Newly crowned as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, Xiaomi has a range of high-quality yet affordable phones and there is sure to be something that will meet your needs.
The company isn’t letting a global pandemic slow down its release cycle: the company is on fire with the March 2020 launch of the Redmi Note 9S, the new model in its best-selling budget line, and the global launch of its flagship Mi 10 line. You’ll find our review of Redmi Note 9S below, and we’ll be adding Mi 10as soon as we have completed our full reviews.
Since the company made its UK debut in November 2018, we’ve delighted at the easier availability of its smartphones – yet been less enamoured with its slightly inflated prices in the UK (due to it having less control over the distribution chain) and the fact we are often waiting many months following the Chinese launch for UK availability.
Often you’ll find it’s cheaper to buy Xiaomi phones direct from China, via sites such as GearBest and Geekbuying, and as long as you take care to purchase global models you’ll get access to full Google services out of the box. Xiaomi phones run full Android, albeit with the MIUI user interface.
Buying from China is often the only way to get your hands on some Xiaomi phones, since not all launch in the UK. However, we understand that right now there are some concerns over buying from China due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, but you should know that the virus is unable to survive for more than 14 days, so the longer shipping times from China will rule out any possibility of it spreading via packaging. GearBest has also told us it is looking to ship devices from its EU warehouses wherever possible.
Best Xiaomi Phone Reviews
1. Xiaomi Mi 9
Devilishly fast, insanely beautiful and offering the best value for money you’ll find in any smartphone, anywhere. Mi 9 is a cracking deal at £305.99, well worth the upgrade from the Mi 8, and still worth a second look even with the (for now China only) announcement of Mi 10.
New is an in-display fingerprint sensor as standard, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor, 20W wireless charging, a larger screen and a triple-lens camera that includes a massive 48Mp lens.
A Tech Advisor award winner at MWC 2019, Mi 9 is one of the best phones in the world, yet it comes at a mid-range price. It is also one of the top-rated camera phones.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 9 review
2. Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro
At £100 less than the Mi 9, the Mi 9T Pro is an impressive phone with the same flagship processor inside and a quirky pop-up camera that allows for a truly full-screen display. For the best price check out GearBest.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro review
3. Xiaomi Mi Note 10
With Mi Note 10 Xiaomi has made a giant step forward in design, and complements its elegant body with enhanced MIUI 11 software. Its USP is the penta-lens 108Mp camera, which wows on paper but can’t stand up to the best cameraphones. More successfully, then, battery life is incredible. This is not a flagship phone, but it’s a strong all-round mid-ranger, and thanks to an attractive price point it has serious appeal.
For the best deal buy now from GearBest using coupon code GBXMNT10BF.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Note 10 review
4. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
Swapping out the awkwardly placed selfie camera with a new dual-lens model that is tucked away behind the screen, the Mi Mix 3 is one of several new slider phones that shows how the concept should work. Not only allowing a proper full-screen display, but adding new quick-access functionality to the phone.
In other respects Mi Mix 3 is not a huge upgrade over the 2S, and actually loses some of its bling over its predecessor with the absence of its 18K gold camera surround. But it’s still a great phone, available at an incredible price (check out eBuyer for the best deals), and it’s astonishing to see just how far the original full-display phone has come.
There’s also a 5G version, available via Vodafone and Three, which was the first – and cheapest – 5G phone to go on sale in the UK.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 review
5. Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro
Beaten by the more recent Mi 9 (and soon Mi 10) but not out of the running yet, Mi 8 Pro offers phenomenal value at £249.97 from Laptops Direct. And now that Xiaomi phones are easily available in the UK, there’s no reason not to consider it.
With powerful performance, decent cameras, some genuinely useful software, a fancy in-display fingerprint sensor and a cool transparent back cover, this is a great all-rounder at a fantastic price.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro review
6. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S
The Redmi Note 9S might have had its thunder stolen by the equally awesome Realme 6, but it remains one of the best budget phones we’ve seen. This is a fantastic phone for less than £200, a real all-rounder with decent performance and cameras, as well as mind-blowing battery life.
We are not fans of the rear camera module, and the lack of NFC is a shame, but those niggles aside it ticks all our boxes at this price point.
In the next update we’d love to see waterproofing (the Redmi Note 9S is merely splashproof) and wireless – or at least faster wired – charging, which are gradually creeping into cheaper phones. To truly take on Realme it also needs a 90Hz display. But, for now, this is a fine example of not a lot of money very well spent.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S review
7. Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
The first Redmi 8-series phone to make its way to the UK, the Redmi Note 8T offers extraordinary value at £169.
This is a mid-ranger with a budget price, offering a 48Mp quad-lens camera, a 6.3in AMOLED display, a 4,000mAh battery and a capable Snapdragon 665 processor. It adds NFC and 18W wired charging to the Redmi Note 8 elsewhere.
For the best price use coupon code GBNOTE8T1 for the Starscape Blue model, GBNOTE8T2 for Moonlight White, and GBNOTE8T3 for Moonshadow Grey over at GearBest.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T review
8. Xiaomi Mi A3
Android One is attractive for its timely system and security updates, and less bloated interface. The Mi A3 from Xiaomi has a few tricks up its sleeve to help it impress in this increasingly crowded market, including some of the most advanced cameras we’ve seen on an Android One phone. Performance is also capable for daily use, and the design is much more appealing than you should expect at this price.
Mi A3 offers incredible value, but if your budget stretches a little higher and you’re not fussed about Android One we’d plump for the Mi 9T instead.
