Review Redmi K30: 120 Hz display, 5G and 64 MP camera – alternative instead of successor

The Redmi K20 was launched last year as the Mi 9T as an international version. Now the Redmi K30 was introduced as official successor and combines a lot of new hardware in one device, but in two versions. It is also Xiaomi’s first Smartphone with hole-punch display and at the same time the cheapest Smartphone with 120 Hz display on the market.

Redmi K30 Smartphone Punch Hole Camera

Redmi K30 at Trading ShenZhen from $285

Redmi K30 at Geekbuying from $285

Technical data of the Redmi K30

Redmi K30 5G Redmi K30 4G
Display 6.67″ IPS LC display (2400 x 1080p, 20:9 aspect ratio) with 120 Hz 6.67″ IPS LC display (2400 x 1080p, 20:9 aspect ratio) with 120 Hz
Processor Qualcom Snapdragon 765G @2.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G @ 2.2 GHz & 1.8 GHz
Graphics chip Adreno 620 Adreno 618
Working memory 6/8 GB LPDDR4X RAM 6/8 GB LPDDR4X RAM
Internal memory 64 / 128/ 256 GB UFS 2.1 64/128/256 GB UFS 2.1
Main camera 64 MP Sony IMX686 with ƒ/1.89 + 8 MP wide-angle camera + 5 MP macro camera + 2 MP portrait sensor 64 MP Sony IMX686 with ƒ/1.89 + 8 MP wide-angle camera + 2 MP macro camera + 2 MP portrait sensor
Front camera 20 MP + 2 MP 20 MP + 2 MP
Battery 4.500 mAh with 30W 4.500 mAh with 18W Quick Charge 3.0 (supports 27W Quick Charge 4+)
Connectivity WLAN AC, GPS/Galileo/BDS/GLONASS, Bluetooth 5, Dual SIM, NFC, 5G WLAN AC, GPS/Galileo/BDS/GLONASS, Bluetooth 5, Dual SIM, NFC, 4G
Features Fingerprint sensor on the side| USB Type-C | Headphone port | IR-Blaster Fingerprint sensor on the side| USB Type-C | Headphone port | IR-Blaster
Operating system MIUI 11, Android 10 MIUI 11, Android 10
Dimensions / Weight 165.3 x 76.6 x 8.79 mm / 208 g 165.3 x 76.6 x 8.79 mm / 208 g

Our test device is the 4G version of the Redmi K30, although we initially assumed the 5G version. This doesn’t make much difference to the previous evaluations, but we would have liked to see the new CPU in action.

Xiaomi dares to do something different

The Redmi K30 is the first smartphone from Xiaomi in a long time that feels fresh, just because you dare to do many “new” things. Especially the Hole-Punch design and the fingerprint sensor on the side are worth mentioning. I like the latter extremely well, for right-handers it is optimal for the thumb, but maybe even a bit too high. Furthermore, it works reliably and fast, there is still a difference between such capacitive sensors and fingerprint sensors in the display. What we find practical is that the fingerprint sensor is also a physical button. It serves as a classic power button.

With a display diagonal of 6.67″, the Redmi K30 is actually the largest current Xiaomi smartphone, only the Mi Max 3 from the penultimate generation is larger. With dimensions of 165.3 x 76.6 x 8.79 mm, it is also almost 1 cm longer than its direct predecessor.

The claim of rimlessness, which the predecessor probably fulfilled best thanks to the pop-up camera, is also fulfilled by the Redmi K30 on the whole. This doesn’t seem so because of the hole-punch camera, but the edges of the screen are very thin. With 4 mm at the bottom of the screen, the K30 is a “borderless” smartphone of the upper class, hardly any Android device can manage to have less border.

Xiaomi has commissioned a whole four colors for the K30: in addition to the standard blue and the now popular white and silver, there is also a very striking red and purple. The latter is somewhat reminiscent of the Mi 9, while the “red” Colorway was already represented in a similar way on the predecessor. Both sides of the phone are made of Gorilla Glass 5.

