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Mi 11 Ultra Review: Xiaomi hits a Home Run with its most expensive smartphone ever

Should you consider this over the OnePlus 9 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra? Here is our Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review to help you decide.

May 25, 2021 / 08:17 AM IST

Mi 11 Ultra price in India is set at Rs 69,999. With the price tag, Xiaomi has stepped its foot in the ultra-premium smartphone market. A company once known to offer budget and mid-range smartphone has, over the years, expanded its offering gradually in the premium and ultra-premium segment. Although, one thing remains common for most Xiaomi smartphones - value for money. The Mi 11 Ultra is no different. Yes, at Rs 70,000, it is an expensive smartphone but you get more than what the competition offers, some of which are priced over a lakh. What exactly are we talking about? Here’s our Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Review

Design

The Mi 11 Ultra is Xiaomi’s first smartphone in India above Rs 50,000. To justify the price and to convince consumers that the phone is worth the amount, the company has left no stone unturned. 

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

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First look at the Mi 11 Ultra and you will notice it stands out from the crowd with its design. It gives the “In your face” vibe with that massive camera island on the back. There are a few good reasons for Xiaomi to design the module that way. One of them is that the phone does not wobble when kept on a flat surface due to the horizontal bump across the top portion. The second reason, and the primary cause of that protruding module, is the main camera sensor, which will get to in the latter part of our Mi 11 Ultra review.

The phone has a ceramic build and comes in two colours - White and Black. We like to keep our phones clean and are certain that most of you too. If are belong to the “We Hate Glossy Phones” squad, consider this subtle and clean Ceramic White colour option. It not only helps hide the fingerprint smudges but also looks quite premium. The aluminium frame houses the power and volume buttons on the right edge, which are very clicky and easy to reach.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Xiaomi’s “Superphone” might seem super-heavy on paper and also is in the real world. However, thanks to the slightly curved back, the 234-gram phone fits well and gives a solid grip in hand. However, you will notice that the phone is top-heavy due to that camera module. Oh, by the way, the Mi 11 Ultra is Xiaomi’s first smartphone to get an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.

Display

At the front, you get a 6.8-inch QHD+ E4 AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+, Dolby Vision certification. The display can also hit a peak brightness of 1700 nits when viewing HDR10 content. You get excellent contrast and brightness levels. It also helps get an immersive viewing experience. Add to it the super clean Harmon Kardon-tuned dual speakers on the top and bottom edge of the phone for that proper stereo speaker feel. For anyone consuming content on their phone, the Mi 11 Ultra’s screen is perhaps among the best, if not the best that you can get in 2021. 

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra-4

And if one screen wasn’t enough, the phone has another one on the right side of that rear camera module island. It is a tiny 1.1-inch display, which is the same you get on the Mi Band 5. You can use it to check incoming notifications or simply customise it to show some text. It will take some time to find the option as it is buried somewhere in the Settings app. You can do that by going to Settings > Special Features > Rear Display. The second, and the easier way, is to open the Settings app and type “Rear Display” in the search bar on the top. 

IMG_1421

There’s more. The combination of 120Hz refresh rate and 480Hz touch sampling rate assure that you have a buttery-smooth experience when scrolling through social media or while playing supported games. The in-display fingerprint scanner is super quick to unlock, just the AI face unlock. 

Performance and Software

For a phone that costs Rs 70,000, it needs to pack the top-of-the-line performance unit. Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC under the hood. It also has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra-7

Goes without saying, the Mi 11 Ultra is a performance beast. Throw any popular game at it and you will experience a smooth gaming experience. We played quite a few games on the flagship smartphone. These included Call of Duty, Asphalt 9, and Genshin Impact on the Mi 11 Ultra. While the former two games ran smoothly, we noticed a couple of frame drops in Genshin Impact. It might not be the phone’s fault here as Genshin Impact is a very resource-demanding game and even many other Snapdragon 888-powered phones break a sweat. Rest assured, the phone can handle whatever you throw at it. It does get slightly warm to the touch after a few minutes of gameplay, but again, it's a Snapdragon 888 SoC problem. We experienced the same on our OnePlus 9 (Review), Vivo X60 Pro Plus (Review), OnePlus 9 Pro (Review) and the Asus ROG Phone 5 (Review).

RAM management on our Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review unit running MIUI 12 has been good. Apps did not freeze or shut down in the background. The 12GB of RAM onboard is more than sufficient to keep apps in the buffer memory. If you are still concerned, you can lock some apps to remain on the multitasking board. 

