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Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Introduction

Back in March 2021, Redmi announced that it sold over 25 million units of the original Redmi Note 8 globally. And to celebrate the milestone, in May the company introduced a refreshed version of the Redmi Note 8, dubbed Redmi Note 8 2021.

Xiaomi clearly meant to keep this all popular device in circulation, but the reality of chipset shortages across all industries meant that the chipset had to be swapped to keep the model afloat.

The swap of the Snapdragon 665 chipset with a MediaTek Helio G85 represents a side-grade at best, since it does bump up the Bluetooth radio to Bluetooth 5.2, but at the same time limits video capture to FullHD, instead of 4K. You also get an extra splash-resistant coating compared to the original model.

The Redmi Note 8 2021 can no longer be had with 6GB of RAM either, just 3GB or 4GB, but, on the flip side, its entry-level storage has been bumped up to 64GB, instead of 32GB.

The color options are now fewer too – Moonlight White, Space Black and the Neptune Blue we have on our review unit. Nebula Purple and Cosmic Purple are no longer options.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 specs at a glance:

  • Body: 158.3×75.3×8.4mm, 190g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), plastic frame.
  • Display: 6.30″ IPS LCD, 500 nits (typ), 1080x2340px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 409ppi.
  • Chipset: MediaTek Helio G85 (12nm): Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G52 MC2.
  • Memory: 64GB 3GB RAM, 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM; eMMC 5.1; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
  • OS/Software: Android 11, MIUI 12.5.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2, 120-degree, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4; Depth: 2 MP, f/2.4.
  • Front camera: 13 MP, f/2.0, (wide), 1/3.1″, 1.12µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 1080p@30/120fps; gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 4000mAh; Fast charging 18W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted); FM radio; Infrared port; 3.5mm jack.

Other than that, the Redmi Note 8 2021 is essentially the same as its 2019 predecessor both on the outside and in all of its other specs and hardware. The camera setup is the same, so are the display and the battery. Also identical – the price tag, which is probably the biggest bummer of all, since all of the specs changes could have been stomached alongside a nice price drop.

Even so, prices change, and the Redmi Note 8 2021 could still become a viable budget opting at the right MSRP. Let’s dive in and see how the changes have affected the new Redmi Note 8 2021.

Unboxing

The retail box for the Redmi Note 8 2021 unsurprisingly looks quite similar to that of the regular Redmi Note 8. A few different text placements and a different wallpaper printed on the box are pretty much the only distinguishing features. The box itself is a standard two-piece affair – nice and thick cardboard all around.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

In terms of included accessories, you get a nice and thick transparent TPU case so you can confidently start using the phone straight away.

There is a notable value add-in the included 22.5W Quick Charge 3+ charger included in the box. This is an upgrade from the 10W charger that came with the original Redmi Note 8. It is still a USB Type-A unit and there is a relatively short Type-A to Type-C cable in the box as well.

Depending on your region, some units will come with a factory-applied screen protector. And while it may not be the most premium piece of shielding, it’s still very much appreciated.

Design and materials

Like we mentioned, the Redmi Note 8 2021 is physically identical to the vanilla Redmi Note 8. It has the same 158.3 x 75.3 x 8.4 mm dimensions and tips the scale at 190g. As a whole, its design is far from premium in the traditional sense – thick bezels surround the 6.3-inch display, for a total of about 81.7% screen-to-body ratio. However, just because you aren’t getting a borderless display doesn’t mean the Redmi Note 8 2021 lacks any charm of its own. Quite the contrary.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

The Redmi Note 8 2021 still has one of the prettier display frames around. On our Neptune Blue unit, there is a subtle blue accent on the left and right bezel, which intensifies around the bottom just below the Redmi logo. It is not over the top and makes for a cool and unique look.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Left: Redmi Note 8 2021 * Right: Redmi Note 8 Pro

The frame is painted in the same blue hue as the bezels, and it adds even more points to Redmi Note 8 2021’s looks. It is made of plastic, though it took us a while to figure that out as it doesn’t feel cheap at all. So, we definitely won’t hold the choice of material against this Note.

The subtle, yet distinctive color play is arguably even more striking on the back on the phone. The Neptune Blue version is based on the somewhat pearly blue color that goes gently to purple towards the bottom of the phone.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Even though the Redmi Note 8 2021 can no longer be had in either Nebula Purple or Cosmic Purple, you can still pick one up in Moonlight White. On that one the colors go from light blue to light purple. The middle frame on that one is silver, which is a good pairing. If that is a bit too colorful for your taste, there is also the Space Black, which also has all of its body parts uniformly colored but skips on subtle color gradients and shades and foes for solid black on the back.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

It should be noted that all of these colors, including their shades, gradients and hues, are borrowed straight from the old Redmi Note 8. That is not a complaint in the slightest and doesn’t really diminish the fact that the overall look is still quite unique, eye-catching and distinctive, but just a clarification. Overall, the Redmi Note 8 2021 is a great-looking device.

Despite its affordable price tag, the Redmi Note 8 2021 doesn’t feel cheap in any way. The two big pieces of Gorilla Glass 5 on its back and front definitely contribute to that end. This was the case on the older Redmi Note 8 as well.

Allegedly, the new model also has an extra internal water coating applied for improved ingress protection. This should be noted and is worthy of some extra “points”, so to say, though even with it, the Redmi Note 8 2021 still lacks any formal ingress protection rating. Perhaps partially for cost reasons.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

All that glass inevitably makes the Redmi Note 8 2021 a bit slippery and prone to accumulating fingerprints and grease. Not more so than any other modern glass phone, though. Plus, the back panel arguably makes all of this up in looks alone. The gradients are gorgeous, there is an awesome S-shape under different light conditions, and the pearl-like color is one of a kind.

