REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 11 does not disappoint with its features

·6-min read
Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

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Xiaomi officially launched the Xiaomi Mi 11 in a surprisingly unique media event at the Singapore Night Safari. Xiaomi not only launched the new phone but also announced its adoption of the Night Safari’s largest resident, the Asian Elephant Chawang. 

The adoption contribution would go towards the care and welfare of Night Safari’s animals, including providing nutritious diets and world-class healthcare. It would also support education and conservation programmes by WRS, such as rehabilitation of rescued wildlife and efforts to protect threatened species in Singapore and South East Asia. A resident of Night Safari since 1994, Chawang has sired five elephants, contributing to the genetic diversity of Asian elephants under human care.

Chawang the Asian Elephant. (PHOTO: Xiaomi)
Chawang the Asian Elephant. (PHOTO: Xiaomi)

Night mode at its best

It was brilliant of Xiaomi to also present the new Mi 11 phone at the Night Safari with a dusk-to-evening event, where selected Mi Fans, media, and influencers were able to test out the Mi 11’s superb low-light photography and videography capabilities.

Mi Fans testing out Mi 11’s low light photography and videography capabilities by taking photos of a Malay fish owl during a special animal encounter at Night Safari. (PHOTO: Xiaomi)
Mi Fans testing out Mi 11’s low light photography and videography capabilities by taking photos of a Malay fish owl during a special animal encounter at Night Safari. (PHOTO: Xiaomi)

We’ll do this review differently, where we start with the Xiaomi Mi 11’s camera set first. The Mi 11’s robust camera array includes a high-resolution 108MP wide-angle camera sensor as its primary shooter, a 13MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 5MP telemacro. It comes with improved night mode capabilities and offers photo night mode on three of its cameras: primary, ultra-wide, and front. I will admit that Mi 11’s night shots were impressive: bright, retains a lot of details, and is able to preserve colours. Steady hands or a tripod is ideal, though to produce really good night shots. I didn’t have the most steady hands, and some images had ghostings, but they still overall looked great.

Main Camera, Standard. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)
Main Camera, Standard. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)

On regular scenes, the Mi 11 produces really good shots: sharp and with realistic colours. Video capture supports up to 8K at 30fps. 4K video capture supports 30 and 60fps, but 1080p can max out at 240fps.

The selfie camera is a whopping 20MP lens. This is great for those vloggers since it does support 60fps at 1080p.

Overall, the Mi 11’s camera set is capable and will satisfy the needs of most consumers.

Design hits and misses

 Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)
Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)

There’s a lot to like about Xiaomi’s design choices with the Mi 11. Much like any 2021 smartphone, the Mi 11 is long and thin with a super large 6.81-inch Amoled in a 20:9 screen ratio. I like that it is comfortable to hold with one hand despite its size and light enough for long usage. Covered in super-strong Gorilla Glass Victus, the Mi 11 feels cool and sturdy on-hand. The aluminium frame gives the Mi 11 a much-needed rigidness, and I appreciate the extra attention to build quality. The power button and volume rockers are all placed at the right edge of the Mi 11, with only a USB-C port at the bottom. It is 2021, so don’t expect a headphone jack with this phone.

What I don’t like is the under-display fingerprint scanner, which can be finicky at times. But then again, this is what I feel about most under-display fingerprint scanners anyway, and this issue becomes more apparent if you’ve installed a glass screen protector. The Xiaomi Mi10T Pro, I feel, had a better fingerprint scanner implementation - off to the side of the phone, doubling as a power button. There’s also an infrared port if you fancy using your smartphone as a remote control.

Colour options are limited in Singapore, where only Horizon Blue and Midnight Gray are officially available. I was testing out the latter, and I find this colour and finish to be quite appealing. It shines and refracts light subtly and was not as super-glossy as the Mi10T Pro. Nearly matte, it also shields the phone from smudges and fingerprints.

Xiaomi also made unique design elements to the Mi 11’s camera bump, making it stand out from most smartphones launched early this year. The chrome accents to the camera bump do accentuate the elegant look of the Mi 11.

A big and bold display

Camera array. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)
Camera array. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)

The Xiaomi Mi 11 sports a huge 6.81-inch display, crammed with all the features desired from a smartphone today. Screen resolution tops at 1440x3200, one of the sharpest mobile phone screens available at a 515ppi density. It’s an AMOLED screen that supports HDR10+, which Xiaomi boasts to support a billion vibrant colours. The refresh rate is 120Hz for that smooth and fluid experience. It peaks at a super bright 1500 nits, which is great for those sunny outdoors.

Notable is also the high-frequency 480Hz touch input rate, which adds to the fluidity of the experience. Simply put, the Mi11 scans for screen interactions with your finger at a whopping 480 times per second. This is great for gamers who need that super-fast responsiveness, especially for competitive games.

Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)
Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)

What I do find odd is the screen corners. It curves at a weird angle that doesn’t follow the phone’s shape. It looks strange, and if you’ve noticed it once, you can’t unsee it—an easy fix is with dark wallpaper.

There is also a slight curve to the screen. While I prefer flat screens for ease of use, the curve isn’t as pronounced, so it helps with gripping the phone and avoiding accidental touches.

Power in its guts

The Snapdragon 888 5G powers the Xiaomi Mi11, the most powerful and sought after chipset in smartphones today. In my use, it’s breezed through apps, games and content easily with no hick-ups at all. It does get warm after prolonged use but does not get uncomfortably hot. Memory is at 8GB for the 128GB and 256GB storage options. There is no microSD expansion slot, so no way to increase storage capacity.

Coupled with the impressive hardware is Xiaomi’s MIUI 12.5 Software running on Android 11. There is bloatware, but MIUI provides many customisation options, including live wallpapers and widgets.

Battery, though, could be better. The Mi 11 has a 4600mAh battery, which should’ve lasted the entire day but only barely does. I suspect that the high screen refresh and high-frequency touch input rate eats the most power. It can charge super fast, though—the Mi11 ships with a 55W GaN charger in the box. The Mi11 also supports 50W wireless charging if you have a capable wireless charger.

Final thoughts, pricing and availability

Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)
Xiaomi Mi 11. (PHOTO: Paolo Lacuna)

Xiaomi's first flagship-grade smartphone of the year does not disappoint. A powerful processor, robust camera set, large, vibrant display all contribute to the best qualities of the Xiaomi Mi 11. It’s best for gamers who want to crush the competition with its high-frequency touch input rate and fluid visuals. But also for the content creator who wants to capture good photos, especially in low-light scenarios.

Horizon Blue and Midnight Gray colour options are available in Singapore, with the 128GB Storage/8GB RAM models at S$999 and 256GB/8GB models at S$1,099. You can find them in Xiaomi’s official store in Shopee.

Buy now at S$1,099

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