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra-11

Xiaomi’s new MIUI 12 approach is quite commendable. Although it is feature-rich and offers multiple customisation options, MIUI is famous for throwing random ads. The company has taken the feedback on bloatware and ads, which has resulted in favour of those who previously complained about it. There are some first and third-party apps apart from Google apps, which you can choose to delete. We did not notice any ads during our review period. However, the Themes Store and GetApps throw multiple notifications. You need to manually disable it in case it bothers you. 

Battery life

The Mi 11 Ultra packs a massive 5,000 mAh battery under the hood. You might expect to get close to 7-8 hours of screen-on time (SoT). You could, provided the Always-On Display is disabled and you don’t play for close to two hours at a stretch. If you do, expect roughly 5-6 hours of SoT.

Two good things, by the way. The Mi 11 Ultra supports 67W wired and wireless charging. Second, you get the charger inside the box. The sort of bad thing is that you get a 55W fast charger instead of the 67W brick. Xiaomi told us that it is facing some certification issues. We can expect the 67W charger to be available as an accessory once launched in the country.

Xiaomi claims that the 67W fast charger can refuel the 5000 mAh battery in 36 minutes. We used Stuffcool’s Napoleon Dual USB 65W GaN charger for our Mi 11 Ultra review. It charged the device from 5-100 in about 40 minutes on average, which still is really quick. Expect the 55W brick to charge the phone completely within 50 minutes or an hour. One bad thing. The Mi 11 Ultra comes with a USB 2.0 Type-C port, which is a bummer. The company should have opted for a USB 3.0 port at least for "ultra"-fast read and write speeds.

Camera

We thought of saving the best for the last. The showstopper of Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra is its versatile camera setup, which is unlike anything you would see on a smartphone. The phone has a triple-camera setup on the back. The main camera is a 50MP Samsung GN2 1/1.12-inch sensor, which is the second largest on any smartphone worldwide after the Sharp Aquos R6’s 1-inch camera sensor. That large sensor offers excellent depth of field while clicking close-up shots. It also means that parts of the subject, at times, could blur out due to a narrow plane of focus.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra-9

Images clicked during the daylight offered sharp, detailed, and close to real life. The dynamic range and contrast are among the best you would get on any smartphone camera. 

That 48MP ultrawide camera too is the widest on any smartphone with a 128-degree field of view. It can come in handy if you shoot a lot of landscape photos to cram in more scene in the frame. However, the edges are distorted and slightly soft. Lastly, the 48MP telephoto camera. It can shoot up to 120x digital zoom. However, depending on how far the subject is, most situations will offer good/ usable images up to 10x zoom. Anything further will introduce a lot of noise and washed-out colours with poor details. 120x is more like a gimmick currently. If you shoot more zoomed-in photos, consider checking our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review. The phone comes with two 10MP telephoto cameras with different focal lengths. However, the device offers better zoomed-in results compared to the Mi 11 Ultra.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra-10

For selfies, you got two options. Click mediocre selfies using the 20MP front camera as you would normally do. The front camera isn’t as good as the rear and the colours are hit or miss. it also has a very average dynamic range. The second option is to use the rear display as a viewfinder to click high-quality selfie shots. You can switch between the main, ultrawide and telephoto cameras to click up to 120x zoom (We don’t know why would one-click super closeup 120x zoom selfies but you have an option just in case). Click here or on the Flickr slideshow below to check some camera samples shot for our Mi 11 Ultra review.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photos

Verdict

If you have read our Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra this far, you know we are really impressed with the device’s overall performance. Xiaomi means business with the Mi 11 Ultra and has left no stone unturned to mark its entry in the ultra-premium category. 

The phone scores maximum points for its brilliant display, best-in-class cameras, and powerful performance unit. The software experience is also quite good compared to older Xiaomi smartphones. Features like Floating Windows and Super Wallpaper run better on this device due to the powerful processor and proper optimisation. Keep in mind that is a big phone and not meant for those who want a lightweight, compact smartphone.

If MIUI isn’t your thing, you can opt for the OnePlus 9 Pro (Review) or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Review). OnePlus 9 Pro’s OxygenOS is a popular pick among enthusiasts and offers a cleaner user experience. However, off late the software support has been quite unstable. The cameras on the 9 Pro also aren’t as good as the Mi 11 Ultra. Regarding the S21 Ultra, it is way more expensive than the Mi 11 Ultra but offers OneUI and a more premium-looking design. In case it matters to you, Samsung has promised up to four years of software support for its devices. The Mi 11 Ultra, on the other hand, will get two major software upgrades. The device is promised to get the MIUI 12.5 update soon.

All things said, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is an expensive phone. However, you get the best value for what you pay for and are unlikely to get disappointed. It is the company's first attempt in the ultra-premium segment. Safe to say, Xiaomi has certainly hit a home run with the Mi 11 Ultra.
Pranav Hegde
first published: May 24, 2021 06:59 pm

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