Controls

The Redmi Note 8 2021 has a pretty rich set of controls. Ironically more than you are likely to get on a modern flagship or midranger. In terms of actual buttons, there is a power button and a volume rocker on the right side – both offer great tactile feedback and are conveniently positioned. No complaints there.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

There is a traditional capacitive fingerprint reader on the back of the phone. It is very fast and accurate. These kinds of sensors are mature at this point, not to mention inexpensive, making them a great budget choice. Especially until under-display units catch up in pricing and performance.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

There is a single bottom-firing speaker on the Redmi Note 8 2021. A stereo setup is potentially attainable even at this price point. Flanking that on the bottom of the phone, you have a trusty, old 3.5mm audio jack and the main microphone. The USB Type-C port can expectedly only do USB 2.0 speeds but does also support USB Holt mode.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

On the top side of the phone, we find a secondary noise-canceling microphone, as well as an IR blaster. That’s an increasingly rare feature, with Xiaomi seemingly being one of the last remaining companies keeping it around. Impressively so on a device as cheap as the Redmi Note 8 2021.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

The Redmi Note 8 2021 has support for two nano-SIM cards. Nothing too fancy – dual-SIM, dual-standby 4G. The tray is a triple-slot one and includes a dedicated microSD card slot. No picking and choosing between a second SIM and more storage.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

In another great “retro” move, the Redmi Note 8 2021 also has a status LED on the front, above the display. It is not RGB and only does white. Even so, this is yet another increasingly rare feature nowadays and one we love to see.

Finishing off, a “quick-fire” round on controls and connectivity in no particular order: there is no NFC, but an FM radio is included in the mix. In terms of sensors, you get an accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor and compass. There is a lux meter on the front, as well.

The MediaTek Helio G85 might not be able to do 4K video capture, but it does offer a newer Bluetooth 5.2 adapter, plus GALILEO support on its GPS receiver.

Familiar basic 6.5-inch, 60Hz LCD

The display on the new Redmi Note 8 2021 hasn’t really change compared to the original Redmi Note 8. That is to say, it still measures 6.5-inches in diagonal, has a FullHD resolution and has a 60Hz refresh rate. However, looking at some of our benchmark scores, we are confident that Xiaomi has swapped out the original panel for a different, less-performant one. Not by a lot, but the difference is measurable.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Starting with brightness, the new Redmi Note 8 2021 managed a decent 559 nits of maximum brightness on the slider – a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. However, it didn’t quite manage to hit the same max outdoor brightness overburn, but it still almost got there with a total of 620 nits. Not too shabby for an LCD, but not overly impressive either.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro (Max Auto) 0 725
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 (Max Auto) 0 682
Realme 8 (Max Auto) 0 657
Motorola Edge 20 (Max Auto) 0 650
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro (Max Auto) 0.486 640 1317:1
Realme X7 Max 5G (Max Auto) 0 640
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 (Max Auto) 0.475 631 1328:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 (Max Auto) 0.376 620 1649:1
Realme 8 5G (Max Auto) 0.408 577 1414:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 0.376 559 1487:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 5G (Max Auto) 0.275 492 1789:1
Xiaomi Redmi 10 (Max Auto) 0.4 477 1193:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 0 475
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 0.311 473 1521:1
Realme 8 5G 0.334 472 1413:1
Samsung Galaxy A12 (Max Auto) 0.349 472 1352:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T (Max Auto) 0.412 471 1143:1
Motorola Edge 20 0 466
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro 0.347 460 1326:1
Realme 8 0 458
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro 0 457
Xiaomi Redmi 9T (Max Auto) 0.32 437 1366:1
Realme X7 Max 5G 0 433
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T 0.337 413 1226:1
Samsung Galaxy A02s 0.23 406 1765:1
Samsung Galaxy A12 0.292 398 1363:1
Xiaomi Redmi 10 0 396 1494:1
Xiaomi Redmi 9T 0.239 381 1594:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 5G 0.21 377 1795:1
Motorola Moto G50 0.199 362 1819:1

Colors are a whole other story and, unfortunately, one that hints at a downgraded LCD on the new Redmi Note 8 2021. Where the original model managed impressive accuracy and coverage of the sRGB color space in its Standard mode, the new model missed the mark, by a lot, with noticeably blue whites and duller reds and greens, in comparison.

Xiaomi does offer custom white point adjustment, which allowed us to get a lot closer to proper sRGB tuning, but not quite there. Plus, this resulted in a reddish tint when looking at the display in person – not great either. Still, here are our settings for the most accurate sRGB color profile possible on our review unit. To reiterate, it falls short of being considered “color accurate”.

Custom white point for closes possible sRGB color reproduction - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Custom white point for closes possible sRGB color reproduction

Beyond that, the Redmi Note 8 2021 has two other color modes – vivid and saturated, the first being the default, which also comes with a promise of some automatic adaptation to whatever content is currently on screen, whatever that entails.

The two profiles don’t actually differ much in terms of color reproduction, according to our testing, so if you encounter any odd behavior while using the default vivid mode, just switch to saturated.

There is one more thing that makes us think the new Redmi Note 8 2021 has a different panel – a total lack of HDR support, as reported by the software. Sure, we are talking about HDR on a pretty unimpressive LCD to begin with, but the original Redmi Note 8 did report HDR10 capabilities. You do at least get Widevine L1 certification, which enables above HD streaming from services like Netflix.

HDR and Widevine support - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
HDR and Widevine support - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
HDR and Widevine support - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

HDR and Widevine support

Finally, while testing the Redmi Note 8 2021, it was hard to ignore the sluggish pixel response times on its panel. Granted, we have seen much worse, but that still doesn’t make the ghosting and smearing of text that occurs with slower scrolls any less annoying to experience here.

All in all, the display on our Redmi Note 8 2021 unit is decent, at its finest and disappointingly, a bit worse than that on our original Redmi Note 8 review unit.

Battery life

The Redmi Note 8 2021 has a 4,000 mAh battery, just like its vanilla sibling. Since its other major energy consumer – the display – is unchanged, any potential difference in battery life will come down to the swapped chipset or will be within the margin of error of the testing methodology.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

The new Redmi Note 8 2021 managed a respectable 102-hour endurance rating, comparable to the 108 hours on the original Redmi Note 8, but not quite there. While small, the difference is noticeable and spread across almost all of our tests, making it consistent.

The new Helio MediaTek G85 appears to be consistently using more power than the Snapdragon 665. The one exception being in-call endurance, where the new Redmi Note 2021 managed a slightly better number. One that was unfortunately offset by worse standby performance, as well as web browsing and video playback.

