If you are looking for one of the best smartphones of 2021, you should definitely consider the Xiaomi Mi 11. The 849 euro device offers an interesting price-quality ratio. Computer! Totally catch up in this Xiaomi Mi 11 review.
Xiaomi Mi 11
MSRP € 849, –
Colors Blue, black
OS Android 11 (MIUI)
Screen 6.81 inch LCD (3200 x 1440, 120 Hz)
Processor 2.84 Ghz octacore (Snapdragon 88)
RAM 8 GB
Storage 256 GB
Battery 4,600 mAh
Camera 108, 13, and 5 megapixels (rear), 20 megapixels (front)
Connectivity 5G, 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6, GPS, NFC
Format 16.4 x 7.5 x 0.8 cm
Weight 196 grams
Website www.mi.com 8 Score 80
- Screen quality
- Charging options
- Unclear update policy
- MIUI shell
- No zoom camera
- Not officially water and dust proof
Xiaomi is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world and is also working hard in the Netherlands. The Mi 11 is the latest showpiece and succeeds last year’s Mi 10. Xiaomi sells the Mi 11 for 849 euros in two colors: black and blue. I tested the blue version for two weeks and share my experiences in this review.
What immediately stands out about the Xiaomi Mi 11 is its size. At 16.4 by 7.5 centimeters, it is a very large smartphone. This is due to the huge 6.8-inch screen. The Mi 11 is almost the same size as the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max and OnePlus 8 Pro, and cannot be operated with one hand. The weight is also considerable at 196 grams. In short: you prefer to use this device with two hands.
Although the Mi 11 is large, it does not come across as rude. The smartphone is relatively thin (8 millimeters), feels lighter than its appearance suggests and looks modern due to the screen with curved edges. The all-glass housing makes the Mi 11 particularly smooth. I have tested hundreds of smartphones in recent years, but rarely experienced such a slippery device. Be sure to put a case on the Mi 11 before it slips out of your hand (s).
The device has a USB-C port for charging and for transmitting audio. Xiaomi provides (neatly) a 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter. A separate headphone port is missing. The Mi 11 has good speakers. Independent tests indicate that the smartphone uses seals to keep out water and dust. However, an official IP certificate is missing, so you cannot say that the Mi 11 is really water and dust proof. I would therefore – just in case – keep it away from the tap and pool.
The screen of the Xiaomi Mi 11 is not only big, but also great. The OLED display shows really beautiful colors and really shows black as black. Thanks to the 120 Hz refresh rate, the image looks very smooth. You can easily switch to the standard 60 Hz display in the settings of the Mi 11, which is less smooth but therefore also consumes less power. Many competing smartphones also have a 120 Hz screen. The Mi 11 automatically switches between 120, 90 and 60 Hz, while the Galaxy S21 can switch up to 48 Hz and switches more dynamically.
The Mi 11 lets you choose from two screen resolutions: qhd (3200 by 1440 pixels) or full-hd (2400 by 1080 pixels). The qhd resolution offers the sharpest image, but drains the battery faster. I have used the device on full-hd because I find this resolution sharp enough and attach more value to a longer battery life.
The screen can be nice and bright and has a small hole at the top left for the 20 megapixel selfie camera. It shoots great photos and videos. I am not a fan of the recommended beauty filters. There is a fingerprint scanner behind the display. It is fast, but slightly less accurate than the scanner of the OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21. It is not disturbing, but the Mi 11 does not have the best scanner.
It is striking that the screen of my review device has a wafer-thin but clear scratch after two weeks. I don’t know how or when this happened. Xiaomi uses Gorilla Glass Victus on the display, the latest protection layer that could well against scratches. My experience is therefore different.
What impresses the Mi 11 in particular is its hardware. It is the first smartphone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor – the most powerful chip of the year – and Xiaomi adds 8 GB of RAM to this. As expected, the Mi 11 is very fast and definitely belongs to the top. I come from the Galaxy S21 and it felt a bit slower at times, although that could also be due to Samsung’s heavy OneUI software dispute. Xiaomi leaves a good impression by placing 256 GB of storage memory in the Mi 11. Many competing devices have 128 GB of memory. The Xiaomi Mi 11 is of course suitable for 5G internet, nfc and wifi 6 (802.11ax).
