To say that Xiaomi is rediscovering itself in 2022 would be an understatement. The Xiaomi 12 Pro took the Indian industry by storm, while the Xiaomi 12S Ultra seems to be setting new standards in China.
Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi has been floundering since the stellar Redmi K20 Pro launched in July of 2019. Fast forward to 2022 and its spiritual successor, the Redmi K50i, is ready to take its lap of honor.
For just Rs 25,999, the Redmi K50i is just as loaded as its predecessor was when it launched. Back then, the Redmi K20 Pro featured an AMOLED panel, a pop-up camera module, and a flagship processor (Qualcomm 855 SoC). The K50i, on the other hand, packs MediaTek’s Dimensity 8100 SoC (the only smartphone in its price segment to feature a 5nm chip), a 144Hz refresh rate, and a 5080mAh battery!
Xiaomi has a clear price advantage over its rivals. There’s the Oppo Reno 8 Pro, OnePlus 10R, Realme GT Neo 3, and a few other smartphones rocking the Dimensity 8100 SoC. The problem is that they’re all priced much higher. So with a clear advantage at the get-go, can the Redmi K50i deliver the knockout punch? Let’s find out.
A Simple Yet Effective Design
The Redmi K50i is rather tame when compared to the Redmi K20 Pro. It doesn't have the reflective design on the back cover nor does it feature the pop-up camera. It lacks the wow factor. What the Redmi K50i has though is a color-shifting back cover.
The Redmi K50i is made mostly of plastic, which is one way Xiaomi has been able to keep the price down. To be fair, Xiaomi isn’t the only one in this price bracket using plastic. Xiaomi has made sure that the smartphone is well protected as it comes with Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and an IP53 rating.
The handset is kind of hefty but still has a good in-hand feel. The flat frame, along with the curvy back, provides for a better grip.
There’s the volume rocker and power buttons on the right-hand side. The fingerprint sensor is embedded with the power toggle. There’s an IR blaster, which is a Xiaomi fan favorite, as well. There’s also the headphone jack, which a lot of smartphones are doing away with these days.
Display: LCD Instead Of AMOLED
Redmi isn’t using an AMOLED display for the K50i and that shows with just a peak brightness of 500 nits. The Redmi K50i can’t get nearly as bright as many other smartphones out there and it struggles in direct sunlight. That said, the Redmi K50i sports a fringe-field switching (FFS) LCD that has its fair share of benefits. It offers better viewing angles, a low operating voltage, and fast response times.
The panel refreshes at 144Hz, which is way better than what the competition offers. It’s a 6.6-inch FHD+ resolution display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on top. There’s the punch-hole notch as well.
With the FFS LCD instead of an AMOLED, you’re missing out on the impressive contrast ratios and the blacks. Still, despite not finding much to fault with the display, I wasn’t wowed. It’s a good display but nothing spectacular.
Performance & Software: MediaTek’s Dimensity 8100 Rocks
Where the Redmi K50i shines is in the performance department. MediaTek’s Dimensity 8100 SoC really is a winner. There’s two variants of the Xiaomi K50i - 6GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB - and the Redmi K50i is one of the fastest smartphones in the segment.
Something I noticed is that even if the K50i gets hot, it doesn’t last for very long. The Liquidcool 2.0 technology does a great job at keeping the smartphone cool even under sustained loads.
The smartphone performs remarkably well during prolonged gaming sessions of Call of Duty: Mobile and you’ll never notice any lag when using your daily apps. Switching between them is also a pleasurable experience. The buttery smooth scrolling and lag-free experience is a delight in this segment.
The Redmi K50i is powerful enough to handle most games out there (just don’t try and run Genshin Impact at its highest settings). Real Racing 3 is one game I tried out to get the full effect of the 144Hz refresh rate and it ran as smoothly as it could.
A lot of the performance improvements are also thanks to the optimization Xiaomi has done with MIUI 13. The Redmi K50i comes with MIUI 13 out of the box. It’s based on Android 12 and offers a bevy of customization options. There’s better CPU and RAM utilization also.
The only downside is the pre-installed apps (aka bloatware) that come with the device. The good part is that most of them can be disabled/uninstalled.
Cameras: Great For A Day-to-day Usage
The Redmi K50i comes with a triple-camera setup at the back. There’s the 64MP Samsung GW1 (f/1.89 aperture) main sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide (f/2.2 aperture and 120-degree field of view) camera, and a 2MP macro shooter. There’s a 16MP sensor (f/2.45 aperture) on the front for all your selfies.
The main sensor is the clear winner here as the phone struggles with low-light photos. The videos are decent, but nothing spectacular.
The primary sensor captures a great amount of detail with a good dynamic range. At times, some of the shots are a little more saturated than one would like. On the other hand, Highlights and shadow details are retained, which makes the resulting photos pleasurable to view. The primary sensor also has a fast shutter speed which makes it easy to capture fast-moving objects.
The ultra-wide camera is best for landscape shots. The 120-degree field-of-view comes in handy when out and about on holiday.
The Redmi K50i begins to struggle when the lighting conditions aren’t at their best. It’s not to say low-light photos are the worst in this segment, but it does tend to overexpose the photos and lacks some details.
The 2MP macro camera lacks autofocus but when it works, it works well. It’s just a little tricky to get it to work.
The selfies, on the other hand, turned out to be sharp with good details retained. The selfies also retained natural-looking skin tones, which is always a good sign.
As for videos, well, there is nothing to write home about as they’re not the best in terms of colors and stabilization.
Battery Life: Stellar Battery Life Helps Keep The Charger Away
I routinely lasted a day-and-a-half before I had to reach for the charger. Thanks to the 5,080mAh battery, and the optimized software, my charger was utilized much less than I thought I would. The Redmi K50i offers reliable battery backup.
Only when I pushed the smartphone with hundreds of photos and hours of gaming did it die within a day.
If you have a medium usage pattern with Spotify, WhatsApp, Instagram some calls, email/note-taking, and the camera app, then the smartphone would easily last over a day.
I easily crossed the 5 hours of screen-on-time (SoT). Basically, with the K50i, there is no need to worry about the charger being far away. In case you do need the charger, well, Xiaomi gives you a 67W charger in the box itself. With the charger, you can get 50% juice within just 30 minutes.
There’s no wireless charging though.
Verdict: Best Smartphone Within Xiaomi’s Portfolio?
At just Rs 25,999, the Redmi K50i is the best bet for a Xiaomi smartphone under Rs 40,000. It’s great value-for-money and a smartphone I have already recommended to a couple of people.
The Redmi K50i excels in a few key areas. It’s a smartphone that just doesn’t compromise on performance and can handle mobile games at high frame rates. The battery backup is excellent and the primary sensor is reliable for taking photos on a daily basis.
The two downsides to the K50i are that Xiaomi chose to go with an LCD panel over an OLED and that the design is very boring and doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
With Xiaomi’s software getting better, and the phone outperforming its peers in terms of performance, the Redmi K50i is an exciting proposition.
One only wishes that the Redmi K50i looked as good as its predecessor, the Redmi K20 Pro. Let’s just say that Redmi has made a comeback with the K50i and there’s a hope that Xiaomi does build upon this for its next launch.