On a more positive note, cross-referencing these numbers with the only other MediaTek Helio G85 phone we have on record in our battery endurance database – the Redmi Note 9 – proves the results are quite consistent. Taking into account the bigger 5,020 mAh battery on the Redmi Note 9, of course.

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

Charging speed

The Redmi Note 8 2021 offers far from the fastest charging around. As per its official specs, it peaks at 18W of charging. In practice, this makes for a respectable 34% charge from zero in 30 minutes, with a full charge taking around 2 hours.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    70%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    65%
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    60%
  • Realme 8
    56%
  • Poco X3 NFC
    55%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    50%
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    45%
  • Huawei P Smart 2021
    42%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
    39%
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    36%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    34%
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (18W)
    33%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    33%
  • Motorola Moto G30
    32%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
    31%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    30%
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    30%
  • Realme 8 5G
    29%
  • Xiaomi Redmi 10
    26%
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    25%
  • Poco M3
    25%
  • Motorola Moto G10
    22%
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9
    20%
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    20%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    1:00h
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    1:04h
  • Realme 8
    1:09h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1:13h
  • Poco X3 NFC
    1:15h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1:21h
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    1:40h
  • Huawei P Smart 2021
    1:42h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    1:50h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    1:59h
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    2:11h
  • Xiaomi Redmi 10
    2:13h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    2:15h
  • Realme 8 5G
    2:20h
  • Motorola Moto G30
    2:28h
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    2:30h
  • Poco M3
    2:30h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
    2:33h
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    2:36h
  • Motorola Moto G10
    3:00h
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3:03h

These numbers were achieved using the bundled Xiaomi MDY-11-EP charger, which is officially capable of outputting 22.5W and is certified for Quick Charge 3+ charging, with the following outputs: 5V / 3A (15W), 9V / 2.23A (20W), 12V / 1.67A (20W), 10V / 2.25A (22.5W). This is all fine and dandy, but we find it quite unlikely that the Redmi Note 8 2021, in particular, is charging using Qualcomm’s Quick Charge tech after the swap to a MediaTek G85 chipset. While not impossible to equip it with a separate charging IC, that seems quite unlikely on such a budget phone and Xiaomi is probably relying on the one included in the chipset, which supports the competing MediaTek Pump Express standard. It is officially not compatible with Quick Charge. In fact, the two use different methods of negotiating voltages and current, albeit with comparable results and granularity.

Hence, we can’t quite say whether Xiaomi’s provided MDY-11-EP charger supports Pump Express as well, or there is some other magic going on behind the scenes. But, for what it’s worth, the Redmi Note 8 2021 does manage to top-off a bit faster than in vanilla sibling.

Speakers

The Redmi Note 8 2021 has a single bottom-firing speaker. Nothing fancy, no stereo setup, like on the Redmi 10, Redmi 9T or Poco M3, not even an amplified earpiece. Not ideal, for sure.

The speaker itself is not particularly impressive either. With -28.6 LUFS of loudness, it only managed an Average score on our scale, and its frequency response is nothing to phone home about either – particularly on the low-end. We would take the stereo setup on any of the aforementioned Xiaomi models any day of the week instead.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

MIUI 12.5.6 on top of Android 11

Xiaomi has always excelled when it comes to equipping its phones, even the budget ones, with the latest and greatest OS and features it has to offer, as well as supporting them in the long run. The Redmi Note 8 2021 is definitely no exception. It ships with what is probably the freshest MUI build we have seen to date – 12.5.6, on top of a current Android 11 core.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

MIUI is far from a pure Android experience, but Xiaomi’s skin has matured quite a bit over the years. The software runs smoothly, offers an abundance of settings and customizations, even on a low-end phone like the Redmi Note 8 2021.

One big change with MIUI 12 is the notification shade. Now divided in two, all your notifications can be seen by swiping from the left half of the screen while the revamped quick toggle buttons are summoned with a swipe down from the right half of the screen. The most commonly used ones are highlighted with different colors and bigger icons. The rest can be re-arranged, and, of course, the brightness slider is where it should be.

New and old notification shade and Control centre - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
New and old notification shade and Control centre - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
New and old notification shade and Control centre - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
New and old notification shade and Control centre - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
New and old notification shade and Control centre - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
New and old notification shade and Control centre - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

New and old notification shade and Control centre

The notification panel offers you a choice between standard Android notification cards and the revamped MIUI ones that go better with the overall MIUI aesthetics.

And even though MIUI 12.5 sounds like a minor update over the MIUI 12, it’s actually a bearer of a slew of new features. Some of them are security and privacy-related. You can prevent apps from accessing your personal information such as location, private data, clipboard and even won’t save passwords.

General settings menu - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
General settings menu - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
General settings menu - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

General settings menu

Secondly, Xiaomi has worked on transition animations and the overall design and compares the smoothness and simplicity of those to Apple’s iOS. And we must say, we definitely do see the resemblance, for better or worse, that’s for you to decide.

The system comes with fewer pre-installed apps, streamlining the system app experience. Additionally, there are several under-the-hood changes thanks to the revisited back-end code. Allegedly, the OS now draws 25% less power, and background memory usage has been decreased by 35%.

There are plenty of customization options available, starting with an abundance of wallpapers. Xiaomi has introduced a new dynamic wallpaper of the Four Sisters Mountain in China, so your phone is in line with your environment. The picture adapts to your current location’s weather report while new sounds for notifications are added to better suit your surroundings. Multiple notifications will come in different tones.

Wallpapers and Themes - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Wallpapers and Themes - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Wallpapers and Themes - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Wallpapers and Themes - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Wallpapers and Themes

Themes have been an integral part of the MIUI experience, so Xiaomi has once again provided an insane number of themes in its store.

In terms of more general UX tweaks, you can choose whether you want an app drawer or not, as well as tweak pretty much every aspect of the system UI, like icons and their size and colors. Buttons and gestures are also naturally available for navigation, with plenty of customizable gestures.

