Three months with the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: Rock-solid choice from a rock-solid heritage
So... should you join me and get one?
To Mi or not to Mi?
At the time of purchase (Nov 2020) the Mi 10 Ultra set me back $1,065 for the “base” 8GB RAM/128GB storage model; a quick check of the same seller’s Shopee listing as of 15 Jan 2021 revealed no changes to that price.
If you want more options, the Mi 10 Ultra comes in a total of three colours - black, silver, and translucent - and a myriad of sub-variants ranging from 8GB to 12GB of RAM and 128GB to 512GB of storage. Of course, the silver and translucent colourways can only be had for more moolah with higher-spec variants. As an example, you'll pay $1,075 for an 8GB/128GB translucent model; a top-shelf silver 16GB/512GB model will run you $1,649 (all prices valid on Shopee as of 19 Jan 2021). Here are two such Shopee retailers where you can get the Mi 10 Ultra and we've heard them to be dependable - Retailer 1, Retailer 2.
Now, there are several factors to consider before putting that kind of money down. The most obvious is the lack of an official agent warranty, which will affect its resale value. There’s also no waterproofing, which some will consider unacceptable at north of S$1k.
But hey, what else can you actually get for that kind of dough? The base-model Samsung Galaxy S21 is going for S$1,248 and has a faster processor and twice the storage at 256GB, though the superiority of its camera system is debatable unless you spring for the S21 Ultra. Oppo will sell you a Find X2 Pro for S$1,699 for the 12/512GB version, which is about as expensive as a similarly-specced Mi 10 Ultra, but the Oppo phone is fully supported locally and you can also easily obtain it through a telco contract. At the value-for-money end of the scale, Realme is asking S$999 for a X50 Pro, and OnePlus S$899 for a base 8/128GB 8T, but the only thing both phones really have in common with the Mi 10 Ultra is speed - they certainly can't compete on camera performance.
And that’s the crux of the matter. Taken in isolation, S$1,065 (at minimum) may seem like a lot to pay for an export-set Xiaomi - a brand that will sell you a perfectly decent daily driver for as little as S$300. We’ve perhaps grown too used to expecting cheap-and-good miracles from Xiaomi (and there’s the local-warranty 10T Pro too!) that we may be unable to see how the Mi 10 Ultra punches above its weight.
Export set aside, the Mi 10 Ultra has proven as solid feature-wise as its dense frame suggests. Design-wise, it may not have snazzy gradient colours, but on the inside, I've appreciated its great battery life, a reliable camera system (with a nice party trick when needed), and superb multimedia features. Honestly, MIUI and questionable updates might be the only reasons to stay away.
Having said that, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra is a phone that I would advise is better suited to those who understand what they are getting into, especially when there isn't any official support for this model locally. Fortunately, we've a pretty vibrant enthusiast following and the 80-page discussion on this phone could well be useful for anyone thinking of getting this limited edition model.
First anniversaries are often celebrated in the hope of a bright future, but the 10th should be a time to look back on stability and consistency. And so my take is that the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra makes a fitting tribute to its maker’s 10th. Just don't mind its weight.