Also worth mentioning are the charging methods of the smartphone. Xiaomi supplies the Mi 11 with a 55 Watt USB-C charger. This is a very powerful charger that fully charges the 4600 mAh battery in fifty minutes. That is faster than almost all competitors, with the exception of the OnePlus 8T and Oppo Find X2 Pro. The fact that there is a charger in the box of the Mi 11 is nice anyway. The S21 and iPhone 12 come without a charger for environmental reasons, which means that you have to buy them yourself.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 can charge wirelessly with no less than 50 Watts. Other devices charge considerably slower. The main point of attention is that you have to buy Xiaomi’s 50 Watt charger and the manufacturer cannot yet tell me if and if so when it will be released in the Netherlands. The price is also still unknown. If I have an answer, I’ll add it here. In any case, you have to connect the wireless charger to the 55 Watt USB-C charger, which is less practical.
On the back of the Xiaomi Mi 11 you will find three camera lenses. The main camera has a dizzying resolution of 108 megapixels but shoots in 27 megapixels by default. This method produces better images (by combining pixels) and saves space on the internal memory. 108 megapixel photos are very large. The photo quality of the camera is excellent. The Mi 11 makes sharp pictures with realistic colors, a nice sharpness-depth effect and a good balance. Details are beautifully visible and a sunny day is no problem when capturing a landscape, for example. The Mi 11 also holds its own in the dark. The photos are clear and useful, especially when using night mode. Google Pixel and Huawei smartphones perform even better in the dark.
You can take wide photos with the 13-megapixel wide-angle camera, a handy option. The photo quality is fine under all circumstances, although you can see why I expected more from the camera. The third and final camera is a macro lens, with a resolution of 5 megapixels. I am positively surprised by the quality of the camera. You can take sharp photos up close, with beautiful colors. Make sure you have enough (day) light.
What I’m missing is a zoom camera. You will find it on most competing smartphones. With a zoom camera you get the image closer without sacrificing photo quality. The Mi 11 can only zoom by cropping the image. Qualitatively less good and also less useful.
Below you can see photos taken from left to right with the wide-angle lens, normal camera and twice ‘zoom.’
Although the wide-angle camera works properly, I notice that it takes less realistic pictures. This is how colors often look different, brighter. For example, the difference with the true-to-life main camera is visible in the comparison below. Pay particular attention to the bricks, which have a completely different color in the wide-angle photo.
Software and update policy
At its release, the Mi 11 runs on Android 11 (the latest version) with the MIUI 12.0 shell from Xiaomi. That MIUI shell is not my favorite. The software is visually quite drastic and changes, for example, the settings screen and all kinds of functions. Paying attention already starts with installing the smartphone. By following the recommended installation steps, you authorize Xiaomi to display personalized ads in the software, participate in the user program, and your device automatically sends diagnostic personal data to Xiaomi. Three things you can turn off better, so you have to do it yourself. I don’t think it’s neat.
Xiaomi also installs about 25 apps from itself and partners. I think that’s really too much. The fact that I have to remove four pre-installed games because I have no need for them at all does not give me the impression that I have an 849 euro smartphone in my hands.
Worse still, Xiaomi does not want to say how often and for how long the Mi 11 will get updates. The manufacturer says its update policy meets Google’s requirements, but does not provide details. I know that Google requires a device to receive regular security updates for at least two years, but I have no idea whether there are also requirements for version updates. Because Xiaomi does not want to say anything about this, it is completely unclear whether the Mi 11 can expect updates to Android 12, 13 and further. Competing brands such as OnePlus, Samsung and Oppo promise two to three years of version updates and two to four years of security updates. With such a device you therefore have a much clearer update policy.
Conclusion: buy Xiaomi Mi 11?
Xiaomi shows with the Mi 11 that a high-end smartphone does not have to cost a thousand euros or more. At 849 euros, the Mi 11 is still pricey, but it offers excellent value for money. The smartphone impresses in all areas and is therefore an interesting alternative to the comparably priced Apple iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21. The main flaw of the Mi 11 is Xiaomi’s mediocre software experience. The Mi 11 is full of unnecessary apps and games and comes without a clear update policy. A huge contrast to the four years of software support that Apple and Samsung guarantee. If you dare to trust Xiaomi to tackle this pain point, the Mi 11 is definitely worth considering.