Home screen and navigation options - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Home screen and navigation options - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Home screen and navigation options - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Home screen and navigation options - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Home screen and navigation options - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Home screen and navigation options

The app drawer, should you choose to use it, is highly customizable in its own right as well. There are categories to adjust, as well as more visual aspects, like the slider and backgrounds.

Add drawer settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Add drawer settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Add drawer settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Add drawer settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Add drawer settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Add drawer settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Add drawer settings

There is also a nifty, dedicated Lite mode that saves you the trouble of dealing with all of these UX tweaks and simply leaves you with a cleaner, bigger and pretty well-organized experience, perfect for minimalists or remedial users.

Lite mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Lite mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Lite mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Lite mode

The extra features don’t stop there either; there is an “Additional settings” menu, with more than a few interesting entries, like a feature-rich screen recorder, an in-depth button-shortcut customizer and even a special maintenance mode meant to clear out your speaker from dirt.

Additional settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Additional settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Additional settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Additional settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Additional settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Additional settings

Then there is also the “Special features” menu, which has even more extra features, like the Lite mode we already mentioned. Here we also find a Video toolbox, which is a set of real-time filters and effects that can be applied to video players on the fly and on a per-app basis. Also, “Game Turbo” – Xiaomi’s game launcher – complete with a game optimizer and an in-game toolbar.

Special features and Game Turbo - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Special features and Game Turbo - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Special features and Game Turbo - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Special features and Game Turbo - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Special features and Game Turbo - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Special features and Game Turbo

Floating Windows allows you to open an app in a floating window, which will appear on top of everything else you open, even a full-screen app. The feature is now more easily accessible via the recent apps menu. Which, by the way, offers deep memory clean that wipes off the apps that are loaded into the RAM.

Floating windows - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Floating windows - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Floating windows - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Floating windows - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Floating windows - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Floating windows

Honestly, the sheer number of additional features that MIUI 12.5 offers is awe-inspiring, particularly on a budget device like the Redmi Note 8 2021. Few custom ROMs, if any, can even come close in terms of feature set. There is even Android Auto baked straight in.

You’ve probably already picked it up by now that we liked the way MIUI 12.5 turned out. It’s well-designed, it offers an abundance of cool features, and it runs great, for the most part. We did notice some minor slowdowns and hiccups, but that’s to be expected given the modest hardware the Redmi Note 8 2021 has to work with. Also, the Memory extension feature, as seen on the recent Redmi 10, was nowhere to be found. Otherwise, day-to-day performance is really good.

Performance

Time for some real talk. Why would Xiaomi take the perfectly good Snapdragon 665 from the original Redmi Note 8, rip it out and replace it with a MediaTek Helio G85, as found in the new Redmi Note 8 2021. Clearly, the downgrade in the chipset’s DSP capabilities from 4K video capture, down to 1080p weren’t a desired thing for the engineering team. Nor marketing, for that matter. Why would a special edition commemorating the huge sales success of the regular one be deliberately worse? Well, it almost certainly has to do with the ongoing chip shortage we are currently experiencing.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Due to a number of factors, including the ongoing global pandemic and steadily-increasing demand for all sorts of chips by the PC industry, as well as other major clients, like the new generation of gaming consoles, the tech industry, collectively, is experiencing a huge and prolonged shortage of chips. Why don’t they just make more, some of you might ask? Well, it’s that would take a lengthy explanation to cover in its entirely, since it has to touch upon things like chip manufacturing processes, limitations and requirements, fab capacity, time allotment, binning, supply chains and all sorts of other things. Simply put – it is proving very hard to remedy this shortage on multiple levels, and we are likely to continue experiencing it for a while to come. Hence, to grossly simplify the particular situation Xiaomi likely faced with the Redmi Note 8 2021 – there were simply not enough Snapdragon 665 chips out there for one reason or another.

Hope that crude explanation at last partially explains the situation. The chipset swap clearly leaves the new Redmi Note 8 2021 a bit deficient, particularly in the CPU department. Even though the two chips are sort of comparable, the Snapdragon 665 has four performance Kryo 260 Gold cores, clocked at up to 2.0 GHz and another four Kryo 260 Silver, going up to 1.8 GHz, whereas the MediaTek Helio G85 gets just two “big” 2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 and another six 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 ones.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    1862
  • Realme 8 5G
    1784
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    1783
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1780
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    1775
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    1719
  • Realme 8
    1690
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1599
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
    1576
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    1400
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    1400
  • Poco M3
    1398
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    1385
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    1339
  • Realme Narzo 20
    1328
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (Prime)
    1325
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    1321
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    1314
  • Xiaomi Redmi 10
    1294
  • Redmi Note 9
    1292
  • Motorola Moto G30
    1265
  • Motorola Moto G10
    1139
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1034
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    495

Even so, on a much more positive note, looking at GeekBench and its pure-CPU loads, we can see the older Redmi Note 8 outpaces the Redmi Note 8 2021 by just a few points in multi-core testing, where the higher total CPU clock of the former has the upper hand. But, the difference is not that big. This is most likely due to the fact the Cortex-A75 and A55 cores inside the MediaTek chip are simply newer and more efficient than the Kryo 260 Gold and Silver of the Snapdragon. Those are Cortex-A73 and Cortex-A53 derivatives, respectively.

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    595
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    591
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    572
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    569
  • Realme 8 5G
    569
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    560
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    534
  • Realme 8
    533
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
    502
  • Realme Narzo 20
    385
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (Prime)
    362
  • Xiaomi Redmi 10
    361
  • Redmi Note 9
    361
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    352
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    315
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    314
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    311
  • Poco M3
    308
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    307
  • Motorola Moto G30
    306
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    299
  • Motorola Moto G10
    247
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    169
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    131

This benefit of newer design is clearly visible in the single-core runs, where the entire load is put on one of the bigger cores and the Cortex-A75 of the Redmi Note 8 2021 outpaces the Kryo 260 Gold (Cortex-A73) of the older Redmi Note 8.

Simply put, in terms of CPU performance, the Redmi Note 8 2021 is about as good as its predecessor, with little to no difference in practical terms.

