As I begin to write this article, I’ve just returned from the Indian Aeropress Championship regionals that were happening at the Colocal cafe in The Dhan Mill in Delhi. Over there, I met Gautam, who was participating for the first time. We got talking about smartphones and he told me that he was rocking the Redmi K20 Pro that launched in July 2019 in India. He was raving about the design, camera and other salient features of the smartphone and how it’s served him well all these years.
Gautam isn’t the only fan of the K-Series. There are plenty of others out there. When Xiaomi announced it was bringing a new K-Series smartphone to the country, the tech industry, and to be more specific the company’s legion of fans, went crazy. The K50i, from Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi, is a spiritual successor to the K20 Pro from 2019.
I’ve been using the Redmi K50i for a few weeks now and I really like that it is truly a value-for-money smartphone. It’s a power-packed performer, in a nutshell. The icing on the cake? The pricing. At a starting price of just ₹25,999, the Redmi K50i really is a standout in the under ₹30,000 segment.
The Redmi K50i has an ace up its sleeve vis-a-vis the competition. That is the MediaTek Dimensity 8100 chip. It’s a stellar chip in this segment. Just look at other phones with the chip – like the Oppo Reno8 Pro and the OnePlus 10R – and they’re all priced way above the Redmi K50i. That’s a clear advantage for Xiaomi’s latest smartphone.
LCD over AMOLED
One interesting choice from the company was to choose an LCD panel over an AMOLED one for the Redmi K50i. It’s one way to keep the price low. The question is, does it offer the same experience for the consumer?
While no LCD matches AMOLED (AMOLED has deeper blacks and impressive contrast ratios), the K50i sports a slightly different type of panel. It’s a fringe-field switching (FFS) LCD and it has its clear benefits. There’s a lower operating voltage, faster response times and better viewing angles. It’s got a peak brightness of just 500nits and thus struggles in direct sunlight. Still, with all this in mind, the FFS LCD panel on the Redmi K50i is better than some AMOLED implementations from the competition.
One other advantage that the Redmi K50i has is that the panel refreshes at 144Hz. That’s way ahead of the competition in this segment.
Couple that 144Hz refresh rate along with the Dimensity 8100 chip and 5080mah battery (all-day battery life) and you’ve got a device ready for all the gamers out there. Gaming performance is absolutely top-notch. While some high-end games (read Genshin Impact) will not play smoothly, most will run with aplomb.
To top this off, the Redmi K50i comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack for all those audio enthusiasts out there. The 6.6-inch FHD+ display (with a punch-hole notch) comes with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on top.
Verdict: The Redmi K50i is ahead of the competition
While the Redmi K50i isn’t perfect, it sure beats the competition on a day-to-day basis in real-world usage. What it does struggle with is the low-light performance of all its cameras. There are also those out there who will bemoan the lack of an AMOLED panel. One other thing to note is that the Redmi K50i has a very basic (and kind of bland) design. If one is buying this phone to show off, then they’re making the wrong purchase.
The problem with the Redmi K50i is that Xiaomi is competing not just with smartphones from other manufacturers but with smartphones in its own portfolio. Specifically, I’m referring to the Xiaomi 11i and 11i Hypercharge that launched earlier in the year. Priced around the same, the 11i and 11i Hyperchage have got a better design, insane charging speeds (the 11i Hypercharge comes with a 120W charger in the box) and speedy performance in a well-rounded package.
Harish Jonnalagadda, Senior Editor-Asia at Android Central, says that the K50i stands out “for its calibre of hardware.” Jonalagadda continues, “It is among the best phones under ₹30,000 because of the value it offers, and while it goes up against other Xiaomi phones in the same segment, the fact that it is using the Dimensity 8100 gives it a little bit of an edge”.
There’s plenty of competition in the sub- ₹30,000 segment. There’s the Realme 9 Pro+, the iQOO Neo6, the Galaxy A52s, the Motorola Edge 30 and even the OnePlus Nord 2T. They may all beat the Redmi K50i in one or even two categories, but overall, none of these come close. The Redmi K50i does enough to stand out in the extremely crowded segment. Xiaomi has a clear winner in its portfolio for anyone whose budget is ₹30,000 at the max.
It’s great that Xiaomi brought back the much-loved K-Series to the market. It’s even better than the smartphone has lived up to all the hype. The Redmi K50i is shaping up to be a mega-hit for the company.