Processing & Handling

Even though Redmi is Xiaomi’s subsidiary, there is no saving in the wrong corners. The Redmi K30 is excellently manufactured, Xiaomi’s quality management is convincing all along the line. Especially the metal housing frame is convincing, holds the glass sandwich well together and gives an extremely high-quality impression. The small recess in the right side margin is helpful for the fingerprint sensor including button, in order to be able to directly identify it haptically. Overall, the phone is a real hand flatterer, even if it is a bit too big for me personally.

Unfortunately, the K30 also suffers from the “protruding camera module” syndrome, which is now almost commonplace with Xiaomi. I would say that many consumers would accept a thicker housing if the camera didn’t stick out. Because even the included silicone case can’t quite compensate for that. The Oppo Reno2 Z proves that this can be done better with the O-Dot, which carries the weight of the phone and protects the camera.

Another aspect that can be criticized is the circle around the camera module. It feels a bit pointless, as it is haptically indistinguishable from the rest of the back. On the other hand, the distorting effect when you look at it is quite cool and symbolizes the integrated ultra-wide angle camera.

First Punch-Hole Display from Xiaomi

The Redmi K30 from Xiaomi is Redmi’s first smartphone with a punch hole display. This was already clear before the release, when a picture appeared on Weibo showing the upper right corner of the smartphone’s screen. What’s particularly striking about it is that instead of a single camera, as the Honor View 20 has, for example, there are two cameras in the recess. The design isn’t entirely new, though, but has already been built into the Samsung Galaxy S10+. One could accuse Xiaomi of having copied every manufacturer and every design.

The Punch-Hole design polarizes, some hate it, others prefer it to the Notch. We don’t want to criticize Xiaomi for choosing this design. I’m not a hole-punch opponent, but the double front camera is much more intrusive than a single front camera. Moreover, the additional sensor is somewhat superfluous, since Xiaomi’s camera software is good enough to do without it. However, it is more similar to the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

The highlight: the 120 Hz display

The screen diagonal is 6.67 inches and the resolution is 2400 x 1080 pixels. Redmi works with a modern aspect ratio of 20:9 and, according to their own statements, has a screen-to-body ratio of 91%. But this is an IPS LC display and not an AMOLED panel. But since an AMOLED display was used in the predecessor, the Redmi K20 or Mi 9T, this could be interpreted as a “step backwards”.

The highlight of the Redmi K30 is definitely the 120 Hz display, which you guessed in advance. A screen with such a high refresh rate is currently found almost only in the ASUS ROG 2 or the iPad Pro. This is especially suitable for gaming, but also provides for a fluid everyday experience. And that is really really good! You automatically think you have a flagship in your hand, the top-class CPU feels like a top model, everything is faster and more fluid. You can get used to that!

The display itself also offers a good brightness and is in this respect and in terms of sharpness absolutely equivalent to the Mi 9T. The predecessor tends to a slight color shift in extreme angles, which isn’t visible on the IPS panel of the Redmi K30.

Criticism of the display

Unfortunately, you can see that the pixels surrounding the punch hole are slightly darker than the remaining pixels. This is especially noticeable when you look at it from above, but you usually don’t. It’s hard to tell if Xiaomi has done some dirty work here or if this is unavoidable, but with other punch-hole displays like the TCL Plex, this is definitely not as noticeable.

But a disadvantage of the high refresh rate is the higher battery load. Alternatively, the panel can also be switched to the usual 60 Hz. I would have liked to have had the possibility of a 90 Hz refresh rate, but that’s not the case. Also a smart adjustment of the Hz count is missing, this function is integrated for example in the Google Pixel 4.

Tip: Activate Dark Mode, then at least in many system apps it won’t be noticeable anymore. Alternatively, you can hide this “notch” completely in the preferences, with the option to hide it with or without the status bar. If you want to invest some time, you can also customize this in every app.

