Xiaomi Mi 11i Review: Muddying the flagship waters


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The Xiaomi Mi 11i is a curious hodge-podge of a phone, an impressively specced and aggressively priced quasi-flagship that lacks the strong identity of its brothers.

Pros

  • Top-notch performance
  • Fast and fluid AMOLED display
  • Competent 108-megapixel camera

Cons

  • Generic design
  • No wireless charging
  • Camera isn’t quite as advanced as it initially seems

Availability

  • UKRRP: £
  • USARRP: $
  • EuropeRRP: €649
  • CanadaRRP: CA$
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$

Key Features


  • Flagship specsHigh-end Snapdragon 888 chipset with 5G

  • Great gamingA very fast display makes it ace for gaming

  • CameraMultiple rear cameras, including 108-megapixel main sensor

Introduction

If you thought Xiaomi was finished with its sprawling 2021 Mi 11 line, you’d be sorely mistaken. Scan over the pricing of the existing range, and you’ll notice there’s a gap right in between the flagship Xiaomi Mi 11 and the mid-range Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite, which is what the Xiaomi Mi 11i seeks to fill.

Priced at €649 (roughly £560/$795) for the entry 128GB model and moving up to €699 (£605/$850) for the 256GB version, it notably undercuts the OnePlus 9.

If you’re wondering why we’re not supplying official UK or US pricing, it’s because the Mi 11i isn’t bound for either of these English-speaking territories, at least not right now.

Although unsurprising, this limited rollout is a bit of a shame, since this really could be one of the best mid-range phones around.

Design and screen

  • Identical design to the Poco F3 and Redmi K40 Pro+
  • Slim, balanced plastic and glass build
  • Strong 6.67-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED screen

If the Xiaomi Mi 11i doesn’t quite look like the rest of the Xiaomi Mi 11 range, that’s because it isn’t from the same stock. To all intents and purposes, it’s a rebadged Redmi K40 Pro+.

You might not be familiar with that phone, which was primarily aimed at the Indian market. But you might well be familiar with the Poco F3, which shares the exact same external design. And I do mean the exact same – I have the two phones in front of me as I type this, and literally the only difference is the branding and some of the writing on the camera module.

Not surprisingly, the Xiaomi Mi 11i’s dimensions are identical to those of its doppelgangers (triplegangers?) – 163.7 x 76.4 and a super-skinny 7.8mm. It also weighs the same 196g, which is within that ‘just-right’ region right before things get uncomfortable.

Xiaomi Mi 11i

Whether you call this approach cynical repurposing or efficient recycling (I find myself veering towards the former), it undoubtedly sits at odds with the aesthetically distinct, elegant design language of the wider Mi 11 range. I’d argue that the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite looks better and feels more special, despite costing a lot less.

If that assertion seems questionable to you, then consider that the Mi 11i’s twin, the Poco F3, costs only £329/€349 (no US pricing). In other words, it’s questionable whether you’re getting a premium design here.

That’s apparent from a number of little design compromises, most obviously the use of a plastic frame. While that frame might be sandwiched by Gorilla Glass 5, the display itself is dead flat. And while the bezels are fairly minimal, the chin is a little larger. Glance up to the central hole-punch selfie camera, meanwhile, and you’ll see that distractingly reflective surround that some cheaper phones tend to have.

Another sign that the Xiaomi Mi 11i is made of relatively humble stuff is a deeply modest IP53 rating. You won’t want to be dropping it in any pools of water, that’s for sure. It’s a shame there’s no IP68 rating here, for that extra protection.

Xiaomi Mi 11iThe fingerprint sensor is on the side of the plastic body

Another budget-level touch is the inclusion of a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, something often seen on the best cheap phones but rarely on much pricier devices. It’s nice and reliable, and it unlocks the phone in an instant – but like the Poco F3, it lacks the extra texture or indentation to help you find it in a pinch.

Finally, the Mi 11i’s haptic motor clearly isn’t in the same league as that of, say, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. But then, that phone costs twice the money.

All negativity aside, the Xiaomi Mi 11i is a perfectly pleasant phone to use. It’s robust and comfortable, and it also finds space for stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support, which is apparently a first for Xiaomi smartphones.

On the display front you’re looking at a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED with an FHD+ resolution and a nice fast 120Hz refresh rate. There’s HDR10+ support for more immersive and colourful video in supported apps and services.

Another small area in which the Mi 11i trumps the OnePlus 9 is the matter of touch sampling rate. At 360Hz, this display is as responsive to the touch as the OnePlus 9 Pro. That’s good news for gamers, especially when combined with the phone’s impressive performance.

Camera

  • 108MP main sensor of a lesser order than Mi 11’s
  • Capable of decent, if not flagship-level shots
  • Underwhelming ultra-wide, especially compared to OnePlus 9

In case you hadn’t picked up on it yet, we have the sense that the Xiaomi Mi 11i is a bit of a parts bin job – albeit a very accomplished one. That feeling continues when we consider its camera system.

Xiaomi Mi 11i

It’s headlined by a very impressive sounding 108-megapixel wide sensor, but this isn’t the same state-of-the-art Samsung ISOCELL HM3 component that so impressed us in the Xiaomi Mi 11 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Instead, it’s the much more humble Samsung ISOCELL HM2 sensor that we’ve previously seen in the Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Realme 8 Pro.

We were very impressed with the camera systems of both of those latter two phones. But context is crucial, and both cost a lot less. While we praised their photographic output for punching well above their weight, those same (or very similar) results feel more like par for the course in a phone retailing for double the money.

Still, par translates to pretty good pictures at this end of the market. Shots taken with the Xiaomi Mi 11i’s main camera are generally bright, detailed and nicely balanced. Xiaomi’s AI constructs zingy, colourful shots that nonetheless never get to Samsung levels of extreme vibrancy.

Xiaomi Mi 11i sample photoIn daylight pictures look good, with bright colours and nice balance

Xiaomi Mi 11i sample photoThere’s a good whack of detail, too

I noticed an unexpected amount of lens flare when shooting side-on to the sun, which was a bit of an unpleasant surprise. You don’t get the benefits of a fancy Zeiss lens coating as you do with the Vivo X60 Pro. 

Xiaomi Mi 11i sample photo

But generally speaking, the results are decent. Food shots looked good enough to eat, while the Portrai

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