Xiaomi Mi 11i review: Cutting corners
Behold the Xiaomi Mi 11i! “Wait, what? Another one?” you might cry out in amazement. The Mi 11 family is a big one, for sure, and sometimes it’s hard to find your way around all the cousins and aunts, metaphorically speaking.

The Xiaomi Mi 11i is a trimmed-down version of the Mi 11, but it’s not just that. It’s solid proof that the “affordable flagship” trend in mobile is alive and kicking. Even though it’s mainly Taiwanese and Chinese brands trying to pull it off nowadays.

Also Read:
Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Back to the phone - the Xiaomi Mi 11i is very powerful and fast and has one of the brightest OLED displays on the market. The battery life is really solid, too, and even though the build of the phone is a bit plasticky, it looks and feels premium enough.

Corners have been cut, sadly, in order to bring the price down to 650 Euro (50-100 Euro below the vanilla Mi 11). For starters, there’s no wireless charging on board. The MicroSD card slot is nowhere to be found, and so is the 3.5mm audio jack.

The fingerprint reader is of the capacitive side-mounted variety, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The camera performance is a mixed bag as the main and the ultrawide cameras have been downgraded from the system found on the Mi 11. But let’s dive deeper.

Design


Beauty is both subjective and objective, and the design of the Xiaomi Mi 11i is a good case in point. The phone features a plastic frame, a curved glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), and a flat 6.67-inch display with a central-positioned punch-hole selfie camera.


The camera bump protrudes from the body substantially and it’s a two-step design. The “main” camera bump sticks out just a hair above the body, and then there’s an elongated protrusion that houses the cameras themselves adding another millimeter to the whole thing.


Personally, I like the design - it looks “cinematic”, and it reminds me of a camera reel. Some people might find it obnoxious, though. The back is glossy with a mirror-like finish. This gives the Xiaomi 11i а premium look… until you touch the phone. That’s right - it’s a smudge magnet.

Overall, I find the design pleasing to the eye and on par with other flagship phones out there. The build quality is really good, and the buttons are clicky in a good way.


Display


The Xiaomi Mi 11i comes equipped with a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED panel (probably made by Samsung), sporting FHD+ resolution. And although it’s a clear downgrade from the 1440 x 3200 resolution of the vanilla Mi 11, most of you won’t be able to tell the difference.

The display is also really bright - topping our test chart with 926 nits under direct sunlight. It’s a 120Hz refresh rate panel but you can only toggle between 60 and 120Hz in the menu. If you want the most accurate color scheme, go for the Original color mode, it also produces the warmest image.

To recap - the display of the Xiaomi Mi 11i is great, and easily one of the phone’s big selling points.


Performance


Speaking of selling points, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset is surely one of those. It’s the Android performance champion and every self-respecting flagship phone has it under its cover.

There are no surprises in the performance department - the Xiaomi 11i runs smooth and snappy, despite the visually heavy MIUI12 interface. The synthetic benchmark results are really close to other SD888 phones, sometimes to the last digit.

Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 11i
1125
Xiaomi Mi 11
1127
Asus ZenFone 8
1125
OnePlus 9
1127
Samsung Galaxy S21+
1034


I’m not sure if it’s the plastic frame or the large size of the chassis, but the phone doesn’t heat up too much under load. The 8GB of RAM should be more than enough to run multiple apps without any bottlenecks, and the 256GB of internal storage should also suffice, even though there’s no SD card slot.

Software and features


The Xiaomi Mi 11i runs MIUI12 on top of Android 11. This custom skin/user interface is a bit flashy and visually heavy but it also allows for deeper customization than you would expect. Some say Xiaomi is “influenced” by iOS but I don’t think that’s the case, not anymore at least.

You can tweak almost everything - you can choose between a classic home screen or one with an app drawer. There’s a system-wide Dark Mode, you can switch between Gesture navigation and the old-school buttons (and you can also change their layout and program them to do cool things).



Actually, the MIUI has come a long way and I’m really pleased with the latest iteration. It’s pretty but not bloated and it can do a lot of things, or just work as is, if you don’t feel like poking the settings much.

The side-mounted fingerprint scanner deserves a few lines here. It’s really fast and quite accurate, especially if you take the time to enter your thumb twice (a little trick I often do when using fingerprint scanners). I miss the feature where you can swipe down the notifications shade right from the scanner, though.

Camera


The Xiaomi Mi 11i features a triple-camera system on the back. One might think that it’s the same configuration as the system found in the Mi 11. It’s not. The main camera sports a huge 108MP sensor but it’s slightly different than the one in the vanilla model.



The ultrawide camera has also been downgraded from 13MP to 8MP, and the macro camera is essentially the same in both models. What are the results of this not-so-cosmetic trim? Well, pictures taken with the main sensor are still pretty good. You can check out the Mi 11 image gallery for reference.

The ultrawide camera on the other hand is not so ultrawide (119 degrees), and produces images with slightly different tonal qualities. While main camera photos are realistic and warm, the images taken with the ultrawide tend to be cooler and oversaturated.



The macro shots are quite good if that’s your thing. In reality, you won’t use this camera too often and a telephoto or a nicer ultrawide would’ve been so much nicer to have. There’s a dedicated Night Mode but it doesn’t make a huge difference - it brings out some detail and improves the dynamic range, but it’s far from the night magic other flagships can pull off.



The Xiaomi can shoot videos with up to 8K resolution, although 4K60fps should be more than enough for all practical purposes. The autofocus is quite fast during recording, but the image stabilization is a bit uninspiring, especially compared to other similarly priced phones.


Battery life


The Xiaomi Mi 11i comes equipped with a 4,520mAh battery, a slight downgrade compared to the 4,600mAh cell found in the vanilla Mi 11. The FHD+ screen makes all the difference, though, and the Mi 11i outperforms its bigger sibling in our battery tests.

The difference is most prominent in the YouTube test, where the FHD+ screen of the Mi 11i allowed the phone to carry on for more than 9 hours. The browsing and gaming tests also yielded impressive results.

Browsing test 60Hz Higher is better Browsing test 120Hz (hours) Higher is better YouTube video streaming (hours) Higher is better 3D Gaming 60Hz (hours) Higher is better Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Xiaomi Mi 11i 12h 43 min
10h 38 min
9h 23 min
9h 14 min
77
Xiaomi Mi 11 10h 40 min
9h 40 min
6h 38 min
10h 17 min
52
Asus ZenFone 8 12h 33 min
10h 12 min
11h 23 min
8h 42 min
87
OnePlus 9 11h 45 min
11h 29 min
9h 16 min
9h 6 min
30
Samsung Galaxy S21+ 12h 11 min
10h 50 min
8h 27 min
8h 36 min
70


The phone supports fast charging and comes with a 33W charger inside the box. Xiaomi advertises 0 to 100% in 52 minutes with the supplied charger but the reality is slightly different. Here’s the charging profile for the Xiaomi Mi 11i:

0-50% in 39 minutes
0-75% in 56 minutes
0-100% in 77 minutes

Pros

  • Great display
  • The fastest Android chipset to date
  • Impressive battery life
  • Pleasing design
  • MIUI12 is surprisingly good
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Camera performance is a mixed bag
  • No wireless charging
  • No 3.5mm audio jack
  • Side-mounted fingerprint sensor

PhoneArena Rating:

7.9
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