Strong performance despite “old” CPU

At the Qualcomm Tech-Summit, Xiaomi not only confirmed the new Snapdragon 865 processor for the Xiaomi Mi 10, but also the Snapdragon 765G for the Redmi K30 5G was confirmed by Lu Weibing (Redmi GM). Even though it is not a flagship processor, the CPU still offers support for the new 5G standard. The chip consists of a Cryo 475 core with 2.4 GHz, a Cryo 475 Gold core with 2.2 GHz and six more Cryo 475 Silver cores with 1.8 GHz clock frequency. In the AnTuTu benchmark, the CPU already scored over 300.00 points, which is definitely appropriate for the upper class. The same processor is also found in the Realme X50, by the way.

Mi Note 10 Snapdragon 730G

The bad news is that so far we’ve only been able to test the Redmi K30 4G, where the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, which is also being used in the Xiaomi Mi Note 10, for example, is making trouble. Even though the processor in the Mi Note 10 had its problems with the camera sensor, it shows its strengths in the K30. The K30 is fast and that in fact in every situation. Multitasking is no challenge thanks to the 6 GB LPDDR4X memory, nor is gaming.

The only speed lag we noticed was when loading the gallery, where the individual pictures were loaded bit by bit. PUBG or Asphalt 9, on the other hand, run as smoothly as on a flagship smartphone, even if you shouldn’t choose the very highest settings in favor of the frame rate. But here, too, there is no difference in performance between the Redmi K20 and K30; one would expect a noticeably better performance from a successor.

Benchmark results

Unfortunately, the AnTuTu benchmark couldn’t be installed on our test device for reasons unknown so far, but the other benchmarks are enough to prove our assessment. We only noticed that the PCMark benchmark in the K30 turns out significantly higher than in the Mi Note 10 with the same CPU, with almost 9,000 points. But almost identical values were achieved in the Geekbench 5 benchmark, so the other benchmark seems to be just an outlier.

No battery monster

The battery of the Redmi K30 5G and Redmi K30 4G turns out quite big with 4.500 mAh and has increased by another 500 mAh in comparison to the predecessor. It’s very interesting that Redmi apparently slowly but surely moves away from the 4.000 mAh standard and increases a bit. After all, the Redmi Note 8 Pro has already installed a battery of the same size. Both versions of the K30 are delivered with the Xiaomi 27W charger, which is also used for the manufacturer’s 20W Qi charger, for example. However, you can’t charge the mobile phone wirelessly.

The wired charging of the Redmi K30 is very fast, the Quick Charge 4+ support is especially noticeable in the first half hour, where the device moves from 22% to 77% within 30 minutes. A complete charge then again takes a good hour and 20 minutes. Thus, the smartphone reaches a benchmark value of 9 hours and 30 minutes with the 120 Hz display turned on, which is an average value. Here you can see how hungry for electricity the 120 Hz panel is, but this can easily be compensated with the 60 Hz panel. In my opinion, you should only do this if absolutely necessary, otherwise you eliminate the biggest unique selling point of this phone.

Quad camera with new Sony sensor

The first real picture of the back has already confirmed what we suspected. The Redmi K30 is equipped with a quad camera, which comes into its own in a round design, as it is used in the OnePlus 7T. However, the cameras have been arranged vertically instead of horizontally. Fortunately, Redmi uses the brand new Sony IMX 686 sensor with 64 megapixel resolution & ƒ/1.89 aperture as the main camera. We first suspected this in the upcoming Xiaomi Mi 10.

In addition, there is a 5 megapixel macro camera with 2 cm close-up limit and ƒ/2.4 f-stop, an 8 megapixel ultra-wide angle camera with 120° shooting angle and an additional 2 MP sensor, which is used for portrait photography. The Redmi K30 4G, which we are testing here, unfortunately only has a 2 megapixel macro sensor, otherwise the camera specifications are identical.

The Redmi K30 seems to be what the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 wanted to be. Although the quad camera does without long focal lengths, the new Sony sensor has what it takes. We like the test photos very much, the sharpness in focus is first class – wow! Towards the edges, however, it quickly becomes a bit blurred, which you notice when looking at fonts, for example. Here you notice that a current iPhone, for example, covers a larger focus range, but the K30 can shine with more details in focus. The colors are natural and tend towards the iPhone color profile, but Xiaomi’s photos are a bit more contrasty.

