, and less bloated interface. The Mi A3 from Xiaomi has a few tricks up its sleeve to help it impress in this increasingly crowded market, including some of the most advanced cameras we’ve seen on an Android One phone.
Performance is also capable for daily use, and the design is much more appealing than you should expect at this price.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Current Xiaomi phone line-up
Xiaomi’s flagship phone is the Mi 10, which was announced globally in March, and is now on sale in the UK from £799. This is more expensive than previous Xiaomi flagships, largely because it has 5G as standard. If this is a little over budget, you can also buy it through GearBest at lower cost.
A slightly higher-spec version known as Mi 10 Pro has also been confirmed, and is visible at the UK Mi Store but not yet available to buy, while a slimmed-down Mi 10 Lite with mid-range specs went on sale in the summer. All three support 5G connectivity.
These aren’t the only flagship-level smartphones in Xiaomi’s line, with the Mi Mix line also deserving of such status. The latest here is the Mi Mix Alpha, a revolutionary phone with a wraparound display – but it’s phenomenally expensive and unlikely to ever go into mass production. Instead, the older Mi Mix 3 and Mi Mix 3 5G slider phones remain on sale, and at crazy prices for flagships.
The Mi Note series comprises phablets with big screens, high-capacity batteries and decent cameras. Current models include the Mi Note 10, which was the world’s first 108Mp cameraphone, the Mi Note 10 Pro, which simply has extra RAM and storage and a slightly tweaked camera, but is not officially available in the UK, and the 64Mp Mi Note 10 Lite.
Lastly we come to the A series, with the latest in the line the Mi A3. These are budget- to mid-range phones that run Android One rather than Xiaomi’s own custom Android interface, MIUI 12. However, there are unlikely to be any further models in this line, as Xiaomi has dropped the Android One programme.
Current Redmi phone line-up
In January 2019 Xiaomi spun off sub-brand Redmi, though Redmi phones are still very much thought of as Xiaomi phones, and it is still the case that the Redmi line is Xiaomi’s budget brand.
The Redmi 9 has now been confirmed in the UK, alongside the Redmi 9A and Redmi 9C. You’ll also find Redmi Note 9, Note 9S and Note 9 Pro phablets, which have larger screens.
If you want even better value still, check out the Best Xiaomi Deals.
Xiaomi has two other spin-off brands: Black Shark for gaming; and Poco, with the recently announced F2 Pro and X3 NFC.
Should I buy a Xiaomi phone from China?
As we noted further up in this feature, we often turn to GearBest and Geekbuying for shipping us Xiaomi phone samples, and you will almost always find cheaper prices at these outlets than at the official UK Mi Store. We would recommend either site for purchasing these phones, but with two caveats:
First, make sure you buy Global ROM models and you’ll get access to full Google services and an English-language interface out of the box. Even Chinese ROM Xiaomi phones run full Android, albeit with the MIUI 11 user interface (which you can avoid only by buying a Mi A-series phone), but they are a headache to set up even when you know what you’re doing. We’ve explained how to install Google Play on a Xiaomi phone here.
Second, if you’re buying from China you should take into account that your consumer rights are different to when you buy within Europe, and that should something go wrong you’re going to find aftersales support more difficult. Delivery times will also be longer, though there are usually free and expresss shipping options. You may also be asked to pay import duty upon arrival to the UK, which is calculated at 20% of whatever value is printed on the shipping paperwork.
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