Moving on to more compound benchmarks like AnTuTu, we, in fact, start to see the newer Redmi Note 8 2021 model gain even more momentum and a wider lead on its predecessor. AnTuTu does take into account some additional hardware factors, like RAM and storage size and speed, and for the sake of thoroughness, we should note that our testing was done on a 4GB/64GB Redmi Note 8 unit and a 4GB/128GB variant of the new Redmi Note 8 2021, which could account for some of the difference in score. The newer OS version might affect the results, too.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    325777
  • Realme 8 5G
    302059
  • Realme 8
    298328
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    295442
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    290161
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    288732
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    242155
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    218788
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (Prime)
    201829
  • Redmi Note 9
    200414
  • Realme Narzo 20
    193912
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    180195
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    177917
  • Poco M3
    177904
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    173611
  • Motorola Moto G30
    170968
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    169543
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    161572
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    161106
  • Motorola Moto G10
    140230
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    107189
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    90811

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • Realme 8 5G
    361505
  • Realme 8
    357488
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
    330909
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    223188
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    165779

A much bigger contributor for the higher score, however, seems to be the GPU setup. The new Redmi Note 8 2021 is rocking a Mali-G52 MC2 setup, which, while definitely not impressive in absolute terms, appears to be performing better than the Adreno 610 inside the original Redmi Note 8.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    53
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    53
  • Realme 8 5G
    38
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    38
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    32
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    25
  • Realme Narzo 20
    25
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    24
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    21
  • Motorola Moto G30
    20
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    19
  • Poco M3
    19
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    19
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    19
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    19
  • Motorola Moto G10
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    9.3

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    49
  • Realme 8
    48
  • Realme Narzo 20
    44
  • Realme 8 5G
    35
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    35
  • Motorola Moto G30
    34
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    31
  • Motorola Moto G10
    25
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    22
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    19
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    18
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    18
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    17
  • Poco M3
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    16
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    16

This is also clear from the various GFXBench runs, where the Redmi Note 8 2021 manages a consistent lead, which remains present even as the tests themselves ramp-up in difficulty.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    34
  • Realme 8
    33
  • Realme 8 5G
    25
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    24
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    17
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    16
  • Realme Narzo 20
    16
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    15
  • Motorola Moto G30
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    13
  • Poco M3
    13
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    13
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    13
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    13
  • Motorola Moto G10
    9.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    7.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    6.1

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme Narzo 20
    32
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    30
  • Realme 8
    29
  • Motorola Moto G30
    26
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    26
  • Realme 8 5G
    22
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    21
  • Motorola Moto G10
    19
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    15
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    13
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    12
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    12
  • Poco M3
    11
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    11
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    10

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    21
  • Realme 8
    20
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    19
  • Realme Narzo 20
    16
  • Realme 8 5G
    15
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    9.6
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    9.3
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    8.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    7.5
  • Motorola Moto G30
    7.3
  • Poco M3
    7.2
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    7.2
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    7.1
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    7
  • Motorola Moto G10
    5.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    3.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.3

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    18
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    18
  • Realme Narzo 20
    18
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    16
  • Realme 8 5G
    13
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    13
  • Motorola Moto G30
    13
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    12
  • Motorola Moto G10
    9.2
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    8.7
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    7.9
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    7
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    6.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    6.1
  • Poco M3
    5.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
    5.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    5.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    5

Mind you, generally it is not advisable to compare on-screen test scores across different devices due to the differences in resolution. Even a few pixels can invalidate such comparisons. However, when looking at the Redmi Note 8 and the new Redmi Note 8 2021, in particular, this is clearly not a consideration, since both phones have the exact same 1080 x 2340-pixel resolution.

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    11
  • Motorola Moto G30
    8.7
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    8.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    7.8
  • Motorola Moto G10
    6.3
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    5.3
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    4.7
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    4.1
  • Poco M3
    4.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.8
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    3.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    3.5

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    12
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    12
  • Motorola Moto G30
    9.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    8.4
  • Motorola Moto G10
    6.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    5.6
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    5.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    4.6
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    4.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    3.5
  • Poco M3
    2.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    2.7

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    7.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    5.1
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    4.2
  • Poco M3
    4.2
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    3.1
  • Motorola Moto G30
    2.8
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    2.6
  • Motorola Moto G10
    2
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    1.1

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    7.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    5.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    3.7
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    3.4
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    2.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    2.8
  • Poco M3
    2.8
  • Motorola Moto G30
    2.8
  • Motorola Moto G10
    2
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    1.2

Unfortunately, we don’t have Aztek runs, nor 3DMark ones for the original Redmi Note 8, but we fully expect the results to paint the same picture. The Motorola Moto G Pro and the Realme Narzo 20A, rocking the same Snapdragon 665 chipset with an Adreno 610 GPU are a testament to that.

3DMark SSE ES 3.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    3147
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    2818
  • Realme 8
    2610
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    2391
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    2357
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1471
  • Realme Narzo 20
    1400
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    1399
  • Motorola Moto G30
    1185
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    1181
  • Poco M3
    1175
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    1127
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    1088
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    1065
  • Motorola Moto G10
    855
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    438
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    365

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1.0 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    3003
  • Realme 8
    2639
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    2603
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    2260
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    2257
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    1424
  • Realme Narzo 20
    1382
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1372
  • Motorola Moto G30
    1142
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    1125
  • Realme Narzo 20A
    1111
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    1107
  • Poco M3
    1106
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    1060
  • Motorola Moto G10
    818
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    612
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    489

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    1571
  • Realme 8
    1486
  • Realme Narzo 30 5G
    1105
  • Realme 8 5G
    1104
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    1104
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021
    722
  • Huawei Y7a / P smart 2021
    563
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    482
  • Motorola Moto G30
    389
  • Poco M3
    368
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    365
  • Motorola Moto G10
    253

So, to sum up, the Redmi Note 8 2021 performs measurably better than the original Redmi Note 8 in GPU tasks and about as well with CPU ones. So, in terms of performance, even synthetically-measure one, that is not directly translatable to real-world experience, the chipset swap has not harmed the Redmi Note 8 2021.