 

I would also rate the night mode as positive, which in the end only offers a long time exposure. Here, there is also a clear difference to a normal photo with the same lighting, photos from the night mode are clearly brighter. Almost too bright, but this is complaining on a high level. Here it has to compete with the current pole position, the iPhone 11 (Pro/Pro Max). We like this even better in comparison, as it can tickle out more details and isn’t as grainy, but there are at least $400 to $500 between them.

64 Megapixel camera

Xiaomi (unfortunately) gets involved in the megapixel madness, which the Mi Note 10 proves very well. Even if 48 and 64 megapixel sensors are almost standard, the 64 MP mode integrated here unfortunately doesn’t offer the desired added value. You can zoom in on the picture very far on the phone, but this will reveal more recognizable pixels than more details. Therefore, we would only recommend the 64 MP mode in practice if you know in advance that you might want to print the photo you’ve taken.

The Redmi K30 shoots photos with 16 megapixel resolution as standard, as the native 64 million pixels always combine four to one larger pixel. In practice, this results in a higher light sensitivity and a smaller data set for the photos. On the positive side, the K30 itself processes these photos really quickly and you can access the photo directly and zoom in quickly – that’s how it should be.

Wide angle camera

The good quality also applies not only to the main sensor. The pictures of the wide angle camera hardly differ in color from the main sensor, but here you generally get more grainy pictures. Nevertheless, this is definitely one of the better wide-angle cameras in a smartphone, even if the distortion is felt to be a little stronger. But you get a relatively good image quality with matching colors.

Portrait photos

Xiaomi’s industry strength is portrait photography, both with the main camera and the front camera. Xiaomi’s software is already good, the K30 even goes one better. The edge detection is probably the best I’ve ever seen on a smartphone. The bokeh is also very natural, softer than hard. In the gallery you can adjust the Bokeh afterwards, but it will be saved with the chosen setting.

Macro camera

After initial euphoria about the first macro cameras in smartphones, we are now somewhat more critical. Such a 2 megapixel sensor offers too low a resolution to take “good” photos, even though we still like the effect. The 5G version finally uses a higher resolution sensor, so the first macro photos were taken with this initial euphoria and I was very impressed. I was all the more surprised when I noticed that I was holding the 4G version with the 2 megapixel sensor in my hands, but it did a much better job than in smartphones like the Redmi Note 8 Pro.

Although I wished for even more high-resolution photos, I still like the sharpness quite well. Also the colors are reproduced lifelike, so you can create a nice effect that alienates familiar objects.

Front camera

On the front side, a dual front camera is integrated, consisting of a 20 megapixel sensor and a 2 megapixel sensor that only collects additional image information for portrait shots. As already mentioned, this would not have been necessary at all, even without the second camera, the selfies are very good in portrait mode. Especially the sharpness is the argument par excellence, but also the skin tones are well met. Only the colors of the two selfies are not quite lifelike, but still more than acceptable.

All connection options

As with the predecessor, one remains faithful to the connection possibilities. There is a 3.5 mm jack input and a USB type-C port on the bottom. Dual SIM is also represented as always, but the memory expansion is only possible in the 4G variant. This is a hybrid SIM slot; either only 2 nano-SIM cards or a nano-SIM and a microSD card are possible at the same time.

But it was already known before that the new smartphone will be 5G capable, of course only in the 5G version of course. Interestingly, the K30 will have both SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) mode. The latter is mainly used in the transition phase from 4G to 5G. For this purpose, an X52 5G modem is integrated, which enables download speeds of up to 3.7 Gbps.

Of course there is also Dual Band GPS on board, Redmi even talks about 5G GPS, which is even more accurate in combination with the 5G network. For mobile payments NFC is also integrated, mobile or local Internet is enabled by LTE bands and Dual Band WiFi. To enjoy media content on the rather large display, Redmi uses a Hi-Res audio chip. As it is a Chinese version, you can’t play video streaming content in Full HD due to the Widevine Level 3.

Even with the China version you have very good LTE reception in the conurbation with the O2 network. Video streaming starts almost immediately, we didn’t experience any dropouts and the call quality is also convincing. However, if you live in more rural areas, you should wait for the Global version or use an alternative device.

