Opinion | Redmi K30 leaks paint the picture of a thoroughly disappointing sequel to an excellent phone
The Redmi K20 and K20 Pro were released back in May, and promptly rebranded as the Mi 9T and Mi 9T Pro for western markets. Even until now, it's a bit hard to argue with the fact that the devices are some of the best value smartphone offerings in the world. Sadly, it would seem that accolade will not carry on with the phones' successor, the Redmi K30.
According to reports, the Redmi K30 could feature an LCD display. That isn’t a verified claim at the moment, but there are a few indicators. Most notable is the fact that most leaks tout the Redmi K30 to feature a side-mounted fingerprint reader.
At the moment, under-display fingerprint readers are exclusive to AMOLED displays. Xiaomi has heavily pushed under-display readers this year, even introducing the technology to low mid-range phones like the Mi A3. Moving from that to a side-mounted fingerprint reader is a pretty obvious sign that the K30 could opt for an LCD display.
Yes, we know that the Galaxy S10e has an OLED display and a side-mounted fingerprint reader, but that’s a flagship priced at over US$700. Xiaomi’s pricing and margins are a lot less extensive, so it would make no sense for the company to use an AMOLED display and a capacitive side-mounted reader—paying for two pieces of hardware—instead of just using the AMOLED under-display displays it’s favored so much this year.
Make no mistake about it, we’re fans of side-mounted readers. I am, at least. They’re pretty much always more reliable and functional than under-display readers. In fact, we’re just not lovers of under-display readers. Well, I guess, I’m not. At this point, they’re still just not quite as good as capacitive readers.
While side-mounted fingerprint readers are awesome, if they come at the expense of an AMOLED display, it’s a tad hard to be thrilled. Xiaomi used Samsung AMOLED panels on the Redmi K20 phones, and they were very good. Going from that to an LCD likely made by a traditionally less effective company like BOE is a significant drop-off. We’ll pass.
Display doubts aside, the Redmi K30 could very well be powered by a MediaTek chipset, and that just breaks our hearts. It will have 5G support, and that limits its SoC options to the Snapdragon 855, Snapdragon 855+, Kirin 990, and MediaTek Dimensity 1000.
We’ll be the first to clarify that MediaTek SoCs aren’t bad. Performance-wise, at least. The Helio G90T, for example, soundly smacks the Snapdragon 730G around in most performance metrics, and that’s worthy of praise. MediaTek SoCs have gotten more efficient, too; gone are the days of the power-hungry, super-hot Helio X-series chipsets.
But raw performance and efficiency aren’t the be-all and end-all of SoC evaluation. MediaTek SoCs have a history of poor drivers and source codes, making community development something of a pipe dream. This usually means that devices powered by MediaTek chips receive software updates way less effectively than their Snapdragon-powered counterparts. Google Camera ports—a massive draw for Xiaomi phones these days—and custom ROMs will likely be unavailable for the Redmi K30 if it does feature a MediaTek chipset.
We expect the K30 to feature MediaTek’s new 5G-capable SoC, the Dimensity 1000. Benchmarks so far are promising, but as enunciated above, there are other major cons.
Apart from the display and SoC choice, we expect the Redmi K30 to offer an alluring package, but that SoC choice, in particular, would make it hard for us to recommend. This is all just hypothetical anyway; we’d sure love to be proven wrong. Your move, Xiaomi.