Xiaomi Mi 11 review
Xiaomi takes up the fight with the launch of its new Mi 11 smartphone on Samsung. This newest handset is packed with many of the same features found in the Samsung Galaxy S21. The decisive factor, however, is that Xiaomi undercuts the price. You can pocket a brand new Mi 11 for € 749, which is € 20 cheaper than Samsung’s entry-level flagship. When you factor in the cuts Samsung has to make to hit its £ 769 price tag (swap glass for plastic on the back of the phone, settle for a 1080p screen, the list goes on …), it seems Xiaomi Mi 11 one to do even better.
The big question is whether Xiaomi can really compete with its main competitor and whether you should invest all the money in this smartphone. Express.co.uk put the Mi 11 to the test and here is our full review.
Xiaomi Mi 11 review
The Mi 11 is immediately noticeable. We received the Horizon Blue model, which looks fabulous thanks to the glare-free frosted glass cabinet that subtly changes color depending on the angle of the light. There’s a pretty radical looking camera bump on the rear case that might split opinion, but we like what Xiaomi did with its rear snapper and prefer it to the contoured design of the Galaxy S21.
Flip the device around, press the power button, and prepare for a gorgeous 6.81-inch AMOLED display that is not only bright and colorful, but also has a silky-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. That means that you are feeling stuttering. Trust us, once you’ve tried this technology, you’ll never want to go back to anything else.
As with most manufacturers, Xiaomi allows you to lower the refresh rate to 60 Hz to extend the battery life. However, we think it is worth using the power supply to get this engaging experience.
The Mi 11 is one of the first devices to come with a screen that can display a billion colors. Thanks to the resolution of 515 pixels per inch, it is also sharper than the Galaxy S21. And you don’t just have to take our word for it, the Mi 11 has already received an A + rating and the “Best Display” gong from the DisplayMate team.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 has a stunning screen
If we had one criticism of the AMOLED display it would be that it curves slightly around the edges of the device. While it looks great, we still prefer the experience of typing and watching on completely flat screens. That’s because text and video tend to bend around the edges, which can make it quite irritating to read. It’s something that we’ve criticized Samsung for in the past and that put us in our pockets for the past week, didn’t convince us that curved screens are the way to go.
Of course, besides that delightful display, the next important part of any phone is its camera, and on paper the Mi 11 sure looks like a winner.
There’s a massive 108-megapixel rear camera that allows the company to “create crystal clear images with razor-sharp details that only professional DSLR or mirrorless cameras can compare” – that’s a bold claim.
Xiaomi Mi 11 review
In reality, the Mi 11 works fine, but we believe the Chinese company can easily overwhelm things as this phone won’t hit a professional camera on any kill. That said, it’s a solid effort and you won’t have any issues with the snapshots that were taken on this device. There are also lots of fun effects built in, and a Pro mode allows you to delve deep into the settings. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, there is also a very good AI mode that basically does all of the hard work for you, making sure every picture looks perfect.
This massive main lens is joined by a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera for landscape shots and a 5-megapixel tele-macro lens for improved close-ups.
This three-lens system is pretty good at night too, although we’ve seen better results with a few of its competitors, including. the S21.
If it’s a video you want, you can film in beautiful 4K images at 60 frames per second. There is even an option to upgrade the quality to 8K, although doing so will hurt your storage capacity significantly. To add some cool effects to these home videos, there are six one-click AI cinema features that make artistic shooting a lot easier for amateur snappers.
You can find effects like Parallel World, which duplicate and invert your scene to give it the appearance of a mirrored world, and Freeze Frame Video, which freezes and clones video frames to create the illusion that portions of your video are frozen in time. It’s all clever stuff, and the overall camera experience is really good, especially since there is a lot of hard work getting perfect pictures done for you.
Xiaomi Mi 11 review
One thing to note: there is no telephoto camera to be found in the Mi 11, so you can forget about taking crystal clear close-ups of your pet.
Aside from that snapper, other notable extras include Qualcomm’s incredible Snapdragon 888 processor that makes the Mi 11 stand out. This is one of the first devices to launch with the flagship chip inside and there really isn’t anything it can’t handle.
Liquid cooling is also included to keep the phone from getting too hot, especially when playing and charging at the same time.
There is also a 4,600mAh battery. With light use, this phone will get you through the day, but start pushing the Mi 11 with a few games and video recording – and the power will degrade very quickly. Thankfully, Xiaomi ships a ridiculously fast 55W charger in the box that allows you to charge your handset in minutes if things run dry (and they will … often).
The Mi 11 is also compatible with 50W wireless charging, although this dock is not included. So you have to go to the stores if you want to take advantage of this technology.
We certainly enjoyed our time with the Mi 11, but there are some issues including a slightly irritating embedded fingerprint scanner that has a habit of being slow or just not working. With Samsung recently upgraded its embedded fingerprint sensors in the Galaxy S21 series, this effort by Xiaomi is really noticeable and needs to be addressed quickly. Xiaomi recently released an update for the phone and the scanner is now working a little faster. We will continue to test and update this review in the future.
Xiaomi Mi 11 review
Finally, we need to address the software. First off, the Mi 11 comes pre-installed with a ridiculous amount of bloatware that needs to be sorted. When you first start this phone, you will find endless games and duplicate apps that you don’t want and that you will never use. Of course, these can be deleted, but why Xioxmi insists on installing them in the first place (instead of offering them as optional downloads during the setup process) is incredibly confusing.
Then there are the mistakes. In our time with the Mi 11, we’ve encountered some strange glitches that Xoami will be working hard to iron out. In fact, we just updated the device to a new version of Android so hopefully things will run more smoothly now.
Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 software looks pretty good. There are plenty of ways to customize the device, including some fun, all-time display clocks and a nifty edge glow when text comes in on the device. However, some of the menus get pretty confusing, and we’d say you have to be an Android Jedi to get the most out of this phone.
Xiaomi Mi 11 review: final verdict
PROS • Great screen – Ultimate performance – Solid camera – Lots of Android customizations
disadvantage • The battery life could be better – Slow fingerprint scanner – Software error
No question about it, the Mi 11 is a fabulous phone that has all of the top-end specs you would expect from a premium smartphone. In a device that is slightly cheaper than some of its competitors, you’ll find an impressive 120Hz screen, billion-color display, super-fast loading, and an incredibly fast Snapdragon 888 processor.
The design looks great, the camera performs well and is compatible with the latest 5G data speeds.
No doubt we enjoyed our time with the Mi 11. There are some significant drawbacks, however, including the terrible pre-installed bloatware that you need to remove, a sub-par fingerprint scanner, and annoying software bugs.
The last thing to note is that there is no expandable memory. So make sure you select the correct model before hitting the “Buy” button. The 128GB version costs £ 729 while the 256GB model returns £ 799.
Despite the little things, the Mi 11 has everything that most people want in a phone, and you get all of these features for a price that seems pretty reasonable.
The Galaxy S21 might want to look over its shoulder as Xiaomi got a lot of things right on this new flagship and it’s pretty hard not to recommend it.