MIUI 11: Finally with App Drawer

On the Redmi K30 there is of course also MIUI 11, the latest operating system from Xiaomi, which also runs on the Mi Note 10. But Xiaomi’s interface is already based on Android 10, the latest Google operating system. With MIUI 11 they finally fixed some weaknesses like the notification problem and modernized the design. Differences to previous versions also refer to the Notch, in this case the Punch-Hole camera, which can also be hidden with or without a status bar.

Now, if you’re wondering, “MIUI? What’s that supposed to be”, then the following explanation: MIUI stands for (Xiao)Mi User Interface or Mobile Internet User Interface and is Xiaomi’s own operating system. It is based on Android, in this case 10, of course, but is highly customized, both visually and functionally. In general, it is equipped from the ground up with many of its own services such as Mi Cloud, Mi App Store or Mi Share and is therefore strongly based on Apple iOS, as the non-standard App Drawer proves. But since MIUI 11 you can finally activate it easily: Settings -> Home Screen/Home Screen -> Regular -> with App Drawer.

Since this is the China version, the whole operating system is only available in English or Chinese. For other languages you have to wait for the global version, which hasn’t been announced yet, or you have to rely on custom ROMs, which we only want to recommend with the appropriate expertise in flashing. MIUI 11 is available at our test device in the version MIUI 11.0.9.0 Stable, the security patch is from December 2019 and thus very up-to-date.

Installing Google services on the China version is very easy.

Where are the extras?

Slowly the puppy status attributed to Xiaomi due to her relatively young company history has worn off. Therefore we have to criticize several missing features. From an upper mid-range smartphone like the Redmi K30, you can also expect a stereo speaker, which is unfortunately missing here. The mono loudspeaker sits on the bottom left and provides a loud but quickly overdriven sound. The fact that you don’t use the auricle as an additional loudspeaker is wasted potential.

We also have to criticize the still missing water protection. Even if this criticism would be even more appropriate for a much more expensive Xiaomi Mi Note 10, we want to set an example, an IP67 rating would be appropriate by now. The same probably also applies to wireless charging, which in my opinion could also find its way into the middle class. After all, this is, similar to NFC, a pseudo-luxury feature. The technology has been around forever.

Conclusion of the Redmi K30: Alternative instead of successor

With the Redmi K30 one presents the probably first “middle class” 5G smartphone and decides, at least for Xiaomi, for a “new” design. Now Xiaomi has every possible design in its own portfolio, so in addition to the Waterdrop-Notch, Slider and Pop-Up Camera, it now also has the Hole-Punch Display. This is certainly not the same, but the integrated 120 Hz display is the real highlight. This is usually only available in high-end smartphones like the ASUS ROG 2 or even in an iPad Pro.

After some disappointments from the Xiaomi universe, the Redmi K30 is definitely a real highlight again, which polarizes. A strong display, possibly the best main camera of a Xiaomi smartphone, a very brisk performance in all areas and a modern operating system make for an all-round strong phone in this price range. Unfortunately, you have to sacrifice the typical Xiaomi battery life for the 120 Hz display.

Apart from this, however, points of criticism can also be formulated. The fact that, in opposition to the predecessor, one relies on an IPS panel and not an AMOLED, is a step backwards. That you use the same CPU, at least in the 4G version, isn’t a step forward. Moreover, in contrast to the predecessor, there is no telecamera, which is also a step backwards. That lets me come to the conclusion: The K30 should probably not be seen as a successor, but rather as an equally strong, coexisting smartphone with advantages and disadvantages. That wouldn’t be the first time with Xiaomi, and that also applies to the Redmi Note 6 & 6 Pro or the Redmi 7A and 8A, for example.

This also means: If you are currently looking for a strong middle class smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi 9T is still very good and at least won’t be replaced by the 4G version. Until then we have to wait if and how the Redmi K30 will find its way to us.

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Thorben

My special interests are smartphones from China and I am always keen to discover new smartphone accessories like smartwatches and headphones. 

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