It’s not *officially* available in the UK just yet, but available through either Amazon or GearBest.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi A3 review
9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
A mid-range phone with a budget price, it’s difficult to argue with the incredible value offered by Redmi Note 7 – available now from GearBest for just £143.52.
Looking more like the Mi flagship line than ever, it has a gorgeous all-glass design and rocks an impressive dual-camera with 48Mp lens.
With a big screen and all-day battery life, we love Redmi Note 7’s headphone jack and IR blaster, dual-SIM functionality and microSD storage expansion, and given the low price can turn a blind eye to the lack of NFC and premium features such as an in-display fingerprint sensor, wireless charging and waterproofing.
General performance is decent, up there with other Snapdragon 660 phones costing around £350, and even Xiaomi’s own Mi 9 SE, making this a great all-rounder.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 review
10. Xiaomi Mi A2
The inclusion of Android One makes Xiaomi phones so much more easily accessible to UK- and US users – and that’s a very good thing, finally allowing those outside China and India (and more recently Spain, France and Italy) a taste of what else is out there on the market.
A fantastic budget phone, the Mi A2 combines decent build quality with a nice display, good all-round performance and a well-specced trio of cameras. The best deal we’ve found is at Laptops Direct for under £150.
Look out for the Mi A3, however, which should arrive in the UK soon.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi A2 review
How to choose a Xiaomi phone
The Xiaomi line-up is often criticised for being confusing. Xiaomi in early 2019 took the decision to spin off its budget Redmi brand, which is now headed up by ex-Gionee president Wu Leibing. By separating the two it can make both better.
In January 2019 it announced its first device, the Redmi Note 7, with a staggering 48Mp camera and high-capacity 4000mAh battery. It has since announced the Redmi Note 7 Pro and Redmi 7, and all but the Pro have made their way to the UK, with the company then turning its attention to the Redmi 8 and Redmi Note 8/Note 8 Pro series. The Redmi Note 8T and Redmi Note 8 Pro are now available in the UK, but the rest of the range is curently available only if you buy from China. And we’re already on to the Note 9 series.
If you want even better value still, check out the Best Xiaomi Deals.
Meanwhile, Xiaomi has in September unveiled the first 108Mp camera phone in the Mi Mix Alpha, though the feature that will really steal the headlines is its double folding flexible display, which wraps right around the body to create a 180.6% screen-to-body ratio. It’s a concept phone in small scale production, but the also-announced Mi 9 Pro will be easier to get hold of. Both are 5G phones.
More easily available will be the Mi Note 10, another 108Mp cameraphone that is better known in China as the Mi CC9 Pro. As of 25 February 2020 it is now officially available in the UK via the Mi Store, but it’s still cheaper when you buy from China.
This camera also features in the upcoming Mi 10, which launched globally on 27 March.
So while Redmi is currently synonymous with budget, in the main Xiaomi (or Mi) line you have several flagship models. Both brands also have mid-range models.
Right at the top of the Xiaomi line is the now outgoing Mi 9, which was announced in February 2019 at MWC (Mi 9 Pro and Mi 10 have since been announced in China). It is available in the UK, where it has an official retail price of £499 for the 6GB RAM, 64GB storage model, and £549 with 128GB storage. Look out for some great deals on Mi 9 as Mi 10 goes on sale.
It has since been joined by the cheaper, more compact Mi 9 SE, which starts at £349, and but the Mi 9T never made an appearance in the UK, despite the Mi 9T Pro having gone on sale here. (You can import it.) There’s a Mi 9 Lite, too, which is not at all confusing.
2018’s flagship line still impresses, and now at cheaper prices with the standard Mi 8 available for much less than its £459 retail price online. There’s also the Mi 8 Lite and Mi 8 Pro, which are well worth a look, and also at flagship level is Mi Mix, with Mi Mix 3 and Mi Mix 3 5G available in the UK at ridiculously low prices.
Anything with a ‘Note’ in the name is a phablet, while the Mi Max series is even bigger still.
All these devices run MIUI 10 or MIUI 11, a custom version of Android. If you want plain Android you need to look to the mid-range Mi A2 and budget Mi A2 Lite. This line has now been updated with the Mi A3, which means you’ll find some great deals on the outgoing Mi A2, but as with some of the other more recent Xiaomi devices it is not yet ‘officially’ available in the UK. Don’t worry, we never let that stop us.
Your buying guide to the best Xiaomi phones of 2020
Though you can now find Xiaomi phones officially on sale in the UK, via Three, Amazon, Argos, John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse, Currys/PC World, eBuyer, Very, Go Mobile, Mobile Phones Direct and Mi.com, you may also find special deals importing them from China.
This will entail using a site such as GearBest. For some of the older models, note that in some cases only the Global models support 800MHz 4G LTE (Band 20), which is important for UK users on O2, GiffGaff or Sky Mobile. O2 relies solely on this band for 4G coverage, which means the most you’ll get is 3G without reverting to Wi-Fi. For other networks that also use this band 4G coverage may be lower than you would find with a phone that does support 800MHz.
If you’re buying from China you should also take into account that your consumer rights are different to when you buy within Europe, and that should something go wrong you’re going to find aftersales support more difficult. Delivery times will also be longer, though there is usually a free option. You may also be asked to pay import duty upon arrival to the UK, which is calculated at 20% of the value on the shipping paperwork.
One major difference between Xiaomi phones and stock Android phones is that they run MIUI, and unless you have one of the Global models you’ll find Google Play Services are not preinstalled. As long as it’s a fairly recent device and capable of running MIUI 10 or MIUI 11, this is easy to solve. We’ve explained how to install Google Play on a Xiaomi phone here.
An exception here is the Mi A3 (and older Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite), which runs Android One rather than MIUI.
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