This is nothing short of great news, especially since we can attest that the two also behave comparably in real-life terms. That is to say, you can expect the occasional hiccup and stutter here and there, particularly with games and for a split second when executing a heavy task or launching some apps. Overall, however, there is more than enough power here to chew through regular, every-day tasks with ease. And MIUI rarely experiences any slowdowns whatsoever.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

This is all great news for Xiaomi, and we do appreciate the upgrade to Bluetooth 5.2 the MediaTek Helio G85 brings about as well. However, the newfound DSP video capture limitation of FullHD remains a truly hard pill to swallow. Even if all of the performance is there, it remains a massive potential drawback, working against the Redmi Note 8 2021.

Familiar quad-camera setup

The Redmi Note 8 2021 borrows its camera setup from the vanilla Redmi Note 8. It consists of a main 48MP Quad-Bayer camera alongside an 8MP ultrawide and two 2MP macro and depth sensors.

Looking at the reported software camera support, the main camera uses the tried-and-true Samsung ISOCELL S5KGM1, colloquially known as the GM1. The 8MP ultrawide uses the OmniVision OV8856.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Before we get to quality analysis, a few words about the MIUI camera app. Not much has changed here, the UI is still clean and well-organized. The only real issue we have with the present organization is that Macro mode is a toggle in a separate menu, instead of a mode, making it hard to find.

Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera app general UI and settings - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Camera app general UI and settings

Most of the important controls are conveniently available straight from the main screen, with some hidden away just barely behind an extending sandwich menu, of sorts. There are three zoom toggles available by default – 0.6x, 1x and 2x, even though there is no dedicated telephoto on the Redmi Note 8 2021. If you start pinch-zooming, though, more toggles show up as well, up to 10x.

There are plenty of settings to adjust as well, and the modes interface is entirely customizable. There is also a dedicated Pro mode, which includes manual focus, shutter speeds between 1/4000 and 30 seconds, ISO between 100 and 3200 and exposure compensation. Pro mode can be used on both the main and the ultrawide camera.

Camera Pro mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera Pro mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera Pro mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera Pro mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera Pro mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Camera Pro mode - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Camera Pro mode

Photo quality – daylight

Let’s kick things off with the main 48MP camera. Like we said, it uses a SAMSUNG GM1, behind an f/1.8 lens with PDAF. Nothing fancy, but also quite a familiar setup, which we know is capable of producing very decent shots. The 12MP binned default shouts that the Redmi Note 8 2021 produces are far from perfect.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/5464s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/4348s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 105, 1/5025s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/10638s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 107, 1/10638s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/5319s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/494s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples

Resolved detail is good and colors look natural. Noise is a bit higher than we would have liked to see. But, unquestionably, the one major issue with these shots is exposure. With HDR set to Auto and AI enhancement enabled, the Redmi Note 8 2021 consistently overexposes in its default mode. The culprit is definitely the AI system, since toggling it off remedies most of the overexposure issues.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/5464s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5025s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3774s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/5025s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF

We initially noticed this odd behavior while shooting the photos themselves since AI would often take a few seconds to actually kick in and start working, and any shot you manage to capture before that happens is exposed much better.

This is also the case when shooting in full-res 48MP mode, since AI enhancement is not available at this resolution.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/5319s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/4566s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/4566s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/5319s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3717s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/2660s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera samples

You get slightly more fine detail from these 48MP shots and perhaps a bit less softness in uniform areas, like the sky. Colors remain consistent and true to life. Perhaps even a bit subdued, depending on your standards.

Unfortunately, this overexposure issue is not limited to the main camera. The 8MP ultrawide camera is arguably affected even worse by whatever is going wrong, given its narrower dynamic range to start with.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/6757s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/1553s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 117, 1/1815s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 119, 1/1553s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 119, 1/2070s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples

The misbehaving AI algorithm even introduces a nasty tint to the ultrawide. Turning it off yields much better results overall. Even in these better shots, noise and softness are a constant problem, more so than we would have liked to see, even from a budget device. On a more positive note, colors are impressively consistent across the two cameras.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/6757s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 117, 1/1553s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 120, 1/1961s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 120, 1/1815s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 119, 1/2070s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera samples, AI enhancement OFF

There is no dedicated zoom camera available on the Redmi Note 8 2021. Still, like we mentioned, it offers a 2x toggle right on the main UI, and once you start pinch zooming, 4x, 6x, 8x, and 10x toggles appear, as well.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/4348s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/5618s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/4082s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/4566s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples

2x zoom shots look very respectable, with plenty of detail. Naturally, they are a bit softer than the 1x photos overall and have to deal with more noise suppression artifacts. Definitely usable, though.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP zoom samples: 4x - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/6369s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 6x - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/6849s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8x - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/6849s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 10x - f/1.8, ISO 106, 1/6849s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 4x - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 6x - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8x - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 10x - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP zoom samples: 4x • 6x • 8x • 10x • 4x • 6x • 8x • 10x

These issues get worse with higher zoom levels, but we have to say that with a steady hand and enough patience even the 10x shots can be usable. For what that’s worth.

Unfortunately, zoom shots are not immune to the AI oversharpening issues.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/5618s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/5988s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 106, 1/2660s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/5025s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF

Honestly, in its current state, it’s probably better to just leave the AI enhancement system off. Or, alternatively, make sure you adjust the exposure manually.

The 13MP selfie camera captures great stills. Detail is plenty, colors look great, there is little leftover noise.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 183, 1/100s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/308s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 106, 1/3802s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 105, 1/1236s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 101, 1/3279s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 103, 1/1081s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera samples

Even though there is no autofocus, the focus plane is quite forgiving. Overall, very few complaints.

There is a Portrait mode available on the Redmi Note 8 2021. It can either be used on the main camera on the back or with the selfie. There are only a couple of options available, including an AI toggle, which you should probably avoid here as well and a basic adjustment for the blue intensity.

