Hands-On, Smartphone

Redmi K30 Hands-On: 120Hz Screen on a Sub-RM1,000 Smartphone

It was only in the middle of this year when Redmi introduced the K20 smartphones, but that didn’t stop the phone maker from releasing the Redmi K30 series earlier this month. Although the K30 5G and K30 4G lose out on some of its predecessors’ features – including the sleek all-screen design – the upgrades they do get more than make up for this.

In fact, we got our hands on the Redmi K30 4G, and it’s a pretty darn impressive smartphone. If it ever makes it to markets outside of China, the K30 is one to look out for, especially if you want the most value for your money.

What makes the Redmi K30 particularly impressive is its fast display. Previously, the K20 had a conventional 60Hz 6.39-inch 1080p AMOLED screen. The K30, on the other hand, features a faster (and bigger) 120Hz 6.67-inch 2400 x 1080 IPS display.

Sure, it’s no longer an AMOLED panel, but the higher 120Hz refresh rate is a worthy trade-off – in my opinion, that is. Thanks to the 120Hz screen, everything looks extra smooth. Whether I’m just casually navigating around the home screen or scrolling through an article, the extra frames really make for a pleasant user experience.

As for the panel quality of the IPS display itself, it’s good. It can get reasonably bright, the colours are punchy, and viewing angles are alright. The screen does get darker when viewed at an angle, and the blacks are not as deep as what you get with an AMOLED screen, but hey, this is an affordable smartphone. Plus, the 120Hz refresh rate is a great addition.

Beyond the display, the K30 is a rather handsome smartphone with good build quality. I like the heft of the phone, the glass back looks and feels great, and the metal frame is nice to the touch. Really, it’s hard to believe this is a budget-friendly smartphone.

Of course, the hole-punch cutout on the top right of the screen does slightly mar the aesthetics of the phone, but at least it’s a small cutout. In fact, it’s slightly smaller than the similarly-shaped cutout on the Samsung Galaxy S10+‘s display; I consider that a plus point.

When it comes to performance, the K30 4G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset. It’s a reasonably powerful upper mid-range chipset, and given that this is an 8nm chipset, its power efficiency should be good too. Together with the phone’s generous 4,500mAh battery, it will be able to return above average battery life.

To sweeten the pot, the K30 can also charge up relatively quickly. This 4G variant supports 27W fast charging, while the 5G model supports 30W. Either way, expect these two phones to charge up in a relatively quick manner. This charging rate is especially impressive for a pair of mid-range smartphones.

Oh, another thing. Unlike its predecessor use of an in-screen fingerprint sensor, the K30 only comes with a side-mounted capacitive sensor that doubles as the power button. While it doesn’t sound quite as impressive on paper, the physical sensor is a lot more accurate and faster. I’d take this over the finicky in-screen sensor of the K20 / Mi 9T.

And then we’ve got the camera performance of the K30 4G. On the back, it has a quad camera system made up of a 64MP f/1.9 main sensor, an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle shooter, a 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor, and a 2MP f/2.4 macro lens. There are also two front-facing cameras: a 20MP primary shooter paired with a 2MP depth sensor.

So how is the camera performance of the K30? Well, it’s reasonable good for a phone at this price point. Given enough light, the quad camera system can take good-looking shots, but there’s a noticeable drop in image quality – especially with the ultra-wide angle and telephoto sensors – in darker environments. Detail preservation suffers, noise level is amplified, and it has difficulty locking in focus.

However, I only managed to spend a brief time photographing with the K30. My initial impressions of the camera performance isn’t fantastic, but I do need to put it through its paces to see if the camera has any redeeming qualities.

All in all, given just how affordable the Redmi K30 4G is, I’m really impressed with the phone’s feature set. It comes with a fast 120Hz display, it has great build quality, and while the camera performance isn’t incredible, it’s above average for a device at this price point.

For the Chinese market, the K30 4G retails from only 1,599 Chinese yuan (about RM940) for the 64GB model with 6GB of RAM. The price goes up to 1,699 yuan (approximately RM1,000) for the 128GB + 6GB variant, while the 128GB + 8GB and 256GB + 8GB models retail at 1,899 yuan (around RM1,115) and 2,199 yuan (about RM1,290) respectively.

At these price points, the K30 4G offers incredibly good value for money. You’d be hard-pressed to find another smartphone in this price range with a similar set of features, especially the 120Hz screen.

Then again, it doesn’t matter how impressive the Redmi K30 is if it is not accessible. Currently, the smartphone is only offered in China; there’s no news yet on the global availability of the K30 series. However, given that its predecessor was brought to the global market as the Xiaomi Mi 9T, there’s a good chance the same would apply to the K30 as well.

For now, we can only hope the K30 will be made available outside of China. It’s one heck of a budget-friendly smartphone, and it’s certainly a worthy successor to the well-received K20 / Mi 9T series.

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