Xiaomi phones aren’t readily availble in the United States so rarely do I get the opportunity to play around with one and see what the hype is about. This is my first time handling a Xiaomi phone for several days.
Design and Build
There’s not much going on in the world of smartphones with the exception of foldables. Otherwise, phones have the usual bar build. It’s simple and nice. The Mi 11 has a huge display, coming in at 6.8 inches but it doesn’t feel too large in hand. Tall and slim, but not too uncomfortable to hold. The phone isn’t very heavy but still feels solid. The Mi 11 has all of the buttons placed on the right border. You have the speakers on the top and the bottom borders of the phone. The punch-hole selfie camera is on the upper left side. The back has the phone’s main cameras; a macro, ultra-wide camera, and 108-megapixel camera. There is an under-display fingerprint display. The Mi 11 charges via usb-c. Next to the charging port, you have one of the speakers and the dual-sim card slot on the other side of it.
MIUI 12, Xiaomi’s UI is very colorful and bright. You can use it in regular mode or in dark mode. I actually like the wallpapers suggested when choosing to customize the phone. You can also choose a 60Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate for the display. The MIUI 12 skin might be a little much for some. It’s noticeably different from the plain Android software you find on Pixel devices and even OnePlus’ thin-skinned OxygenOS.
As you can see, the Xiaomi Mi 11 looks great on paper. How was the everyday experience like as a first-time Xiaomi user? Unless a phone has horrible hardware, it is very difficult to have a bad experience in this day and age. Most phones handle basic usage very well. It comes down to the quality of pictures, along with battery life, and of course fluidity among everything
With a Snapdragon 888 processor and8GB of RAM, fluidity wasn’t an issue for me. Android 11 and MIUI 12, Xiaomi’s skin isn’t clunky either. You do get a few apps from MIUI 12 software such as Mi Browser, Mi Community, Mi Remote, Mi Video, and a few pre-downloaded games. I was happy to see an IR blaster on the phone and did pair it with my television. I didn’t use it much as I thought I would.
I enjoyed using the camera on the Mi 11. There are a few camera options to choose from. You have some of the common options in the visible menu above the shutter button Pro, Video, Photo, Portrait, and More. Once you go into the rest of the menu, you get the rest of the options. This includes Night Mode, Panorama, Time-lapse, Vlog, 108MP, and even Supermoon. While the options are listed, you may have to download them fully to use them.
It’s not like I am going many places lately, but the few times I was out, the pics with the Mi11 were good. It gets the basic job done. You get enough detail and color for shareable pics on social media. Sometimes the selfie camera was a complete miss and the pics were just horrible.
The fingerprint reader worked on the first try most of the time. It’s not lightning-fast, but quick enough. Screen-on time varied for me. Of course, it changes with the resolution and refresh rate. If you set the display at a 120 Hz refresh rate and high resolution, battery life drastically changes; especially when consuming media. I enjoy a sharp display so I kept it a 120 Hz high resolution. I usually have a charger on hand and the Mi 11 charges super fast wired or wirelessly. Wired, it can charge at up to 55W, and wirelessly at 50W. If you use the 55W charger that comes with the Mi 11, you can charge the phone from zero battery to 100% fully charged in a little less than an hour. Not bad at all!
I enjoyed the Xiaomi Mi 11. It has the right pricing based on the features. You won’t find it in stores in the U.S. You can find it online ranging from $679 and up. It’s definitely a phone for media consumption and creation. While you can buy it in the United States, it’s not advertised especially for the main phone carriers. It’s a shame because it hits the mark in every category. I wouldn’t say it’s a Samsung S21 or iPhone 11 killer, but it does hold its ground in the competition. The cameras on the Mi 11 not on par with the iPhone and Samsung cameras, which is where Xiaomi can improve. While the design isn’t a complete dealbreaker for me, I hope to see a better-shaped phone and camera bump in future models. I am nitpicking of course, but the phone could be more appealing. I’m excited to see what Xiaomi comes up with the rest of 2021.