Portraits from the main camera look solid. Subject detection and separation are above average, even if not perfect. The bokeh looks nice. It should be noted that the viewfinder preview doesn’t work particularly well and is not representative of the final results.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples - f/1.8, ISO 136, 1/50s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples - f/1.8, ISO 141, 1/50s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples - f/1.8, ISO 168, 1/50s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples - f/1.8, ISO 163, 1/50s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples - f/1.8, ISO 106, 1/3690s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples - f/1.8, ISO 106, 1/3300s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples

Portrait mode works on non-human subjects too, though it is a bit fiddlier to get it to do so.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples, non-human subjects - f/1.8, ISO 350, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples, non-human subjects - f/1.8, ISO 325, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples, non-human subjects - f/1.8, ISO 325, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera portrait samples, non-human subjects

Selfie portraits are also great. Naturally, the subject detection and separation aren’t quite as good without a dedicated depth sensor, but not by a lot.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 151, 1/100s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 131, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/332s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 101, 1/1081s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 105, 1/288s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 101, 1/1081s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera portrait samples

The 2MP macro camera is nothing to phone home about. Given its inherent limitations, though, it still produces decent shots. Usable for reading small text, as well as social media.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 2MP macro camera samples - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 2MP macro camera samples - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 2MP macro camera samples - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 2MP macro camera samples

One thing we have to note about the photo capture experience as a whole is that the Redmi Note 8 2021 is slow to capture shots. Definitely slower than its vanilla sibling with a Snapdragon chipset. This is not really dependent on the camera or mode you are using either, HDR and AI do not seem to affect shooting speed either. With the sole exception of Night mode, of course, though, ironically, it is not overly slow for a budget device.

Last, but not least, here is how the Redmi Note 8 2021 stacks up against the competition in our extensive photo compare database. Pixel-peep away.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 against the Xiaomi Redmi 9T and the Samsung Galaxy A12 in our Photo compare tool

Photo quality – low-light

The Redmi Note 8 2021 expectedly struggles a bit in low-light conditions, but even so, it does alright for a budget phone. The main camera, in particular, spits out good shots, with little left-over noise and well-balanced dynamic range, with well-controlled light sources and decent detail in the shadows.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 838, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 782, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 484, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 770, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples

In fact, there is plenty of detail all throughout the frame, although some of it is notably lost to noise suppression, which, while doing its job results in some general softness. Some of that, in turn, is counteracted by automatic sharpening, which is thankfully not overly aggressive, with few oversharpening artifacts.

These photos were all taken with HDR set to Auto, and AI enhancement enabled, just like we did for the daily shots. The AI algorithm was a bit all over the place in low-light as well, with a tendency to boost exposure, which, however, frequently works in favor of the Redmi Note 8 2021. Leaving AI on, however, does also produce a noticeable yellow to red tint, which is absent when AI is turned off. Further proving that AI still needs some work on the Redmi Note 8 2021.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 865, 1/17s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 821, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 458, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 814, 1/17s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF

Shooting in 48MP full-res mode isn’t as beneficial in low-light conditions as it is during the day since any potential increase in resolved detail tends to be lost to the noise-reduction algorithms. Still, these shots aren’t any worse either.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 794, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 831, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 488, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.8, ISO 794, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 48MP main camera low-light samples

The Redmi Note 8 2021 has a dedicated Night mode, which drastically improves the quality of low-light shots in more ways than one. These photos come out brighter, with boosted shadows, but also well-contained highlights and light sources. Details seems better too. It is absolutely worth it to wait a few seconds for a Night mode shot, especially since the Redmi Note 8 2021 isn’t overly slow to capture Night mode shots.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 794, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 769, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 488, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 794, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP main camera Night mode samples

The only real complaint we have with Night mode is that it only works on the main camera – no ultrawide, no selfie cam and even no zooming.

The ultrawide camera expectedly struggles even more in low-light conditions. Still, it produces what we would call usable shots. Softness is present all throughout the frame and so are noise-suppression artifacts, but it’s far from the worse we have seen and definitely good enough given the available hardware and the Redmi Note 8 2021 price point.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 2175, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 2236, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1793, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1968, 1/17s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples

The ultrawide has the same issues with AI enhancement as well, mostly manifesting as a color tint. Here are some shots with it turned off for comparison.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 2188, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 1835, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 1671, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/2.2, ISO 1950, 1/17s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8MP ultrawide camera low-light samples, AI enhancement OFF

2x zoom shots from the main camera are pretty decent, comparable to 1x ones, just like before.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 1065, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 744, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 465, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 785, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples

Unfortunately, the AI issues are present here as well. Here are some 2x shots with it turned off.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 1038, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 791, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 458, 1/25s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF - f/1.8, ISO 781, 1/20s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP 2x main camera samples, AI enhancement OFF

Anything past 2x zoom is kind of a blurry mess more often than not. With enough patience and a steady hand, you could, perhaps make out something in the distance, but we wouldn’t call these photos usable.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP zoom low-light samples: 4x - f/1.8, ISO 1043, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 6x - f/1.8, ISO 1038, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8x - f/1.8, ISO 1131, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 10x - f/1.8, ISO 850, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 4x - f/1.8, ISO 409, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 6x - f/1.8, ISO 301, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 8x - f/1.8, ISO 363, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 10x - f/1.8, ISO 381, 1/33s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 12MP zoom low-light samples: 4x • 6x • 8x • 10x • 4x • 6x • 8x • 10x

Finally, the 13MP selfie camera fairs as well as we could have hoped in low-light conditions. That is to say that noise and softness are aplenty, but shots are still decent.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 4215, 1/10s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 6176, 1/10s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 782, 1/14s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light samples

Portraits still manage to work even in such conditions, which is admirable, though you should expect worse results overall.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 4360, 1/10s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 6176, 1/10s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light portrait samples - f/2.0, ISO 7097, 1/10s - Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021: 13MP selfie camera low-light portrait samples

Video capture quality

We, unfortunately, arrive at what is probably the biggest Achilles` heel on the Redmi Note 8 2021, post its chipset swap – video recording. Unlike the Snapdragon 665 found in the original Redmi Note 8, the MediaTek Helio G85 can only capture up to 1080p video.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Before you ask, yes, we tried Open Camera, just to see if we could get 4K with no luck. Apparently, this is a DSP limitation.

Clips get saved in a standard AVC + AAC combo MP4 file and you do get a choice between h.264 and h.265 (HEVC). The former has less compression and produces a decent video stream of around 20 Mbps at a bit of a wobbly frame rate, averaging around 29.6 FPS, instead of the usual fixed 30. Audio is stereo at 48 kHz. Standard stuff all around, with nothing too special.

Quality-wise, the main camera is solid all-around, with the biggest drawback, expectedly, being the amount of resolved detail. Kind of expected at 1080p. Otherwise, noise is kept at bay, dynamic range is decent, even if not amazing, and colors look nice and true-to-life. Pretty mature processing, overall.

The ultrawide retains most of the positives characteristics of the main camera, like good-looking colors and decent dynamic range. It doesn’t struggle with excessive softness either, although there is a bit more noise in the frame than we would have liked. Some of it is likely due to sharpening.

The Redmi Note 8 2021 doesn’t have a dedicated telephoto camera, but still offers a 2x toggle for video capture right on the main UI. The results aren’t disappointing either. In fact, aside from a bit more noise, we actually think they are comparable to 1x videos, which is great to see.

One interesting video capture feature on the Redmi Note 8 2021 you don’t see every day is smooth zoom. It works differently based on which camera you start the video capture with. Since it does not switch from one camera to the other, you can get up to 6x zoom on the main one, while the ultrawide goes up to 2x zoom. The zoom itself is impressively smooth, and we can see this feature getting some utility in the real world. Here is a test zooming video was done with the ultrawide.

In terms of stabilization, the Redmi Note 8 2021 offers a toggle in the camera settings, which applies EIS to both the main and the ultrawide cameras.

It works surprisingly well and smiths out most shakes and bumps while walking. It also does not lower the capture resolution further – staying at 1080p on both cameras. The one issue we did experience with it was a bit of focus hinting on the main camera. Not game-breaking, but we would still, probably stick to stabilized ultrawide videos instead.

Low-light video quality is decent, but nothing to phone home about. The ultrawide camera shoots particularly soft clips, but still usable. We would have really liked to see more resolution and extra detail, but that’s just the reality on the Redmi Note 8 2021.

Finally, here is the Redmi Note 8 2021 in our extensive video compare database.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 against the Xiaomi Redmi 9T and the Samsung Galaxy A12 in our Video compare tool

The competition

The original Redmi Note 8 came out in 2019 and represented a pretty solid value offer at the time. The refreshed Redmi Note 8 2021 edition borrows most of its specs. The main difference is a chipset swap, which is arguably more of a downgrade than anything else due to the newfound 1080p video capture limit.

During this time, however, the budget scene has changed drastically, and there are plenty of compelling offers to consider in the sub-EUR 200 category. Things like OLED or higher refresh rate displays, increased ingress protection, stereo speakers and more modern and capable cameras, faster charging are now attainable in this price bracket. Not really all in one phone, of course. You still have to pick your priorities, but there are plenty of alternatives to explore.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

Ironically, most reside within Xiaomi’s own lineup. At the time of writing this review, a Redmi Note 8 2021 can be had for just shy of EUR 160. For right around as much, you can also get the Redmi 9T, which has stereo speakers and a bigger battery, with noticeably better battery life. Granted, with a slightly more-boring design and Gorilla Glass 3, and it’s also an outgoing model, too.

But you only need to put down a few more bucks to get the Redmi Note 10 instead. This way, you not only get stereo speakers and a bigger battery but also 33W fast charging and probably best of all – a Super AMOLED display. Also, thanks to the Snapdragon 678 chipset, 4K video capture is back on the table. If you have slightly different priorities instead, there is the shiny new Redmi 10, which has a simpler LCD, but one that can do 90Hz, still packs a 5,000 mAh battery and most-notably, is equipped with a new 50MP, f/1.8 main camera.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
Xiaomi Redmi 10

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 • Xiaomi Redmi 10

Moving past camp Xiaomi, the Realme 8 instantly stands out as a great competitor. Its highlights include a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED panel with HDR10 support and 657 nits of peak brightness according to our tests, with an under-display fingerprint reader, a 5,000 mAh battery, with 30W charging support, a faster MediaTek G95 chipset and a 64MP main camera. Granted, no stereo speakers on this one either.

Realme 8
Motorola Moto G30

Realme 8 • Motorola Moto G30

Another worthy opponent would be the Moto G30 – a recent phone with a big main camera sensor, good camera performance overall and a 90Hz display. However, it settles for a less than ideal 720p resolution in the same 6.5-inch diagonal. Battery life is a bit better, but no stereos speakers either. We’ve included the Moto G30 because it’s one of the few handsets to run on clean Android, so if that’s your thing, the Moto G30 is pretty much your only option in most markets.

Verdict

The original Redmi Note 8 from 2019 is one of the most successful models the company has ever put out, recently surpassing 25 million in total sales.

However, the same formula that made it popular would no longer work as easily a couple of years later. Worse still, the Redmi Note 8 (2021) is arguably worse than its vanilla predecessor. The processor swap from a Snapdragon 665 to a MediaTek Helio G85 has resulted in the same performance numbers, plus an upgraded Bluetooth 5.2 radio, but 4K video capture is no longer available.

Even Xiaomi itself already has better phones in the same price bracket, such as the Redmi Note 10 or the Redmi 10.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 2021 review

It is absolutely possible that we might see a further decrease in the Redmi Note 8 2021’s pricing or some aggressive carrier subsidies and that would help its desirability. That scenario, however, is the only one where we currently see ourselves recommending the Redmi Note 8 2021.

Pros

  • Memorable and eye-catching design, dual Gorilla Glass 5, advertised extra internal water-repelling coating.
  • Latest MIUI 12.5.6 on top of Android 11, chuck full of features.
  • Solid budget performance, with better GPU numbers than the original Redmi Note 8.
  • Decent all-round camera, though the hardware is starting to show its age on the current smartphone scene.
  • Standalone microSD, 3.5mm jack, FM radio, IR blaster.

Cons

  • Decent display, but worse than the original Redmi Note 8.
  • Solid battery life, but worse than the original Redmi Note 8.
  • Single and largely unimpressive speaker.
  • AI camera enhancement has issues.
  • Video capture is limited to 1080p, while the original Redmi Note 8 does 4K.
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